Masquerade’s Hidden History…with Steve Perry

Written by
Lucent Dossier Experience by Jeremiah Garcia

The music fans at KCRW are not limited to the music department. Today’s post comes from Beth Topping, who helps run our Fringe Benefits program and our semi-annual pledge drives.

All the attendees piling into the legendary Park Plaza for Masquerade will have one thing in common.  You guessed it … it’s Steve Perry.

At the risk of losing my musical credibility, I have to be honest.  I love Steve Perry.  Especially the 1984 version of Steve Perry — I love his voice, I love his songwriting, the way he performs, his penchant for tight pants, his shaggy mullet…  and yes, his big schnoz.  Journey rocks, too.

Much of my passion for this is because I was in high school from the early to mid-80s, so I was constantly exposed to Perry and friends.  Back then, it was something that I coveted from my rocker pals, because listening to Journey wouldn’t have been considered cool in my own circle (we favored the post-punk and technopop of the day).

Anyhoodle, that is the benefit of being an adult — I no longer care what anyone thinks of my music taste.  So yes, I love Journey and I love Steve Perry.  Without irony.  Yay!

When gearing up for Masquerade, I started thinking about the beautiful and historic Park Plaza — our location for KCRW’s legendary Halloween benefit events — and I remembered that Steve Perry’s “Oh Sherrie” video had been shot there.  The Neo-Gothic building has been featured in countless movies and commercials over the years but “Oh Sherrie” is what stood out in my mind’s eye, especially since the whole video takes place in multiple locations throughout the building.

The opening scenes are shot at the top of Park Plaza‘s dramatic lobby staircase, which Perry later walks down as he serenades the “real” Sherrie.  And when Steve belts out the killer first line of the song, “You should’ve been gooooooone!”  He’s sitting on the small staircase that leads to the main ballrooms upstairs.

It makes me happy to think of all the times I’ve traipsed up and down those stairs — in full costume and having the time of my life at Masquerade.

Park Plaza is the perfect location for Masquerade — the architecture is awe-inspiring and its history and place in pop culture make it such a fun place to be.  Just ask Robert Downey, Jr. — several scenes from “Less Than Zero” were shot there.  Park Plaza represented the nightclub that Downey’s character, Julian, wanted to buy.  Okay, okay…  I’ll get out of the 80s, I promise!!  (Now, where is my Madonna costume?)

I’ll see you at Masquerade — it’s time for us to leave some of our own stories and memories in those hallowed halls!!

— Beth Topping

p.s. The old Elks Lodge-turned-hotel has appeared in many films — too many to mention them all.  A few flicks that have taken advantage of its amazing interiors include “Chaplin,” “Wild at Heart,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Bugsy,” “Fisher King” and “Barton Fink.”  Where have you spotted this legendary space?

p.p.s.  Steve Perry rules.