I’ve been in this music business for a long time in one capacity or another. I’ve been a club DJ, a touring DJ, a promoter, worked at a music marketing firm, a party thrower, record nerd, business owner, and consider myself lucky to have chosen the path I’m on. It’s not all sunshine and candy though, there was a lot of hard work, disappointment, anguish, and I ate a lot of shit to finally get Flea Market Funk where I want it to be. What J-Zone wrote in Root For The Villain, I’ve seen first hand. Sometimes you have to fail, get dissed and lose, to rebuild and motivate yourself to get to a higher level. I’ve seen and heard weird shit throughout my career, and have brushed shoulders with a lot of my idols randomly. Today I was thinking about some of these things that have gone down in my time in this business, and I wanted to share a few of them with the Flea Market Funk family. Here’s the first in a series of articles. This one involves Hugh Hefner and The Playboy Mansion about 10 years ago.
My one and only time I played The Playboy Mansion, the band I was a DJ for was being featured in the Playboy Mansion video game. We were headlining the party. Yeah, I said the same thing. What?? How could this have happened? But it did. During a West Coast leg of a tour, one of our stops is The Playboy Mansion. At the time, I was completely thrilled. After the experience, I’m glad I could say I did it, but most likely wouldn’t do it again. The band arrived at the Mansion around 10 am, but we were scheduled to play at like 9PM or something like that later that night. I didn’t know what to expect really. All I knew was that I was playing The Playboy Mansion, and spending the day there. For those unfamiliar, The Playboy Mansion is located in a residential neighborhood. That means there are tons of huge houses around, and our tour bus had to drop us off in front on the street. We loaded our equipment out, and prepared for the big wait. The grounds of the Mansion are huge, and the first thing I see are the gardeners. They have the best work shirts, tan with a green stripe on the shoulders and an embroidered Playboy patch, and I immediately wanted one. I lobbied our manager, the workers, but I couldn’t seem to get one. Damn it! As we settled in, we got a quick tour of the zoo. Yes, the zoo, with monkeys and flamingos and all kinds of crazy animals. The flamingos and peacocks just did what they want. So you could turn around and there was some flamingo taking a dump on your shoes, or some other animal running away with your hat. The majority of the day was spent walking around the grounds, eating and drinking, avoiding the flamingos and their backward bending legs, and trying to keep ourselves occupied. By the time the party started to get set up, our equipment was finally up on the stage, and we sound checked, I needed a nap. The bus couldn’t stay parked in the residential area, so we were kind of trapped there with what ever we brought in. No that exciting really. We might have shot hoops on one of the rec areas.
Felix Da Housecat, the most famous guest at The Mansion that night, although Andy Dick could’ve been running around somewhere.
When the party finally got rolling, the area was turned into some great carnival. The Mansion is affiliated with all kinds of Playboy bunnies, past and present. There were former Playmates my Mom’s age walking around in bikinis (no thank you!), and some body painting going on for the video game launch. A weird mix of young and old, again, not what you would expect. I had visions of scenes from Caligula going on, some crazy Roman orgy, but this was a mild mannered party so far, video game execs mixing with Rock and Rollers, D List celebrities, and Hugh’s ladies. I will say, Hugh knows how to put out a spread of food, and I capitalized on everything from filet mignon to sushi, as well as the alcohol that was freely flowing. There were other bands playing, some group called The Rosenbergs and Start Trouble (who were on Columbia Records and managed by Matt Pinfield, who I spoke with later, super nice guy). By the time we played, we had enough drinks in us and an argument between some of our band members and our management broke out during the set. One of our guys threw a guitar in the general vicinity of said management and luckily we made it off the stage without a donny brook happening in front of Hugh. With that fiasco, I unfortunately missed out on the tour of the Mansion and the grounds by one of the elder bunnies. I wanted to see more of Hef’s house. The night was far from over though, as people drank more, D List celebrities were all around. I remember Art from the band Everclear, some dudes who made beats for The Black Eyed Peas, and one person I was actually excited to meet, Felix Da Housecat. I yelled his name, he looked like a deer in the head lights, and we spoke briefly. I’m sure he was saying “who the fuck was that dude?”, but it was time for Hugh to come out, all propped up like some wax museum figure, with, I’m not joking, like 60 girls surrounding him. Security was so tight, you couldn’t get near him for a photo op, and just like Keyser Söze, puff, he was gone. I was not going to go to the Mansion without checking out the Grotto, a place where you hear all kinds of crazy stories about. What they don’t tell you is that it is disgusting and smells like bleach (or what I would hope was bleach). It has these cruddy cabana pillows all around it that look like they have been there since the 70’s, and here’s the rule: you jump in the grotto, you’re on your own. There isn’t a towel in sight, so you can freeze your ass off as far as the Mansion is concerned. They don’t want you to go in Hef’s pool, so if that doesn’t discourage you (and the state of the Grotto either), jump in. I didn’t partake, but some of the band members did as well as Pinfield’s Punk Rock band, who’s swim in the pool lasted longer than their career on Columbia. All of a sudden, the lights on the grounds go on, and the party is over. They had to make the strict 11PM curfew time. I just assumed these parties went on for days, but since it’s in a residential area, every one has to be out by 11. Those that were wet, just simply had to leave. So we packed up our gear, loaded it into the bus, and went on our way. The only memory I have from that night are a few photos and a matchbook from Hef. How’s that for a first Throwback Thursday? Stay tuned for some more stuff from the vaults of Flea Market Funk.