What an amazing two weeks it was!
When I knew I was going to publishing The Forgotten Flapper in August, the first thing that occurred to me was that I could market it at the Cinecon Silent Film Festival, which always falls around Labor Day.
I had made lots of acquaintances online before I left, but was excited about meeting everyone in person at last. I wasn’t disappointed!
First thing, checked into my inn. I LOVE the Hollywood Bed and Breakfast. I won’t stay anywhere else. William and Nina have become like family, and their gorgeous home is always great to come back to, now that it’s a regular stop. It’s a bit removed from the chaos, while still being right off Hollywood Boulevard, which is wonderful for being central to everything. This is the view from my room, below.
I arrived on Friday afternoon and pretty much collapsed at the inn for most of the evening. The next morning, it was time for Esotouric’s “Hotel Horrors and Main Street Vice” tour. We started from a neat little cafe called The Daily Dose way down in the back of beyond south and east of downtown. Great little courtyard between two ancient buildings for grabbing some breakfast. But warning about doing this in August: It was hot. I mean HOT.
Much of the tour was on a bus, but we also got out at a few points to see the interiors of a few of the hotels. I was THRILLED I finally get to see the inside of the important parts of the Alexandria (I tried last time I was there, but the Esotouric folks have special permission to see the Palm Court Ballroom, which was in the part I wanted to see). The Alex has a starring role in my book, but I had to imagine it in my head as I had read the descriptions and only seen one photograph up to this point.
It’s so sad that many of Los Angeles and Hollywood hotels have fallen to the wrecking ball. The Roosevelt and Biltmore are gorgeous examples of those that haven’t.
The hotels and sights below are only some of the highlights of this terrific tour, so you should take it yourself, so you get all the goods on the salesman who fell out the window of one of the hotels, or the Skid Row Slasher, or the B girls and taxi dancers who made up a huge portion of the tour.
One of the first ones they drove us by, I couldn’t get a good photo because I was attempting to turn my camera on and listen to tour guide Richard at the same time. That was the King George, which has quite the illustrious history. It served as an actors’ hotel in the early days of Hollywood. In 1912 it was gutted by fire, and several people died. It has fallen on hard times, and Richard told us amusing stories of being there back in the day. They will do tours if you call ahead.
In 1952, they experienced another fire. Seven people were killed in this one. And in 1980, a cop was a bit quick on the draw and shot out the front window.
The Alexandria Hotel (affectionately called the Alex) saw its heyday during the silent film days, with million dollar deals being made on the carpet in the lobby. It feel on hard times in the 1930s and 1940s, and only boxing promoters were keeping it alive. There were boxers sparring under the beautiful stained glass ceiling of the Palm Court. And then the US government came in and dropped the incredible ceiling. But here are some pictures of what it looks like today:
When you enter, you’re greeted with a lacework-bannister staircase, that is not quite as beautiful as the original grand staircase, but still beautiful.
When you go down to the corridor off to the left, you enter a large space that used to be the lobby, with grand ceilings that rose at least two stories. How disappointing to see them in their current state.
What is now serving as a bar used to be the main check-in desk.
And off to the left of this space is the entrance to the Palm Court. Which at least has Historical Landmark Designation.
That ceiling is definitely as beautiful as it looks. Stunning, in fact.
We left that and went up another set of stairs, but it was an unremarkable climb, as you got to see what other changes had been wrought, and not for the better.
Some of the other hotels on our itinerary were the Barclay (formerly the Van Nuys…) at 4th and Main. The very cool art deco Barclay sign went up in 1931. If you look closely, you can see the old intertwined V & N (for Van Nuys) in the stained glass above the windows.
More of the Barclay below:
After the Barclay, we saw the King Edward Hotel (built 1906) at First and Los Angeles. Look at the ceilings in this place. And the marble columns. Truly stunning. It’s a shame that it has fallen on such hard times.
This was initially a hobo’s corner, with tons of saloons. The gospel wagons parked outside, trying to save souls, but after some time, there was legislation passed, and they could only park for an hour a day. Note that things haven’t changed much around this neighborhood. On this tour, you really get to see Skid Row in all its glory, and you can begin to understand the massive homeless problem that L.A. is dealing with.
This tour is amazing, and I can’t wait to go back to Esotouric to experience more of the seamy underbelly of L.A.
Stay tuned for more L.A adventures!