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'VIPER ROOM', the Controversial 90's Nightclub of Johnny Depp

The Viper Room is a nightclub located on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California, United States. It opened in 1993 and was partly owned by actor Johnny Depp, while the other part belonged to Sal Jenco, who starred in "21 Jump Street" alongside Depp.

The club became famous as a gathering spot for Hollywood's elite, and it was the place where actor River Phoenix died from a drug overdose on Halloween night in 1993. In early 1995, Australian actor and singer Jason Donovan also suffered an overdose there but survived. In November 1997, Australian rock star Michael Hutchence performed publicly for the last time at The Viper Room, just one week before he committed suicide.

The Viper Room has undergone several changes in ownership and continues to host musical performances of various genres, including metal, punk rock, and alternative rock.

The Viper Room is on the list of the most controversial—and beloved—spots for celebrities. Like Studio 54 and the Chateau Marmont hotel, the venue collects scandals, tragedies, and wild stories experienced by the biggest stars in film, music, and fashion.

(Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash e Johnny Depp in The Viper Room )

'90s Icon

Opened on August 14, 1993, The Viper Room is a nightclub located on the famous Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California, United States. Part of the club was owned by actor Johnny Depp, while the other part belonged to fellow actor Sal Jenco. From the outset, the nightclub became one of the hottest spots in town, and on its opening night, it featured performances by rock band Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, musician Shane MacGowan from The Pogues, and Evan Dando, the lead vocalist of The Lemonheads. Over time, the controversies and tragedies that occurred there only increased its fame.

The Viper Room on the famous Sunset Strip. (Credit: Reproduction)

(Viper Room Closed on Halloween in Tribute to Actor River Phoenix. Since the death of Johnny Depp's friend, it became a tradition to keep the club closed every Halloween in his honor.)

(The young actor River Phoenix.)

Deaths and Tragedies

The Halloween of 1993 marked a turning point in the history of the Viper Room. This is because River Phoenix, brother of Joaquin Phoenix, died in the club after overdosing on drugs that night. River was only 23 years old at the time and was already considered one of the most promising actors of his generation. In 1995, while attending Kate Moss's birthday party, Australian singer and actor Jason Donovan suffered a seizure due to cocaine use. Luckily, he survived. Then in 1997, INXS band vocalist Michael Hutchence made his final public performance at Johnny Depp's iconic club. A week later, Hutchence committed suicide. Recently, singer Courtney Love revealed that Depp saved her life in 1995 after she overdosed outside the club.

(Kate Moss and Johnny Depp at the nightclub.)

Illegal Games

In addition to nights filled with drinks and drugs, illegal gambling was also a highlight at the parties held in the nightclub. In the early 2000s, the basement of the Viper Room brought together various gamblers at illegal poker tables, and former competitive skier Molly Bloom was the one running the games. Among them were movie stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, and the eternal Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire (by the way, the idea of illegal gambling came from Tobey).

(Steve Jones and Iggy Pop performing at The Viper Room in 1995.)

"The Disappearance of Anthony Fox"

A major mystery surrounding the Viper Room is the disappearance of Anthony Fox, the co-owner of the bar. In 1999, Anthony accused Johnny Depp in court, alleging that the actor had embezzled millions of dollars from the club. However, just one day before Fox was scheduled to testify in court, he mysteriously disappeared. His car was found abandoned in Santa Clara, California, days later, but Anthony's body was never found. In 2004, Johnny relinquished his share of the Viper Room, which then passed to Fox's daughter.

(Anthony Fox and his missing poster, the case remains unresolved.)

Patrons and Shows

The club was frequented by Hollywood's biggest celebrities, including names like Jared Leto, Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie, Drew Barrymore, Keanu Reeves, Lisa Marie Presley, Courtney Love, Pamela Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, Tim Burton, Charlize Theron, Paris Hilton, Stephen Baldwin, and many more. Several artists also performed at the nightclub, such as Johnny Cash, The Strokes, Slash, John Frusciante, Iggy Pop, Juliette and the Licks, and the Pussycat Dolls, who, before fame, performed several weekly shows at the venue.

(Hole and Courtney Love.)

The End of an Era

Despite years of success and the mark it left on Hollywood, it was recently announced that the Viper Room will be demolished. The site will make way for a residential building with cafes, restaurants, and a luxury hotel.


In the book "Last Night at the Viper Room: River Phoenix and the Hollywood He Left Behind," writer and journalist Gavin Edwards details the life of River Phoenix and his untimely death at the Viper Room.

The nightclub and its stories were also featured in the film "Molly's Game," where the club is referred to as the "Cobra Lounge."



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