The upcoming N.W.A biopic, Straight Outta Compton aims to be legit. In a story for California Sunday Magazine, director F. Gary Grey discussed his desire to create an honest portrayal of the legendary hip hop group's rise to fame. Production designer Shane Valentino was charged with the task of recreating N.W.A's Compton. In many cases, the original locations no longer existed, and substitute locations were dressed to resemble Los Angeles in the 1980s and '90s. We've rounded up the locations and their stand-ins so that movie-goers can be prepared for those "Hey, that looks familiar" feelings.
Film location: Catch One aka Jewel's Catch One (above)
To stand in for Dooto's, the now-nonexistent club Dr. Dre and Ice Cube first performed in, Valentino chose Catch One. The recently closed disco had been a popular destination for LA's African American LGBT community at a time when West Hollywood catered mostly to whites. When it shuttered, it had been open for over 40 years. Photos of the original Dooto's were consulted, and with vintage paneling and drapes, Catch One "looked eerily similar," Valentino told the magazine.
Filming location: Glendale's Moonlight Rollerway (above)
Role: Skateland USA
Known as a popular venue for hip hop, Skateland USA in Compton was also the location of N.W.A's first official show. Skateland USA was originally a bowling alley before being turned into a skating rink/music venue. Photos on the Facebook page for the old venue show posters for other acts, too, who went on to fame, like Queen Latifah and those who were probably already famous, like Grandmaster Flash. Though the structure still exists, Skateland was beyond repair for the film's production crew, so they instead used Glendale's Moonlight Roller Rink on San Fernando Road. Moonlight's space themed walls were covered with bare paneling to recreate the plain interior of the original skating rink. Vintage arcade games and lighting were added to complete the effect.
Joe Louis Arena (left); LA Memorial Sports Arena (right) In 1989, Detroit police stormed the stage at Joe Louis Arena during the middle of an N.W.A show to prevent the group from performing the song "Fuck Tha Police". The situation quickly devolved into a riot. Instead of the Detroit venue, the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena was used to recreate large concerts during N.W.A's rise. Valentino used tour photos to assemble a pastiche of stage design elements. Because the original tour was very bare bones, Valentino took several true N.W.A stage props such as police caution tape and trash cans and added additional components to create a more visually dynamic stage design. "They tried to bring some of those street elements to their stage performance," Valentino said. "I riffed on that and made it a little bit bigger and exaggerated." —Jeff Wattenhofer
· Reality Rap. Re-creating N.W.A's Los Angeles [California Sunday Magazine]
· First Major Gay Black Disco in the US For Sale After 4 Decades [Curbed LA]
· Mapping Los Angeles's Groundbreaking Role in LGBT History [Curbed LA]