Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Taste of Death on Hollywood Boulevard

A visit to the Museum of Death in Hollywood doesn't sound like a particularly cheerful take-in ... and believe me, it isn't.
But if serial killers, mass suicides, autopsy photos and vintage mortician devices are your thing, you will enjoy a thoroughly absorbing hour or so at this humble 6031 Hollywood Blvd. showroom of the macabre.
Photos, videos, newspaper clippings and other assorted memorabilia such as human and animal skulls, caskets, and at least one mummified severed human head, are also there for the viewing.
I toured the MOD today with English music journalist Nina Antonia, who is visiting from London. After studying the exhibits, one must agree the museum offers a unique welcome to the City of Angels.
A chilling display of John Wayne Gacy's art.
It's hardly great art, but the drawings, paintings and essays by famed mass murderers, including John Wayne Gacy and Lawrence Bittaker are among the first items you'll encounter in the museum, after passing though a room of vintage funerary accoutrements. Gacy's self portrait in clown makeup and costume -- he was a children's entertainer -- is one of the more notorious pieces.
In case you're wondering, Museum of Death owners Cathee Shultz and J.D. Healy came about the original artwork by corresponding with imprisoned serial killers, and sending them art supplies, stamps and $10 money orders.
There are also records and photos documenting the crimes of serial killers Richard Ramirez, Henry Lee Lucas and others.
Those who decide to visit should be strongly cautioned, however. There is a good deal of extremely rough stuff there --  at times it was a struggle to keep the morning's huevos rancheros down.
An instructional video on embalming showing all the gory details plays continuously in one room. Color, posed snapshots of a couple dismembering a man whom they murdered -- what happens at Fotomat doesn't always stay at Fotomat -- are also on display.
An entire room is devoted to Charles Manson, and among the news clippings, coroner's reports and police bulletins are autopsy photos of some Manson Family victims.
The 1997 Heaven's Gate cult mass suicide, the O.J. case, the JFK assassination and the Black Dahlia killing all figure prominently in the museum's exhibits.
If you're expecting a highly polished presentation of the materials contained in the MOD you will be disappointed. The pristine, exhaustively curated  L.A. County Museum, it's not.
Newspaper pages with barking headlines that seem to have been ripped from a daily edition are posted on walls with black office clips holding them up. Most exhibits are chock-full of memorabilia. In short, the galleries seem like an approximation of what a serial killer's bedroom might look like -- odd talismans of the killer's obsessions plastered on the walls and stuffed into every available surface. And here, that makes sense.
Tickets are $15 apiece and parking is free. Don't forget to visit the gift shop -- there really is one.

1 comment:

  1. "I would not join any club that would have someone like me to dismember."