By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Photo by Jack Gould THE ROCK HOUSE, LAGUNA BEACH
Cost to Build: $4.5 million, completed in 1997
Occupant: Dennis Morin, retired CEO and playboy
The week, we visited the Rock House, Dennis Morin hosted a cocktail reception for 45, two or three dinner parties, and several "dinner parties for one." Face it: the Rock House—a sensuous, organically rounded space tunneled out of the cliffs on the sand next to Aliso Creek—is the ultimate seducer, notwithstanding the occasional stink wafting from the creek. Any woman who enters the Rock House's solid steel doors imagines herself as its mistress. "There's more money in this entryway than in most houses," Morin says, refreshingly boastful. Directly inside are the serpentine iron railings, dripping like a mescaline vision, modeled like the rest of the house after architect Antoni GaudŪ's Spanish masterpieces. Morin gets only the best.
Add to that the facts that Morin is fun, friendly, not bad-looking and a gourmet cook, and I'm figuring Morin has to beat the women off like he's Wilt Chamberlain. Morin admits only that the house is "entertainment-oriented," but let's start with the bedroom anyway. There is no wall between bath and bed, so you can see the sunset from the shower. The room is invitingly pink—rosy, even; this may be so that women will want to stay in it. I congratulate him on his foresight, and he agrees. "These idiots that make their bedrooms into macho fortresses . . ." he scoffs, eyes rolling, and though he trails off, the implication is clear: pink rooms get pink!
Downstairs, we hit what is clearly (to my dirty eyes, anyway) an orgy room. There, in front of the wide-screen surround-sound TV (with ottomans wired for "butt-surround" for action pictures) is a huge, cream sofa that could fit 12—16 if they got friendly. "My mother took one look at that couch and said, 'That sofa is made for funny business!'" Morin says. He gets philosophical. "Do you think people have had sex on this couch?" he asks archly. "Or on the floor here? Or on these ottomans?" Naaaah. We laugh and laugh.
Upstairs, on the highest of the multiple levels, the round walls have been carved with windows 16 feet wide and perhaps 12 feet high. They are open, their screens recessed to the sides, so that nothing stands between you and the ocean except for the patio on which rests the waterfall Jacuzzi. Morin, naturally, likes to put oils and scents into the water. The couches here, too, are huge and soft. The terrazzo floors hold embedded abalone, marble and zinc. All the colors fit into an ocean scheme, but it's the ocean as you really see it: there's no Miami teal or tangerine, but rather blue grays and dusky roses. There are several bars, one next to the round kitchen with a high round skylight bored through the rock above. Do you know how hard it is to find a round stove? Hundreds of cookbooks surround the kitchen, on shelves high overhead; there's an entire wall of spices. Morin can't think of anything he likes to make, he says, because every time he has someone over, he always makes something new. Does it always turn out good? "Always," he says.
There's more, of course. There's the secret wine cellar holding among its 500 bottles one 1959 Lafitte-Rothschild. There's a small room that controls the pad's many space-age electronic built-ins. There's a laundry room that makes you actually want to wash something. There's the outside kitchen, where you probably won't be allowed to lift a finger. So come for a drink. Stay for the weekend.