The Scandalous History of Les Deux, Hollywood’s Infamous Nightclub

Each era’s beau monde has its Palace of Versailles—an area upon which the notables of the day descend to swill cocktails and bask within the glow of each other’s superstar. The Rat Pack favored the Copa Room; Andy Warhol and his Manufacturing unit buddies skulked the strobe-lit corners of Palladium and Studio 54. And for the spray-tanned starlets who dominated the early 2000s cultural panorama, the middle of the universe was a nondescript lounge on a dingy sidestreet in Hollywood known as Les Deux.

From its opening in 2006 to its closure simply 4 years later, Les Deux was simply as a lot a tabloid fixture as Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Britney Spears, or Lindsay Lohan—on any given evening (or very early morning) this crowd might be noticed stumbling from the membership’s doorways, by means of a swarm of flashing cameras, and into the plush-leather embrace of ready Cadillac Escalades. It’s laborious to say whether or not the place was a product of its time or an establishment that outlined it. However it’s clear the destiny of tabloid tradition’s favourite watering gap rose and fell with the fortunes of its most well-known patrons—from the early days of fresh-faced hedonism by means of inevitable run-ins with the legislation, mental-health crises, and supreme collapse beneath the load of public scrutiny.

Like lots of nightlife hubs in Los Angeles on the time, Les Deux introduced an unassuming facade. Within the days earlier than social media, its exclusivity, and thereby social foreign money, was collateralized by phrase of mouth—being related to the best telephone bushes, figuring out the perfect promoters. If granted admission, both by advantage of magnificence, star energy, or the arbitrary goodwill of a publicist posted on the door, you’d enter a hidden Shangri-la of early 2000s pop idolatry. In 2021, you’ll discover a radically totally different scene at 1638 North Las Palmas Avenue: an unguarded set of locked doorways looking onto an empty, windswept parking zone. The area as soon as occupied by Les Deux now homes a weekends-only occasions venue, Liaison L.A., which is described on its web site as an “entertainment complex” that throws “the most epic Sunday brunch party.”

Brody Jenner and Audrina Patridge attend Sylvain Bitton and JT Torregiani’s birthday celebration at Les Deux on April 28, 2010 in Los Angeles.

Photograph by Amy Graves/WireImage

Chronologically, the brief lifetime of Les Deux mirrored the simmer, boiling crescendo, and supreme fizzle of early 2000s tabloid tradition itself. Arguably, absent the cultural second dominated by tabloid editors, there could be no Les Deux. The period’s core worth—fame by any means crucial—was completely baked into the DNA. It was co-founded by Mike “Boogie” Malin, a contestant on the second season of CBS’s Huge Brother. Coming off a moderately infamously combative stint on the collection, the boisterous Malin teamed up with a buddy, Lonnie Moore, to kind Dolce Group—a celebration boy-branded hospitality enterprise whose portfolio finally included scorching spots Geisha Home, Bella Cocina, Ketchup, and extra. A star-studded roster of traders boasted Hollywood enfants terribles of that point: Ashton Kutcher, Wilmer Valderrama, and Jamie Kennedy. However Les Deux was the crown jewel of the gathering, because of a self-reinforcing spin cycle of reality-television advertising.

“The biggest reason people know about Les Deux is The Hills,” says Dara Laine, creator and host of Les Deux You Bear in mind This?, a podcast about early 2000s popular culture that borrows its identify from the membership. “It was like the Central Perk or Peach Pit of the show,” she says, referring to favored fictional haunts of characters on Buddies and Beverly Hills 90210, respectively. The Hills, a derivative of MTV’s groundbreaking teen docu-soap Laguna Seaside, centered on aspiring fashion-industry maven Lauren Conrad and her bevy of conventionally enticing (largely blond) buddies, navigating their early twenties residing, loving, and screaming drunkenly throughout the Metropolis of Angels.

Kristin Cavallari throughout AOL’s Gold Rush Launch Get together on September 12, 2006 at Les Deux.

Photograph by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Lest viewers consider Hills producers struck some sort of advertising take care of Dolce Group to function Les Deux, solid member Audrina Patridge—the only brunette in a sea of blonds—insists in any other case.

“The producers did not choose Les Deux for us,” she tells W. “It was our go-to every Thursday night.”

She refers to a solid comprised of her former roommate, Conrad, and among the period’s different actuality TV mainstays: Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt; Brody Jenner, son of Conserving Up with the Kardashians’ Caitlyn Jenner; and Conrad’s Laguna Seaside nemesis, Kristin Cavallari.

“If we were going to go out in L.A., it was definitely in our top three places,” Patridge says.

In its centrality to The Hills’ roiling, six-season kraken of storylines, Les Deux nearly operated as a personality itself. It was the location of maybe essentially the most infamous second within the present’s historical past, when the friendship between protagonist Conrad and antagonist Montag, the inspiration of which had been cracking for 3 seasons, lastly imploded in a cloud of portentous, genre-defining mud—after Conrad suspected Montag and her now-husband, Spencer Pratt, unfold a rumor she made a intercourse tape along with her personal ex-boyfriend, Laguna Seaside and early Hills fixture Jason Wahler. (It’s a second Patridge joyously recollects as “infamous.”)

From left: Robert Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, and Khloe Kardashian arrive at Kim Kardashian’s celebration at Les Deux on October 21, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.

Photograph by Noel Vasquez/Getty Photos

Kim Kardashian held her twenty seventh celebration at Les Deux, with each member of her household in tow. Future President Donald Trump hosted a celebration there in honor of the launch of his eponymous vodka model in 2007 (discontinued in 2011). In attendance, a buffet of early 2000s tabloid favorites: Jessica and Ashlee Simpson; Paris Hilton and on-again, off-again Greek delivery inheritor beau Stavros Niarchos; and—forebodingly—Dasha Zhukova, ex-wife of Russian oligarch and Vladimir Putin political ally Roman Abramovich.

One in every of Les Deux’s most outstanding regulars was pop star Britney Spears. Spears was locked in what appeared like a unending battle with paparazzi and tabloid writers on the time, because the latter tried to doc each painstaking second of her struggles with psychological well being, together with a number of ill-fated relationships.

For Spears, the membership was a protected haven. As Laine speculates, within the period earlier than social media, Les Deux’s exclusivity and wannabe-famous seat fillers instilled an environment whereby Spears and her contemporaries might get pleasure from themselves with out being conspicuously gawked at, or harassed for autographs.

So Spears spent as a lot time at Les Deux as she might—to a weird finish. “Apparently, in 2007, she asked if she could fill out an application to work there,” Laine recollects. “She spoke to a manager about it.” Tabloid reviews from the time affirm that Spears approached Les Deux administration and, apparently motivated by admiration for the cocktail waitresses’ uniforms (purple corsets, tight black shirts), started going by means of her calendar, outlining which days she was out there for shifts, and which she’d want off to spend time along with her younger sons.

The sense of safety that impressed Spears to ask for a job utility was certainly not distinctive to her expertise. It was one of many first locations Paris Hilton went after spending 45 days in L.A. County jail on 2007 expenses of driving underneath the affect. It was additionally Lindsay Lohan’s spot to occasion simply previous to being cited on suspicion of D.U.I. after crashing a Mercedes-Benz on Sundown Boulevard that very same 12 months.

The membership’s safe-harbor standing might have been little greater than a veneer, nonetheless. In Nancy Jo Gross sales’s 2013 true-crime accounting of the so-called Bling Ring—a bunch of prosperous L.A. teenagers who burglarized the houses of Hilton, Lohan, and different celebrities—Les Deux was framed because the crew’s base of operations. Courtney Ames, one of many younger girls implicated within the ring, met her boyfriend and alleged co-conspirator, Jonathan Ajar, whereas partying at Les Deux. (Ajar was a promoter for the membership and a convicted drug seller.) Ames celebrated a birthday at Les Deux (notably, an underage one) within the midst of the Bling Ring’s burgling actions. She and her accomplices doubtless rubbed elbows with among the very celebrities whose houses they focused, together with that of Audrina Patridge.

Aly & AJ arrive at Les Deux for his or her celebration on Might 14, 2007.

Photograph by Noel Vasquez/Getty Photos

The Bling Ring’s members—which included Alexis Neiers, of the short-lived Kardashians knockoff Fairly Wild on E!—had been arrested and charged in 2009. And court docket proceedings, which stretched till 2012, coincided with the closure of Les Deux, in addition to a flurry of authorized woes for the Dolce Group. In 2011, Mike Malin, together with Lonnie Moore, was sued by traders of Geisha Home, a Japanese restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard painted a ghastly shade of maraschino purple. The go well with alleged embezzlement of practically a million {dollars} in investor funds. In step with Malin’s fame because the “most hated houseguest” in Huge Brother historical past, the lawsuit contained much more salacious particulars— allegations that enterprise companions siphoned off firm funds to pay for “multiple sexual encounters” with “various older men” throughout which Malin would “live out fetish role play fantasies.” Malin accused traders of trying to extort him with these allegations, however in the end got here out of the fracas owing $800,000. Malin and Moore had been sued by one other investor in 2012 for extra of the identical hijinks—alleged mismanagement of firm funds, piggybanking hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to assist their very own “lavish lifestyles.” That go well with alleged Dolce Group falsified accounting data, hid funds in shell entities, and made off-the-books offers with distributors, pocketing the money distinction.

In 2014, the hammer got here down even tougher on Malin—he was smacked with a $10.5 million judgment after allegedly failing to pay eight years of lease on an Atlanta outpost of Geisha Home. 4 years later, a former Huge Brother co-star Dr. Will Kirby received a decade-long restraining order towards Malin, after the previous membership proprietor despatched “disturbing” textual content messages and emails, together with pictures of Kirby’s daughter and different youngsters at college, together with messages reportedly exhibiting somebody pointing a gun at printed-out pictures of Kirby’s spouse. Malin was sentenced to 2 years of probation, together with 30 days of mandated psychological well being remedy—a proverbial closing nail within the coffin for each him and the legend of Les Deux.

Absolutely there are those that, wanting again on an period that glorified unhealthy habits and sanctioned horrific social attitudes towards younger girls, see Malin’s comeuppance as karmic retribution. A number of well-known girls contacted for this story declined to touch upon their experiences at Les Deux, or encounters with Malin and firm.

However it’s not all dangerous recollections for many who crossed that hallowed threshold on North Las Palmas Avenue in its heyday.

“They were the best,” Partridge recollects of Les Deux administration. “They definitely knew how to make sure everyone was having a great time.”

“We were patrons until the end,” she says.

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