By: Francesca Lia Block
Region: Los Angeles
Categories: Secrets, Writers
There's secret magic you just have to know where to look.
LA's Dangerous Angels propels you through a city of punk rock faeries, mythological creatures and the secret magic found in even the most familiar places. Travel along with author Francesca Lia Block as she introduces you to the best hidden magic in her city. Seen through her eyes, and the eyes of her most well- known and beloved characters, Los Angeles opens before you like a storybook. Canyons, beaches, gardens, museums, restaurants, shops and landmarks where Francesca and her characters have danced and just like LA, this guide has it all.
✨ Arts & Culture
1. Home of the Gods
Place name: Getty Villa
Along the Pacific Coast Highway is a Roman villa of such marble grace it rivals the real thing.
There’s a manicured, statue-filled garden and reflecting pool and inlaid marble rooms filled with secret treasures. There’s even a room where you can draw on your own amphora and a little dark hallway showcasing erotic miniatures.
This most magical of Los Angeles museums will transport you to ancient worlds and make you glad you drove up the steep hill among the cypress trees to visit. Reserve parking in advance.
2. The Mimes are Gone but Art Remains
Place name: LA County Museum of Art
I used to go to the LA County Museum every weekend as a child, when it was much less built up and there were mimes roaming the courtyard (it was the 70s after all!).
The mimes are gone and larger, more modern buildings house much more art now.
A very strange collection of lampposts decorates the exterior and you can still
have a picnic and roll down the steep, green hills of the park.
Bring the kids to do art workshops on Sundays and check out all the events set up to keep L.A. teens happy and out of trouble.
3. Sinking Mastodon!
Place name: Page Museum / La Brea Tar Pits
Category: Arts & Culture
Always the most touching and disturbing aspect of this museum is the statue of the baby mastodon and his father wailing on the bank of the tar pit as his mother sinks into the black muck. What a wonderful Dangerous Angel detail! They are trapped there forever; it breaks my heart.
The museum itself is full of cool pre-historic remains and reconstructions including a scary braying Mammoth (do Mammoths bray?) and a gift shop that sells fairy-sized glass bottles filled with bits of semi-precious stones like turquoise, rose quartz, peridot and amethyst.
4. Not so Temporary
Place name: MOCA's Geffen Contemporary
In 1983, I was working on Melrose at Grau, a boutique that sold raggedy “Depression Wear” and clothing made from Japanese antique silk kimonos and Guatemalan cottons. I was always looking for ways to feel and be more bohemian in L.A.
That was when I heard about the opening of the contemporary museum downtown. Finally, Los Angeles, that upstart girl in motley, would have her own collection of modern art!
Built in an old hardware store that had also been used as a warehouse and police car garage (and renovated by Frank Gehry), the "Temporary Contemporary," as it was called then, brought fine modern art to Downtown L.A. My raggedy girlfriends and I would go there and then to Gorky's the Russian hipster café—how boho we felt. Gorky’s is gone but change isn’t always bad: L.A. and my friends clean up to look like women when we want to and MOCA has grown into a real museum with three locations to be seriously reckoned with.
5. Greco-Roman Sexy Kitsch
Place name: Forest Lawn Memorial Park
Category: Arts & Culture
I went on a field trip here in sixth grade because we were studying the Renaissance and my fabulous teacher, Mrs. Rosenthal, wanted us to see the Michelangelo reproductions that crown the hillside.
Although they look a little cheap and kitschy, there is something delightful about all those super fake great works of art glamorizing the green hills of Glendale beneath a smog-hazed sky. And a reproduction is better than nothing.
Plus, I can’t help it -- I think that mausoleums are secretly sexy, especially when you are there with the right Werewolf or Centaur! But if you get caught being naughty here, don’t say I suggested it!
6. The Bohemian Heiress
Place name: Barnsdall Art Park
Category: Arts & Culture
This park, gallery and community gathering spot was a big part of my childhood. I took art classes here for years, dipping my fingers happily into glue, paint and glitter.
Now I visit it in the summer when the Los Angeles Shakespeare Company performs on an outdoor stage among jacaranda trees and the distracting sounds of sirens from the city below.
Bring a picnic and enjoy plays like A Midsummer Night’s Dream or The Tempest as evening descends and the portals to the other worlds are opened so that even the sirens become part of the magic.
When the plays aren’t being performed you can come to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, built for Aline Barnsdall between 1919 and 1921 in what he called the "California Romanza" style ("freedom to make one’s own form").
Aline was an heiress, bohemian and single mother, way ahead of her time, who supported experimental theater and the arts. Her spirit can be felt over every inch of this park.
7. Selkies in Glass Cases
Place name: LA Natural History Museum
Category: Arts & Culture
The huge dinosaur reconstructions in the main hall will impress the child in you but what amazes me most about the Natural History Museum are the long dark rooms filled with glassed-in, life-sized dioramas of wild animals.
Granted taxidermy has been used and it is more than a little disturbing to witness all those glass eyes in dead, stuffed bodies, but I can’t help feeling awestruck at the simulated landscapes of prairies, oceans and deserts, where formidable beasts are frozen in time.
I always especially freak out over the sea lions.
I’m not sure if I was a Selkie in another life or what but when I look at those beautiful creatures I get chills and the hair stands up on the back of my neck.
8. Welcome to the Dollhouse
Place name: Angels Attic
Category: Arts & Culture
This may be my favorite place in the whole city -- an 1865 Queen Anne Victorian house filled to the brim with antique china dolls and elaborately furnished dollhouses. There are a few things in life that I love so much I can’t really even stand to look at them without feeling a little sick. The book Faerie-ality by the House of Ellwand is one of them (fairy clothing meticulously crafted from petals and butterfly wings - sigh). And this is another.
I can’t tell you anymore because it makes me queasy with uneasy delight. Go and see for yourself!
9. Obsession Museum
Place name: Museum of Jurassic Technology
Category: Arts & Culture
Along Venice Boulevard you might spy a strange little building that houses one of the oddest museums in LA.
Is it a real museum or a joke? A philosophical experiment or someone’s actual
You can find everything form a human horn taken off the back of a woman’s head to a micro miniature sculpture on the stone of an almond that depicts a Flemish landscape on the front and a crucifixion on the back—all within the space of 13x11mm.
10. Among the Jacarandas
Place name: Murphy Sculpture Garden
Among the purple clouds of the jacaranda trees on the green stills stand an assortment of bronze and steel statues by masters like Auguste Rodin, Henri Moore and Isamu Noguchi.
When I attended UCLA in the 80s for one year, I felt very lonely. I wandered around with my bleached hair and boy’s pink and black suede Doc Martin brothel creepers, trying to find a place to fit in.
Sometimes, the company of these statues was the best I could find.
Rodin’s in particular are always comforting to me—they remind me of a trip to the Musee Rodin in Paris when I was fourteen. (I still dream of Rodin’s home/studio with its light-filled rooms displaying his mythically powerful work.)
The UCLA campus is definitely not Paris. But it is full of its own wonders. And this garden is one of the best.
11. La Luz De Jesus and Elliott Smith
Place name: La Luz De Elliott
The La Luz de Jesus gallery on Sunset, AKA Wacko or Soap Plant is a vintage souvenir/book/toy store and art gallery for established and emerging artists.
I used to frequent the upstairs gallery at the Melrose location with Ping and the coolest of L.A. 80s artists.
Down the street is Solutions, famous because Elliott Smith used to rent his sound equipment there. Visit the “Elliott wall” where fans pay their respects with messages and lyrics.
12. Save the Library!
Place name: Los Angeles Central Library
Category: Arts & Culture
Can you believe they want to shut this down? Say no! Sign a petition!
Just a few highlights to look for in this distinguished and precious library include the atrium lanterns with upside down human profile design, a pair of sphinxes, a golden hand, a blue glass globe chandelier and the Lotus Shaft Fountain depicting scenes from Alice in Wonderland, Robin Hood, Arabian Knights, Ali Baba, King Arthur and Mother Goose.
13. Birthplace of the False Eyelash
Place name: Hollywood Museum
Category: Arts & Culture
Max Factor, makeup artist to stars such as Jean Harlow and Bette Davis, and the inventor of pancake makeup, lip gloss and false eyelashes (God bless him), worked his magic in a marble art deco style beauty salon decorated with potted palms and pastel furnishings.
Later it became the Max Factor Museum and is now the Hollywood Museum with four floors of Hollywood memorabilia including a whole room dedicated to Marilyn Monroe.
My favorite part, besides the Marilyn shrine, is still the first floor with its small rooms dedicated to blondes (the blue one), red-heads (mint green), brunettes (dusty rose), and brownettes (peach), respectively.
The grumpy redhead at the front desk classified my friends as blonde and brunette and told me I wasn't anything!
Oh well. I still enjoyed the cases full of original makeup compacts, the autographed photos of stars and their wigs (including Marlene Dietrich's dusted with 20K gold).
14. Paradise Above the 405
Place name: Getty Center
Category: Arts & Culture
I was so sad when they closed the Getty Villa that I was a bit prejudiced against the Getty Center. Now that the villa has re-opened I appreciate this vast sprawling complex above the 405 freeway.
Not only is it filled with wonderful works of art like Van Gogh's "Iris" ("The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others"), but you can also stroll among beautiful garden areas like the circular Central Garden with its bougainvillea arbors, stone waterfall, azalea pool and flourishes of floribunda roses, princess flowers, heliotrope, golden angels' trumpets and purple wings.
How's that for a Los Angeles garden?
1. Have You Seen Harry Perry?
Place name: The Venice Beach Roller Skaters
If you see Harry Perry near the bodybuilders at muscle beach, say hello from me. This roller skating electric guitar playing psychic-eyed Los Angeles wizard (a prototype for Fifi’s genie) can almost always be found gliding along the boardwalk, ready to spontaneously create a song for you while he stares hypnotically into your soul.
I’ve seen Harry there since I was a teenager and he hasn’t aged a day. When you aren’t being mesmerized by him, check out the rest of the tourist and native parade. Get a henna tattoo for me.
2. The Haunted Carousel?
Place name: Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round
This merry-go-round has an almost haunted feel to it. Built in the 1920s, it makes me think of those scary movies where abandoned carousels revolve and organ music plays in deserted playgrounds. The park around it provides its own off-beat entertainment, filled with families, eastside punks, motorcyclists and cruisers all looking for their own good time.
3. Weetzie in Wonderland
Place name: Silent Movie Theatre
My Secret Agent Lover Man loves this place!
The tiny theater has been refurbished by Cinefamily and now features all kinds of cult films, not just silent ones. Once they even showed the weirdly wonderful 1940’s Alice in Wonderland that my dad, Irving Block, worked on.
There are crazy cupcakes for sale in the lobby, monthly barbecues in the bougainvillea-draped back patio, and a piano for when the movies are silent. Once a Werewolf and I (see my mythological dating guide) found a wolf mask just sitting there on that piano, as if it were waiting for us.
4. Theater in the Trees
Place name: Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
The actor, Will Geer, was blacklisted like my dad. He built this amphitheater on his Topanga property so he, his family and friends could continue to perform. They sold vegetables and fruits from their garden and put on plays as a way to support themselves.
After Will Geer’s success as Grandpa on the Waltons, he kept the theater going and it’s still there today, tucked into one of L.A.’s most beautiful and spirit-filled canyons, and featuring works by Shakespeare, new playwrights and musicians. I think you should go there! Titania and Oberon are very impressed with it.
5. The Obscure Camera Sees All
Place name: Camera Obscura at Palisades Park
After a romantic stroll along the bluff above the beach, past the Mary statue in her plot of heart-shaped grass, Angel Juan and I once joined the seniors at the recreation center in Santa Monica at one of their dinner dances.
We polkaed and waltzed and jitterbugged.
Afterwards we visited the Camera Obscura in the same building and watched the reflections of people, palm trees and the ocean outside the darkened room. It felt like we were sailing our own private ship.
6. Get Her to the Greek
Place name: The Greek Theatre
The amphitheater structure set among the trees and under the stars channels the spirit of ancient Greece; you can almost imagine Aphrodite and Zeus rocking out here while nymphs and satyrs make out in the audience.
One hot summer night in the 90s, I went to the Greek wearing a pink silk slip dress to see young P.J. Harvey in a hot pink cat suit leaping around the stage. I gave the guard a huge stack of my books to present to her. Who knows if she got them.
P.J., are you out there?
7. Wilshire + Western
Place name: The Wiltern Theatre
Website: http://www.livenation.com/The-Wiltern-tickets-Los- Angeles/venue/73790
2009. Corner of Wilshire and Western. Dark jade and neon exterior.
Opulent décor and a cute bartender. The crush of the crowd.
Genius writer girlfriend flirting with the bouncer to get us a seat.
P.J. Harvey barefoot in a white nightgown while John Parish wears a hat and plays guitar.
This is just one of many music-filled nights at this famous venue. Name a favorite band and they have probably played here. There is something about seeing a band like the National, Death Cab for Cutie or Massive Attack in a beautiful 1930s art deco theater that blends the best of Hollywood old and new.
8. Marilyn's Hands
Place name: Grauman's Chinese Theatre
The lacquer-red pagoda of Grauman's Chinese Theater is legendary because of its forecourt, watched over by stone lion-dogs, where celebrities have immortalized their hand and foot prints in cement.
The highlights for me include Harpo's bare feet, Betty Grables' legs, and, of course Marilyn's prints.
Who would have thought a pair of pointed goddess heels could be that tiny? Pay your respects and send my (and Weetzie's) love.
9. Streamline Moderne Fountain
Place name: Hollywood Bowl
It's fun to spend a summer evening picnicking and listening to classical music in the giant outdoor amphitheater in the hills of Hollywood. Make sure you pay homage to the 22-foot high, granite-covered "Streamline Moderne-style" fountain depicting the kneeling fifteen-foot muse of drama, and below her, the ten-foot tall muses of dance and drama.
The fountain was built in 1940 by George Stanley who created the Oscar (you'll recognize the angular, elegant lines) but these intense girls make Oscar look not only little but very tame. In Violet and Claire, Claire splashes here with her poetry teacher.
1. Dare you to Eat an Oki Dog!
Place name: Oki Dog
The original Oki Dog on Santa Monica Blvd., where drunk punks used to gather all night long (and one groped me in a moment that still makes me sick to think about) is long gone, but the latest model dog is as dangerous as ever.
Me? I wouldn’t touch one of these bean, cheese, hot dog and pastrami burritos--not to mention the Trump endorsement sign currently posted on their stoop. But if you’re a Weetzie aficionado you might want to at least stop by the present location and get a whiff.
When my friends at Wildfox Couture did a Weetzie photo shoot at this fast food stand they helped bring back the original magic of the place, although the model substituted the actual Oki with a plain hot dog bun. I don’t blame her!
2. Kosher Late-Night
Place name: Canter's Deli
I can no longer eat anything from the Canter’s menu but it brings back so many memories of my Weetzie clubbing late-nights that I go by every now and then to get a whiff of the sugary pastries in the front cabinet and gawk at the corn-beef sandwiches, wondering how I ever managed to ingest one.
My friends and I, in our leather and lace, would come here after seeing punk bands at the Whiskey or the Vex and eat grapefruit segments and cuddle in the booths ... then stagger home at dawn.
3. Home of the Vinyl Shopper
Place name: The Original Farmers Market
The Grove has encroached on this little patch of Hollywood paradise but the clock tower and some of the original small bungalow shops and restaurants still stand in its imposing, seductive shadow.
Like Weetzie, you can get Belgian waffles -- although the lady with the hair net is gone -- burgers, fried fish, tostadas, Chinese noodles or mediocre sushi. All while shopping for those essential mini license plates with your name on them and other important trinkets.
You might even be able to find a vinyl shopper and a pink rhinestone studded dog collar if you’re lucky!
4. Under the Shiny Pink Crown
Place name: Royal/T Café and Art Space
This café, gift shop and gallery utilizes its high-beamed, light-filled space to feature fabulous exhibits and show off cool artist-made items (the white platform boots with ice cream sundaes on the toes are my special favorite).
Cute waitresses dressed in sexy maid outfits (with short, wide skirts, huge platforms and long braids) will serve you refreshing Japanese inspired drinks and snacks.
Try the kabocha squash ravioli or grilled shrimp and white peaches salad in white miso vinagrette.
Weetzie would be very happy here.
5. The Curse of Topanga?
Place name: Inn of the Seventh Ray
I got married here! The brunch (where you can get some of the best cold vegetable salads in town) is glorious, though expensive. Just don’t go on Mother's day when they raise the prices even higher!
Even more glorious is being able to dine in a courtyard in the middle of Topanga Canyon.
The creek bed fills in the rainy season and children play in the shallows on sunny days between courses of scrambled eggs, bagels and persimmon coffee cake. At night, enjoy fairy lights in the trees, a fire in the fireplace and the tinkle of the rose-petal strewn fountain. Gods and goddesses hide in the foliage—see how many you can find.
There are rumors that dates here are ill-fated and will end in disaster eventually. I’m not one to ask about that! I still say, go for it. Maybe with your best friend.
6. Mmmmmm Cafe
Place name: M Cafe De Chaya
I have stumbled into this lovely café after some of the most trying events in my life and I am always cheered by the sunny yellow awnings, the brightly lit cases of delicious macrobiotic salads and desserts (dairy-free strawberry cupcakes to die for) and the friendly staff.
My favorite thing on the menu is the Big Macro, a veggie burger made with a brown rice and seaweed patty and all the best extras that will send you into near- orgasmic pleasure (seriously -- even if you’re not a veggie burger fan!).
The kale lemonade is a summer treat that is so delicious you won’t think you’re drinking your essential greens. The butternut squash soup is comforting in the winter but not always available as the menu changes macrobiotically according to seasons.
7. Down to Urth
Place name: Urth Caffe
After yoga I like to meet friends at this pretty patio restaurant on Main Street in Santa Monica (with more locations around LA).
Although I‘m off sugar and caffeine, I can’t help but vicariously recommend the largest possible serving of the green tea latte with rice milk.
They’ll swirl leaves, flowers or doves onto the top and you’ll bask in the jade green, chalky-sweet pool of soothing, stimulating pleasure.
Urth also makes a mean green tea poppyseed cupcake that will get you absolutely high! I stick to the Urth salad and Nori Plum Rice Wrap because they are healthy and good but I have to admit I spend a good deal of my lunch fantasizing about that latte across from me.
Urth is so full of beautiful, beachy people, ultra-friendly staffers and good smells that it’s worth suffering (or giving in to) the temptation.
8. In the Raw
Place name: Euphoria Loves Rawvolution
This expensive but super fresh raw food place has a beach bohemian vibe.
I always get the Superfood soup, which is a giant (and surprisingly tasty) bowl of bright green liquid that will cure whatever ails you. The dragon roll is made with nori wrapped around raw veggies and coconut jerky in a creamy garlic sauce. Yummy!
There are also fresh young Thai coconuts to slurp on in their shells and an assortment of raw vegan desserts that are so pretty you’ll be satisfied just gazing at them (almost).
9. Eat Real Daily
Place name: Real Food Daily
An old standby of L.A. vegan food.
I’ve gone here so much (and on dates with a few too many Werewolves, Centaurs, Tree Elves and Fauns) that it’s lost a bit of its allure, but you can’t beat the Caesar salad with blue corn croutons and blackened tempeh and the cornbread with tahini spread.
The real food bargain is a feast of brown rice, beans, sea vegetables and assorted other veggies with soup and bread. It’s the perfect way to nourish, calm, alkalinize and revitalize your body.
10. Lotus Land
Place name: Govinda's Natural Food
When my daughter was a baby I brought her here and nursed her in the comfortable booths under the blue Krishna statue draped in carnations and jewels. Maybe that’s why she started saying she wanted to go to India when she was two.
I find myself at Govinda’s at least once a week to graze at the all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet, where many of the choices are vegan as well (the yellow mung bean daal is great over rice and I love the pale green sunflower seed salad dressing).
Next door is the temple where the gods and goddesses are dressed in special outfits every day and incense and carnations fill the room with their spicy scent. There’s also the Bhagavad-gita with it’s weird wax figure dioramas and scary audio, but don’t go there if you or your kids are easily spooked.
If you do get spooked cheer yourself up with a visit to the gift shop upstairs.
For years, during my bohemian momma phase, all I wore were the chiffon embroidered Indian tunics, especially those adorned with sequins. Little incense burners shaped like lotus flowers and tiny deities for your altar are another must!
11. Slurp Your Soba
Place name: Sakura House
If you want some inexpensive sushi in the "slums" of Culver City, try Sakura house for its large plates of fresh food in a lively family atmosphere. You'll probably have to wait in line for a table (at least there are heat lamps—if not a
The tables and booths are cramped together but the waitresses are friendly and patient and you'll love the soba noodles served on a wooden tray in neat little bundles with their special dipping sauce.
Your favorite trendy, deal-seeking Werewolf might bring you here on his motorcycle and snuggle with you in one of the tiny booths while he happily gobbles and slurps his meal. He won't balk too much when the check comes, either.
12. Comfort Food
Place name: Yabu Restaurant
My favorite place for girl talk over miso soup.
West-side country style Japanese food in a cozy, unassuming atmosphere. You can just feel the steam coming off those udon bowls as you walk through the curtained door into the small room full of happy diners.
The best thing on the menu is the lotus root slices, rumored to make you immortal, or at least healthier. Oh, and my mommy loved the home-made tofu custard. It's savory, creamy and light -- total comfort food for the weary.
13. Baby Cakes
Place name: Angel Maid Bakery
Sugar, white flour, dairy, the works. But at least there isn't any lard or yucky chemicals in these delectable and adorable cakes from this tiny neighborhood bakery.
Bring your own designs and they'll meticulously copy them onto the top of the cake. The pink cheetah print was a big hit for us!
I indulge in Angel Maids twice a year, at each child's birthday. The problem is, we started with giant parties when they were one so now there is no turning back— puppies, bouncers, bags full of favors, lunch and, yes, way too much cake.
It's worth it, though.
14. You Can't Be Too Sensitive
Place name: Sensitive Baker
Although there is yeast, sugar and dairy (especially eggs) in some of these baked products, they are all gluten-free and kosher and some recipes can be adapted. At my request they developed a vegan cake with agave sweetening. Not nearly as good as the magic rose-adorned, gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan cake by my dear friend Carmen, though.
Still, if you are in Culver City and hankering for a creamy cupcake but your doc says no more gluten, head this way.
15. Keeping It Real at Pho
Place name: Pho Cafe
Okay, so I'm not an Eastside LA hipster, just a Mama caught on the West end of town. But in spite of my busy, less than boho life, I still make it over to Pho and squeeze into a tiny table for a bowl of steaming noodles, with herbs so fresh you'll think someone just plucked them.
Always a fun, cheap stop after a late club night, not that I do that much either anymore, but my characters still do! Plus the tatted Silverlake hipsters are worth seeing every once in awhile, even if only as a vicarious pleasure.
And you'll be brushing elbows with all of them—this place is very, very cozy.
16. Lotus becomes electric
Place name: Electric Lotus
Dark, Buddha-filled and usually thumping with awesome ambient Indian music, this Los Feliz restaurant is the place for spicy curry, warm garlic naan and basmati rice when you want some late night style with your substance.
I came here once after a party with an attractive looking but mannerless Werewolf in a cute hat who gobbled up all the food and then expected me to pay. It didn't tarnish my impression though (of the restaurant); I still love the aloo gobi and lentil daal served while you're seated on floor pillows, and followed by some anise seeds served with a tiny spoon from a little bowl as you walk out the door.
✨ Health & Beauty
Place name: YogaWorks
Website: http://www.yogaworks.com/en/Locations/California%20- %20South/Los%20Angeles/Santa-Monica-Main.aspx
Category: Health & Beauty
I admit it: I'm a yoga addict.
Vinnie Marino is not the most nurturing or gentle of yoga teachers in town but he creates some endorphin-inducing sequences in his sweaty Vinyasa flow class. Best of all he actually plays songs by Patti Smith and Led Zeppelin for the sun salutes.
You might spot a celebrity but the reason everyone goes an hour early and fights for a tiny spot of space on the damp floor is because of how good you feel after it's all over!
2. Garden of Deep Awareness
Place name: Goda Yoga
I'll fight the crowds of trendy, type A yoga fiends with the best of them, just to get a place in a sweaty rock and roll yoga extravaganza. But when I want the real thing I go to Cheryl's class at Goda Yoga.
This small, charming studio with a beautiful, pastel mural featuring Lakshmi on a lotus pad and a gentle-eyed Ganesh, has a warm, nurturing vibe and friendly, meticulous teachers who are concerned with your spiritual as well as physical well-being (which, surprisingly, isn't always the case for yoga studios).
3. An Artesian Well
Place name: Beverly Hot Springs Spa
Category: Health & Beauty
Actual mineral/elemental springs flow from an artesian well beneath the ground in this less than magical-looking urban area of Korea Town.
The Beverly Hot Springs provides you with baths where you can enjoy the benefits of these healing waters to detoxify your body and heal much of what ails you.
Massage services are also available but it's great to just go soak if you are on a budget.
4. Venus from the Steam
Place name: Olympic Spa
Category: Health & Beauty
Gotta love the masseuses in black underwear, bras and flip flops who slather you with oils and salts and scrub you down within an inch of your life, or as my friend says, "Everywhere except where the sun don't shine!"
Although this place doesn't look like much from the outside, the inside is a secret paradise of naked, radiant women relaxing in tiled pools and a jade steam sauna. All of the beautiful clients, young and old, fit and less so, who emerge out of the steaming pools will make you think of Venus rising from the half shell.
Sorry guys, only women allowed here.
1. Is That Houdini’s Ghost I See?
Place name: Houdini's Mansion
Laurel Canyon was the winding, half-wild road that took me into the magical land of Hollywood from the less exotic San Fernando Valley where I grew up.
My favorite sight along the way was the mysterious brick ruins of an otherworldly mansion.
Harry Houdini actually lived here. The enchanted ruins of his burned down home cover the sides of the wooded hill, bringing to mind the realm of faerie.
I posed here once in a peach satin antique nightgown for a Los Angeles Times article about my work and kept expecting to be whisked down into the underground catacombs that are rumored to run beneath the wild-flower strewn hillside.
2. Seeing Stars
Place name: The Griffith Observatory
It is a great delight to see the heavens from this hilltop dome where Weetzie and My Secret Agent Lover man courted each other beside the bust of James Dean. If you’re ghost hunting, maybe you’ll see him acting out scenes from Rebel without a Cause.
When I was a little girl my dad took me here and made me wait inside with my mom, looking through the camera obscura while he went outside and staggered toward us pretending to be drunk.
Needless to say, I was mortified.
Now, my kids get mad if I do my America’s Next Top Model imitation walk on the way home from school. They have no idea how lucky they are!
3. Rock, Rock, Rock & Roll Cemetery
Place name: Hollywood Forever Cemetery
You never know what celebrity might be resting in peace among the palm and cypress trees, reflecting pools and palatial mausoleums. Cecil B. DeMille? Douglas Fairbanks? Jayne Mansfield? Rudolph Valentino? Dee Dee Ramone? Johnny Ramone made sure he wouldn’t be forgotten, with a bronze guitar-playing statue of himself. Enjoy the marble angels, Greek columns and stained glass windows. And don’t miss the annual Dia de Los Muertos celebrations where people dress up in shockingly beautiful skeleton costumes and you can create an altar to your deceased loved ones!
4. Meditate Before You Mosh
Place name: Self Realization Fellowship
This may be one of the prettiest spots in the whole city.
Off Sunset on the way to the sea is a shining expanse of a lake, full of ducks, swans and koi, surrounded by gardens, and crowned by a gold lotus-domed structure. You can come to meditate on one of the benches, visit the Windmill Chapel or even pay your respects to some of Gandhi’s ashes.
In the 90s, I brought the director of the Weetzie Bat play here when she was visiting from Chicago, even though it wasn’t really part of the Weetzie tour. But as Weetzie matures and gives up moshing for meditation she will probably frequent this place more and more.
5. A Secret Temple
Place name: Vedanta Society Temple
I just love those white domed buildings! Sometimes even the most hardcore of Hollywood city slickers need to get away, at least for an hour, and without hitting traffic.
The Vedanta Temple, hidden in the hills above Franklin Avenue in Hollywood, is a sweet little retreat with a chapel, gift store and garden.
Vedanta is an ancient religious philosophy. Taken from sacred Indian scriptures of India, it is very open-minded, soulful and accepting. No matter what your belief system, it’s always nice to connect to spirit in a beautiful location.
6. Pretty Dead
Place name: Greystone Mansion
Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills was built in the 20s, a large gothic structure with leaded glass windows and balconies overlooking the sumptuous grounds. Manicured lawns, fountains with gargoyles, koi ponds, succulents and a myriad of colorful flowers and trees create an enchanting place for a romantic walk. Movies like Ghostbusters, There Will be Blood, Spiderman, Austin Powers: Goldmember and The Prestige, among many others were filmed here. I would love a movie of Pretty Dead to be shot here, especially the scene where Charlotte meets William, especially because, like some of the best of L.A.'s magic places, Greystone has a haunted history.
Ned Doheny, who built the place for his wife and family, was found dead with his male secretary in a murder-suicide four months after the Doheny's moved into the mansion.
7. Weetzie Cottage
Place name: 2418 4th St.
Don't bother the tenants but you can admire this bright pink cottage from afar. I found it on my way to yoga one day.
Tucked on a residential Santa Monica street near a park and just a stroll away from the ocean, the outrageous rose color and the sloping shingled fairy roof bring to mind Fifi's cottage from Weetzie Bat. I want to use it as the location of the cottage in the movie.
8. Marilyn's Crypt
Place name: Westwood Village Memorial Park
Did you know that not only are Marilyn's prints at the Chinese Theater, her remains are in Westwood, right behind the AMC theater on Wilshire? It is almost impossible to find the entrance—my UCLA extension writing class and I went on a field trip there and wandered around for a long time before we discovered the little alley leading into the grounds. Appropros for a search for the goddess!
We walked down the circular drive of this old-fashioned church yard, past the giant and comforting trees, to find a small corner crypt of marble with a plaque reading Marilyn Monroe 1926 - 1962. So simple and quiet and beautiful.
Fresh roses always fill the flower holder or adorn the area and we even discovered a love note to Marilyn tucked into the edge of the crypt itself. The marble is stained with lipstick kisses. You can sit on the marble bench -- a gift from her fans -- and meditate on the beauty and tragedy of life before you return to the bustle of Westwood just beyond the gates.
✨ Nature & Outdoors
1. A Faery Hunt at Fern Dell
Place name: Griffith Park Fern Dell Entrance
Category: Nature & Outdoors
As a child, my parent’s took me to Ferndell at the base of Griffith Park to play in the shallow trickles of water that ran down the hillside under a canopy of exotic ferns and sycamore trees.
I thought I was in faeryland.
Now, many years later, you can see "real" faeries here when performers, dressed as sprites schedule their special performance events, complete with messages about taking care of ourselves, each other and nature.
My daughter went to a birthday party here when she was five. There’s nothing like the sight of ten little girls running through the sycamores wearing gauze wings and tulle.
I do believe in fairies!
2. Nymphs in the Shrubbery
Place name: Huntington Library & Gardens
Category: Nature & Outdoors
The Huntington Library is the central feature of the Huntington Estate but I like to be ravished by the 120 acres of botanicals where you can go from an English rose garden to an Amazonian lily pond, from Japan and China to the desert or the jungle in just a stroll.
Once I did a reading here on an outdoor stage but it was so hot I sweat all over my Wildfox T-shirt, so dress coolly.
If you go off to smooch with your sweetheart, don’t assume you’re alone; I could swear I’ve glimpsed some Fauns and Wood Nymphs hiding behind the trees giggling at me.
3. Beachwood Bittersweet
Place name: Beachwood Canyon
Category: Nature & Outdoors
The location of The Hanged Man and my favorite haunt in my teens and early twenties.
My first boyfriend and I hiked up to the Hollywood Sign under a full moon to make out but I twisted my ankle and it’s still swollen today.
I drank lemonade at the Beachwood Café (now Village Coffee Shop) with my best friend who is now estranged from me.
The man I was obsessed with, and later was with in Joshua Tree for a while, lived here, and I wrote melancholy poems about his blue poppy eyes and lace shrouded room. We broke each other’s hearts at different times for different reasons.
Beachwood has a certain bitter sweetness and I highly recommend a drive up among it’s ivy-covered Spanish homes and dryad-filled trees or taking a walk or run around the aqueduct past the bridge adorned with stone bears.
4. The White Horse in the Canyon
Place name: Fryman Canyon Park
Category: Nature & Outdoors
I used to hike here all the time with Vincent Van Go-Go Boots. Once a snake crossed our path. Once we saw a coyote. Once we saw lovers making out in the trees.
As a kid I saw a group of hippie teenagers smoking pot in a grotto with a daredevil makeshift swing.
There was always something a little dangerous angel about Fryman Canyon.
My most significant experience there, by far, was the day my dad died and my mom and I were walking past a field. A white horse ran up to us, literally ran, and pressed his nose against the fence to stare into our eyes. I wrote about this in Echo.
It really happened!
5. Love’s Labyrinth
Place name: Serra Retreat
Category: Nature & Outdoors
Located in the hills above Malibu and blessed with a shimmering view of the Pacific Ocean, Serra retreat center is a Catholic monastery made available by appointment for spiritual retreats and workshops. (Let’s just say there were a lot of Satyrs, Wood Nymphs and other sex/love addicts at the one I attended in the spirit of self-knowledge and research.)
The long, tree-lined road leads you up to beautifully landscaped gardens, fountains, Spanish buildings and patios. The hushed, clear, sparkling air and the expanses of blues and greens around you will be instantly calming. You may also choose to meditate while walking the tiny stone labyrinth at the top of the hill.
6. Wistful Canyon
Place name: Rustic Canyon Park
Category: Nature & Outdoors
It may be a little hard to find, but this was my favorite place to take my children when they were little.
The playground sits among giant sycamores, tucked into the aptly named Rustic Canyon. There’s an expanse of lawn to run on and nearby the public pool is a fun and charming cooling off spot in the summer.
One of my most idyllic memories is coming there on New Year’s Day with my kids and their dad when we were still one unit. We had a picnic on a platform in a tree and played on the slides.
I did yoga under the shifting leaves and my kids climbed a huge sycamore so heavy its branches trailed on the ground, serving as walkways for small feet.
7. Those Crazy Peacocks!
Place name: LA Arboretum and Botanic Garden
Category: Nature & Outdoors
Wander among citrus trees, maples, jacarandas, magnolias and more.
Visit the Queen Anne house that is painted bright white with Valentine-red trim and has a huge wrap-around porch and large windows through which you can spy romantically furnished rooms.
Play in the willow structure, a perfect fairy home.
See rose gardens, wisteria arbors, lakes full of ducks and heron and beds of sacred and magical plants.
And dine at the Peacock Café where peacocks will strut right up to the entrance, take their position, fan and pose like statues -- that make crazy sounds.
8. Bring Your Cherry Blossom Spritzer
Place name: The Japanese Garden
Category: Nature & Outdoors
Way out in the Valley off the crazy 405 you can find a Japanese garden full of cherry blossoms and bonsais.
Once a Tree Elf and I took his ailing father for a stroll down the paths among the pavilions and waterfalls.
I have to admit I first thought there was something weird about this place, besides its close proximity to the freeway -- it was built on a water reclamation plant and there can sometimes be a slight odor in the air.
However, this is just another one of those things that makes Los Angeles so wonderful -- a little beauty mixed with a little toxicity. Bring something fragrant to sniff.
9. Route Number 1
Place name: Pacific Coast Hwy
Category: Nature & Outdoors
This highway has lead me to many things—beach days in high school, my college years at UC Berkeley, my bittersweet months of living in San Francisco with Angel Juan, my wedding in Topanga Canyon, my honeymoon in Big Sur, a romantic dinner with a Satyr and a Tree Elf when the marriage ended, a weekend getaway with a Werewolf.
Though none of these ultimately really made me happy, the road travels on, lit up by the capricious ocean on one side and the spilling hills on the other.
One of my funniest experience here was going to a restaurant to interview Perry Farrell’s band Porno for Pyros.
When I arrived, my 1965 aqua blue VW Notchback, Jerry (for Jerry Lewis), that had been stolen a week before was parked in the lot. I still had the keys on my ring but since insurance had already paid and I didn’t have a mischievous friend to egg me on, I was too afraid to steal it back!
Place name: The Best View of LA
Website: http://ca.myphotoscout.com/2009/06/02/how-to-photograph-the-views- from-mulholland-drive/
Category: Nature & Outdoors
My first boyfriend took me on a hike up here when I was sixteen. We actually did eat canned oysters and drink wine like Weetzie and My Secret Agent Lover Man. On the way down, I twisted my ankle and it has been a little swollen ever since. The price for romance.
The way L.A. appears so sparkly, happy and magical from above always intrigues me -- no matter how hard life in the streets get, lights and distance can make it look like a fantasy world. It’s good to remember the beauty of a view when you are mired in the darkness. Sometimes magic works the other way -- from the streets looking up. In my Weetzie prequel Pink Smog, Weetzie and her friend Winter will visit this location and she will ruminate on Peggy Entwistle, the starlet who jumped to her death from the Hollywood sign. But when you are driving through the streets of Hollywood it looks like the perfect crown on the head of the queen of angels.
11. The Secret Garden
Place name: Wattles Garden Park
Category: Nature & Outdoors
When I was a little girl my parents took me to this picturesque, gated garden that was once part of the Wattles mission-revival style mansion, one of the oldest remaining Hollywood homes of its kind.
Punks and drug fiends took over in the eighties (sometimes they have the best taste). Now you can still see the Italian rose gardens, Japanese teahouse and avocado orchards.
It's a perfect spot for a romantic interlude in the middle of the city. Maybe you'll spot Weetzie and My Secret Agent Lover Man kissing under some avocado trees with roses in their hair.
1. Meet Me at the Marmont!
Place name: Chateau Marmont Hotel
Mentioned in my book The Waters and the Wild -- changeling Bee flies here. This tiny castle of a hotel, with its lounge furnished in so many claw-footed seats you’ll think you might get scratched, is as close as you can come to the perfection of Hollywood glamour past. Movie deals and romantic trysts are being planned in discreet whispers at any given time.
I read here with Rose McGowan, Minnie Driver, Samantha Dunn and Rachel Resnick for the book Damage Control, edited by Emma Forrest and revealing all the not-so-pretty truths about trying to keep up your appearance in a brutally image conscious world. These beautiful women are emblematic of the smart and glamorous types you might see here.
2. Best Canned Peas in Town
Place name: El Coyote Cafe
This isn’t a restaurant entry because at El Coyote it’s all about food as kitsch. Go here to enjoy the painted velvet wall hangings, fancy-skirted waitresses and Techincolor food and beverages rather than to actually expect a meal!
Unless you are as brave as Weetzie and like Thousand Island dressing and canned veggies on your tostada!
3. Be a Sinistrix for a Night
Place name: Bar Sinister
Every Saturday night is Halloween at this Hollywood club.
The management ensures this by charging $20 -- unless you are dressed in all black or something creative (punk, fairy, vampire, Burning Man, etc.).
There is a main hall with a dance floor and bar, an outside bar and concert stage, and an upstairs bondage area where ‘professionals’ can get (and give) a little spanking.
Dry ice fog and candles add to the ambience. Vixanne would freak!
(Be sure to check the website for the latest info.)
4. A Shot of Whiskey
Place name: The Whiskey A Go Go
Okay, I saw my first L.A. club show here—Oingo Boingo and the Weirdos.
It blew my mind—loud fast music, punks with beautiful colored hair or no hair falling out of the sky and crashing in the pit, sweat and beer and life. Then I saw the Go-Go's here when they were just little, scruffy girls in old dresses. That really blew my mind. It let me know girls could make you slam just as hard. X, The Circle Jerks, the Adolescents. The place vibrates with history.
You have to go just to see it.
5. On the Rox
Place name: The Roxy Theatre
I saw the Plimsouls, Adam and the Ants, X and, best of all, The Cramps here! Although I missed Nirvana, Jane's Addiction and Tori Amos, it is still thrilling to visit a place where all these stars played early shows before their fame explosion.
I went here with a cute punk rocker on his motorcycle when I was seventeen. As we were leaving I shouted to him over the wind, "I'm not afraid of motorcycles anymore!" and we were promptly hit by a (luckily slow-moving) car.
My affection for the Roxy, motorcycles and punk boys is still in tact, though I don't "frequent" them anymore.
6. Love is All is All is All
Place name: Echoplex
If I was young I'd spend all my weekends seeing bands at the Echo.
Now that I'm old I can only afford to have my ear drums blown out every so often but the darkly sparkling underground feel and the awesome selection of featured bands makes this an important stop on the L.A. music tour.
I went here on a motorcycle with a Werewolf and saw Love is All from Sweden. Today's Weetzie would frequent this club looking for ducks with Dirk. She always knew love was all.
7. Come Inside My Music Box
Place name: The Music Box at the Fonda
Theatre Price: Free
Aptly named little jewel case of a theater with a cool rooftop lounge and some of the most interesting acts in town.
Saw Beach House at the Music Box, and Kate Nash who leaped around like a mad woman screaming one of my favorite lines: "Don't have to s*uck d*** to succeed!" You can mosh or sip cocktails here.
I like the combination of tough music club with classy Hollywood venue—it works for a variety of bands and crowds.
1. Rockin’ La Brea
Place name: La Brea btw Beverly and 4th
I remember when this street was just car lots and hardware stores, with the occasional gallery, like the Jack Rutberg where my father’s friends showed their work (it’s still thriving!).
Now the home to furniture stores selling Tibetan hand-painted cabinets and giant Buddhas, classic trendy apparel boutiques like American Rag Cie (featuring Stella MaCartney, Helmut Lang, James Perse, Joe's and vintage, etc.), and restaurants like Inaka (hardcore macrobiotic).
La Brea is always a good place to spend an L.A. shopping day without the confines of a mall between you and the sky.
Place name: Melrose Ave.
Anyone remember Grau boutique with its mini Gaudiesque design?
I worked there in the 80s wearing "depression wear" and patchwork antique silk kimonos and dressing the windows with a mannequin I called Weetzie.
At that time the street rocked with stores like ... well, Let it Rock (Rocker/Punk), Aardvark's (Vintage), Cowboys and Poodles (Unused 50's Vintage) and Neo 80 (New Wave). It was a cultural renaissance until the cool stores all left and the ready-made trendy factory stores took over and we called it Hell-rose.
Now it’s all cool again.
Not the old Melrose but if you look hard enough you might see Weetzie Bat roller skating along past Agent Provocateur, recognizing the Mohawks but wondering what those little wired thingies attached to everyone's ears are.
3. Abbot’s Habit
Place name: Abbot Kinney Blvd.
This street stands out to me for it’s overall aura as opposed to its individual delights (though they are considerable).
I like to walk or drive past overpriced stores filled with shabby garden furniture, broken crystal chandeliers, pastel vintage tablecloths, orchids, flowery framed mirrors and pink teacups.
Once, after dancing at the Electric Lodge, I met a beautiful young Centaur for a fresh watermelon juice and soy cheese pizza at Abbot’s Pizza.
Great date with a cute Hobgoblin included dinner at Joe's, dancing at the Other Room and a psychic reading at Mystic Journey (crystals, tarot cards, books gifts). But the psychic said we were sisters in another life so that sort of killed the romance!
4. Further and Further
Place name: Furthur Furniture
This rose-colored furniture store would inspire Weetzie to redecorate her cottage, and without spending too much.
Custom-made mosaic tables in beautiful colors bring to mind the wonder of the Watts Towers. The tin lanterns, tiffany lamps, Buddha heads, porcelain mermaid vases, globes and assorted objet d’art that fill this place make me think I might find a genie lamp hidden away among them.
Many cultures and styles are represented but what is similar is a taste for the fantastical, unusual and enchanting, very much like the Silverlake neighborhood where Further dwells.
5. Mommy Mall
Place name: Westside Pavilion
Website: http://www.westsidepavilion.com/ Category: Shopping
This mall isn’t exactly glamorous or super cool but it is convenient and has a certain charm.
I brought my kids here a lot when they were little to take music classes, watch the magic shows and play on the large sculptures of food and drinks. Then they had burritos, avocado sushi rolls and ice cream for dinner.
If I was lucky I could race into Nordstrom and buy something on sale (my pink purse and black leather wallet tooled with red roses are two favorites). I love how the Nordstrom sales people come around the counter to hand you your silver bag!
On the other side of this rather rambling structure is the Landmark Theater where, if you pick an offbeat, usually indie movie, you might get a seat in the best tiny screening room in town -- den size with leather couches for romantic snoggling.
6. Never seen anything like it before
Place name: Amoeba Music
If you want to feel the buzz of the L.A. music scene during the light of day, and to have your head explode with desire for all the new musical possibilities, brave the traffic of Sunset Boulevard, the underground parking and graffitied stairwell to have your mind properly blown.
When I say the name I always start singing the Adolescents song Amoeba. "A one-celled creature a one-celled thing
It hardly knows it's alive
You're better off dead if you only knew
Your growing life is taking a dive
I've never seen anything like it before"
7. Books and Crystals
Place name: Bodhi Tree Bookstore
As a teenager I enjoyed coming here to gaze at Tarot decks and books on magic. The Bodhi Tree is still one of L.A.'s premier spiritual bookstores. Scented with nag champa and sparkling with crystals, you'll feel immediately comforted by the wealth of wisdom that vibrates within the covers of so many wonderful books. Get a psychic reading while you're there and then have lunch at Le Pain Quotidien or Urth Caffe down the block (green tea bobas with rice milk!).
8. Lit by the Sky
Place name: Skylight Books
The charm of Los Feliz is embodied in this bookstore with a tree growing in the center. I always feel like a certified hipster when I read here but that's only because the staff and patrons of this store are so cool and smart.
Although the selection is small due to the size of the store, every book seems hand-picked with love by the knowledgeable buyers and staff. Other Los Feliz highlights—the Vista Theater, Fred 62 and Green Leaves Vegan with its kitschy-romantic ladies room, fresh coconuts and gluten-free vegan tropical pancakes.
9. Soup's On!
Place name: Book Soup
Book Soup is a jewel on the crown of the Sunset Strip.
I love to do readings in this tiny shop, piled from floor to ceiling with the best books around. The staff will always make you feel at home and you can rest assured that almost any books you pick up off a shelf will be interesting and mind-opening.
I plan to be debuting my novels here until the very last one I publish.
This place is especially dear to me because of the reading we did here of my Weetzie Bat screenplay featuring actors Brian Gaskill, Chelsea Staub, Corbin Bernsen, Brant Daugherty and more. Support your indie bookstores!
10. Don't Jump -- Go to Vroman's Instead
Place name: Vroman's Bookstore
This vast paradise for book lovers is a multi-layered mecca where you can find books on any topic as well as great gift choices. The live reading program is thriving and, on almost any day or night, you can catch some of the best living writers behind the podium.
I really feel like I'm in someone's giant, literary living room when I read here.
Always worth the drive over the supposedly haunted Colorado Street Bridge (Aka "Suicide Bridge" because of the many people who have leapt off of it) to Pasadena where you can also enjoy the historical mansions, upscale shopping, multi-star dining and perhaps a trip to the Norton Simon Museum to see the Monets and Degas.
11. Pink Leather and Red Wine
Place name: Last Chance Boutique
I like Last Chance because you can find designer or upscale label brands for less in an unpretentious, comfortable atmosphere where the clothes are often organized in attractive color blocks.
Due to savvy merchandising, you can always be sure you'll catch the latest trends, in spite of the fact that you're getting a bargain on these pieces.
My favorite scores from Last Chance? A pink leather Tina Turk jacket, two shirred silk velvet dresses (one that was ruined and then resurrected by a splash and then a bath in red wine), Chanel sunglasses and a black silk halter vest!
1. Munchkin Hotel
Place name: Culver Hotel
The munchkins stayed here when filming The Wizard of Oz. That historic fact is reason enough for me to recommend this quaint brick hotel perched on a little island of a block in downtown Culver City.
The lobby has a white piano and tapestry chairs that you may recognize from at least one of my myspace poems. There’s an outdoor patio, the rooms are quaint and there are lots of hidden passages and lounges to be discovered here, as well as dramatic fire escape views.
I could spend all night roaming the halls of the Culver Hotel looking for spirits. (There’s even a mysterious munchkin-sized door.)
If you are less supernaturally inclined, stroll to one of the lovely restaurants along the fairy-lit boulevard or catch a movie at the Pacific Culver Twelve, where the lion from Oz dances in his very own fountain.
2. The Pink Hotel
Place name: The Beverly Hills Hotel
This is the inspiration for the pink hotel in Necklace of Kisses where Weetzie runs away to find magic in her life again.
I embellished on the actual place but the flamingo pink structure built in the twenties, with its palm trees, pools and gardens is quite enchanting in its own right.
I attended my high school prom here -- my friends and I all wore pink taffeta mini dresses and brought an assortment of Mohawked, kilted punks and skanking surfers as our dates.
Look closely for sunbathing Mermaids and Fauns delivering room service.