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My LA to Z: Pamela Des Barres
“The world’s most famous groupie” takes us on a virtual tour of her favorite spots
Photograph courtesy Chicago Review Press
When I was a young, groupie girl growing up in L.A., I’d hitchhike over the hill to Laurel Canyon and the Laurel Canyon Country Store. Jim Morrison used to live right behind there, and the Byrds and Love and Buffalo Springfield were nearby. That’s where they hung out and got their booze and snacks. It still looks like a trippy hippie haven.
The Whisky A Go-Go
The Whisky A Go-Go was my home away from home from 1966 to 1971, the five-year period when all the magic happened on the Sunset Strip. You could see the Kinks, the Stones, and maybe even Elvis Presley hanging out at the Whisky back in the ‘60s. I don’t hear much today that’s startling to my ears. As far as rock and roll goes there’s very little that startles me into ecstasy anymore.
Dukes West Hollywood
Right up the street from the Whisky was a place called the Galaxy, which was an amazing club. It’s now Dukes coffee shop, which used to be in the Tropicana Motel. It’s crazy, there’s one sandwich with mushrooms and mustard and, oh my God, it’s great. It’s called the magic mushroom or something. I’ve been eating it for 40 years.
There’s this thing called the Grand Ole Echo. I love Americana and country and they get the best bands to play there every Sunday in the summer. They have a barbecue in the back and it’s free.
My favorite vintage clothing store is Catwalk and they have all the brand names like Gucci, Pucci, and Ferrucci all the way from the turn of the century to the ‘80s. A lot of stylists shop there for movie stars. They dress me for events. One of my favorites was a ‘60s mod British get-up they put me in. I felt like the queen of Carnaby Street.
I’ve been going to the Troubadour since 1966. Rhett Miller from the Old 97’s plays there and Todd Snider is one of my absolute heroes. Look him up, he’s the greatest. I know every single backstage door. I’ve knocked on them all—and gained entrance, too.
Musso and Frank Grill
I’ve been going to Musso and Frank forever and a day. I love the Chiffonade salad and Broccoli Hollandaise and the old crusty waiters and the lighting. It’s been there since 1919 and I literally see the ghosts of Valentino and Clark Gable, and if you’re into showbiz at all, that’s the place to go.
I love the Greek Theater. I saw Robert Plant there. I’ve been going there since the ‘60s and recently saw Willie Nelson. It’s like magic being outside and hearing that guitar. It’s like hearing God play the guitar. Sit back and breathe deep.
I go to all the flea markets. Rose Bowl, PCC, and Long Beach. My house looks like a vintage store. I still collect vintage clothing. I look for velvet finery from the ‘30s and ‘40s. Those 1930s chiffons are still my favorite things to wear. I collect vintage images of Jesus, wall hangings, heads, plastic crosses, whatever. I like art deco wall heads and vintage Elvis anything. My house is really outrageous. People feel like they’re in a museum.
My local favorite is Sakura House and it’s little pieces of yum on a stick. It’s yakitori cooked right in front of you. My favorite are the gingko nuts. They’re little yellow balls and there’s no way I could describe the taste. You just have to go try them.
Joe’s Great American Bar & Grill
I go to a club called Joe’s out in Burbank. It usually has country music, but I go see the rockabilly bands like the Swing Kings. I’ll schlep out from Marina Del Rey to the valley. It looks like an old fashioned roadhouse and it’s pretty funky. It’s worth the long drive.
The Redwood Bar and Grill
And I also go to the Redwood downtown. It’s an old pirate’s den where the L.A. Times writers used to hang out. Very interesting and unique indie bands play there. It’s full of amazing musicians. Phil Alvin is there every Monday night right now.
Images courtesy of (in order): (1) designwatcher.blogspot.com, (2) Flickr/sarah_ackerman, (3) eatcheapnow.com, (4) Flickr/the_toe_stubber, (5) catwalkdesignervintage.com, (6) troubadour.com, (7) Flickr/Meltwater, (8) Flickr/Shazari, (9) Flickr/joepyrek, (10) yelp.com, (11) joesgreatbar.com, (12) theredwoodbar.com