Loren Granic (left) and Gregory Alexander / Photo by Michael Mendoza
Rhonda is the life of any party. Personified, she towers over club-goers at a whopping 10-feet-tall (10.5 if you count her maneater pumps). She dons blood-red lipstick, skintight designer frocks, and a man on each arm to carry her Louis. She's two parts Cher, one part Meryl, a pinch of Donna Summer, and a dash Rita Hayworth. Her energy is equally captivating and contagious--the fire within us all to let loose and lose inhibition. In short, Rhonda is a busty dame you can't help but play with.
For four years, A Club Called Rhonda has been toying with Los Angeles' notoriously conservative nightlife, embracing the dark allure of sex, drugs, and glam. Each month, the underground dance club takes over Los Globos, a Latin nightclub in Silver Lake, while simultaneously touring the country to spread Rhonda's pulsing magic.
Rhonda was found in 2008 by longtime friends and party aficionados Gregory Alexander and Loren Granic (aka GODDOLLARS). The former being gay, the latter straight, the two found it increasingly difficult to comingle and party in the City of Angels.
"Me and Greg had been throwing parties in different capacities together around LA for a while," says Granic. "We had been focusing on weird underground events--doing a lot of fun stuff. Greg being gay and me being straight always felt like there was a kind of separation between two very disparate but equally interesting groups of people."
Since bringing Rhonda to life, Granic and Alexander have been bridging the gay-straight gap one party at a time. Each Rhonda event calls for an "anything goes" mentality and an embrace of raw, seedy glamour. In the sweat and glimmer of Rhonda's shadow, polysexual culture isn't just accepted, it's encouraged.
"Labels are kind of pushed aside, but also welcomed," says Alexander. "There's a ton of people who come who are straight, but will wind up making out with or possibly hooking up with certain people and waking up the next day like, 'Oh shit, I don't really know what I did.' But then they'll get back to us and be like, 'Yeah I totally made out with a guy last night, whatever.' That type of thing is fun for us to hear about, and I'm glad that people don't stick to the specific terms."
Alexander says that although Rhonda promotes a queer arena, the party would be nothing if men and women of all sexual preferences didn't pay them a visit. Part of the appeal is having a safe environment to rid oneself of such labels and connotations.
"We're all about celebrating that diversity," Granic says. "[We're] educating people on it, and hopefully making everybody go home with everybody else at the end of the night."
To ensure such unapologetic self-expression, Rhonda does her part in making everyone comfortable.
"People that would maybe never go to some of these mainly Latino dance clubs because they [are] afraid... come on nights that we're there because they know that it will be fine--it will be safe," says Alexander.
Such safety only comes with a mutual trust between Rhonda, club owners, and the clubs' employees. In the beginning, there was a stretch of time that homophobia was prominent in some of the clubs Rhonda would descend upon, but with a little hard education from Granic and Alexander, discrimination is no longer a concern.
"We've always had problems with some of the staff at certain venues mistreating people, and we've always come down with a hammer on those kinds of situations," says Granic. "Look, this is what's going on. There's going to be drag queens. If you're uncomfortable, don't fucking work for us." As much as Rhonda loves all things fabulous, she also indulges in some great music. Her affinity with the two, again, further closes the gap between her gay and straight patrons.
"When you put them together, [they] just make for a better environment," says Alexander. "[On] the straight side, music is definitely more of the reason that you go to specific bars or clubs. Somewhere along the line, I feel that that's gotten lost in a lot of the gay parties."
Over the past four years, Rhonda has booked such industry giants as LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip, Tiger & Woods, and Morgan Geist. Her set list harkens back to the founding principles of dance music: self-expression and acceptance, but above all, the music comes first. And now, Rhonda has her own record label, Rhonda International. Set to start in early 2013, the label will sign and showcase little-known house artists, many of whom got their start at her club.
Between Rhonda International and more event bookings than ever before, it seems that Alexander and Granic's operations are finally matching up with their ambitions.