On the L.A. club scene, a venue's life span is akin to dog years: For every year that passes, about seven have gone by in clubland. That's why the health of Bar Deluxe, a 2-year-old Hollywood club that's gotten better as it's gotten older, is such good news.
Bar Deluxe pretty much epitomizes "funky but chic." It started out as a two-level bar with a love for all things red and black and for Buddha. But with the owner's collection affection, the venue has become a sanctuary for a "Zen meets voodoo meets rockabilly" subculture. Situated on a dodgy stretch of Las Palmas near Hollywood Boulevard, Bar Deluxe offers a crazy kind of beauty: skulls, stuffed armadillos, faux leopard seat cushions and hand-painted dragons are just some of the items surrounding the bar area.
The newly renovated upstairs, which used to offer a makeshift stage to underground blues, punk and surf-rock acts, now includes a floor. Well, there was always about two-thirds of a floor, but the second level is now completely covered, allowing for a real stage and more generous seating.
Witnessing a good live show at Bar Deluxe was fun if not always comfortable on a packed night, but now the problem's solved. Good thing. From the edgy surf-rock of the Bomboras to Rocket 88's "sicko-billy" sound, Bar Deluxe mixes and matches musical styles with an affection for America's darkest corners. In true Deluxe fashion, the Red Devils have been booked on New Year's Eve to ring in '96.
* Bar Deluxe, 1710 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hollywood. 21 and over, bar area free; occasional cover for live music in upstairs lounge. (213) 469-1991.
Club Buzz: The Viper Room in West Hollywood has scheduled triple threat Sandra Bernhard (singer, actress, comedian) to entertain on New Year's Eve. . . . Speaking of Dec. 31, look for hurricane rockers the Caballeros to blast in the new year at the Lava Lounge in Hollywood. . . . People have been waiting for Hollywood Billiards to reopen ever since it was closed down after the '94 quake. Good news: A banner now hangs at a Hollywood Boulevard site not far from the Hollywood-and-Western original: "Hollywood Billiards, Coming Early in '96." Rack 'em up!
* The Viper Room, (310) 358-1880. Lava Lounge, (213) 876-6612. No new listing for Hollywood Billiards.