Paul V. Vitagliano, otherwise known as Paul V. to the nightclub audience, has spent the past 32 years working as a DJ. Best known as the co-founder of legendary L.A. party Dragstrip 66, which captivated multiple generations of club kids during its outstanding 20-year run, Vitagliano has also done plenty of time on radio. His show, "Neon Noise," airs Friday and Saturday night on The Independent. He also spins at various clubs and events across town.
This longtime champion of new and interesting music is also an author. Vitagliano's book, "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" is based on his popular blog of the same name and was released last October. Since Vitagliano's work is centered around nightclubs, he shies away from the crowds on his days off. Instead, he prefers to explore Silver Lake, the neighborhood he has called home since 1990, and surrounding areas. Recently we met up at Silverlake Coffee, which Vitagliano frequents almost daily, and the DJ/author gave us some insight into where to eat, shop and chill when you're in his neck of Los Angeles.
Where do you like to eat?
I love Gingergrass. It's Vietnamese -- you know, pho -- and it's really tasty. I like a lot of places in Los Feliz, on Vermont. Puran's is a great Italian restaurant. I like Home, which is here. That's where I used to do the club. [Note: Home used to be Rudolpho's, the original venue for Dragstrip 66.] It's so bizarre to be in there. The ghosts of drag queens are in there, I swear. I still go to Hard Times Pizza for my pizza, which is on Hyperion. For Mexican, I like Alegria, on Sunset. There are so many new places that I haven't checked out, like on Sunset, I know that there's a grilled cheese place. I like going to Casita del Campo, which has been there for 50 years, but I also like that new people are trying to bring different cuisines and flavors to the neighborhood. I like that it does change over.
Do you go to Casita del Campo for the food or the shows?
I mostly go for the shows. I'm sort of involved with the theater. It was sort of co-created by me and Mr. Dan right after we started Dragstrip. We did a show together for eight years and that was the only thing in there. When the show ended, Dan took over booking other people. I'm definitely there for the shows.
Who do you recommend people check out at Casita del Campo?
Jackie Beat, Nadya Ginsburg, Selene Luna. Connie Loves Juice. They did it a couple months ago and it's coming back. Chico's Angels, Kay Sedia. Everybody from local people to people like Mink Stole and Julie Brown [Earth Girls Are Easy, Just Say Julie] will do a show there. It's a great place to see things that probably wouldn't play anywhere else. It's always a full house, for the most part. It allows for newer people to try things in a welcoming theater space. That's why I like it.
Do you go to clubs at all?
I'm such a hermit now. Akbar is kind of the go-to for me. If I want to go out for a drink or I want to dance, I go to Akbar. Once in a while, I might check out something at the Echoplex. I don't go out all that much. I think that because I'm a DJ, people think that I must go out every night or every weekend. It's actually the complete opposite. It's kind of like if you're a chef, you probably don't go out to dinner every night. You might cook at home, but you do it all day, or you're so involved with it, that if you have downtime or free time, you don't really immerse yourself in all the things you've been working at all day. Unless it's friends or something really good, I tend to stay home. If I could marry my DVR, I would. That's the greatest invention ever.
Where do you like to shop?
For clothes, again, I just love the stretch of Vermont from Hollywood Boulevard to Franklin. There are some really cool clothes shops there. There are fun little shops like Y Que. There are some t-shirt shops. I like finding things that aren't just from a department store there. I think Half Off is my favorite place to shop for jeans or somewhat dressier shirts. I'm a big fan of t-shirts that have something fun on them. I kind of pride myself on my t-shirts. For home stuff, I hate to say it, but I'll go to the Eagle Rock Target. For home stuff, it's really where to go. I can't afford the high-end-y shops. For records, I still shop right here at Rockaway. Sometimes I'll take a day to go shopping at Sunset Junction or to eat over there too. It's new all the time. It's changing very much. St. Vincent de Paul because I do love recycling and give old things new life. Also, Crossroads Trading Co. on Hyperion and Griffith Park. It's a buy and trade store. I like the barter system when possible.
Where do you go for music other than Rockaway?
If I don't go to Rockaway, I'll go to Amoeba. One stop shopping is really where to go. I have to be honest, I would say that 90% of what I play out and on my radio show, I download.
What else do you like to do in your free time?
A new thing for me is ditching L.A. for Palm Springs for a few days. I never really did that before. I'm a big fan of mid-century furniture and art, so there are a bunch of really good galleries and design stores. I haven't been there enough to remember the names. That's something I try to make a point to set aside a few hours to do, walk and people watch. To be honest, when I'm there, I'm really looking for a do-nothing, stick my toes in the pool sort of experience. I'll go to a few clubs, but being there for the nightlife isn't why I'm there.
Where do you like to see movies?
Vista always. Vista first. ArcLight is my second choice. [At Vista] they've fixed the inside and made it much more comfortable. I love the interior. I love the colors. I love the ceiling. I'm a big fan of preservation and I hate that L.A. is so hellbent on removing our history. Architecture is a once in a moment thing. If you tear it down, it's gone forever. So, I love that the Vista is basically the original same theater that's been since it first opened. They get good, first run movies. They have a matinee discount, which I like. The only reason that I wouldn't see something there is because it's just not playing. Or, if I want to see something right away and it's at the ArcLight, I will go to the ArcLight, which we all know is the creme de la creme of movie houses here in L.A. As expensive as it is, it's the best place.
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