Merry Christmas Los Angeles!

In celebration of this season, I'd love to share with you some of the AMAZING holiday good times Los Angeles has to offer. Above are the spirited, Dickensian carolers at the Tam O'Shanter. They harmonize so well, they vibrate. They carol from  December 1st - 30th. It's a MUST DO. 


Holiday lights downtown are proof that the scene is booming. There was even a troupe of local carolers!

Day trip to Santa Barbara to enjoy holiday shopping, and decadent chocolates from Chocolats du CaliBressan. After all,  Jean-Michel Carre is known as "the French chocolatier of the American Riviera."

The historic Roosevelt Hotel is all decked out, with real trees (ah, the smell) and gourmet gingerbread houses.

The streets are decked out!

Luckily, my neighbors across the street were inspired by A Charlie Brown Christmas....and penguins.

The beauty of tacky Christmas lights. This is in Pasadena, not far from Christmas Tree Lane!

The cabin always looks best at Christmas, as most cabins do!



Hollywood Babylon

My neighbor Linda let me borrow the controversial book Hollywood Babylon, an infamous expose on the debauchery of early Hollywood. From the days of silent film to the 1950's, the founding stars of Tinseltown had antics that would make even the most jaded Angelenos blush.

Hours-long orgies were taped inside of studios, never to make it to theatres. Directors held these elaborate sex scenes (sometimes involving slaves and torture) as artistic visions, but America's laws on censorship made sure they never saw the light of day. The country's consternation over the budding film industry was so intensely disapproving, that actors and directors in the 20's and 30's were considered pleasure-loving outcasts, not lauded celebrities.

There were all-night parties, murders, rivalries, involvement with the mob and starlets overdosing in their Hollywood apartments only to be eaten by their house pets. But none of the stories filled me with such shock and horror as the story of Fatty Arbuckle.

Hollywood Babylon writer Kenneth Anger claimed that the burly actor raped aspiring actress Virginia Rappe behind a locked door at a party. Everyone heard her screams, and later Rappe mumbled to friends, "He hurt me," and "Arbuckle did it." She died a couple of days later. Her bladder had ruptured and her insides were torn to shreds. Hollywood Babylon claims that he had raped her with a broken Champagne bottle. In fact, long after his trial and acquittal, he was pulled over for drunk driving (a chronic addiction he suffered until death), and he smashed a bottle on the side of the road and laughed, "There goes the evidence."

Other sources I have read claim that there is no evidence to support the bottle theory, which is one of the reasons Hollywood Babylon is so controversial. It's the inaccuracy. There were signs that the book was smutty. The cover shows Jayne Mansfield with an exposed nipple; the only thing colored red in the black and white photo aside from her lips. The photos inside, while enthralling, are gratuitous. On display are dead bodies, whether with gunshot wounds, head in a gas oven or partially eaten by house pets. But nothing disturbed me as much as the story of Fatty Arbuckle.

I recommend this book for those fascinated with history and pop culture. But you have to read it like one would Us Weekly - with a grain of salt.


Cheaters Beware

We may never understand why Hugh Grant lowered himself to risking jail and Elizabeth Hurley just to receive the affections of a strung out prostitute. In a car. Grant was caught outside of Sally Struthers' house, by the way - little-known fact I picked up. What's even more odd is that he did this in Los Angeles, when he could easily have hooked up with a wannabe celebrity at The Standard. At least that way she's cuter, bathes regularly and has a room. Then again, maybe Grant steered clear of the hangers-on for good reason. Too many people on try to use sex with a celebrity to springboard off the tabloid circuit and into fame. Plus, Divine Brown (pictured above) is kind of cute.

But these days, all it takes is one scorned lover and a laptop get you into the Cheaters Registry. Everyone Googles their first date, and now, your transgressions may pop up for all the world, including your mother, to see. If your date is particularly savvy, they may cut to the chase and hit the Cheaters Registry first. Best of luck to you.


Selling used diaphragms for $50? Asian servers dressed as French maids and putting bibs on you?

Only in Los Angeles. No, I take that back. Only in Los Angeles and Japan. And we know Japan is all kinds of pervy, with vending machines filled with used panties and all.

Yes, it's true. Here, I Snopes'd it for you. 

Vending machine at L.A.'s Royal-T, "Lightly-used Diaphragm" (spelled wrong & $50)
While the Harajuku style is fun and playful, the French maid outfits at Royal-T were more Harajuku-Meets-kindergartner. The girlish puff sleeves, miniskirt and knee socks reinforced the Japanese custom to make grown women look like little girls, which is the sexual ideal in Japan. At least French maids look like women. You go France. Note to restaurateurs: I am not a pedophile.

Chillin' with The Glass Twins of GT Events
The food was great, the variety of cupcakes plentiful, and it's a fun art space. My favorite was the Port-a-Party - a giant Porta Potty-shaped iPod that played real music. But don't get me started on the used diaphragms in the vending machine. I'm not offended about them poking fun at the perverted side of Japanese culture. I'm more offended that they spelled diaphragm wrong and charged $50 for it.



The Mansons were idiots, and while I'm at it so is Marilyn Manson

Sharon Tate
January 24, 1943 – August 9, 1969

Ever since reading Helter Skelter in high school, I've been fascinated by the Manson murders, if only because they made no sense. The Manson "family" committed a slew of horrific crimes for the sake of...well, nothing actually. The crime that sticks out in everyone's mind is the murder of Sharon Tate. The Valley of the Dolls actress was almost nine months pregnant with Roman Polanski's baby, which the murderous group took upon themselves to practically remove from her body.

It’s one thing to get past the dark history and have a new family move in to the home. That would give the Mansons less cultural and historical power. But it’s a whole other thing to try to make a profit off the tragedy. I was annoyed when I found out that Trent Reznor used it as a recording studio with Nine Inch Nails, and more so when he ushered in his little protégé Marilyn Manson to record there. Adding insult to injury, they named the studio "Pig Studios" or "Le Pig," after what was scrawled across the door in Sharon Tate's blood. It’s as if the bands needed that gimmick to make themselves more dark and interesting, because they lacked the character and personality to be at all substantial.

Even Christina Ricci agrees. Regarding Marilyn Manson, she is quoted as saying, "I hate the things they preach. They found a gimmick that sells. The fact that they're making money off all these teenage kids who actually believe in their message is disgusting."

The tragedy took place on Cielo Drive, and I recently hiked there with my greyhounds. I know the address had been switched to ward off drive-by gawking, but walk-by non-gawking with your dogs makes you look like a neighbor, and I knew where the house was.

The neighborhood was still. In fact, everything was eerily quiet as if recovering from their turbulent past. No cars drove by, no one was tending to their lawn, no smells of cooking or faint sounds of music. The opening scene of Helter Skelter shows Tate's frantic housemaid tearing down Cielo Drive screaming and waving her arms in the air. As I walked up that isolated street, this image kept flashing in my mind. The maid must have been terrified, thinking that the killers may have still been on the property. I wondered what the killers said to Tate before ending her life, and what went through her own mind. I thought about how senseless it all was. Manson gave us even more proof that if you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything. He was a failed musician and a drug-crazed egomaniac who brainwashed a group of bored stupid people from the suburbs. That's all it was.

I stood at the gate with my dogs and stole a glance at the new house/studio built where the old home stood. Thanks goodness Trent and his crappy music factory have moved. I'm happy to say he grew up.  I then turned around and walked briskly back to my car. It wasn't as interesting as I thought it would be. I didn't think it was cool. I didn’t think it was rock and roll. The whole thing was just sad.


Hollywood, but dead

I hopped on board of the cozy, air conditioned van that was scheduled to zip us around Los Angeles. But we weren't on a Starline Bus to see where the stars lived. We were going to see where Marilyn Monroe died, where the Manson murders took place and other sites where stars and civilians met their tragic end. I was on the Dearly Departed Tour.

Scott Michaels is the founder of the Dearly Departed Tour, and his enthusiasm was infectious. So wrapped up he is in the history of Hollywood, that he repeatedly derailed the basic stops to show us where the stars lived, died and behaved badly. Our tour runneth over by a half an hour, giving us more than our money's worth. He gets a twinkle in his eye when talking about death. He spoke fast and excitedly when showing us the houses that had been razed when Howard Hughes took that ill-fated flight through West Los Angeles. The film version shows Leonardo DiCaprio smashing through mansions, sparking fires and tearing up lawns with his airplane.

He was wistful when pointing out the soon-to-be razed Ambassador Hotel, where Robert Kennedy was shot. He was quiet and reverential when showing us homes where Manson murders took place. He didn't even want to waste a bathroom break on us, and took us to the public restroom in a Beverly Hills park where singer George Michael was busted for soliciting sex.

But his fascination was a little intense when it came to a nondescript auto body shop in Hollywood. Apparently, it was where James Dean got his motorcycle or convertible worked on. Our tour guide drove by expecting the building to be standing, and when he saw a shamble of crumbled brick, he pulled over and staggered out into the parking lot. He looked lost. We followed behind him as we always did. He turned to us and continued with his James Dean story, urging us to pick up a brick and keep it as a souvenir . He did so, and solemnly. I looked at my date and thought, "Dude, I don't want to take home a brick. It's...a brick." But one by one, we all lifted a brick from the rubble while he watched. I tossed mine out later, as I am sure the others did too.

But I can't knock him for it. Sure, he held a brick like it was baby Jesus, but it was that same enthusiasm and childlike wonder that made the Dearly Departed tour top notch. It's a must-do.

Elizabeth Short (A.K.A. The Black Dahlia) before her death


Fear and Loathing in Los Angeles

I don't know about you, but I thought Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was overrated. Lauded by Hunter S. Thompson fans and people who get wasted as sport, no one ever actually discusses the film. They just wish to make it known that they saw it; especially in front of devotees of William S. Burroughs, a talented writer who is overshadowed by ridiculous worshippers who admire him for taking drugs. It almost seems like if one person admits that Fear and Loathing was boring and aimless, they'll all fall down.

There is one great thing about that movie though, and it's Bahooka. In East Los Angeles, I used to drive by a strange building that looked a cross between a tiki hut and a stranded ship. The sign read Bahooka. I said to my husband that we had no choice but to to go there. He wondered why I was so adamant, seeing as how I had never been inside and the restaurant sign featured those two dreaded words, "Family Restaurant."

But I just new. Come on, it was named Bahooka! It was pure camp. Upon entering, the place was deafeningly gurgling with fish tanks, and giant fish in psychedelic colors stared you down. It was woody and dark, and stretched across the walls were tangled fish netting and all sorts of paraphernalia from the 60's. Giant Polynesian drinks were carried out, weighed down by maraschino cherries and pineapple slices. Straws were poked out of coconuts, and dark hallways led to faraway cubby holes and nooks for couples. This was the type of place where people would actually use the term "grog."

And the best part? It was not a family restaurant. It was a cavernous dive bar that happened to be a restaurant. Loud parties gather in the maze of rooms and hallways to eat island-inspired dishes, surf and turf specials, and...oh who am I kidding? They're getting drunk!

We ordered a giant, flaming bowl filled with some cocktail of the tropical persuasion, and it went straight to my head. How can you knock a place that serves giant bowls of fire? I even saw the place at Christmas, and it was a jolly, sloppy party of a place. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas shot scenes in this restaurant, and I must admit, they really had something there.


Run in with Top Model's CRAZY Lisa D'Amato - LOVE her!

Crazy Lisa - breaking hearts and iPhones!
One of the advantages to living in L.A.and not New York is the lack of models. Sure, there are beautiful women everywhere, but they're short. When I was invited to a party for America's Next Top Model, there was no hiding how much shorter and pudgier I was. I was a bowling ball amongst bowling pins. 

pushing her signature fragrance
So naturally, I looked for flaws in all of them. Cameras were rolling as America's Next Top Model All-Stars tried to out-pitch one another with a signature fragrance created just for them. They were awash in pearly mineral make-up and bleached teeth, smiling and glowing. Only one girl would be chosen for a signature fragrance deal, based on our feedback.

pushing Sensual
The girls stood in bathtubs, beckoning us to try their signature fragrances. Men ate it up as lotion was rubbed into their hands. Some of the men believed that the women were really into them; and not trying to secure their shaky financial future. They got into the bathtubs with the girls. You could see the annoyance on their faces, as stage make-up slid off into the cold water. But the cameras rolled and they gritted their teeth, smiling through their anger. 

 There was one model who did make me feel better about myself - Lisa D'Amato. That's because she was absolutely out of her mind. We loved her - she was like the Courtney Love of the models. The wild one. She's notorious for peeing in an adult diaper on the show and joining Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. She was pushing her signature Neon fragrance. Instead of pandering to men with some demure eyelash-batting, she whooped and hollered, telling everyone that they needed to loosen up and have fun. When people got too close, she kicked her bathtub water, splashing passersby and squealing. Getting splashed with water isn't as whimsical and fun as it was back in the day, since Angelenos are tethered to pricey electronic devices.
with Aussie actor Glenn Millanta
I think she was drunk. My friends and I cheered her on, of course. The other models rolled their eyes, as a crowd gathered away from them and lights shone onto Lisa. If a camera happened to swing in their direction, they switched to a pageant smile and said, "Oh, that Lisa. She's a free spirit." Top Model host Nigel Barker gave her a little talking-to, but behind his back, we were telling her not to listen. We told her to push Tyra into a tub if she showed up, convincing her it would make her a hero. Which it would, of course.

I liked Lisa. Sure, she was pushing her Neon party girl gimmick just as much as the others pushed their Ambition, or Sensual fragrance idea. But she was fun, and not such a man-pleaser.

goofing off on location at the Roosevelt

waiting for the valet


If it's not deep-fried, it's not a doughnut

The PB & J fonut - tasty!
Fonuts in West Hollywood is having their "moment" right now. Fueled by the hype of Thrillist and hipsters, crowds wipe out entire batches of Salted Caramel fonuts before lunch time.

What is a fonut? A faux doughnut, which is baked instead of fried. They used to be called Fauxnuts, but I guess that was hard for people. That makes sense, considering their clientele. Fonuts makes gluten-free options, and every gullible twit out there is convinced they are allergic to gluten. That's why THIS GUY is my hero.

I was excited to try their Chorizo Cheddar fonuts, but there was no sin in it. It wasn't spicy, cheesy or meaty. It was fluffy and yellow with red swirls. Their Maple Bacon fonut wasn't salty enough to counter the sweetness, and didn't hold a candle to Nickel Diner.

I thought I'd have better luck with the sweet doughnuts, and I did. The Banana Chocolate fonut was nice... like a muffin. That's the thing about fonuts. People get excited to try a healthy version of a doughnut, but it is not any version of a doughnut. They were baked goods pressed into a ring shape, like a bundt. Some were great, like the Peanut Butter and Jelly fonut. But it will never be like Pinkberry, who have successfully marketed themselves as a healthier version of a sinful, American classic.


The People of Public Transit

It still kills me that Los Angeles' public transportation is sadder than John Gosselin's Ed Hardy-clad midlife crisis. Here in LaLa Land, one poor fool must always serve as designated driver. If we venture out to celebrate any communal activity with fellow Angelenos, such as fireworks on Independence Day, pub crawls or summer concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, we are punished by soul-crushing traffic.

On the bright side, we don't have to breathe the same stale air as The People of Public Transit. Much like the popular site that pokes fun of the horrors seen lurking around Wal-Mart, this one is even better because it will piss off "green-living" types desperate to define themselves. You know the ones, they are understandably pro-public transportation, but then also think it's progressive to ride a stationary bike for 30 minutes to power their toaster.


Singafest Asian Film Festival

L.A. Weekly hosted a party for Singafest, the Asian Film Festival in Los Angeles.

L.A. is the perfect place for an event like this. Not only are we across the pond from Asia, but this town is filled with pervs who consider Asian women the ultimate novelty - approaching them as if car shopping. Whiskey Blue had quiet pockets of WASPy male oglers who had no intention of seeing any of the films. They clustered in corners, whispered and pointed as diminutive girls slinked by in beaded dresses. It seems that the creators of this event celebrated this exploitation, and put this beauty (below) on the invite.

Whiskey Blue at the
Now, on to the party! Where I come from, if an invite says "tray service," it means that good-looking people will pass around free food and drinks. In this case, it was free food, but a cash bar. Only we didn't know it until after we ordered our whiskey. We didn't mind at first, until we noticed that most of the trays of food were held high over their heads, to avoid the gaze of non-VIPs. Ninety percent of the servers swept into VIP, so that the poor servers holding trays in the "less important" crowd were accosted by hungry hordes, circling like zombies in search of brains. 

Germ fest!
Bags of popcorn were laid out to appease the non-VIP crowd, but everyone was afraid to stick their hands inside the potentially germ-filled snack. They didn't know what kind of people were around them. And the creepy white dudes standing in the corners didn't help matters.

We were starved, but we had our pride. We snuck into the VIP area (pictured above), slammed Champagne that sat in ice buckets, and made off with a gift bag. Plus we met a lovely gentleman from Wire LA named Don Rose and were graced with the no-nonsense awesomeness of DJ Smiles. Anyone that can work Nu Shooz into a spin mix is good peeps to me.