The Rat Pack is back at Bootsy Bellows, but with a new look.
The former rendition — an old Hollywood, dimly-lit burlesque nightclub — has been replaced by a summertime escape mirroring Frank Sinatra’s 1940s Palm Springs home. The star-loved venue on the Sunset Strip has thrown out the black interiors and velvet seating for peach walls, pastel couches and plenty of greenery — but not to worry, the iconic puppet shows will remain.
Co-owned by H.Wood Group's John Terzian and Brian Toll, and star David Arquette, Bootsy Bellows has been an L.A. nightlife staple since it entered the scene in 2012, and has been under renovations since August 2018 with John Sofio of Built, Inc. to design and bring the revamped space to life, this time with a more homey aesthetic.
“You feel like you’re not in a nightclub, even though you will be,” says Terzian, who, along with Toll, now operates more than a dozen clubs and restaurants around Los Angeles, including nearby Blind Dragon, among other hot spots. “What we’re masking it with is the residential feel that I don’t think a lot of people are paying attention to. So we’ll have the entertainment, puppets and probably a few other surprises that go with that, but our overall feeling is marrying those two worlds.”
A decked-out residence, at that. Drake’s personal sound guy was brought in to work on the DJ booth and speakers, embedded LED lights were added to the walls and ceilings to put on custom light shows, and gone is the signature VIP room that once welcomed Hollywood’s biggest names. That decision, is in part, thanks to the social media culture of 2019.
“When Bootsy first opened in 2012, celebrities wanted to be hidden, they wanted to go out the back door, they wanted to have their own room and not be bothered and so we created this VIP room,” Toll explains. “As the evolution of nightlife changed, the celebrities who go out now want to be seen, they want to be on Instagram, they call the paparazzi on themselves — some don’t, but a lot of them do —so they want to be in the main room.”
Having a partner in Arquette has also been advantageous to the club, which is named after the actor’s late mother Mardi, a former burlesque dancer who died in 1997 of breast cancer.
Arquette told THR that he is “thrilled to show the world the evolution of Bootsy Bellows,” and Terzian and Toll revealed that much of the Sinatra-centered art on the walls at the nightclub is from Arquette's personal collection.
“He’s constantly here with ideas, he had some crazy lighting guy come in a couple of weeks ago that does the Tupac [hologram] that was at Coachella. He comes up with different ideas for what the puppets should be, he’s constantly chiming in with things,” Toll says. “He’s really present, he’s in the venue when we’re open all of the time. He hand-holds guests, goes up to random tables celebrating birthdays and talks to them, he’s been a valuable part of it.”
The actor is also the brains behind the puppet shows, and something that Terzian says helped them create the original vision for Bootsy Bellows, which they imagined like “a living movie.”
Since entering the scene with Bootsy almost seven years ago, Toll and Terzian’s H.Wood Group has expanded to venues including Hollywood beloved Delilah — which recently expanded to Wynn Las Vegas, The Nice Guy, Shorebar and Poppy, and the two will have 25 places by the end of the year. The Bootsy Bellows brand has also taken off, with off-shoots in Aspen and Dallas, and traveling pop-ups at Coachella and Nobu for Fourth of July.
“Bootsy is the brand that really put us on the map because of these pop-ups really, we’ve gone all over the world: New York Fashion Week, Cannes Film Fest, Toronto Film Fest,” Toll says. “When people wanted to come to L.A. from wherever, from Paris, wherever, they’d say, ‘OK, I want to check out Bootsy Bellows.’”
The revamped Bootsy Bellows opens its doors to the public on Friday, and hosted an early family and friends preview last week, welcoming Dave Chappelle and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis, among others.