Photography by Brian To
The technology and entertainment company Hologram USA marked its foray into original content production with its upcoming series, Hologram Karaoke Battles, which began taping on Thursday. The series revolves around the lounge’s highly competitive twice-weekly karaoke contests and is hosted by comedian and actor Andy Dick, who attended Thursday’s event and served as the night’s hologram emcee. The forthcoming reality series will appear in November on the online streaming service FilmOn.com, which shares with the theater the same owner, billionaire Alki David.
Alki David, owner of Hologram USA and FilmOn.com, with dog Vader
“We’ve repackaged the whole nightclub experience to be secure in the way artists perform and a safe, managed environment for audiences,” David says about the business.
Even on the heels of Halloween, the Hologram USA Karaoke Club managed to draw scores of participants and observers from all across the city. Contestants faced off in an American Idol-style competition with an $1,000 grand prize awarded to the singer with the best hologram karaoke performance. As has been the case at earlier contests (there have been two other so far), audience members expressed awe at the whole experience.
“Which one is real?”, one man asked a friend about a crowd of dancers on stage upon entering the theater. (None were real, it turned out. The troop of West African dancers had been filmed months before using proprietary cameras).
Even Dick seemed dazzled by the hologram technology, threatening to join the contest himself and take home the winnings.
Andy Dick with members of his entourage
“I’m not a judge or anything, so I can just beat all of you and take the money,” he said from the green screen room, a retrofitted projection booth that now beams out holograms instead of movies.
The TV show isn’t the only big plan for Hologram USA. David unveiled plans for not just one new hologram site, but seven. The first new location to open up is at the Sofitel Nightclub down the road in Beverly Hills, which David expects to be open in the next 30 days.
Audience members pose in front of the hologram stage
David highlights how his hologram technology promises to change the live performance business for both audiences and performers. The growing number of sites will all be linked up in order to host live events simultaneously, so that an artist could hypothetically perform in multiple locations at once.
Comedian and actor Andy Dick, who was not a fan of every performance
“Andy Dick can get 200,000 seats from a small stage in Hollywood,” he says.
Dick himself seemed eager to test out the technology, hopping onto the green screen with contestants and, at one point, with David. The comedian seemed more than happy with a rum and coke in one hand and a microphone in the other, working the crowd with a tight-ish five. The audience, for their part, responded warmly to Dick, despite the corporeal distance. (If anything, they appreciated the space between their ears and Dick’s tongue—a privilege not all attendees enjoyed).
Andy Dick, who has a thing for licking according to some reports
Even with Dick and the camera crew present, Thursday’s event was only a soft opening to finish working out the kinks. The official grand opening will be tonight starting at 8 PM, with another chance to win $1,000.