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The Wildest Stories From Hollywood's Infamous Hangout 'The Viper Room'

At the height of its success, Los Angeles’ famous Viper Room nightclub — then owned by Johnny Depp — was the center of young Hollywood. It opened in 1993 on the Sunset Strip, and guests could get their nightly fix of drinks, music, and celebrity excitement. Maybe too much. After River Phoenix died outside in October of '93, the young club developed a new reputation: one of crime, drugs, fights, and countless drunken nights.

10. John Frusciante's performance

On the same night that River Phoenix died, Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante performed a set while strung out on heroin. He could barely get through it, and the set was a complete buzzkill — that must have been a bad night to be at the club.

Bad reputation

"His upper teeth had fallen out," a witness of the event said. "His legs, arms and ankles were pocked by cigarette burns and his fingernails were bloodied. From that night and on, The Viper Room’s reputation as a messy dungeon-like hangout on Los Angeles’ famous Sunset Strip was set — it was a place anything could happen, where Johnny Law was nowhere to be found.

9. Poker ring

As all the drunken and murderous mayhem took place at the club, something less deadly (but still illegal) was taking place in its basement. According to an interview on 20/20, Molly Bloom regularly hosted Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, and Tobey Maguire for poker games whose stakes rose to $100,000. 

Organized crime

Molly made the mistake of taking a percentage from each game’s winning pot. But doing so automatically made her guilty of organized crime. She then got caught up in money dealings with mobsters, and it wouldn’t take long for the FBI to raid the club and bring all the gambling to a halt.