Please enjoy the following story from Jacob James' vast collection of wonderful stories about celebs from his brush with fame while playing with the Lashes!
A few blocks shy of the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard, there is a small bar called Hyde Lounge. Our friend had a gig there as a weekday deejay, so in 2005 my friends and I spent time there whenever we were in Los Angeles. It's closed now, but in that era the Hollywood heavy hitters that frequented Hyde were there for the exclusivity and the discretion.
Not us. We were there to see famous people. Because we were sure we were about to BE famous people. Like, really soon. And when it came to celebrity sightings, the Hyde never disappointed.
It wasn’t the muscle, the limos, or the actual red carpet that had us spooked the first time we went to Hyde—it was the first bar we'd ever been to with its own Social Director. And this one was a sharp-jawed, clipboard-carrying, movie villain named Mercedes or Portia or Adrianna or something.
The Social Director’s job is twofold. One, protect the egos of anyone in attendance worth more than a couple million dollars by making sure they have a special time. Two, make things happen as dictated by publicists and managers—pull the strings, kiss some ass, and dammit, get both those actresses into the same frame for the guy from US Weekly.
We checked in, and lists were referenced. Blackberries were consulted and walkies were talked on.
"They’re friends with who?"
"They’re what band?"
"Six? Did you say six dudes? And no girls?"
After twenty minutes of chain smoking and trying to look very-unbothered by the wait, we were approached by the Social Director. Let’s just call her Mercedes.
Mercedes gave us a little speech. It was Mercedes’ party you see, and she made it explicitly clear that we, as friends of the deejay, were not technically invited. We could stay and have a good time, she said, but we were not allowed to bother anyone. And we certainly weren’t allowed to sit down anywhere. Then she swung open the door.
Modern crystal cast a low light on private booths and everything was accented with gold. Sheets of water appeared to be falling indoors, creating a curtain between the lounge and the bar. The stairs were translucent. The place reeked of champagne, expensive perfume, and money. And we reeked of split open Chuck Taylor's, Camel Lights and Rainer. We were way out of our depth.
The whole place felt on edge, and I was sure it was because of us.
That night, every Hollywood stereotype was in attendance. There were models draped in fabric, actors telling loud stories to their entourages, balding movie producers in Armani. There was an Olsen twin, AND a twin from Good Charlotte. There were multiplatinum artists (Incubus!) and two platinum blond leading ladies: Kirsten Dunst and Lindsay Lohan; A&R reps and producers and managers and Guys Who Could Get Things Done. And there, sitting in the middle of the floor, were Nick and Jessica. At different tables. Facing away from each other. Looking furious.
This is not a big deal now. In fact, I had to do some digging to make sure I knew how to spell Lachey. But to people who watched the show Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica on MTV, or who read the hilarious press-releases-disguised-as-celebrity-gossip in InTouch or People, or who watched E! obsessively, or who were in a pop band in the mid 2000s, it was a deal. The whole bar was buzzing with it. Nick and Jessica were on the rocks.
Jessica was sitting with girlfriends scowling into a martini glass, and mere feet away, with his back to her, Nick was squirming in his seat next to a very nice looking woman with chestnut hair. It was obvious neither of the two stars had been informed the other was coming. At the table between them, the alt-rock band Incubus looked extremely uncomfortable.
Everyone was particularly interested in the real-life newlyweds that night because the rumor was something had happened on the set of one of Jessica’s projects, and their relationship was falling apart, while episodes like "Newlyweds Two Year Anniversary" and "Newlyweds Together Again" were airing three times a day on MTV.
We made our way through the lounge to the back bar and our initial paranoia began to fade. Hyde Lounge wasn’t on edge because of us at all! They were embroiled in their own Hollywood melodrama—too busy watching the emotional car crash that was happening between TV’s couple of the moment.
As we hid in the back of the bar we wondered. Did their managers get the time wrong? Did their publicists make their reservations for the same time? Could Mercedes the Social Director really have accidentally seated them so close to one another? Or was this the reality-within-the-reality? Was this a pre-arranged hyper-real publicity grab? Were Nick and Jessica acting on television, or acting right now? Had they always been acting? Or had they never been acting? Or Neither? Or Both?
We smoked spliffs on the back patio until it was time to go. Each of us had one beer that night. At eighteen dollars apiece, it seemed silly to have more than one. We couldn’t sit down, I had discovered, because of bottle service—the practice of charging four or five grand for a bottle of liquor and the privilege of being seated. Mercedes had been trying to keep us from owing the bar way more than we could afford.
On the way back to the hotel, we all agreed that we kind of hated the Hyde, but it definitely wasn’t the last time we went there. And it wasn’t the last time we dealt with Mercedes.