Touring Los Angeles's Dark Side
An entire branch of tourism trafficks in the city’s underbelly. Call it Morbid L.A. http://nyti.ms/1kYXcSL
- •Crime scene bus toursEsotouric, started by two local historians, hosts tours with titles like “Blood and Dumplings," “The Echo Park Book of the Dead" and "Real Black Dahlia." The first takes passengers to the site where Phil Spector shot the actress Lana Clarkson.
- •Dark Hollywood, with humorDearly Departed offers a "lighthearted look at the dark side of Hollywood." Their popular Manson-focused Helter Skelter Tour includes a circuit of the infamous Laurel Canyon murder site, and it used to include unsettling souvenirs.
- •Self-guided hauntings tourUse a map from Creepy LA, a website about the city’s supernatural happenings. Within a few short blocks, ghost chasers can visit the ritzy Roosevelt Hotel where Montgomery Clift’s spirit is said to carouse with Marilyn Monroe’s, and pause outside the Knickerbocker Hotel, now apartments, where Rudolph Valentino was said to be a habitué of the bar. Bess Houdini, Harry Houdini’s widow, held a séance in 1936 on the Knickerbocker’s rooftop in a final attempt to communicate with the dead magician.
- •Museum of DeathIncluded: The severed head of the Parisian serial killer Henri Landru; a collection of letters and art from serial killers; a diorama of a bunkroom of Heaven’s Gate, the San Diego-based U.F.O. cult, with an actual bunk bed acquired from the members’ mass suicide (Nike-clad mannequins included); and a faded quilt adorned with floral swastikas sewn by the Manson family, which guests brush by on their way out.
- •Grab some giftsEven the Los Angeles Coroner’s office finds currency in creepiness, opening a gift shop called Skeletons in the Closet, which sells body-silhouette mouse pads, coroner cotton tote bags and Los Angeles County medical-examiner compact cooler totes.
- •Don't forget to eatHungry? How about a picnic lunch among the headstones in the idyllic Hollywood Forever Cemetery? Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino, to name a few, reside there.