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How Jeffrey ‘Bingo Boy’ Bowman Launched WeHo’s Best Bingo Night

May 22, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

Legendary Bingo Photo: Legendary Bingo/Facebook

At Hamburger Mary’s in West Hollywood patrons of all ages—including entire families—line up for their chance to win Los Angeles’ most fabulous game of chance: Legendary Bingo. Affectionately known as Drag Queen Bingo due to the frequent appearance of perfectly coiffed drag callers, the event has raised over $6.5 million for various charities in the 20 years it’s been around. But that hefty sum belies a humble beginning, when it was just one man with a bingo wheel at a now-defunct coffee shop, raising money for a single cause close to his heart.

Legendary Bingo founder Jeffrey Bowman grew up in Orange County, then moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a writer. He’s since penned articles, plays, and a rock opera about Linda Lovelace, but he is perhaps best known by the sobriquet ‘Bingo Boy.’

As the creative Angeleno is wont to do, Bowman’s worked a lot of jobs. In the 1980s, during the onset of the AIDS epidemic in the United States, he was managing Revolver, a gay bar in West Hollywood. One of the virus’ earliest victims was Bowman’s best friend.

“I was very affected by it,” Bowman says. “The way that I thought we could deal with it was having celebrations of life [while] at the same time raising money.”

Bowman admits he’s always found himself drawn to people “on the fringe,” including performers and creatives. He also enjoys introducing these eclectic friends to one another and gathering them to assist like-minded causes. Bowman recruited these friends for fundraising events at Revolver, benefitting nonprofits like AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), which had formed in 1983 to help those living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.

One night, Bowman charged people five bucks to come watch L.A. billboard icon Angelyne host a men’s fashion show at the club. As most Angelenos know, Angelyne is notoriously reticent in public appearances, frequently only communicating in breathy coos. The fashion show was no exception.

“She had this microphone and the guy would come out, and she would just be like, ‘ohhh,'” Bowman laughs. “It was a disaster in the best way.”

By the mid-90s, Bowman had changed jobs and was working in membership services at a gym, also in WeHo. He was approached by a pharmacist who ran a nearby HIV specialty pharmacy. In those days, Bowman says, patients went to their doctors, their pharmacy, and then home. They assumed, often rightly so, they were destined for an early grave. The pharmacist hoped that Bowman could manifest a positive atmosphere that would break up the monotony for the patients.

Bowman responded by creating a reading and resources center within the pharmacy where patients could watch old movies on TV, listen to music, and learn about herbs and supplements that might help alleviate some of the pains they were experiencing. Yet not long thereafter, health professionals began treating HIV and AIDS with what is known as the “AIDS cocktail,” a combination of drugs that has since drastically prolonged the life expectancy of patients. A diagnosis was no longer the so-called “death sentence” it had once been.

“All of a sudden people are coming to me and saying, ‘I’m going to live but I don’t have a job,'” Bowman says. “They’d sold their life insurance policies and everything. So I had to switch everything around. Now, instead of helping people die, I was helping people live.”

Bowman again acted as an organizer, recruiting self-help gurus, nutritionists, gym trainers, and anyone who could help patients get the life they thought was over back on track. Through this work, he was approached by APLA to come work for them directly. He accepted, and soon found himself putting on lavish, $1000/plate fundraisers for the group. Yet while the work and the funds were important, it wasn’t the kind of thing Bowman naturally gravitated towards.

“I was dealing with movie studios and limo companies, but I missed dealing with the patients and people,” he says.

Jeffrey ‘Bingo Boy’ Bowman Photo: Legendary Bingo

So, he created a different title for himself—Community Events Coordinator–and returned to what he knew: throwing small community events, akin to those he’d helmed at Revolver a decade prior. This led him to the now-shuttered Stonewall Gourmet Coffee, where he ran a simple, weekly bingo night. He charged a dollar a game, and stood at the counter with his bingo wheel. Bowman called the night Legendary Bingo, despite the fact, he notes, that the games were not at that point ‘legendary’ in the slightest. But the name turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

At first, there were maybe 10 players a night, but the crowd slowly blossomed, week by week. Eventually Bowman was introduced to Scott Presley, who performed in drag as The Fabulous Belle Aire. Bowman recruited Belle Aire as a co-host and on that day, Legendary Bingo changed forever.

The duo’s combined charisma was compelling. Celebrities began to make appearances, including actress Jean Smart (Legion, 24), who was shooting road trip flick Forever Fabulous, in which Presley had a role. Golden Girls star Estelle Getty (The Golden Girls) came by, as did actress and philanthropist Tippi Hedren. They were soon able to expand to include more charities; now, they pick a different one every time.

It was also Stonewall where Bowman created a persona for himself. Stonewall served a protein smoothie for body builders, advertising it with an a flyer featuring a cartoon image of a boy wearing swimming goggles. Bowman took the image and an old photograph of himself as a child, then swapped his head for the boy’s. Thus Bowman became ‘Bingo Boy,’ a nickname that’s stuck for the last two decades. At the time of our interview, Bowman was even wearing a bracelet someone had made him which read, in lettered beads, ‘Bingo Boy.’

Other things have stuck, too, as the event has evolved. One night, Bowman observed a lackluster crowd, clapping begrudgingly for the winner of one of the games.

“Well, if you’re going to be such babies about it, just wad up your cards and throw them at her!” Bowman told the crowd.

They did. Now, winners of the game can expect to be showered with crumpled cards as the audience chants, “Pelt her! Pelt her!” Other details are in the callbacks that occur each time a caller plucks a ball from the bingo wheel.

“It’s not malignant,” a caller might yell.

“It’s B-9,” the crowd responds.

Some of the callbacks are raunchy; if a caller gets the number 69, the crowd might yell, “Dinner for two!” The latter Bowman attributed to actor Jack Plotnick, who ad libbed the quip as a guest one night.

Legendary Bingo’s migration to Hamburger Mary’s occurred after Stonewall went out of business. For a while, Bingo Boy and Belle Aire were bingo nomads, moving around from venue to venue. After a particularly bad experience at a dark, empty bar in 2003, however, Bowman returned to Santa Monica Boulevard and went up and down the street looking for a new home. He got a lot of negative responses, including from the newly opened Hamburger Mary’s.

“They said no three times. It was like Jesus and Peter,” Bowman quips. “But I knew it was the perfect place.”

Finally, the bar told Bowman to go to WeHo City Hall and ask them for permission, as the bar was still working on solidifying its entertainment license. City Hall is just across the street from Hamburger Mary’s, so Bowman did just that. City Hall said yes, and so for the last 15 years, Legendary Bingo has fundraised for countless charities at the pink-hued burger bar.Bowman recalls all sorts of star-studded anecdotes.

There was the night Richard Simmons showed up and led the crowd in a workout. “People were crying,” Bowman said.

There was the time Molly Shannon was a guest, and, when G-50 was called, re-enacted her SNL Sally O’Malley skit all around the bar—which, has been preserved in the annals of our time on YouTube for your enjoyment.

Yet the most important nights, for Bowman, are the ones where entire families come and enjoy themselves.

“Parents have brought their trans kids. It gives me so much joy to see those kids smile and realize, ‘Hey, I’m okay.’ There was one kid who came in a wig and lipstick, maybe 8 or 9 years old,” Bowman says.

Bowman introduced himself to the child and asked how they were doing. They replied, “I’m scared, but I’m hopeful.” Bowman admits its anecdotes like that that give him chills, in the best way.

Though the venue hasn’t changed, the cast has. Belle Aire ultimately moved away, and now a new crew has joined Bowman—not all of them drag queens, but each one full of personality. They include Calpernia Addams, Roxy Wood, Deven Green, Willam Belli, and Joel Bryant. They perform five shows a week at Hamburger Mary’s—two on Wednesday, one on Thursday, and two on Sunday—as well as other venues around town and at private parties. Bowman estimates he’s completed over 20,000 shows by now. He’s got no plans to stop, though he may one day seek his own space. Perhaps, he muses, ‘Bingo Boy Brewery’ has a ring to it.

For your chance to play and to see what charities you can support, visit Legendary Bingo online and check out their events calendar. It’s $20 for 10 games, and 75 percent of all proceeds go straight to that night’s charity.

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Happenings

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Brings New Rooftop Movie & Music Series to DTLA

May 11, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

A rendering of the venue. Photo: The Bloc

A new rooftop music and film series is coming to Los Angeles, this one boasting excellent views of downtown. Skyline Sound + Cinema is a partnership among The Bloc, ALT 98.7 and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, and it kicks off June 21 with a sing-along screening of The Greatest Showman.

The Bloc is the result of massive renovations to Macy’s Plaza and Broadway Plaza, which converted what Curbed LA referred to as one of the city’s ugliest buildings into a pedestrian- and transit-friendly, open-air plaza with retail, restaurants, and more. The Bloc will also contain Los Angeles’ first Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, though no official opening date has been announced.

In the meantime, the Austin-based theater will host a summer rooftop series on the Bloc’s massive roof featuring music curated by ALT 98.7 followed by a film. Each screening has room for 800 guests, according to a release.

The inaugural event will feature music from singer-songwriter Cary Brothers. Then, guests are invited to sing along with the 2017 musical drama The Greatest Showman, which stars Hugh Jackman in a loose retelling of circus entertainer P.T. Barnum’s life story.

Future events are planned for July 12, July 26, and August 9, but screening details have not been announced.

The Greatest Showman screening takes place on Thursday, June 21. Doors are at 6:30 p.m., music from the Cary Brothers is at 7:30 p.m., and the screening begins at 8:30 p.m. Food and drinks will be available until 9:30 p.m. via variety of vendors. Tickets are $25. 21+.

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Happenings

‘They Who Saw the Deep’ is Like Being Lost in the Weirdest Dream You Can Possibly Imagine

May 7, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

Jordana Lilly and ensemble in ‘They Who Saw the Deep’ Photo: Ceaseless Fun

In a secret 17,000-square-foot space in Koreatown, a group of strangers clothed in white ponder their place in life, death, and whatever comes after. The audience roams freely, cast members become the central figures of their own epic, and things get a little weird. It’s all part of a new immersive experience called They Who Saw the Deep.

They Who Saw the Deep comes via Derek Spencer and Meredith Treinen’s production group Ceaseless Fun and combines elements of several mediums, including immersive theater, dance, music and performance art.

Guests are led into the massive venue in small groups. The scale and awkward layout make the location ideal for something like this, where discovering how rooms connect to one another is part of the excitement. In some spaces, you can stare through an interior window into a distant room, but it’s not immediately clear how to access it. It’s sort of like being lost in a dream, and the otherworldly milieu is enhanced by the set design. Some rooms are minimal, with just plastic sheeting and blue lighting creating the feel of a cold, subterranean purgatory. Others are cluttered with ephemera, some of it seemingly from the building’s past life and other items selected to represent the various characters.

Actor Mike Merchant in ‘They Who Saw the Deep’ Photo: Ceaseless Fun

Unlike a traditional play and even some other immersive shows, there is very little guidance. Though guests interact with several characters, some of whom may take guests by the hand and lead them into smaller scenes, audience members are mostly left to their own devices.

If you are one of the first audience members let in, you might run out of things to explore on the building’s ground floor. Eventually, however, new spaces emerge allowing you to delve further. This makes They Who Saw the Deep one of the most open pieces of immersive theater to emerge in L.A. in recent memory.

This also results in a lack of a clear narrative, with characters telling pieces of stories at odd intervals.

One woman in a plastic coat (Juliet Deem) talks of her self-serving volunteer trips abroad and cocaine benders. An eccentric gentleman (Matthew Maguire) luridly recalls the first time, as a child, he saw his mother nude. Another man (Mike Merchant) rails against capitalism, while wrestling with his own demons and sense of purpose. Sometimes the characters literally wrestle each other in a tightly choreographed scene that unfolds regardless of who is watching. No one is fighting a fantastical beast, but they’re all fighting something.

Dakota Loesch creates music and a soundscape for ‘They Who Saw the Deep’ Photo: Ceaseless Fun

One of the most remarkable things about the show is how it sounds. In a room wrapped in black plastic, musician Dakota Loesch creates a desolate, ambient soundscape that occasionally evolves into full, lush songs sung by various characters. What ties the whole odd spectacle together is that it’s meant to be a loose interpretation of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem written in Sumerian on clay tablets, dating back to 2100 B.C. It follows the eponymous Gilgamesh, king of the ancient Mesopotamian city of Uruk as well as the strongest man in the world. He was a real jerk and, after his people complained to the gods, the gods created an evenly matched foe for him named Enkidu. Enkidu lived in the wild among the animals until he experienced the love of a woman. Compassionate and kind in his newfound civility, he naturally squared off with local bully Gilgamesh in an intense wrestling match. Though Gilgamesh ultimately bested Enkidu, the two respected each other’s strength and became close friends. Gilgamesh was changed by Enkidu for the better. Years later, the two pals went off on a beast-fighting quest that ended with Enkidu being cursed by the gods and dying of a mysterious illness. Gilgamesh then went on a solo quest seeking immortality, unwilling to end up like his felled BFF. Though Gilgamesh would ultimately fail at achieving immortality, he learned he would live on in legend, which is its own kind of immortality.

Jinny Ryann in ‘They Who Saw the Deep’ Photo: Ceaseless Fun

The opening text of the poem translates to “he who saw the deep,” which is believed to mean that Gilgamesh came to know everything. In They Who Saw the Deep, each character is meant to be their own Gilgamesh, seeking answers their own answers to life’s mysteries.

As Ceaseless Fun notes:

The version of Gilgamesh we read today has been assembled, retold, deconstructed and processed through multiple languages, over thousands of years, by many poets, and in various historical contexts. TWSTD leans into the pluralistic and fractal features of the epic. It processes an already processed text again, pluralizing the protagonist and asking the audience to consider multiple perspectives and multiple answers to the questions we all ask ourselves.

They Who Saw the Deep runs Thursday to Sunday through May 20. Tickets are $40, and are available here. This production is the second part of a three-part season, The Outline of a Human, that “aims to define and describe the human condition through the use of negative space.” (The first, Agnosia ran in January, while the third, Stars, debuts at Hollywood Fringe.)

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Happenings

This Year’s Hollywood Fringe Includes Over 350 Shows to Choose From

May 2, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

‘Echoes’ Photo: Echoes/Facebook

The 2018 edition of Hollywood Fringe takes place May 31 through June 24 bringing over 350 unique shows to Hollywood—many of them affordable, fun, and occasionally interactive works you’re not likely to see anywhere else. With tickets now on sale, we thought we’d list some of the shows we’re excited to check out and tell you how you can see them.

What is Hollywood Fringe Festival?

Fringe festivals are unjuried, indie theater fests that occur all around the world, offering playwrights and performers the chance to present or workshop their pieces. Anything goes at these fests, from powerful social justice narratives to strange immersive shows that shatter the fourth wall. Fringe fests originated in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947. Hollywood Fringe kicked off in 2010.

Where are these shows?

They’re all located in the Hollywood Fringe zone, which is centered around Hollywood Theatre Row on Santa Monica Boulevard. Technically, the zone extends from Franklin to Rosewood, and from Normandie to Gardner. Play your cards right when buying tickets, and you might be able to see several shows within walking distance from one another in a single day.

It should be noted that not all venues are traditional theaters. Sometimes, shows take place outside, in private apartments, in bars, or even in vehicles.

Okay, how do I find shows to see?

You can visit the Hollywood Fringe website here. You can browse shows by tags and categories, like comedy or musical. This is also how you can find events and workshops, where you can learn everything from stage combat to how to pitch your play to Netflix.

Starting May 1 at 11 a.m., you can purchase tickets online. See something you like? Leave a review.

Shows You Might See Us At

Death and Coffee

One of our favorite Fringe shows of yore was the deceptively simple A(partment 8), which took place entirely in playwright Annie Lesser’s bathroom with just a single actor: the versatile and ever-engaging Keight Leighn. Lesser is back with another single-actor show, but this time, the sole performer is Lesser herself. Death and Coffee is a 15-minute, one-woman, autographical, immersive show surrounding death, grief, and loss. If it’s anything like Lesser’s other works, 15 minutes should be more than enough for something impactful to occur. $10.

Rochester, 1996

One of my favorite Fringe shows in 2017 was Capital W’s Red Flags, in which I, as a solitary audience member, went on a blind date with a troubled woman named Emma (Lauren Flans). The memorable show took place over the course of a beer at a public bar, with Flans’ knack for improvising her way through our dark, sometimes funny, but ultimately disastrous date leaving me thoroughly impressed.

This year, Capital W has partnered with DryCræft (The Society) on a show “exploring questions of faith, identity, service, and family through a day in the life of a young urban pastor and his teenaged child.” The show is based on actor Thaddeus Shafer’s youth, and is staged for only 10 audience members at a time. Though the show will begin and end in Hollywood, guests should expect to visit multiple locations. $50.

Snow Fridge

I don’t know what Snow Fridge is, really, except that it’ll be held at Pig & Whistle. Their description is this:

“Hello. Welcome to Snow Fridge. You are here, at the beginning. Our purpose is to see you through your story. The one you will experience through this individual, improvised, immersive show that began right here, at your beginning. Your show will be unique, created for you alone. Hello. Welcome.”

Why would I be excited about a show if I don’t know much about it? Well, it comes via two immersive actors—the aforementioned Keight Leighn and Karlie Blair—who have been great in everything they’ve ever been cast in, including Whisperlodge and Safe House ’77. So if you feel like going down a weird rabbit and you’ve got $25 for a ticket, why not?

Unreal City

In this piece from Kristen Boulé, Tiffany Asta, and Allison Sulock, guests will be taken on an interactive journey through a post-apocalyptic world. The show is based on poet T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” the poem that defined April as the cruelest month. In Unreal City, the wasteland is where you, as an audience member, live. Except the Queen has announced a lottery to get out of that hellscape and become a newly minted resident of the posh Unreal City. Your hour-long quest will take you through a variety of indoor and outdoor locations. $25. 

The Study

The setting is a college lecture hall, where a clinical test of the fight or flight response is taking place. They’re calling it a “choose-your-own adventure play,” as the audience’s choices will affect the outcome of the tests—and it’s probably going to get a little creepy.

This is not the first time creators Jared Tyrel Pixler and David Evan Stolworthy have experimented with this format. In their work The Video Games, classic video game characters served as tributes in a Hunger Games parody.  Audience members would vote on who they wanted to win each match. Tickets to The Study are $10 to $20.

One Last Thing Before You Go

One audience member will be admitted to this show at a time, and decisions made will influence the outcome of the experience. Creator Aaron Vanek notes that while it may be eerie—with total darkness, fog, and a disturbing soundscape—it’s not a haunted house where creature are just waiting to leap from around a corner and startle you. The show will deal with themes of death and “the border between life and the afterlife.”

If you’d like to know more, you can find a link to plot and FX spoilers here. But if you’d like to experience it as it comes, it’ll probably be more exciting. Tickets are $30.

The Witnessing 

It’s hard to go wrong with a ghost story, and The Unmarked Door‘s The Witnessing is just that.

The Davidsons are a family who, between 2008 and 2010, experienced unexplained paranormal phenomenon in their Utah home. They eventually called on Daugherty Paranormal Research Center for help. The Davidsons later encountered journalist Sterling Powers in a national park, and agreed to allow Powers to tell their story. The Witnessing is an multi-sensory journey into the case using artifacts from the investigation.

The piece is directed by immersive experience Hall & Mirrors‘ Lola Kelly, with sound design from Dexter-composer Rolfe Kent. $15.

What Went Wrong

This piece combines theater with VR. As an audience member, you are one of six new employees at Closure, Inc., a tech company that helps to identify what went wrong in failed relationships. Your first assignment is to use a VR headset to access the memories of a recently split couple and figure out why, exactly, they broke up. Though the assignment is meant to be simple—it’s your first one, after all—it turns out to be anything but. $20.

Cthulhu: The Musical

This feature-length musical comedy comes via Portland puppet troupe, Puppeteers for Fears. Puppets, a Lovecraftian libretto, cosmic entities: what’s not to love?

The plot follows Detective John LaGrasse, who is on the trail of a murderer, and Francine Thurston, whose uncle has mysteriously disappeared. They soon learn their individual cases are more entwined than previously thought. $20.

Echoes

Playwright Henry Naylor’s Echoes was a hit at Edinburgh, Adelaide, and Prague Fringe fests, and is now making its L.A. debut. The Guardian called it a “dark and daring look at colonial cruelty,” but noted that Naylor, who typically writes comedy, was able to infuse the script with bold jokes.

The plot: “A 15 year old schoolgirl jihadi. An educated high-society 17 year old girl in Victorian England. Born 175 years apart, yet both facing the similar horrors ahead of them as they travel towards the East.” $15.

For more information on these, and other shows at this year’s Hollywood Fringe, visit www.hollywoodfringe.org.

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Food, Happenings

Soccer Star Opens Modern Italian Restaurant in Beverly Grove

April 30, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

N. 10 Photo courtesy of N. 10

A modern Italian restaurant called N. 10 recently opened on W. 3rd Street just east of La Cienega Blvd. The new neighborhood addition is a charming date night spot, with lots of handsome leather seating and a street-facing raised patio with a fireplace. It also boasts a world famous athlete as a key backer.

N. 10 takes its name for one of its owners, former Italian professional soccer star and 2006 FIFA World Cup winner Alessandro Del Piero. Del Piero was born in Conegliano, Italy. At just 18, he began playing for Juventus, where he remained for 19 seasons. He wore the number 10 on his jersey throughout his career, which is where the restaurant derives its name.

“Aside from football, opening a restaurant has always been my dream. Living in Los Angeles, I got inspired by the amazing hospitality industry and atmosphere and finally worked hard to make that dream a reality,” Del Piero said. “We found the perfect spot in a great neighborhood full of restaurant life; we couldn’t be happier with the location and venue.”

This particular area of 3rd has seen plenty of new life lately, including Farmhouse across the street and Israeli restaurant Jaffa several blocks east.

Ravioli Photo: Juliet Bennett Rylah

American chef Nick Parker and Italian-born chef Fabio Ugoletti run the N. 10 kitchen. The two combine Ugoletti’s knowledge of old-school Italian food with Parker’s contemporary style. Guests might share a pizza and charcuterie, or delve into the pasta menu for Gnocchi with sausage and back truffles or ravioli stuffed with kale, artichoke and pumpkin seed pesto. Heartier entrees include a sizable and flaky Mediterranean sea bass cartoccio, meaning its cooked in plastic with zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and olives. A favorite entree is the brick chicken, served with a bright salsa verde.

Ugoletti, who grew up in Parma, and says his menu is imbued with both professional and personal experiences.

“More than a contribution from my hometown, there is the desire to convey the love for the quality of food and for the ‘conviviality’ that is perceived in Italy and that I have breathed all my life,” Ugoletti said. “‘Gnocco fritto e salumi (fried dumplings and sausage) is from my childhood in the family; carne cruda is how I like to accompany a good glass of Tuscan wine before starting the meal. Lasagna, freshly baked, has the aroma of my Italian Sundays. Potato gnocchi with mushrooms and truffles has the taste of the walks in the woods. Cartoccio brings me back to the Mediterranean sea breeze on a terrace.”

Behind the bar is a selection of wines—including several Italian wines, but also a fair amount of domestic offerings—and cocktails. Swap the traditional post-meal espresso for the signature No. 10, made with vodka, Bailey’s, vanilla liqueur and chocolate bitters over espresso ice if you’re looking to transition from dinner to cocktails.

N. 10 is located 8436 W 3rd St, Los Angeles. Hours are 5 to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 5 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.

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Happenings

Los Angeles County Store is Throwing a 4-Year Celebration This May

April 27, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

Los Angeles County Store Photo: Los Angeles County Store/Facebook

One of L.A.’s best stores for locally made goods and gifts is celebrating its four-year anniversary this May. Silver Lake’s Los Angeles County Store, where everything is hand-made in the Los Angeles area, is throwing a party on Saturday, May 5 from noon to 4 p.m. Festivities include refreshments and a pop-up shop featuring from Plume and Pulp stationery, We Felt Things felted monsters and plants, Marly Beyer art prints, Lady Angeles balms, and Sanctuary Ceramics.

Los Angeles County Store owner MaryAnne LoVerme said she started the store to “help people making things in L.A. in a really practical way.”

“Los Angeles has a long history of manufacturing and innovation, but when I moved here I found there was not a shop that was specifically devoted to this,” LoVerme said via a release. “Our mission has since the beginning been to support local makers and make it easy for people who love to shop local to do so year-round.”

Inside the shop, one might find books, toys, housewares, stationery, totes, art, jewelry, food, and other items. This might include soy candles from PF Candle Company, jam from Sqirl, Letterpress Chocolate bars, No Tox Life and Bare Bones bath and body products, Buzzed Honeys, and more.

Los Angeles County Store is located at 4333 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA. 

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Happenings

Proposed Gondola Would Take Fans from Union Station to Dodger Stadium

April 26, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

The proposed gondola Photo: ARTT

In an effort to alleviate traffic woes around Dodger Stadium on game days, a company has proposed a gondola that would transport passengers from Union Station to the stadium. Though there’s already an express bus that does just that, a gondola would offer a traffic-free way for fans to access stadium events, while hopefully reducing congestion in the area for residents.

According to Curbed LA, the company proposing the tram is Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies, LLC (ARTT), which just so happens to be founded by former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt’s son, Drew McCourt. The elder McCourt has pledged a portion of the gondola’s estimated $125 million price tag, the Los Angeles Times reports. The rest would be covered by private funding.

According to their current plans, ARTT anticipates each cabin could accommodate 30 to 40 passengers at a time, with rides lasting about 5 minutes. During busier times, such as on game days or when the stadium is hosting an event, there would be more cabins in use. The zero-emission system would also be ADA compliant, and would allow passengers to bring along their bikes. The company also notes that a ticket to ride the gondola would be cheaper than parking at Dodgers Stadium, but did not specify how much. If all goes as planned, they’re hoping to be up and running by 2022.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti seems pretty enthusiastic about the gondola, pitching it at an MTA meeting on Thursday saying it wouldn’t be just for Dodgers games and their fans. “It will become something for visitors, for local residents, for first dates, for marriage proposals,” he said.

Los Angeles already has a few fun transit options, like funicular Angels Flight in downtown L.A.,and the tram that brings passengers up to the Getty Center. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which spans over 2.5 miles from the Coachella Valley to San Jacinto Peak, is a popular tourist activity. The top station offers views, hiking, restaurants, and a bar—and in the sweltering summer months, it doesn’t hurt that the higher elevation usually results in a significant temperature drop.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway was referenced in a 1990 report via the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, which explored alternative connections to Dodger Stadium. The report suggested that “such a transit mode would tend to serve as a visitor attraction  in itself because of views of downtown Los Angeles. Dodger Stadium and Elysian Park.” And according to CBS, ARTT’s proposal draws from a similar 2010 proposal, which also compared a potential gondola system to Palm Springs’ tram.

For now, the project is seeking support from Metro, who they hope will help with the environmental review and planning a route. ARTT is not seeking any help with funding from Metro.

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Cool Spots, Lifestyle

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Is Ready to Conquer the World

April 26, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

Michaela Slezak Photo: Jana Wimer

Comedy and tragedy masks have long been a symbol of theater. We laugh. We cry. Yet if we’re talking Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre (ZJU) in North Hollywood, sometimes you laugh, but other times you’re terrified and appalled. The indie theater has been chugging along for over 25 years, blending horror and shock into a relentless stream of original, experimental shows unlike anything else in L.A. Now, ZJU is planning a trip to Scotland to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August. To get there, they’ll need a little help from their fans.

The theater is in the midst of a major fundraising push to take their unique show on the road, with over $30,000 committed to date. But to truly understand how important this mission would be, you have to go back to the beginning and learn the history of the man at the center of it all.

Zombie Joe, who’s been going by the moniker so long it might as well be his given name, started the theater in 1992. He was in his last year studying theater and psychology at UC Irvine, but dropped out after the school rejected the idea of staging his play, The Masterpiece.

“It was about a dying artist in his last days and his relationships with fantastical people,” Joe recalls. Some of those people may have been lizards, and there were also giant Twinkies involved.

Joe sold his belongings and leased a garage in Northridge with his high school friend and long-time collaborator, Josh Ryan. The two staged a series of bizarre plays, including The Masterpiece, over the course of 13 months. Much of their work drew from Theater of Cruelty, an art form advanced by French writer/dramatist Antonin Artaud that unnerved audiences through intense, non-verbal stimulation including light, imagery, and sound.

“The theater was founded on a lot of anger,” Joe said. “We were doing really hardcore stuff on stage, like shock theater.”

As an audience member, you were not necessarily “safe,” Joe said, recalling the time a guest had her cashmere sweater ruined with a spray of tomato juice.

“The shows weren’t very good, but they were cool. We were just swinging around this industrial space,” he said.

Urban Death Photo: Guy Delancey

After about 13 months, the Northridge theater closed. Joe wrapped up his degree before briefly operating a new venue in Oakland in 1996. They only booked rock shows, as Joe found it difficult to get a theater off the ground.

After a few months, however, Ryan contacted Joe and said he knew actors in Los Angeles who were interested in their vision. So, Joe returned to L.A., where the pair opened another space in Reseda in 1997. This was where the theater really began to take off, drawing the notice of fans and critics alike. It was during this time that Joe also kicked what he describes as a “hardcore drug addiction.” He’s now in his twentieth year of sobriety, and invites anyone who needs to talk to reach out to him.

In 2000, the theater prepared for its final move, this time into the burgeoning NoHo Arts District. After about a year of searching, Joe found a storefront space on Lankershim. It had been an auto parts store in its former life. A large counter greeted entrants in the front with ample storage in the back. Joe and his friends transformed the store into the black box theater where they’ve been running three or four shows nearly every month for over 17 years.

Sketches from the Underground was our first show in [this space], and we were off to the races,” Joe said. “It’s been nonstop. There were no more gaps. We’ve done over 300 different productions in this space, possibly more.”

Ticket sales are the theater’s only source of income, which means that frequency of performances is an economic imperative. Most are either produced or directed by ZJU, though there are occasional rentals where another group puts on a show. Many of the shows intersect with the horror/haunt/immersive community, which results in a younger audience than typically found in the theater, and one that includes people who wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves theater-goers. Many people treat ZJU like a hub for communing with like-minded fans. It’s not uncommon to see a short show at ZJU, then pop over to Idle Hour or another nearby hangout.

ZJU’s most popular show and top-selling show is Urban Death, Los Angeles’ own Grand Guignol. It takes the form of several disturbing vignettes, presented one after another. In between, there’s nothing but darkness. It’s like clicking through the world’s most nightmarish viewfinder, alone and late at night. Urban Death has been running since 2005, multiple times a year, each time with fresh content. The show employs only its cast and crew, a bag of props, and the blackest blackout a theater’s even known. The bare-bones approach does nothing to lesson the show’s impact on guests. If anything, it enhances the experience.

They’ll run a new show multiple times a year, including a 50-minute performance in the spring and their shorter ‘Tour of Terror’ show every Halloween. Since 2013, Tour of Terror guests have been forced to navigate a dark, winding maze full of monstrous creatures to access the show. Many haunt enthusiasts will tell you Urban Death is frequently scarier, on a visceral level, than blockbuster haunts like Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights and Knott’s Scary Farm.

It started in 2005, when Joe approached co-creator/co-director Jana Wimer and suggested they create a horror show.

“We already dabbled in horror over the years,” Joe said. “One day, because we both love the genre, we sat down and said, ‘if we were to do a horror show, what would that look like?'”

Wimer got involved with ZJU after moving to Los Angeles in 1999 with a degree in theater from California State University, Fresno. A friend who was acting in a ZJU show invited Wimer to attend, and she decided to check it out. What struck her most was how dark the blackouts were. In most theaters, there’s at least some form of light seeping into the space, even when the stage and house lights have gone out. That was not the case at ZJU.

“I’d never been in a theater with a blackout that’s pitch black, where you can’t even see your hand in front of your face,” Wimer said. “So when Joe said ‘horror show,’ that’s what came to my mind. The blackness. This show was really born out of the darkness.”

“The darkness is almost a character in the show,” Joe said.

Actors Brandon Slezak and Abel Horwitz in Urban Death Photo: Jama Wimer

It sounds like a joke, but if you’ve seen the show, you know it to be true. Guests are told to put away their cell phones and anything that glows, ensuring an impenetrable darkness that the show often uses to its advantage. One year, guests were asked to write down their names on ZJU’s mailing list as they arrived. Later, during one such blackout, actors moved through the space whispering names taken from the list. Though I could not see the man sitting next to me, I could hear him whimper when his name was hissed by a disembodied voice. That moment was immediately followed by what sounded like rats skittering across the floor.

I most recently attended Urban Death in October of 2017. After winding our way past the scorpion creatures and clowns that lurked in the maze, we were seated on the floor in the small black box theater. In front of me sat a woman who alternated between shrieking and exclaiming, “Noooope!” depending on the chord each piece struck. In one scene, an actor ran screaming towards us, only to be dragged back into the darkness by a rope around her neck. Another found a man sitting in a doorway, repeatedly flicking a flashlight on and off. He turned the light on a final time, revealing a long-limbed shadow lurking behind him. He switched the light off before we could see his fate. Another scene depicted a man in a pig mask, sharping a knife as he towered over a nude, bound man with an apple in his mouth.

Sometimes the pieces are meant to be humorous in a macabre way that celebrates the pathetic. One piece depicted a man in a tuxedo delivering a box of chocolates to his lover, only to realize the hyperbolic moaning coming from his door was his partner cheating on him. The audience laughed uncomfortably as the realization blossomed on his face.

The jilted lover, as well as the pig man’s meal, was portrayed by actor Abel Horwitz, who is helping with efforts to raise funds for Edinburgh.

“I came into this five or six years ago as a performer, but I saw something extremely special with this show,” Horwitz said.

While the show has traveled before, notably to New York in 2008 and South Africa in 2013, this trip would take ZJU to a whole new level. As Horwitz notes, Edinburgh is where Fringe Fest began. Established in 1947, Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes place over the month of August, cramming over 3,000 shows into 25 days. Hollywood Fringe, which takes place in June, did not kick off until 2010. Horwitz described Edinburgh’s fest as, “Mount Everest when it comes to theater.”

ZJU is using GoFundMe to solicit donations, with a goal of $40,000. This would pay for the cast and crew’s plane tickets, room and board, and other expenses. Their soft deadline is May 15, but they’ll continue to raise funds thereafter.

 

Urban Death would be one of only a few horror shows in the mix, and one that fits well within the unjuried, anything goes spirit of the event. The company hopes that Edinburgh will propel them to an international playing field, where they can tour or franchise Urban Death around the world. Plus, as Horwitz points out, Edinburgh has its own “haunted” history that meshes well with their style.

“It’s MacBeth, it’s witches, this whole underground city of sorcery and the occult,” he said. “We’ll be in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle and down the street from Frankenstein Pub.”

Wimer hopes to both dig into the city’s local lore, as she did when taking Urban Death to South Africa, and play with topical events.

“America doesn’t look so great on the world stage right now, and I really want to create a piece where we’re calling ourselves out,” Wimer said.

For Joe, who uses the phrase “grow or die,” taking the show on the road is the next step in a journey that’s spanned three decades. It’s one he refers to as both a blessing and a curse, saying, “I know this is exactly my path. [This theater] is where I’m supposed to be.”

To support ZJU’s international endeavors, you can check out their GoFundMe and all its backer perks here. You can also attend the next installment of Urban Death, running Fridays and Saturdays from May 4 through June 9. Tickets are $15, and a portion of sales will go towards the group’s trip to Scotland. Find out more about that show and others here.

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Happenings

Broadway’s State Theatre Hosting First Public Tour in 20 Years

April 25, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

State Theatre Photo: Eric Richardson/Flickr cc

The State Theatre has been closed off to the public since 1998, when the Universal Kingdom of the Church of God signed a long-term lease on the space. Their lease expired in early 2018, and now, for the first time ever, the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation (LAHTF) is offering a tour of the nearly century-old vaudeville house.

The State Theatre, originally known as Loew’s State Theatre, was designed by architects Charles Peter Weeks and William Day. The 2,450-seat venue opened at the corner of Broadway and 7th in 1921, where it exists within a 12-story, brick building. Its interior, however, was designed in the Spanish Renaissance style. The first performance was a vaudeville act, followed by a screening of silent film A Trip to Paradise.

In 1929, popular vaudeville act the Gumm Sisters performed at the State Theatre. The youngest of the three sisters, Frances Gumm, was given the nickname Leather Lungs, as she could project her singing voice all the way to the back of the house. Leather Lungs would go on to change her name to Judy Garland. In a 1960 interview with Redbook, the Wizard of Oz star said she loathed that moniker, but loved to sing.

“There is something wonderful about belting a song across the footlights, clear and true, and feeling it bounce off the top balcony,” she said.

State Theatre, circa 1964 Photo: The Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

In 1949, United Artists took over the theater and changed its name from Loew’s State Theatre to simply State Theatre. In 1963, Metropolitan Theatre assumed control and began screening Spanish-dubbed films. After they shut down in 1997, the church signed their lease in ’98 and began using it as a Cathedral of Faith outpost in the 2000s. In a 2001 LA Weekly article, writer Slobodan Dimitrov called the church’s Friday night exorcisms “one of the best shows in town.”

In 2018, the church’s lease expired. LAHTF is working on restoring the theater and finding a new tenant. In the meantime, they’re hosting one of their “ALL ABOUT” tours at the State Theatre on April 29. LAHTF’s ALL ABOUT tours offer a look at the past, present and future of each venue, followed by a docent-led tour of the theater, including areas typically off limits to the public. Their last event in February delved into the history of the Earl Carroll Theatre in Hollywood. This April event will be their first time in the State Theatre.

ALL ABOUT the State Theatre takes place on Saturday, April 29. Doors will open at 9:45 a.m., followed by the presentation and tour at 10 a.m. Tickets are $20 for general admission or $10 for LAHTF members. The event will be followed by an afterparty at Clifton’s.

If you can’t make that date, the L.A. Conservancy’s Last Remaining Seats series screens classic films in historic venues. For their Last Remaining Seats at the State Theatre (the first in 20 years), they’ll show Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) on Saturday, June 2 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22.

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Happenings

Grand Performances Returns for 2018 With a Diverse Summer Lineup

April 24, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Grand Performances featured 2018

Grand Performances. Photo by Brian Feinzimer

For over 30 years, Grand Performances has offered a variety of performance events at California Plaza, for free. Their 2018 summer series kicks off on June 1, and continues through August 18. It’s a diverse array of programming, drawing from all musicals stylings, plus a bit of comedy, dance and social justice.

Performances are held at the WaterCourt Stage. It’s highly accessible via Metro Purple and Red lines, and, depending on which direction you’re coming from, might give you an excuse to take a ride on Angels Flight.

The lineup is below, (more info here):

Friday, June 1, 8 p.m.: Higher! The Psychedelic Soul & Genius of Sly and the Family Stone.

Saturday, June 2, 8 p.m.: The Secret Shine & Shimmer Show featuring Astrid Hadad, the Secret City House Band, the Secret City Chorus, and the Garfield HS Marching Band. Guests are encouraged to wear metallic silver and gold.

Wednesday, June 6, 7:30 p.m.: Good Things Happen When We Speak Up! Our Stories from the Frontline. Angelenos will speak about their personal struggles overcoming homelessness and how supportive housing helped.

Wednesday, June 6, 9 p.m.: L.A. Dance Party USA

Saturday, June 9, 8 p.m.: Ulali, a Native American vocal and percussion group, will perform alongside Southern Californian Indigenous poetry and storytelling.

Friday, June 15, 8 p.m. and Saturday, June 16, 8 p.m.: C.O.L.A. Night with performances from comedian Kristina Wong, poet/writer Peter J. Harris, and choreographer d. Sabela grimes.

Friday, June 22, 8 p.m.: French pianist Christophe Chassel will perform his “ultrascore” project, Indiamore.

Saturday, June 23, 8 p.m.: Music, comedy, stories, and short films from digital series The Secret Lives of Muslims.

Friday, June 29, 8 p.m.: Dave Hillyard & The Rocksteady 7 (jazz, reggae, Latin, ska) with The Delirians (soul, funk, Latin, ska, reggae)

Saturday, June 30, 8 p.m.: The Love Uninhibited Orchestra presents a sing-along featuring 60s and 70s love songs.

Sunday, July 1, 3 p.m.: First Nations Now: The Art of Rhymes and Storytelling with MC RedCloud, Jessa Calderon, Saginaw Grant, and Pat Vega.

Friday, July 6, 7 p.m.: Ginkgoa (jazz, electro); The Vignes Rooftop Revival performing the music of Django Reinhardt.

Saturday, July 7, 8 p.m.: Bootsy Collins of Parliament-Funkadelic fame performs.

Friday, July 13, 8 p.m.: Now More Than Ever: Protest Songs Sing-Along. Lyrics will be projected on a screen behind the performers so the audience can join in.

Saturday, July 14, 7:30 p.m.: Gemma Castro, The Altons and The Steady 45s

Sunday, July 15, 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m.: Alphabet Soup: Performances and interactive activities for LGBTTQQIAAP (that’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual) people and allies.

Friday, July 20, 8 p.m. and Saturday, July 21, 8 p.m.: Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance. Graham Reynolds and Mexican Theater collective Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol with “a bilingual, multimedia chamber rock opera that explores borders, battlefields, conflict, and culture through the life and mythology of the iconic José Doroteo Arango Arámbula aka Pancho Villa.”

Sunday, July 22, 3 p.m., 4: 30 p.m.: Sock Puppet Sitcom Theater, “Tale of the Mouth.” A family-friendly sock puppet show about the mouth.

Sunday, July 22, 8 p.m.: Canadian rapper Han Han and L.A. artist Gingee perform Filipino (pinoy) hip-hop.

Friday, July 27, 8 p.m.: Roger Guenveur Smith’s “Frederick Douglass Now,” featuring percussionist Marcus Miller. Via a release, “Douglass’ classic 19th-century texts inspire a radically remixed vision of the present American moment.”

Saturday, July 28, 8 p.m.: Dayramir Gonzalez Trio (Afro-Cuban) with special guests.

Sunday, July 29, 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m.: Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band perform family-friendly songs about healthy eating.

Friday, August 3, 8 p.m.: When Moons Become Stars. A panel discussion featuring five indigenous ballerinas—Maria and Marjorie Tallchief, Rosella Hightower, Yvonee Chouteau, Mocelyne Larkin—and moderated by Bonnie Oda Homsey.

Saturday, August 4, 8 p.m.: Fuzön (sufi rock) and Fuzön Disco (Pakistani disco)

Friday, August 10, 8 p.m.: HipHop/Electronic: First Peoples, New Voices. Via a release, “this evening will bring together Canadian artists Classic Roots (Anishinaabe/traditional music/electronic) and Natasha Fisher(Ojibway/Aboriginal-influenced electronic pop R&B) with Native American artist Nakotah Larance(OhKay Owingeh/Hoop and Hip Hop Hoop Dance Champion.)”

Saturday, August 11, 8 p.m.: Singer-songwriters El Vez and Phranc

Sunday, August 12, 8 p.m.: Los Angeles chamber orchestra Supernova performs a new four-movement work, “Suite for Los Angeles.”

Friday, August 17, 8 p.m.: La Marisoul Hernández of La Santa Cecilia presents The California Feetwarmers (New Orleans jazz/ragtime) and The Hermanos (modern Son Huasteco, Son Jarocho, and música Norteña)

Saturday, August 18, 8 p.m.: Persian hip-hop artist Sogand.

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Food

The Valley Has a New Belgian Brewpub with a Stunning Interior

April 24, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

Bluebird Brasserie Photo courtesy of Bluebird Brasserie

Belgian brewpub Bluebird Brasserie is a stunning addition to a busy stretch of Ventura in Sherman Oaks. Apart from the glass doors, the space is completely unrecognizable from its previous iteration as an Italian restaurant, redone with gorgeous brick arches that’ll make you feel like you’re in Bruges.

Exactly Bruges, perhaps. Restauranteur Tony Yanow of Artisanal Brewers Collective (ABC) was apparently inspired by a trip to La Trappiste, a beer cafe in Bruges, and its very similar brick arches. So similar, in fact, that if you translate this article from Dutch to English (or are a Dutch speaker yourself), you’ll find that La Trappiste manager Regnier De Muynck is a little miffed that no one told him about the homage in advance, but not surprised someone would seek to replicate those sweet medieval vaults. Imitation, flattery, etc.

Yet Bluebird Brasserie is more than its photogenic ceilings. Belgian-style beer is brewed on-site and helmed by former Pizza Port brewer Noah Ragnery. Options include the dark and rich Double Dutch and the amber Chapeau du Jour. The pub also serves about 10 beers from outside breweries like The Lost Abbey and Orange County’s The Bruery. If beer isn’t your thing, they’ve got a selection of wine, absinthe, and cocktails. Biting onto the put-CBD-oil-in-everything trend, they offer the gin-based Gentle Monk, a fresh and earthy cocktail with foamy aquafaba. Others pull from the classics, like the mezcal negroni and the boozy Nutty Old Fashioned.

Moules Marinieres Photo courtesy of Bluebird Brasserie

The menu consists of a variety of Belgian dishes, including a gooey beer cheese croquette and meatballs made with either beef or vegan Impossible Foods meat, served with potatoes and leeks. One standout is the steak frites, an 8 oz flat iron steak prepared with either melted butter or green peppercorn sauce, and served with fries. They’ve got moules-frites (or, mussels and fries), too, in a variety of styles including a coconut curry. Should you like, you can swap the fries for crusty bread. For dessert, it’s obviously the Belgian waffles, topped with a hearty scoop vegan ice cream. A fair amount of options exist for vegetarians and vegans, including a cassoulet made with Impossible meat.

Waffles with vegan ice cream Photo: Juliet Bennett Rylah

Vibe-wise, expect a neighborhood feel before sundown, with lots of natural light coming in via the street-facing windows. At night things get a bit sultry as candlelight flickers across brick and oak panels to set the stage for dates—or whisper-scheming over the Iron Throne with a goatee-wearing friend.

Bluebird Brasserie is located at 13730 Ventura Blvd. Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. Current hours are 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday to Wednesday, and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday to Saturday.

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Happenings

L.A. City Council Votes to Draft Ordinance Legalizing Street Vendors

April 18, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

A fruit vendor Photo: Stu_Spivack/Flickr cc

For years, every time we bit into a delicious street dog, we were doing so at the risk of the vendor who sold it to us. While Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to decriminalize sidewalk vending in February of 2017, vendors could still face citations, fines, and harassment from brick-and-mortar businesses (and this guy who turned over an elote cart). On Tuesday, Los Angeles City Council voted 11-4 to draft an ordinance that would allow street vendors to obtain a permit, thus making their livelihood a legal one, the Los Angeles Times reports. This ordinance could be in place as soon as July, according to Councilman Curren Price, chair of the Economic Development Committee.

The Bureau of Street Services estimates some 50,000 sidewalk vendors are at work in L.A., 20 percent of whom sell food. These vendors will soon be able to purchase a permit, the cost of which will support enforcement of the new ordinance’s regulations, according to KPCC.

City Council also rejected the idea that business and property owners would be able to decide if vendors were allowed near them or not. Rather than saying yes or no, brick-and-mortar businesses will only be able to appeal a vendor permit if they have legitimate health and safety concerns.

“While it is reasonable to notify property owners adjacent to proposed vending locations, I am adamantly opposed to giving an individual control over who can obtain a permit and ultimately participate in the city’s sidewalk vending program,” Price said, according to CNS. “By creating a formal appeals process, we are allowing businesses the opportunity to weigh in, while also protecting the vendors from possible extortion.”

Several property owners and businesses along bustling Hollywood Boulevard complained in letters to City Council about congested sidewalks, litter, and distracting solicitors, among them a Hollywood Roosevelt hotel assistant manager and a Hollywood Chamber member. Perhaps most interesting was a letter from Church of Scientology International Humanitarian Programs Director Luis A. Gonzalez, which read, “It has become very apparent that aggressive solicitation on Hollywood Boulevard leaves a bad impression on the tourists.” I’ll keep that in mind the next time I try to get from the Sunset/Vermont station to any Kaiser building without being offered a Dianetics flyer.

Luckily for those concerned Hollywood establishments, there will be rules when it comes to sidewalk vending. Vending will not be allowed with 500 feet of some attractions, such as Staples Center or Hollywood Boulevard. In commercial and industrial areas, only two vendors will be allowed per side of the street, per city block. Those who sell food in residential areas must keep their transactions brief at only seven minutes per sale. In some areas, vending zones may be created.

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