Amusing Tales from The Standard, Hollywood's History

Melissa Volpert—the second Standard employee EVER—has seen it all over 18 wild years on the Sunset Strip. Here are some of her personal highlights.
Melissa Volpert by Lehua Chong

Leash Kid
“We unveiled the finished hotel on Oscar night 1998, and I just remember a naked guy being led across the front desk on a leash.”  

Hollywood Forever
“A legendary American actor’s ashes may or may not have been spread on the pool deck…”

Naked Hippie Nights
“The building next door to us used to be the Source restaurant, and back in the day, it was the glamorous, hippie hangout of LA run by cult leader Father Yod and his 13 wives. There’s a documentary made about them called The Source Family, and we had the premiere party. All the family members were here, there was patchouli and macramé…it was 1969 at The Standard for one night. The best part was when everyone took off their clothes and jumped in the pool.”

The Guinea Pig
“A woman named Heidi was the first guest of any Standard hotel. Leading up to the first day we could take guests was very stressful, and a friend of mine came over to the hotel to give me moral support. Suddenly someone runs up to us and goes, ‘There’s a lady that just pulled up, and she’s got a suitcase!’ You could just tell she was like 'Where am I and what have I gotten myself into?’ Just then, my friend opens his mouth and goes ‘You’re the first guest!’ We all shared a bottle of champagne and had a group hug.”

Best Guest
“Character actor Edward Herrmann was the least likely person to love this hotel and we loved him. He wore tweed blazers, little driving caps, and smoked a pipe. He stayed more than 500 nights over seven or eight years when he was in town to film Gilmore Girls. Every night, he’d sit in a booth in the restaurant and read his script for the next day. He was such a presence here, and he was everyone’s friend and mentor.”

“We put Donald Trump toilet paper in the public bathrooms leading up to the election. I would see people coming out the bathroom delicately holding four squares of it and walking around because they were going to take it home as a souvenir. People loved it.”

Poet in the Box
“We had a poet, Jacqueline Suskin, who is quite well known around town, sit in the Box. When you checked into the hotel, you were given a postcard, and you addressed it to yourself or a loved one, and on the other side, you wrote a subject and then you’d give it to the front desk, and Jacqueline would create a poem for you and mail it. Three weeks after you left, you or your mother or girlfriend would get a poem, and they were fabulous.”

Space Cad
“One wonderful night last year, we hosted a party to celebrate the films of the Unarius cult. They have an old Cadillac with a spaceship on top and it’s called the Space Cad. We had this plan where on the little spaceship, there’s a little hatch that opens, and doves were supposed to be released. It drove out of the garage went up the street to make a left on Sunset, and the hinge popped open and all the doves flew out. We were all waiting with our cameras at the front and all of a sudden there was this collective ‘Ohhhh shit!’”

Grumpy Old Man
“There was an older gentleman who was put here as a joke by friends who thought he was too conservative. He’s a pretty well-known guy, and his friends kept emailing me to book him, and I kept saying, ‘No, I’m not taking his booking, he sounds like a nightmare!’ And they kept forwarding him the emails. Every email, I think there were about ten, he got more and more excited, and he was like ‘I have to stay there now!’ And he wouldn’t take no for an answer. The morning after his first night, I saw him on the pool deck, and he goes, ‘I don’t know what’s happened. I think it’s magic.’ It turned into a long-term love affair.”

Bless Me Twice
“Father Chris is this incredible, charismatic Greek Orthodox priest who gave the most irreverent eulogy for an old friend of mine, and we became friends and he has stayed at The Standard, Hollywood ever since. I’ve had him bless the hotel twice, and every time, major stuff has happened afterwards. The first time he blessed us, the financial crisis of 2008 hit the next day, and the second time, our dishwasher broke. After that I said, ‘Father Chris, no more blessings.’”

La Dolce Vita
“There was an amazing Italian movie called Le Grande Bellezza, and I knew the producer of the film because he stayed with us for the Golden Globes. He’s very superstitious, and when the film won the Golden Globe, he decided we were his good luck charm. We then hosted the entire team of Le Grande Bellezza leading up to the Oscars. We took tea lights and on them we wrote “in bocca al lupo,” which means “break a leg” (they’re very superstitious, so you can’t say good luck). We lined the entrance of the lobby with them and at night we would light them, so as they were leaving and entering the hotel, they saw our little signal to them. They won the Oscar, and to this day they all feel that we are their good luck charm. Lightning doesn’t usually strike twice, so when you’re a part of the most important weekend of someone’s life, it’s a very special thing.”

Related Stories

Book Now