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Culver City

Backstage ~ Culver City

9:41 AM PDT on April 4, 2007

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Backstage ~ 10400 Culver Blvd. @ Motor, across the Street from Sony Studios ~ Culver City 90232 ~ 310.839.3892

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On Culver Blvd. at 2p.m. outside the historic M-G-M Studios in Culver City, the hot pavement burns your soles. The light is bright in my eyes as we are approaching what has with time stood up as a reliable sign post saying, "Here you will find the dive you weren't looking for but long wished to find." Colorful stone cobbled facades with large red and black chocolate chip chunks of lava rock invite you to step inside their cave. Judging by the sign outside, COCKTAILS BACKSTAGE, I'm not sure if I'm not about to step into a nudie bar; what's this place doing all alone on this sun swept corner? Stay for one drink? Let's go backstage!

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Out of the sun and inside the outdoor into a blinding darkness of dive inspired low light, I hesitate to let my eyes adjust. This is a fine sized establishment, fit for a King & Queen's banquet. The bar's mirrorr backed liquor rack is a magnificent display of spirits, fit for a daydreamer to flirt with delight and disaster. Far to the back past the long bar is a pool table, dart boards, a jukebox and a popular kitchen serving better than average bar food. The entire place is large enough to pack in, say, the entire population of Munchkinland.

"I'll be right with you, honey," says Gillian, aka. Otis, a blond Libra in a green T. She was born in the year of the monkey, and will call you honey to your sweetest delight. I hear her affectionately call one local barfly,"shit-head". While I wait along the long bar, the Sierra Nevada is tapping out, so I request the special- weather permiting, a glass of Belgian White ale served on a black napkin. Middle aged locals spread the bar, and cluster at one far end or the other. "Your my kind of man," one says. "There she is," greets one friend to another just arrived. At the other end of the bar one man explains how, as an airline mechanic, he was drug tested every month. There are tall tales and good humor to go around. "Hey, did you take a happy pill before you came in today?!" "He's always like this," assures Gillian, who's verve and panache behind the bar says, like Muhammad Ali- "Dance like a butterfly, sting like a bee."

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If you like to dwell comfortably and anonymously in dim lit dens, here is room to blend into the shadowy light of day. On a cold and rainy day, this is where to warm your bones beside the fire. This afternoon the light through the red window pane accentuates the burlesque appeal of the leather cushions and arm chairs. Back at the bar a barfly spins tales. He says this was once a spot for hookers, and teenage boys danced about naked for fat cat Hollywood producers. Who knows?! "Ask Huji. Huji's brother owned the bar."

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Yes, there is a photo booth in the bar! I've just fed $5.00 into the well stocked jukebox when Gillian surpises me. "Honey, you didn't put money in there, did you? It's not working." Well, I'd been damned if not five minutes later a man shows up out of nowhere to fix the jukebox. On top of this good fortune, Gillian is soon at the table to pay back the vanishing five dollars. "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" washes my mind and memory in melody.

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The bar Backstage is an authenticated, first rate watering hole of dive proportion. Times there were when I knew I was in a great good place. Thanks, Otis, for offering me receipt paper to draw on instead of the black napkin I was using. And then I heard our teller of tall tales say he was in the film "Death Race 2000". If you were here for celebrity sighting outside the Sony Pictures Studios (formerly MGM Studios), that is hard to beat. And now for the grand finale! May we present, the bar back/chef who walks standing on top of empty kegs. "Roll out the barrel, we'll have a barrel of fun." Yes, once the empty Sierra keg was dragged from behind the bar, an agile lad lept atop the keg and pedaled it deftly across the room, through a door and into the kitchen. Cheers, Backstage, it's clear we're going to get along.

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