Review: Entertainment Weekly

Hole Lotta Love
January 14, 1999

The grand reopening of L.A.’s Viper Room last weekend got underway with a Kundalini yoga guru, Gurmukh Kaur, in white robe and turban, beatifically assuring West Hollywood’s assembled black-clad: “Our birthright is happiness.” In other words, we all get to be the girl with the most cake, right?

Fitting, then, that the headliner was Courtney Love – who’s been a yoga student of Kaur’s for about a year and a half – leading Hole in an acoustic performance benefiting Golden Bridge Night Moon, a meditative “center for living.” Those contributing $200 a head to hasten the promised Age of Aquarius included Tom Hanks (cocking his head quizzically as Love bragged from the stage that he’s a fellow Pisces) with Rita Wilson; Brad Pitt with Jennifer Aniston, the latter giving a friendly hug to ex-beau Adam Duritz of Counting Crows; “Ally McBeal”‘s Portia de Rossi; and, of course, perennial Courtney confidante Drew Barrymore.

Outside the club, Love gave the practice of Kundalini yoga full credit for the physical benefits others have attributed to plastic surgery. “I never exercised my whole life; I just sat around and chain-smoked. It gave me strength and built my character,” said Love, popping eyes in a black minidress cut out for maximal cleavage, while a softspoken Kaur murmured something in praise of her celebrity charge’s improved “electromagnetic fields.” Love’s famous feistiness isn’t completely om-ward bound, of course: Inside the club, she had plenty of peeved words from the stage for the “actor-boys” in the crowd who she felt weren’t properly attentive. Chided Love, “What are you talking about back there? You fucking faux-nihilist Entertainment Weekly readers! Is this not as transcendent as Royal Albert Hall Dylan 1966?”

It wasn’t, quite, but Hole’s spirited unplugged-ness still drew plaudits. So did the once bare-ish Viper Room’s new burnt-sienna Art Deco interior, the result of seven weeks of renovation. But the specter of River Phoenix – who is memorialized via a sidewalk plaque and tiny pink flowering bush that went nearly unnoticed alongside the red carpet – stood over the arrivals, even if no one among the assembled media had the nerve to bring up the late actor. Asked by EW Online what associations the Viper Room holds for her, Love demurred, “Oh, come on – that’s too loaded.” Queried what he likes most about the club, Mohawk-bearing Stone Temple Pilot Scott Weiland quickly answered, “I like the fact that nobody’s died here in a long time.”

Among the highlights of Hole’s full-length unplugged set were one and a half Guns N’ Roses covers (“If he’s (Axl’s) not gonna be him, I’ll be him,” Courtney told the crowd), along with selections borrowed from the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Lemonheads. Love also regaled the star-studded audience with a few tidbits about her own catalog. After singing “Hit So Hard,” which has been interpreted any number of ways, including literally, she remarked, “that song is about a really great orgasm. There’s no rock critics here so I can tell you the truth.” At last!