Drunk On Art

Building the perfect bar

Sometimes, owning everything old—house, car, furniture, clothes, record players—just ain't worth it.

Like that cool '74 Camaro, old stuff seems like a great idea till you get the mechanic's bill.

That leaves room for someone like, oh, let's say exotica artist Shag to make his retro visions flesh: taking a break from his Space Age bachelor-pad canvases, Shag is making new stuff that looks like old stuff—except it actually works.

On March 20, he and Jason Smith, owner of Long Beach's Starlite Room vintage-furnishings store, will unveil—and promptly sell out of—their first-ever furniture collaboration: a hang-on-the-wall mini-bar with a Shag print as its mixing board/covering. They call it the Hide-a-Way Cocktail Cabinet, and it's missing only the automatic mood lights.

Smith had the bar part manufactured, and it's big enough to hold a couple of bottles and glasses. Shag did the art. You buy it, hang it on the wall and live the life of Sinatra. Or Hefner. Maybe Louis Prima. Your choice!

"It's actually based on a vintage piece," Smith told me during a recent Starlite visit. "The original had a music box in it, so when you opened it up, it played 'How Dry I Am' or something corny." It sounds kinda cool for about a minute, except you'd have to drink a whole lot to drown out that noise. And you wouldn't be able to, but you'd keep trying, and you'd wind up with a nose like W.C. Fields, only not as cool.

Shag and Smith's bar is much quieter. And while you still probably can't spill a Manhattan all over without ruining it, it's better made.

Plus, darn it, it's got a Shag print on the front of it. He may be merchandised everywhere—even at TJ Maxx; you should go!—but that's still kinda neat. The print shows two people lounging in a room with a bar just like yours on the wall, creating a bar-within-a-bar-within-a-bar effect. It's so meta!

"I'm always drawn to products involving drinking," Tustin resident Shag, a.k.a. Josh Agle, said—overstating, perhaps, the obvious. "It's just a big part of the world I paint. It's something that's aesthetically pleasing to me."

Him and a few thousand others: there are enough Shag fans out there to make his periodic Fourth Street treks akin to the time the Pope visited the LA Coliseum in '87, albeit with sleeker transportation and fewer Raiders fans.

The fact this mini-bar is a limited-edition furniture piece should make things that much more heated. With a production of just 250 and a reasonable price tag of $300, the Hide-a-Way can make you the envy of all your friends and neighbors—provided you line up like the salivating dogs you are early enough to get your wrist band.

Oooh, wrist bands. It's so like a Depeche Mode presale, but with more Hawaiian shirts—and everyone has better hair than Martin Gore.

Buy Shag's bar at the Starlite Room, 2220 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, (562) 434-3726; www.starliteroom.com. Sat. Wrist bands, 6 p.m.; event, 7 p.m.
 
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