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Sin City with snow: secrets of Toronto’s VIP club scene

When hip-hop and NBA stars want a good time, they call party queen Mona Halem. Inside a decadent world of $700 champagne, secret guest lists and hordes of beautiful women

Toronto's Party Queen

Mona Halem at Uniun nightclub in March

On a Monday night last August, half the hip-hop world showed up unannounced in Toronto: Lil Wayne, P. Diddy, Kanye West, Big Sean, French Montana, Mase, TLC. All had agreed to perform as surprise guests at Drake’s annual concert, OVO Fest, which, like all things Drake, has become wildly successful. The ability to produce a roster of acts that reads like a fantasy Grammy lineup speaks to Drake’s clout, but the secrecy involved presented a practical problem: with no advance notice, nobody had organized an after-party. For this group of career ballers, it was a rare case of all blinged out and nowhere to go. Even Drizzy, who lives in Toronto for at least part of the year, was at a loss. Then someone suggested the obvious: call Mona.

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TIFF Talk

TIFF Star Spotting TIFF Talk

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SPOTTED: Justin Bieber watching Ted at the Queensway Cineplex (among other places)

(Image: Twitter)

Sure, Justin Bieber may have come to town to support his girlfriend Selena Gomez at TIFF, but instead of catching a premiere on Sunday evening, the pint-sized pop star rolled up to the Cineplex Odeon Queensway in his black Cadillac to see Ted. One giddy 13-year-old fan tweeted a pic she snapped with the singer, and another girl, er, claims she grabbed his “junk.” The lucky young lady who sold him his ticket scored his autograph on a receipt and later tweeted, “Currently watching @justinbieber watch Ted.” Later that night the Biebs and Gomez headed to the nightclub Muzik, where he guest deejayed alongside Snoop Lion (Crazy Days and Nights gossip blogger @entylawyer tweeted, “Justin Bieber stood next to Snoop Dogg all night as Snoop chain-smoked blunts”). While in town, Bieber also accompanied Gomez to her Hotel Transylvania presser and enjoyed a steak at the Keg on York Street. Sadly, he left after only two nights (probably spent at the Ritz-Carlton), tweeting, “Miss Canada already.” Canada misses him too.

Find this story on our Star Spotting Map, where we plot the locations of celebrities spotted around Toronto. Seen a celebrity? Let us know at tips@torontolife.com

TIFF Talk

TIFF Star Spotting TIFF Talk

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SPOTTED: Eli Roth (sans Snoop Lion) at the Spoke Club

(Image: George Pimentel/Getty Images Entertainment)

Aftershock producer Eli Roth, who memorably responded to, and followed up on, Snoop Lion’s Reincarnated rallying cry, was spotted at the Spoke Club last evening without the newly minted reggae artist in sight. The Snoop-Roth alliance may not have reached the heights of some past festival pairs, but it was glorious while it lasted.

Find this story on our Star Spotting Map, where we plot the locations of celebrities spotted around Toronto. Seen a celebrity? Let us know at tips@torontolife.com

TIFF Talk

TIFF Red Carpet

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TIFF RED CARPET: Snoop Lion with Eli Roth and more at the gala presentation of Reincarnated

TIFF RED CARPET: Reincarnated

In the run-up to the world premiere of Reincarnated, Snoop Lion (the name Snoop Dogg gave himself after his rasta rebirth) had the most entertaining TIFF-related Twitter feed, bouncing back and forth between gleefully shameless self-promotion, Instagram shots of his trip to Toronto and shout-outs to other celebs (asking them to see his film, naturally). Actor, producer and horror director Eli Roth, one of those celebs, followed up on his earlier Twitter promises and made an appearance on the red carpet with his pal Snoop. Also present, of course, was the film’s director, Andy Capper, looking particularly tiny and British next to the six-foot-four rapper and Vice co-founder Suroosh Alvi (he brought along fellow Vice-er Shane Smith). Other rappers present: Daz Dillinger, one half of ’90s gangster group Tha Dogg Pound, who walked the carpet in a sharp Dilly That Dogg T-shirt, and local boy Kardinal Offishall, who tweeted this epic photo shortly thereafter. (Props must be given to Roots founder Michael Budman or his marketing team for outfitting Snoop in the red, yellow and green–branded jacket above.)

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TIFF Talk

TIFF Press Conferences TIFF Talk

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TIFF PRESS CONFERENCE: Snoop Dogg/Lion is surprisingly sincere at the Reincarnated presser

TIFF PRESS CONFERENCE: Snoop Dogg/Lion is surprisingly sincere at the Reincarnated presser

“I was double-dutchin’, jumping in and out,” said Snoop Lion, née Snoop Dogg (ok, actually née Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr., but who’s counting?). He was referring to the life he lived before he discovered reggae and the Rastafari movement, living half like a child and half like a man. Snoop’s transition is charted in Andy Capper’s doc Reincarnated, which made its world premiere at TIFF yesterday. Capper joined Snoop at TIFF’s press conference for the film, alongside producers Ted Chung and Suroosh Alvi (co-founder of Vice) and moderator George Stroumboulopoulos.

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TIFF Talk

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TIFF 2012 Bedfellows: Snoop Dogg and horror director Eli Roth edition

One of the great virtues of TIFF is the way it brings people together. Take Dave Matthews and Ryan Gosling from last year, say, or Stephen Harper and Christopher Brian Bridges (i.e., Ludacris). This year, it sounds like Snoop Lion (i.e., Snoop Dogg), in town to support Reincarnated, will be seeing the sights with actor, director and Aftershock producer Eli Roth:

TIFF Talk

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TIFF Teaser: Reincarnated, or how Snoop Dogg went to Jamaica and came back as Snoop Lion

The jokes write themselves about the newly renamed Snoop Lion (formerly Snoop Dogg), but the documentary Reincarnated, premiering at TIFF, takes a serious look at what exactly happened during Snoop’s month-long vacation/pilgrimage in Jamaica—and why he traded rap for reggae. Vice Magazine global editor Andy Capper hones in on how the rapper’s acquittal on a murder charge, numerous arrests and bans from the U.K., Australia and Norway culminated in the journey to Jamaica, where he found some peace and a lot of marijuana and renewed his conviction that he is a reincarnation of Bob Marley. The newfound mellowness is charming—though we’ve yet to accustom ourselves to his new moniker.

TIFF Talk

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CONFIRMED: Rappers Snoop Lion and Ice-T are coming to TIFF

It may have felt like Californian rapper and frequent, uh, smoker Snoop Lion (formerly Snoop Dogg, formerly Snoop Doggy Dogg) adopted his newest, ever-so-slightly-more-ferocious moniker almost overnight. In truth, the persona was at least a month in the making. Vice Magazine editor Andy Capper directed Reincarnated, a documentary that follows the newly minted reggae artist’s “spiritual odyssey/career reinvention” during his month-long vacay in Jamaica. Both director and subject will be here for TIFF. Snoop, alongside Coco’s husband, rapper-cum-Law and Order actor Ice-T, will also be featured in another TIFF movie, Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp, a biopic of sorts that blends interviews with pulp fiction iconography to tell the story of pimp and prolific author Iceberg Slim. With (at least!) two seasoned rappers at this year’s festival, we’re feeling pretty good about the chances for an encounter to equal last year’s meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ludacris.

(Images: Snoop Lion, TIFF; Ice-T, David Shankbone)

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SPOTTED: Snoop Dogg’s alter ego Snoop Lion popped by Toronto

(Image: Snoop Dogg)

Snoop Dogg Lion performed at Osheaga, The Hoxton and at Drake’s OVO Fest this weekend, and he managed to do all of this without any other major public appearances or sightings. The Lion was spotted hanging out with Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics at OVO Fest, and it’s been reported that Snoop showed up an hour and a half late for his Hoxton show. He also, apparently, managed to openly smoke pot on stage (which, well, duh).

TIFF Talk

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CONFIRMED: Snoop Dogg is coming to TIFF 2012

Snoop Dogg (Image: thecomeupshow)

Snoop Dogg, the rapper who has worked with everyone from Tupac (in both flesh and hologram form) to Katy Perry, is coming to TIFF to premiere his documentary Reincarnated. TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey broke the news moments ago on Twitter, and he hinted that Snoop Doggy Dogg isn’t the only rapper who will be in town for the festival. Will TIFF have a Biggie hologram? Here’s hoping. [Twitter]

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