When Revolution, the downtown Fort Lauderdale spot for live rock 'n' roll, announced that Nicole Richie would be its surprise "red carpet arrival" last Friday night, Night Court smelled trouble.
Come on now, people. Do you expect me to believe that the Revolutionaries would bring in someone so mainstream? Remember what they said when they opened the club almost a year ago? "I think we could be a unifying force," commented then spokesman Mike Feinberg. Think, "a 1960 Third World embassy being overrun by revolutionaries -- a guerrilla camp environment."
Maybe, I thought, these radicals -- call them the Somnambulist Liberation Army -- planned to use Nicole like Patty Hearst -- as a gun-wielding, bank-robbing desperado to help them extort millions from the lion of soft pop.
That bothered me. She's a person, not just a foil to promote Revolution's new Friday-Saturday club event. I was not going to sit by and let the SLA extort the man who wrote "All Night Long" for millions. Not on my watch.
So at 1 p.m. Friday, nine hours before Miss Richie's scheduled arrival, I drove by the Revolution compound on Broward Boulevard and spied curtains draped across the upper balcony. What were the guerrillas hiding? Weaponry? Spiked Kool-Aid? Fat Joe CDs?
I returned at 6 p.m. to discover a red carpet and a gossamer-red veil draped across the club's front entrance. Besides the fist symbol that decorated a banner and the Army-green color of the building, Revolution had been cleverly disguised as any other nightclub.
At 10 p.m., I arrived at a place the flacks had termed the media "stanchion," which was actually just a line of scraggly bushes. I found about 40 reporters standing in the shrubbery with cameras and notepads. South Florida's motley paparazzi wore T-shirts, sneakers, and impatient looks. There was Deco Drive, www.cooljunkie.com, and In Touch Weekly, to name a few.
A PR flack kept strolling by on the red carpet, passing out bottles of water and tripping over her own feet. Some of the press ripped on her, imitating the internal monologue: "Must wear all black. Must have bad shoes. Must look stressed." This was all part of the show, I thought. Revolution was really going overboard to convince us that this wasn't all just a façade to get Nicole Richie in its grip and bilk her daddy of the green stuff.
By 10:30 p.m., half of the friends I have in the world had walked through the entrance that the compound designated for the masses. They were in there getting free vodka drinks and Presidente beer. I was thirsty. But I had to keep a lookout for that poor, rich girl and her well-being.
As 11 p.m. approached, I was distracted by the arrival of a skinny diva who wasn't on the press sheet that the Revoglamsters had tossed to the bush people. From head to toe, she had all the trappings: the tight jeans, the sunglasses, the strappy heeled-sandals, and the attitude. Oh, you could hear that attitude when she belted the chorus of her upcoming single, "Fire," into a WSVN camera. Her name was Na' Sha, and when she turned to the lowdown crew of periodistas groveling in the bushes, her attitude was all, "Hello, is it me you're looking for?"
No, I thought. Only Nicole.
Reality-television-show hosts Rachel Perry and Nick Zano arrived soon after, looking slightly dizzy from the circles they had apparently been driving around the block. They were both hot and red-carpet savvy, flirting with the cameras. Zano's eyes were fixated on Perry's backside, giving the impression that they were a couple, but he said they weren't -- blah, blah, blah.
'Round about 11:30 p.m., I chatted up the PR glamazon, Tara of Tara Inc., to get clued into the obvious rock-dance club disconnect, the sheer absurdity of an heiress like Nicole walking into a Revolutionary rock compound. She responded, "I think it's a brilliant concept. It's the best party when it's eclectic and everything comes together, not unlike a human paella." Paella? Hey, that's Spanish. Pulpos. Camarones. Viva la SoBe de Lauderdale!
Within minutes, I overheard a telephone conversation Tara was having with Nicole's entourage. It seemed that she and fiancé DJ AM had just left the Shore Club on Miami Beach, so it was going to be a while. Maybe Nicole was onto the Revolutionary plot. That would explain the two-hour delay in her arrival. It wasn't like any celebrity who cared about her fans would let them wait hours to be graced with her presence, talent, and eloquence on the red carpet.
At midnight, the free-booze freeload was going to turn back into the pumpkin that is Revolution's everyday drink prices. Man, was I getting parched, but if I left my post, Nicole could be in for a far worse fate. I had to warn her. A hellacious Hearst-like heist might detour her from Prada and Louis Vuitton.
Just past midnight, in a blur, a very average-looking man with brown hair and a red Coke shirt walked down the runway. He was followed shortly by a dress on a stick. No, wait, that was Nicole, who was surrounded by monstrous bodyguards. She'd be no use to the Revolutionaries. If you put a shotgun in her arms, they'd break off and fall to the floor.
I tried to follow, but the door was all jammed up. When I finally got inside ten minutes later, the compound was packed with people, shoulder to sweaty shoulder, dancing to the Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up." There were VIP tables in the dance pit, which was peopled with girls in short skirts and guys in jeans and dressy shirts. This was just every club S.F.L.A., replete with social anonymity and DJs spinning songs burned into the public consciousness by big-time labels.
But maybe there was something more going on upstairs. Maybe the Revolutionaries were just waiting to pounce behind those curtains. Nicole wasn't allowed anywhere near us so that we could rescue her from their clutches.
So I stuck around and watched a hot-bodied dancer in vertically striped zebra pants, a polka-dot halter-top, and an umbrella. Then a jokester walked up to me and said "I'll have a large meatball pizza" as I scribbled into my notebook. Domenick, a tall, brown-haired man, told me that he had attended the Keane concert held at Revolution two weeks ago. I asked him what he thought of tonight's big event.
"My opinion is that they need to step up the music," he said. "It's too old-school too early."
I took a break and headed to the bathroom. There, a redheaded rock chick trashed both Nicole and her reality hit, The Simple Life: "She's a fucking idiot. I could get on that show and say the same fucking thing."
See, there was animosity against that poor girl.
Morgan, another potential threat, appeared out of nowhere when I went downstairs. He said he came to Revolution not long ago to see Jimmy Eat World, and he planned to return for Reel Big Fish. "It's a great venue for rock. Tonight, it's like South Beach shit. It's turned into Nicole Richie. She did nothing for me. I don't even know what the name of her show is. It's some girl doing some shit, but we all know her name. I'd like to see Fort Lauderdale keep it Fort Lauderdale and South Beach keep it South Beach."
He'd have that poor girl run out of town on a rail.
Then I turned around and noticed that Nicole had vanished. Was she safe? I couldn't say. Would she turn up in a video stalking a bank with a sawed-off shotgun? Even harder to know.
Will Fort Lauderdale's biggest club go all SoBe on us and lose its rock 'n' roll roots? Only the SLA knows.
Lionel, if you read this story, call me. I'm worried and a little confused.
Get the Things to Do Newsletter
Find out about upcoming events and special offers happening in South Florida.