WeHo Nightlife Gets Even Hotter: Club Owner Sues Rasputin Promoters and Local DJs

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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he temperature in the hotly competitive world of West Hollywood gay nightlife has been turned up several notches with the filing of a lawsuit by the owners of Robertson nightclub against party promoters Andres Rigal and Luke Nero and a number of the area’s most popular DJs and party hosts.

Andres Rigal and Luke Nero
Andres Rigal and Luke Nero

The suit, filed on Jan. 17 by WeHo Nightlife Group Inc., alleges that Rigal and Nero wrongly appropriated the term “Rasputin Russian Love Machine,” the name of a very popular club night at Robertson that Rigal and Nero promoted until recently.

Also named as defendants in the lawsuit are Miles Davis Moody, the model and actor who was host of Rigal and Nero’s Rasputin parties; Billy Francesca, the performer and party host who also has worked at Rasputin and DJs Josh Peace, Konrad Parker, YCasey Alva and Aaron Elvis.

The lawsuit, which says the damages sought are to be determined during the trial, alleges that in August 2012, while Rigal and Nero were operating as promoters of Rasputin they filed an application to register “Rasputin Russian Love Machine” as a trademark without the knowledge of the WeHo Nightlife Group. That application was approved in April of last year.

Rasputin ClosingWeHo Nightlife says it and Nero and Rigal signed a contract in December 2011 to stage the event, which became very popular from its inception. That contract called for WeHo Nightlife and the promoters to jointly pay for all expenses associated with the event, including DJs, bartenders and promotion. The parties in May or June 2012 agreed orally to a new contract, WeHo Nightlife says, that never was put into writing. Under its terms, Nero and Rigal would be involved only in promoting the event, not managing it. For that each of them would be paid $1,000 per event and a commission of $500 each for door charges and profits from the sale of drinks up to $25,000 a night, $1,000 each for sales of $30,000 or more a night and $1,500 each for sales of more than $35,000 a night.

The lawsuit also alleges that Nero and Rigal “began a campaign to smear the name of WEHO (WEho Nightlife Group) … make claims to ownership of the generic name Rasputin that continues to be the promoted name of the nightclub event at the Robertson … and instigate a continued threat campaign to all affiliated independent contractor disc jockeys that were employed by WEHO since June 2012 for this event to cease and desist their performance of work…”

WeHo Nightlife Group also alleges that Nero and Rigal and unnamed parties “began a social media campaign (to) make false accusations, alleging ownership of Rasputin and threatening all individual that are associated with WEHO of litigation should they continue their business relationship with WEHO in order to derail WEHO’s business operations.”

As evidence they cite social media posts on Facebook and Twitter such as “Go get them Luke Nero Make those shady thieves PAY BIG,” and “I’ve seen a lot of tacky sh-t go down in West Hollywood over the years but this imitations Rasputin … that’s trying to be perpetuated is the icing on the cake.” WeHo Nightlife Group has added the unidentified people who posted those allegations to its lawsuit as (John) Does 1 through 100 and says it will add them to the suit when and if they are identified.

Nero and Rigal announced the closing of Rasputin on Jan. 12 in a Facebook post. Two days later, WeHo Nightlife Group announced that the event was continuing, which prompted a response from Nero and Rigal noting that they owned the Rasputin trademark and were looking for another venue.

An also heated, but not legally contentious, battle continues over the opening of Cooley’s, the “gastropub” that David Cooley, founder of the Abbey, has planned for the south side of Santa Monica Boulevard near Robertson. Alfredo Diaz, a co-owner of Revolver, a nearby bar, has asked the West Hollywood Planning Commission to reconsider approval for the project granted by the West Hollywood Assistant Community Development Director John Keho. His appeal will be heard by the Planning Commission at its regular meeting on Thursday.


11 Comments
  1. HORRIBLE DISGUSTING experience!!!!

    I went there with 4 of my guy friends. We were having a decent time dancing but then the unthinkable happened to me…I was kicked out (by one of the owners) because ” I had an attitude with him” after he stepped and stayed on my foot! I didn’t even push him off of me hard, it was my natural reaction to try and get him off of me so I put my hands up and shouted out a cuss word out of PAIN and lightly pushed his shoulder so he could get off of me. He obviously wanted to flex an entitlement muscle because that’s all he was able to show off. Verbatim he says ” Oh you want to act like a bit*$ and have an attitude with me? I can kick you out if I want to!” I rolled my eyes and turned away back to my friends and Then he literally had a security guard come up to me and ask me to leave the club. I explained to the guard what actually happened & that the only way I was going to leave would be by force and to be carried out by the guards because i did nothing wrong and was trying to have a good time with my friends… the guard apologized and said he UNDERSTOOD MY ANGER but there was nothing he could do because that guy was one of the owners.. The “owner” like a sneaky coward, slithered off into the crowd. Let’s just say it took 3 big body guards to convince me to leave peacefully and escort me out (followed by my friends…) The (or i should say one of) owner was lucky he left when he did because I was so angry i could’ve scratched his eyes out. RIDICOULOUS. I will NEVER go back there again and i will make sure i tell everyone about that demeaning horrible experience. The Abbey, Trunks and all the other clubs on robertson are so much better anyways.

  2. Well hopefully the Robertson learns an important lesson about actually writing contracts! It does seem odd that Rasputin was launched with much (obnoxious) fanfare as a Nero and Andreas event, a giant Mr Black event. The Robertson should have been clear at the beginning it owned and created the event and not the party promoters hired to attract the money. Sure the Robertson has paid Nero, Andreas and company handsomely for their services but before Rasputin the club struggled to stay relevant… so Nero and Andreas seem to have a strong case.

    All in all, the name really has nothing to do with the theme of the night, which is sleaze (nothing wrong with that), but having a drink boy walk around in a centurian helmet is not a “theme”. So they should be able to change the name to whatever, but the club is hoping to trick people into thinking it is still an off-shoot of Mr. Black.

  3. The persians that are in this law suit have been doing things that are shady for a long time. They are shady with the women too. This is one reason I stopped promoting there. I am sure that the guys who started Rasputin did start it from top to bottom. They have allowed us to promote events then on the day of the event – they decided to charge a door fee when it was to be free etc. So trust me the owners of WEHO nightlife are shady and I am victim of it. I am so sorry that other women are still doing events there. It all tells me that a bunch of people are desperate and money hungry. We need to stop supporting this kind of crappy behavior. There are so few places to go in WEHO so this limits us on where to go to fun and to have events. I wish the old owners of the Factory were more choosy in who they allowed to sell it to. I also would love to ask people to stop going there and stop giving those persians our money. They will have no choice but to sell the building.

  4. Michael above you are incorrect on ALL counts. Luke and Andreas without a doubt created the Rasputin concept from top to bottom. Clearly you are employed by the … Persians and are probably the only person in their right mind to defend them. They are bullies cashing in on the gay community of west Hollywood and need to be removed ASAP

  5. @Michael Nasal. I’m not sure how you define faggorty?
    It sounds kinda like hate speech based on sexual orientation. I don’t know though so maybes you can explain it since your applying it to me. Is the intention that the fags are doing faggy things? Im not part of any planned or organized smear campaign like you alleged referencing me. My words are mine, created in the spirit of my thoughts on this event, No one told me to write them. And I wrote them because i was compelled to after seeing the weho ville article.. I think the bad talk about the club and the promoters is the seemingly counterfeiting of the name and brand. And to me to sure Lucke and so on this is hypocritical because in fact the owner or promoters are continuing to use other individuals creativity to market it. Disney Characters, the cookie monster, willie wonka ompolompas. Which were never a part of the theme at Rasputin and in fact are other individuals brands and creativity So on the surface in my opinion it’s the cat calling the kettle black. My point in changing the name is it’s those individuals creative vision that was that club. You cant just use the name of a previous creative team and not think people will question it. Which they have and are doing rightly. Also I find it an insult to the gay community this club is operating in to sure so many of the dj’s. promoters etc that make a living in the gay nightlife world. All for the sake of what/? To prove they can use what ever name they want and alienate all these people? To me this is really created bad will in the community and not the best thoughts about the management of the clubs agendas.

  6. The reason as to why they are including those that made comments is because it was part of the smear campaign against them. Seeing as they are named “John Does 1-100” means that they have no real names, which could mean they are false accounts, more than likely set up by these people to “act” like the public.

    They took the name of popular event and secretly made it there own so they could get all the profit from the name. They got caught being shady and greedy and then decide to try and smear the people that created it to begin with when they said they couldn’t do that.

    But, by all means, let us just “come up with a new name already” and let those duplicitous turds keep making money off the creative backs of others.

    Typical faggotry right there. If this were some conservative group that had secretly trademarked the name, you all would have you panties in a bunch and demanding justice for the act. INCLUDING those that participated in the attempt to undermining the club.

    Bottom line is that the club came up with the name to be used at their venue. These guys were brought in to stage the event that Robertson created, nothing more. That they went to trademark the name so they could own the rights to a popular event and essentially take it on the road is shady as f*ck. It was not theirs to take. PERIOD.

    And then to have someone, like Shawn Thompson, make back-handed allegations against the club owners shows the extent of faggorty that is prevalent in WeHo

    “What also concerns me individually…” shouts he just be a part of the smear campaign. Why include the word “individually” unless you are being told to act on the part of these promoters, but told to “make it sound like it is your own opinion”

    Shady.

    1. You are incorrect Michael…”John Does” does NOT mean they have no real names as you suggest. It only means they haven’t been identified yet (completely common in lawsuits). And in fact you have no evidence whatsoever that any of the posters were part of any orchestrated smear campaign. That’s pure conjecture on your part.

  7. I find this utterly a disgrace the a club owner in the gay community is suing so many members of that community? What also is concerning to me individually is that these same individuals have used Micky and Minney mouse, the cookie monster, the Willie Wonka ompalumpas and various other characters to promote their night. To me the promoters and or the club owner need to just come up with a new name already. Stop this agitation of the community and its creative individuals in the name of profit

  8. Weho Nightlife Group is also going to sue the people who made comments on Facebook? That’s utterly ridiculous.

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