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Before They Were Stars, They Partied in LA

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Katy Perry, Kesha, and friends, 2007.
Katy Perry, Kesha, and friends, 2007.
Photo: Mark Hunter/The Cobrasnake

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In 2006, I was a 22-year-old party monster who lived for Tuesday nights, when my friends and I joined LA's coolest kids at Cinespace, a Hollywood lounge known for its weekly dance party, Dim Mak Tuesdays. Sunday belonged to Banana Split at LAX (the club, not the airport), where DJ Steve Aoki and the late and great DJ AM made us all — including soon-to-be stars — forget that Monday's responsibilites were just around the corner.

The magic continued for a few more years, and no one documented the city's electricity better than Mark Hunter, aka The Cobrasnake. "Hollywood was a different place in 2006," Hunter tells me. "Parties were real and raw. Everyone was there to have fun and enjoy the music. Social media and smartphones weren't a thing yet, so people could live in the moment and I could capture them."

In a way, Hunter was Instagram before Instagram, as the young party photographer was known for shooting all the best events 'til the wee hours, and dilligently posting them on his very DIY site the next morning. I remember always waking up early to see all of last night's photos, which usually featured a few silly ones of me (cringe-worthy evidence here and here), and tons of beautiful people, including actresses, musicians, artists, and models that were about to blow up, or would do so in just a few years. "It was fun getting to document the early careers of many superstars," Hunter notes. "The nice thing is we are still friends and those memories from the 2000s are special to us all. We will continue to create new memories for the future, when we are all living in outer space."

On that note, here's a roundup of a few famous faces from their 2006-2008 LA club kids days.


Katy Perry in 2007 Photo: The Cobrasnake

Here's baby Katy Perry and fellow musician Mia Moretti, twinning in retro rompers. This was in 2007, right before "I Kissed a Girl" changed all of our lives — especially hers.


Lindsey Lohan in 2007 Photo: The Cobrasnake

Lindsay Lohan doing full Lindsay at weekly Sunday party, Banana Split, in 2007. She was often spotted partying with friends right behind the decks, which is why I'm surprised she's not a superstar socialite-DJ like Paris Hilton by now.


Samantha Ronson in 2007 Photo: The Cobrasnake

Also at that same party was top DJ Samantha Ronson, who Lindsay would go on to date a year later. Samantha's famous siblings include designer Charlotte Ronson and super producer Mark Ronson.


Steve Aoki in 2007 Photo: The Cobrasnake

Although Steve Aoki comes from a famous family (his father founded the Japanese restaurant chain Benihana and his sister is runway model Devon Aoki), the electronic dance star made a name for himself by running successful weekly parties and founding indie record label Dim Mak. He's now ranked as the #10 best EDM DJ in the world, right above Calvin Harris.


Diplo in 2007 Photo: The Cobrasnake

Before Diplo (real name: Thomas Wesley Pentz) was making bangers for Justin Bieber and Madonna (and hanging at the Met Ball!), he was keeping Angelenos on the dance floor at parties ranging from small and intimate to warehouse-style.


Danny Masterson in 2007 Photo: The Cobrasnake

Although Danny Masterson already had that sweet, sweet That '70s Show money by the time he started partying in LA, it was here that he started his music career under the name DJ Mom Jeans. (Really.)


Jeremy Scott in 2007 Photo: The Cobrasnake

Before Jeremy Scott was running Moschino, dreaming up fellow former LA club kid Katy Perry's Superbowl halftime wardrobe, and starring in a documentary, the local designer was an indie talent who dropped by Dim Mak Tuesdays on the regular.


Brian Lichtenberg with MIA in 2007 Photo: The Cobrasnake

Before Brian Lichtenberg (here he is with rapstar MIA) had just about every celebrity wearing his designer spoof collections, he was a local talent known for his otherwordly creations.


Aaron Paul in 2006 Photo: The Cobrasnake

While Aaron Paul was already a busy actor in 2006, nothing could prepare him for the fame that would hit him two years later, when he scored the role of Jesse Pinkman in the hit TV series Breaking Bad.


Dree Hemingway and Langley Fox in 2007 Photo: The Cobrasnake

Legendary actress Mariel Hemingway's gorgeous daughters were cute party girls before reaching their own fame. Dree went on to become a model and actress, and Langley Fox is a model and artist.


Sky Ferreira in 2007 Photo: The Cobrasnake

Here's a young Sky Ferreira at Paper magazine's 24-hour pop-up in 2007. (Angelenos, remember that?) Sky went on to become an alt-popstar and one of Hedi Slimane's Saint Laurent muses.


Caroline Vreeland in 2007 Photo: The Cobrasnake

Famed Vogue editor Diane Vreeland's great grandaughter was a party girl before becoming a songstress, fashion darling, and magazine cover girl.


Whitney Port and Lauren Conrad in 2007 Photo: The Cobrasnake

It wouldn't be an early 2000s party roundup without a Hills cameo. Here's Whitney Port and Lauren Conrad being PR power girls for the show and IRL. Whitney went on to become a fashion designer and Lauren went on to run the world. (Fun fact: she might be returning to reality TV soon.)