Shop, Look and Listen

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Were it not for the owners' music-scene-minded vision, Escandalo might be just another vintage store. But, in fact, it's a one-stop shop for the underground built with attitude, dressed up in cutting-edge fashions and topped with an inspired soundtrack.

This Hollywood space refuses to be just one thing. It's a retro clothing store, a hair salon, a record store and venue for the latest underground band performances.

What's the common thread to Escandalo's many identities? According to the proprietors, it's an allegiance to Los Angeles' alternative music community, mainly the '60s-loving mod, garage and punk crowd. The goal is to provide a hub of activity otherwise lacking in the nightclub scene.

Business partners Luis Gonzalez, 27, who formerly ran a vintage store on Hollywood Boulevard, and Alison Grandfield, 26, a hair stylist, teamed up nine months ago to bring together all the components an underground music scenester could want. Grandfield even started a bimonthly fanzine, published in old-school punk style with ragged cut-and-paste layout, to spread the word on bands, artists and shows.

Gonzalez describes Escandalo as a resource for lapsed undergrounders who may have traditional 9-to-5 lives. "I feel like if I can provide a spot for people to get the clothes they can't find anywhere else, they'll come and the scene will get better .... I see so many mod kids in here that I never see around. They still have their scooters and their suits, but nobody knows where to go. The shop makes them remember, and they get back into it," says Gonzalez.

Walk through the store and there's an array of '60s and '70s items in all directions: shift dresses, three-button suits, stickers, pins, shoes and accessories. A couple of vintage scooters perch precariously among the clothing racks, and shelves of collectible toys flank the central lounge area next to the in-store hair salon. A "Wall of Shame" is covered with snapshots of local scenesters, haircut clients, shoppers, bands and friends of the store.

In addition, the store's regular late-night hours--it's open until midnight most nights--have turned Escandalo into more than just a storefront. It's become a social venue where patrons linger, encouraged by in-store parties featuring performances by local bands. The something-is-always-happening atmosphere has helped make Escandalo a popular stop in the booming Cahuenga Boulevard district, where hot spots including the Beauty Bar, the Burgundy Room and the Hotel Cafe are all within walking distance.

"I've lived here for 12 years and never had so much fun going to see bands," says Grandfield. "What's happening right now is this garage, '60s, punk-rock combination of everything. The bands pull it off in so many different ways." Escandalo caters specifically to these creative pioneers, she says. "All those bands come here to get their hair cut, get their clothes and hang out."

While word of Escandalo is traveling fast through the local rock club world, there's no rest for the owners. Constant expansion is in the works. In the next month they will open a new record store area run by Brian Waters, frontman for the garage-rock band Flash Express. The hair salon will add five new stations to broaden the range of styles they offer. Other plans include a section in the store for more high-end fashions and the soon-to-debut Escandalo clothing line, which will consist of new garments made from '60s patterns. Also, they're planning Sunday sidewalk sales.

"It's hard to have a yard sale [in Hollywood] because so few people have yards. So we're going to invite people from around town who have cool stuff to sell and have a sale here," says Gonzalez.

Although the store's Spanish name translates as "scandalous," the vibe is welcoming, not intimidating, and the owners plan to keep it that way. "We try to create an energy and fun atmosphere," Grandfield says. "We never push people away or make them feel like they're not cool enough to be here. We're just happy to see you!"

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* Escandalo, 1623 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. Open noon to midnight, (323) 957-0393. For hair salon appointments, call (323) 464-4081.

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