Pre-pandemic, Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Oscar afterparty in Chateau Montmont’s parking garage had become the big night’s most coveted invitation. Revelers at the 2020 event, known as the Gold Party, which has a policy without phones, included Rihanna, Reese Witherspoon, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Travis Scott, Gabrielle Union and Charlize Theron.
Now, after a two-year absence, Jay-Z is ready to host the Oscar night in a lounge area on the Sunset Strip hotel’s large property that was once home to Bar Marmont. (Beyonce has to perform her song “Be Alive” from the movie King Richard on the award ceremony, possibly from a tennis court in Compton, California.)
The problem: There is an ongoing boycott of the property, led by the local hotel workers’ association, over Chateau Marmont’s alleged treatment of employees. The campaign – which has the backing of Hollywood unions and celebrities and has already put an end to at least two production recordings (for To be Ricardo’s and The offer) – has highlighted allegations of racial discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.
“That Jay-Z chooses Chateau Marmont for their gold party is shockingly insensitive,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11, in a statement. “They need to move their event and choose a hot spot after the party that treats its workers, especially black women, with dignity and respect. Jay-Z has a responsibility to do better.” He added: “We hope Jay-Z joins Gabrielle Union, Spike Lee, Issa Rae, Robin Thede, Quinta Brunson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxane Gay, Ashley Nicole Black and Samira Wiley in boycotting Chateau Marmont.” All the names that Petersen has noted according to the union have previously signed his boycott pledge.
The union – whose boycott is also supported by the WGA – has launched plans to organize a strike line outside the party, which begins at 8pm on Sunday 27 March.
Thomasina Gross, a former event server at the hotel, who is Black, filed a lawsuit against the hotel in 2021 alleging, among other things, racial discrimination, noting that she had repeatedly been bypassed for higher paying roles in favor of several white employees who she in turn was responsible for training in their new tasks. “I’m a big fan of Beyoncé and Jay-Z, so it was an honor and a pleasure to work for their gold party year after year,” she said. “They made it a point to acknowledge our hard work and treat us as human beings, not just servers. They said that our presence meant a lot to them in terms of helping their party become a success. As I claim in my lawsuit, I was sexually harassed as a black woman while working at other events at the Chateau.I can not help but think that if Jay-Z knew how the Chateau treats their workers, they would not ignore this fact and keep partying there. “
Representatives of Jay-Z and the hotel did not return requests for comment. Jay-Z and Beyonce have been vocal in the fight for racism, and have used their platforms to speak out on legislation (such as New York State’s recent law on “Rap Music on Trial”) and supported the Black Lives Matters movement.
In 2020, The Hollywood Reporter published an investigation into allegations against Chateau Marmont. Staff said the castle’s culture of prejudice extended to its treatment of prominent black and Latino guests, who were stopped, questioned and challenged on arrival at a higher rate than their white equivalents. A representative of Tiffany Haddish confirmed two such incidents.
IN THRJimmy Cahue, a former guest relations officer who had worked at the hotel since 1995, said there was an exclusionary screening process at Chateau Marmont that involved Bar Marmont. “There were times when we had a black couple trying to eat dinner and we had room to receive them,” he said. “We would call upstairs, we would say ‘an African-American couple,’ they would ask if they were celebrities, and if not, they would say, ‘We can put them in the dining room,’ which is secluded and where newcomers are sitting. The most important place to eat is the garden area so people sit [inside] felt isolated. “Often they went, were disappointed, and then we offered them Bar Marmont.”
Chateau owner Andre Balazs, himself a victim of discrimination and harassment, has renovated the Bar Marmont area. Insiders have previously described his plans to turn it into a members-only club. Safes have been added so that visitors can store their phones, ensuring privacy.
Katie Kilkenny contributed additional reporting.