Sunday, January 22, 2017
Conventional society may have stayed away (or come incognito) but the young, the curious and the freaky came in droves to the benefit opening of the Paradise Ballroom.
The crowd at Thursday night's benefit for the Elizabeth Fry Center, a halfway house for women parolees, was good-natured even though most everyone stood in the street for hours before getting in.
This included the Ballroom's big-daddy backer, Bernard Cornfeld (who gave a pre-opening cocktail party in his new Southland digs) and other luminaries like Warren Beatty, Dave Garroway, George Hamilton, Jack Nicholson, Lou Adler and former Governor Edmund G. (Pat) Brown.
But head guru, Jerry Brandt, whose last brainchild was the Electric Circus in New York, took care of that. He imported a vivacious band from South Central Los Angeles to distract the waiting guests with a street concert.
The review goes on to point out that the invitations stated 9:30 pm, however the first paying guests got in at 10:30, and lines were still forming at midnight. Guests had been told Black Tie or Bizarre. Bizarre won with many transvestites breaking new social ground.
Seasoned first-nighters were used to rubbing shoulders with electricians and carpenters on their way out, but this time, most of the workmen didn't leave.
Chip Monck, the lighting expert for Woodstock, was still in the rafters at 11pm plugging in the last fifteen miles of fiber-optic lighting that covered the former Factory's beams, girders and braces.
While the opening turned out to be what backers considered a publicity success the "benefit" didn't benefit anyone. In Sue Cameron's Coast to Coast column in the Hollywood Reporter she wrote: FIASCO, DISASTER AND BUST are just a few words that are on the lips of people who went to the opening of the Paradise Ballroom.
Apparently, the public can read because only a handful of freaks showed up for the dance marathon. Ms. Cameron said the Ballroom would last six months. It lasted less than two.