Los Angeles: Saturday 11/22/14

Dear Constant Reader,

It was a late night on Friday, so we got a late start on Saturday. On a tip from a friend we went to the Farmer’s Market and ended up having breakfast at Du-Par’s. I gotta say the pancakes were pretty fabulous. I suspect the pitcher of melted butter had a lot to do with that…

Having eaten and strolled, it was time for a more serious visit and we headed to Westwood Memorial Park. It’s hidden deep in the heart of the city, surrounded by tall buildings — there’s a sign which seems to be pointing to a parking garage, but once you come around the corner and there’s a lovely bucolic park.

We were there to pay our respects to Dixie Evans, The Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque. I wrote a bit about her last year, you might recall. Many of us across the country planned to raise money for her care, but ended up using the funds for her final resting place. We went to the office to ask for directions and learned that her mausoleum was locked. Fortunately, someone was available to escort us and unlock the gates.

It’s lovely. Her ashes are in a glittery, rhinestone-decked urn in a glass-sided niche just behind the wrought iron gates. There are tiny framed photos on 2 sides and a miniature of her star. It was done with such love and care that I was quite choked up. She’s right near Marilyn Monroe and it’s a straight line to see Bettie Page. Lili VonSchtupp told me Dixie didn’t want to be in the dark, so the sun shines on her last home.

I’m glad we were able to visit. With Dixie Evans we wouldn’t be doing what we do.

Back to being tourists, we headed to LACMA and the La Brea Tar Pits. The theme for the day seemed to be unlikely things in the middle of a city, like bubbling tar pits and millions of Ice Age bones. My friend in the photo is a Columbian mammoth. I was particularly struck by the wall of hundreds of dire wolf skulls, which gives some idea of the enormity of the discoveries.

At last, it was about time to meet Lili VonSchtupp at The Magic Castle. I first heard about it when I was a kid (maybe through Games Magazine) and assumed, not being a magician, that I would never get to see it. I was wrong. It’s good to have generous friends with connections.

First though, an amusing interlude. We packed our evening wear, so as not to have to make the trek to the hotel & back. I ended up on a dark side street, changing in the front seat of the car with some entertaining contortions and putting on my makeup in the rear view mirror. I planned to make final adjustments, like hooking my garters and, oh, pulling my dress down over my rump, in the parking lot. This was also Scratch’s plan for putting on his dress shirt & tie (The Magic Castle has a dress code — yay!). Then we arrived and discovered it was valet parking. That was a tad awkward. Especially when I climbed out of the car. Don’t worry — we were all well & decently dressed once we said “Open Sesame” and the hidden door opened, allowing us into to the Castle.

I’m not sure I can do the experience justice. The building is huge and fabulous and quirky. Lili was a wonderful hostess and without her guidance I don’t think I could have found my way around the utterly disorienting warren of rooms. Everywhere you turned there was some wonderful piece of magic memorabilia or a movie set piece or just odd things. What was my favorite? The prototype of the Ballroom at the Haunted Mansion? Invisible Irma (who played “Bohemian Rhapsody” for us)? The library that I could only sigh at from the threshold? W.C. Field’s trick billiards table? Houdini’s hands? I can’t even begin to choose.

We saw 4 different magic shows in 4 locations, all terrific in their own way. Sometimes I was impressed with the spin the magician put on a trick I knew, sometimes I was awed by slight-of-hand skill, and frequently I was just baffled and delighted.

No photos because that sort of thing isn’t allowed and I’d rather remember it as a quasi-dreamlike experience. Exhausted and giddy, we finally left around midnight.

Tomorrow, we hit the Fashion District!


Published in: on 2 December 2014 at 3:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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