[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.
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.
WeHo 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.
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”
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
@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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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.
This almost requires popcorn…
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
Weho Nightlife Group is also going to sue the people who made comments on Facebook? That’s utterly ridiculous.