California Institute of Abnormal Arts
The CIA is this bizarre freak show of a museum where they have shrunken heads and old carnie props. You can go there and have a drink and check out the artifacts, but aside from thinking the aesthetic there is really cool, it’s got a bit of a personal history for me: we had one of our first performances of Repo! The Genetic Opera there.
The Tonga Hut
It’s basically a little dive bar in north Hollywood that is Tiki themed. There are these big, wooden Easter Island structures, and they’ve got a real jukebox as opposed to one of these Internet ones. It’s like you’re walking into a David Lynch film every time you go.
The Museum of Death
It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Some person has accumulated all these bizarre elements from famous murder scenes or paintings that serial killers have created. It’s definitely not for the slight of stomach, but there’s a real tongue in cheek quality to the whole thing.
The Vista Theatre
The Vista is one of those vintage single screen cinemas. It’s been there forever, and it looks like you’re seeing a piece of history. They screen regular films there, but they also screen cult movies—they’ve been showing Repo! there at midnight, kind of like The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The La Brea Tar Pits
I used to go there as a kid because of the museum, which is basically a wooly mammoth graveyard. There’s something strange and weirdly L.A. about it that will always resonate with me.
Halloweentown is a year-round Halloween store that’s a very spooky experience. They have all sorts of cool artwork and your standard costumes, but they also have knick-knacks and t-shirts. You can find anything that’s horror or Halloween themed there. They even do gallery openings for horror themed artists.
It’s a horror and cult bookstore. They do a lot of signings—if there’s a new horror book or film coming out, authors and directors and actors will be there. Steve Niles does stuff there regularly. I think Rob Zombie has even done signings there. To my knowledge, it’s the only real horror/cult bookstore in Los Angeles.
This place specializes in strange occult and horror themed artwork. The owner finds stuff from all over the world, and every two weeks, he does an opening featuring a new artist. He has artwork by John Wayne Gacy on the walls. What’s funny is that the owner is the nicest, friendliest, funniest guy—he just happens to collect serial killer artwork.
Travel Town is this little known place that is definitely worth exploring. It’s like an old train and railroad cemetery: there are all these odd cabooses and metal wheels, like you’re walking onto a strange set. There are also a bunch of antique trains and train cars.
The Bourgeois Pig
It’s probably more hipster than everything else on my list, but it’s great for people watching. It’s blue and they have cool chandeliers everywhere. And it’s in the middle of Hollywood, so there’s always something to look at. The coffee is good, but it’s more about the atmosphere.
Photographs courtesy (in order): (0) themoltingcomic.com, (1) blog.seranarose.com, (2) 15minutesoffama.com, (3) terrysdiary.com, (4) vintagecinemas.com, (5) katiethebloglady.com, (6) artslant.com, (7) horrorfilms101.blogspot.com, (8) myspace.com, (9) rwongphoto.com, (10) hauteliving.com