Tours

Pasadena Confidential with Crimebo the Clown tour

Join Esotouric on its final crime bus tour of 2013. The Crown City masquerades as a calm and refined retreat, where well-bred ladies glide around their perfect bungalows and everyone knows what fork to use first. But don't be fooled by appearances. Dip into the confidential files of old Pasadena and meet assassins and oddballs, kidnappers and slashers, Satanists and all manner of maniac in a delightful little tour you WON'T find recommended by the better class of people! From celebrated cases like the RFK assassination (with a visit to Sirhan Sirhan's folks' house), "Eraserhead" star Jack Nance's strange end, black magician/rocket scientist Jack Parsons' death-by-misadventure and the 1926 Rose Parade grand stand collapse, to fascinating obscurities, the tour's dozens of murders, arsons, kidnappings, robberies, suicides, auto wrecks and oddball happening sites provide a alternate history of Pasadena that's as fascinating as it is creepy. Passengers will tour the old Millionaire's Row on Orange Grove, thrill to the shocking Sphinx Murder on the steps of the downtown Masonic Hall and discover why people named Judd should think twice before moving to Pasadena.

Hotel Horrors & Main Street Vice tour

From the founding of the city through the 1940s, downtown was the true center of Los Angeles, a lively, densely populated, exciting and sometimes dangerous place. After many quiet decades, downtown is making an incredible return. But while many of the historic buildings remain, their human context has been lost.

This downtown double feature tour, hosted by Kim Cooper, Joan Renner and Richard Schave, is meant to bring alive the old ghosts and memories that cling to the streets and structures of the historic core, and is especially recommended for downtown residents curious about their neighborhood's neglected history.

The Hotel Horrors portion is a true crime and oddities tour featuring some of the wildest, weirdest, goriest and most memorable happenings in historic hotels like the Alexandria, St. George, Barclay and Cecil. Get on the bus to see inside some of these legendary locales and find out where Night Stalker Richard Ramirez liked to stay and the hotel that saw a visit from the Skid Row Slasher, and where two traveling chocolate salesmen laughed so hard they fell backwards out a window to their deaths. You'll also explore the fiery curse that repeatedly leveled the St. George Hotel. Included are some light hearted stories to help the blood and gore go down.

The Main Street Vice portion is a social history tour celebrating the ribald, racy, raunchy old promenade where the better people simply did not travel, but kicks were had by all who did. Burlesque babes and dirty picture parlors, mummified western outlaws and old time tattoo parlors, wax museums and pawn brokers, "professors" offering sex lectures and magazine peddlers with nudie Marilyn Monroe calendars under the counter, sophisticated steak houses and nickel donut dives -- these were the pleasures and the people to be found along Main during the first half of the 20th century, a street that every Angeleno knew offered more (yet less) of what could be seen anywhere else. On this tour, we'll visit the scenes of some more unforgettable debaucheries and share stories of crime, smut, passion and commerce.

Climb aboard for a time travel journey back to the downtown that's not there anymore, and the surprising amount of gems that survive.

Last Days of F. Scott Fitzgerald Walking Tour

LAVA Visionary and president of the LA chapter of the Dorothy Parker Society, Adrienne Crew will host a short walking tour of F. Scott Fitzgerald's (West) Hollywood and the places that were significant to him at the end of the writer's life. The tour will begin at the corner of Sunset Blvd & Crescent Heights (exact details furnished upon registration) and conclude at Greenblatt's Deli, where Sheilah Graham purchased the Hershey bar which was the last thing Fitzgerald ate.

A partial list of both extant and demolished locations along the route are: The Garden of Allah apartments, Schwab's Drug store and the apartment of Sheilah Graham.

Encore walking tour to augment Dorothy Parker Society activities in December, starting December 12, 2013 with a cocktail party celebrating the publication of Under the Table: A Dorothy Parker Cocktail Guide at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Reserve your spot now. 

$15 per person. Pre-payment and reservation required. Tour location shall be sent after confirmed reservation. Contact Adrienne Crew atat info@adriennecrew.com for information about reservations and payments. Paypal and credit cards accepted. Comfortable walking shoes and sunscreen are advised. Plan on arriving 15 minutes prior to tour start time for check-in. 

Dorothy Parker's Los Angeles tour

Join LAVA Visionary, Adrienne Crew, and Kevin Fitzpatrick, author and founder of the Dorothy Parker Society, for a bus tour of Los Angeles locations connected to Dorothy Parker.  

The tour includes stops at several of Dorothy Parker’s residences in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. The tour navigates Parker’s peripatetic journey through the area as she commuted between Hollywood and her homes on the East Coast over a thirty year period. Some walking is required on this tour.  The tour is open to the public; it begins and ends at Book Soup, 8818 W. Sunset Blvd (note bus pickup is across the street at old Tower Records, 8801 W. Sunset Blvd).

Click here for reservations and details. 

Richard's 45th Birthday Bus Tour

You are cordially invited to join us on a once-in-a-lifetime Esotouric bus adventure: Richard’s 45th birthday road trip. As with past birthday bus excursions, this will be an extended and extraordinary day of Southern California historic exploration and celebration, interspersed with running commentary from Richard’s mother, home movies and cake.

This year our compass points to the Antelope Valley, where we’ll be visiting two very different State Parks for guided tours from expert native guides, and a unique museum run by the City of Lancaster.

First stop on the tour is the Western Hotel Museum, in the city of Lancaster. The Western Hotel Museum is one of the most visible links Lancaster has to its heritage. At the turn of the century, the two-story hotel was a vital part of local culture, accommodating everyone from muleskinners to British lords. After years of different owners and purposes, the hotel fell into a state of disrepair during the 1970s and was condemned. Lancaster residents, rallied to save the once-grand hotel. This resulted in the formation of the Western Hotel Historical Society. Restoration was completed in 1988, and the hotel/museum now houses photographs and artifacts that depict the history of the people who built, worked and lived in the Western Hotel.

Next, we’ll visit the Antelope Valley Indian Museum for a tour of the collection and historic buildings by Peggy Ronning, the Museum’s current curator and Edra Moore, the founding curator.

The Antelope Valley Indian Museum is rich in history and character. Los Angeles cinema scenic artist Howard Arden Edwards and his family homesteaded the land in the 1920s and constructed the fanciful, Germanic buildings as a repository for his amateur collection of American Indian artifacts. While Edwards’ collecting methods and interpretive choices are today controversial, he amassed a remarkable collection, which attracted the site’s next caretaker, Grace Wilcox Oliver. In the 1950s the property briefly was a dude ranch. In the 1960s, Oliver reclaimed the museum and sought a longterm steward for the collection and buildings. In 1979, it became part of the State Park system, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (1990) brought major funding and a renewed focus on stabilizing and cataloging the collection under the supervision of founding curator, Edra Moore. In the early 2000s, curator Peggy Ronning took over management, and began a nearly ten year campaign to restore and stabilize the structure, including creating a geothermal temperature control system.

The museum is 80 years old this year and has never looked better. Join us for an in depth look at how a 1920s roadside attraction and curio stand has been transformed into a viable scholarly resource and cultural attraction.

The last stop on the tour will be The Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park, where Ranger Jean Rhyne will lead us on a guided walk of this preserve, thick with mature stands of Joshua trees and California juniper trees in their native western Mojave Desert habitat. Join us for a glimpse into the Antelope Valley as it was in centuries past.

Instructions for guests: Bring a picnic lunch. We’ll have lunch at the Antelope Valley Indian Museum’s extensive vintage picnic facilities upon our arrival. After the museum tour, we’ll have birthday cake and coffee, then depart on the bus for the Woodland walk. The entire trip from Los Angeles and back will take about 8 hours. We recommend bringing good walking shoes, a camera, a warm coat, plenty of water, your lunch and anything you’d like to snack on during the day.

The tour leaves from the Daily Dose in the Arts District, where there is ample free parking in the neighborhood. Please pay attention to posted street signs. The Daily Dose is a great place for breakfast, but we recommend that you arrive about a half an hour before check in, so that neither you nor the cafe is rushed.

This is a special event. No passes or special discounts apply. Tickets are $47.

Weird West Adams crime bus tour

On this guided tour through the Beverly Hills of the early 20th Century, Crime Bus passengers thrill as Jazz Age bootleggers run amok, marvel at the Krazy Kafitz family's litany of murder-suicides, attempted husband slayings, Byzantine estate battles and mad bombings, visit the shortest street in Los Angeles (15' long Powers Place, with its magnificent views of the mansions of Alvarado Terrace), discover which fabulous mansion was once transformed into a functioning whiskey factory using every room in the house, and stroll the haunted paths of Rosedale Cemetery, site of notable burials (May K. Rindge, the mother of Malibu) and odd graveside crimes. Featured players include the most famous dwarf in Hollywood, mass suicide ringleader Reverend Jim Jones, wacky millionaires who can't control their automobiles, human mole bank robbers, comically inept fumigators, kids trapped in tar pits, and dozens of other unusual and fascinating denizens of early Los Angeles.

There are even some celebrity sites along the route, including the death scenes of Motown soul sensation Marvin Gaye and 1920s star Angels baseball catcher Gus Sandberg. And the architecture too is to die for, as the Crime Bus rolls down the elegant streets of old West Adams, lined with gay mansions, adorable bungalows and signs of a century's decay which only enhance the neighborhood's charm.

Passengers on this eye-opening, funny and informative tour will forever see the West Adams district in a new light. It is highly recommended for natives and newcomers alike, crime and history buffs and anyone who likes to seek out the unexpected.

East Side Babylon crime bus tour

Go East, Young Crime Fiend!

For years, the devoted and demented crime historians of Esotouric have been stockpiling hideous 20th century crime tales from the east side of the Los Angeles River, and waiting for the perfect moment to spring them upon an unsuspecting world. That moment has arrived. On the EAST SIDE BABYLON tour you'll discover fascinating, little-known neighborhoods and the grim memories they hold. Come visit Boyle Heights, where the Night Stalker was captured and a mad dad ran amok. Roam the hallowed lawns of Evergreen, L.A.'s oldest cemetery and home of some memorable haunts and strange burials. Visit East Los Angeles, where a deranged radio shop employee made mince meat of his boss and bride--and you can get your hair done in a building shaped like a giant tamale. Explore the ghastly streets of Commerce, where one small neighborhood's myriad crimes will shock and surprise. Visit Montebello, for scrumptious milk and cookies at Broguiere's Farm Fresh Dairy washed down with a horrifying case of child murder. All this, and so much more on EAST SIDE BABYLON, Esotouric's exploration of L.A.'s most horrifying forgotten crimes.

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Haunts of A Dirty Old Man: Charles Bukowski's Los Angeles

"[This tour is] a poetic journey full of rare insight into the life of a man who's come to represent the ghettoized contingency of the City of Angels.” - Tanja M. Laden, Flavorpill

Esotouric's "Haunts of a Dirty Old Man: Charles Bukowski's LA" focuses on Bukowski’s great passions: writing, screwing and Los Angeles. We’ll take in the canonical locations of his life and myth: the Postal Annex Terminal where he gathered the material for “Post Office,” the De Longpre apartment where he briefly experimented with marriage and fatherhood, one of his favorite bars and liquor stores, and many other spots. Along the way, we’ll explore the people and ideas that made up the warp and weft of Buk’s rich inner life. This Esotouric bus adventure is hosted by Richard Schave.

The tour spans Bukowski's personal city, from Skid Row to once-genteel Crown Hill, to Bukowski's favorite East Hollywood liquor store, the Pink Elephant.

The Flâneur & The City: Broadway On My Mind walking tour #5

To sign up for this free event: First register as a user on this site, and then return to this page. Refresh the page and the signup tab will appear just to the left, above this paragraph. Click "signup" and reserve your spot. No plus-ones; each guest must register individually.

Join us the latest installment of The Flaneur & The City: Broadway On My Mind walking tour #5. (This tour series was originally titled Broadway Streetscape Master Plan Awareness walking tour.)  

Tour attendees should gather on the mezzanine of Les Noces du Figaro. After check in, we will walk north on Broadway, observing some significant structures before making a base at Third Street. The tour will migrate between Grand Central Market, Angels Flight and the Bradbury Building, with topics including the market’s opening in 1917, a remarkable WWI-era festival in the Boston Dry Goods Store, the history of Angels Flight, the rise and fall of Bunker Hill and the neighborhood’s starring role in the film noir genre, to developer Ira Yellin’s pioneering work of the 1980s. Historical narratives will be interspersed with Poem Noir performances by Carl Weintraub, Brendan Constantine and Suzanne LummisThis tour will be hosted by Richard Schave.

Press clippings: the walking tour series is featured in Mike Sonksen's KCET Departures report, "Punk Rock, Poetry, and Public Policy." 

Video from previous Broadway On My Mind walking tours: tour #1, tour #2, tour #3.

ABOUT THE TOUR SERIES: In July 2013, LAVA launched a series of monthly walking tours along Broadway meant to raise consciousness about the Broadway Theater and Commercial District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the pending implementation of Strategy One, Phase One of the City of Los Angeles’ Broadway Streetscape Master Plan (PDF). Each walking tour will follow and depart from the free LAVA Sunday Salon.

Stretching from 2nd Street to Olympic, the District contains the most intact collection of Beaux-Arts buildings in Los Angeles, and the largest collection of historic theaters anywhere in the United States.

As Broadway’s vast scope and scale can be overwhelming, on each walking tour we will look closely at several different historic buildings, in order to acclimatize the observer to better understand and appreciate the whole. We will also be looking at the historic streetscape, with attention paid to street lights, sidewalks (terrazzo in particular), basement hatches, sidewalk vents, glass blocks, manhole covers, granite curbs and signage.

Motivation for this tour series:

With City Council’s June 2013 approval of funding for Strategy One, Phase One of the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan, we believe that it is it is imperative to develop a greater public awareness and understanding of Broadway’s architectural and scenic qualities, and to bring the informed voices of the community into discussion of the proposed changes and alterations. We believe that no element of Broadway’s streetscape can be altered without causing a transformation of the whole, requiring careful consideration before any permanent or semi-permanent changes are made. Broadway’s architectural character is defined not by any single feature (uniform height limits, predominance of theaters) or single landmark building (Eastern Columbia, Bradbury Building, Los Angeles Theater), but upon the concord of all of it, and the strength of the impression which all together they provide. No feature or building is of dominant importance, but each contributes, and all are vitally fused together into our National Register landmark district. Many of the salient architectural and streetscape features which will be the focus of this tour series are proposed to be impacted by the yet-unfunded Strategy One, Phase Two of the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan. The evolving situation demands public input and public awareness. We hope that you will join us on the tour series to better understand Broadway and become an advocate for its continued preservation, stewardship and vibrancy.

The Birth of Noir: James M. Cain's Southern California Nightmare

Southern California 1931: Amongst the burgeoning urban sprawl built atop bulldozed orange groves and the bitter realization that you can’t eat the sunshine, recent emigré James M. Cain found a kernel of truth and his voice, which would eventually distill through his novels, ”The Postman Always Rings Twice,” “Mildred Pierce” and “Double Indemnity” and subsequent film adaptations into the unique American genre: Film Noir.

How did this East Coat sophisticate go from managing editor of “The New Yorker” to populist novelist accused of writing dirty books? The tour explores Cain’s L.A. from Hollywood to Glendale and along old Route 66, and includes illuminating visits to Forest Lawn Memorial Park (a Glendale institution and site of the funeral of Mildred Pierce’s “other” daughter, Ray), the Glendale Train Station where the “Double Indemnity” murder plot played out, and the punch line to a Billy Wilder joke so subtle, it’s taken 63 years for anyone to get. The tour will also cover the artisans who transformed Cain’s tales into film, including Billy Wilder, Raymond Chandler, Joan Crawford and Lana Turner, each an important contributor to the Film Noir canon.