Actress Lori Petty was born in doublewide trailer in Chattanooga, Tennessee. But for the last 28 years, she’s called Venice home.
“I moved to Venice in 1990, when Abbot Kinney was called West Washington and you could ride your bike in middle of the street and there were no cars,” says Petty.
At the time, the “Orange Is the New Black” star was filming “Point Break,” living in Hollywood and driving to the beach every day to surf with Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. After a week of commuting, Petty thought, “Why don’t I live in Venice? This place is awesome,” and put down roots.
“The ocean, the people — it felt like home,” she says. “It felt comfortable. They say ‘find your tribe,’ and Venice feels like being a part of something.”
It’s the little things that make Petty appreciate her beachside community. She loves that you don’t need any money to walk out of your house and stir up some fun for the day. She rejoices that you can buy cut flowers almost any day of the week. She revels in the panoramic views of the sand, sea and sunsets.
Petty, who went on to play the title character in “Tank Girl” and the kid sister in “A League of Their Own,” describes Venice in the ’90s as filled with thinkers, talkers, writers, surfers — people who didn’t want to live anywhere else.
Nowadays, when Petty isn’t working you can find her at her favorite local hangs, with two of her best friends: Hal Frederick of Hal’s Bar & Grill and Richard Glass of Glass Hair Design.
Petty met Glass in 1990, when he was 19 and shampooing hair at Euphoria Salon next to the old Hal’s Bar & Grill on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Now he owns his own shop on Main Street near Windward Circle.
“Richard has a big TV, so I’ll bring him food and we’ll watch ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ or ‘Game of Thrones’ while he cuts hair. His place has a ‘Cheers’-y vibe.”
That same year, Petty also met Hal.
“I used to bike to Hal’s with a stack of scripts,” recalls Petty. “I’d go in at noon and sit and read in peace. Hal and I became friends. I remember dinners at Hal’s with Dennis Hopper, Gregory Hines, Roscoe Lee Browne, Maya Angelou, Chaka Khan, Grace Jones, Ed Moses, Tyne Daly — too many to mention. It was home base for us all. And walking home, happy as pie. Twenty-eight years later, Hal’s my best friend to this day.”
The longtime friends adventure through Costco together, go to the movies weekly, and sit back and relax every Sunday for jazz brunch at the new Hal’s Bar & Grill in Runway at Playa Vista.
Sitting on the edge of a curb overlooking the kids playing with chalk at the Friday Venice Farmers’ Market, Petty still seems happy as pie. She’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
“I’ve thought about where I would go,” she says. “I can’t think of anywhere else to live.”
— Jessica Koslow