By: Timm Carney
“The bats have left the bell tower
The victims have been bled
Red velvet lines the black box”
It is a beautiful sunny LA day. I pull into the parking lot on Hollywood Blvd. and park. On the street I walk to the door recessed in bougainvillea I have arrived.
I am at the Museum of Death. At the door of the inner sanctum of the museum (I guess this would be death’s door) I am met by JD the owner/curator of the Museum and gallery next door. “Welcome to the Museum of Death” he extends his tattooed arm and we shake. He is warm; very friendly and totally punk rock. I am directed through some velvet curtains into the Serial Killer room and told if I have any questions to let him know.
BAM there I am alone in a room with an electric chair and walls covered by paintings from the hands and minds of serial killers. This is the Museum of Death get into it and over it.
I move on after my fill of John Gasy’s creepy clown paintings. There is room after room of ghastly treasures to come! Caskets, bones, autopsy tutorial videos, cases filled with various mortician tools the list is endless. I was totally enthralled by a wall covered in matchbooks from funeral homes. There is a plenty of death ephemera in every room. This is Hollywood so celebrity deaths are not forgotten. There is a room dedicated to the Manson Family with plenty of gruesome Sharon Tate photos and creepy Charlie art. Heaven’s Gate has its own little room too complete with authentic costumes and bunk beds. Dead rock stars are always a crowd pleaser and the Museum of Death pulls out all the stops with its G G Allin collection. I personally loved the juxtaposition of Marilyn Monroe’s autopsy photos and JFK’s. There is a small room of taxidermy that is very interesting. The animals are mainly albino and eerily beautiful. One of my favorite rooms is a screening room decorated in a funeral home fashion. I watch a little punk rock while I gathered my thoughts before heading out to the real world aka the gift shop.
JD is ushering a small group of tourists into his chamber of horrors as I enter the room. We chat about the museum and the gallery next door. He tells me the museum started out in San Diego and moved to Hollywood about 10 years ago and into this Hollywood Blvd. space fairly recently. The building was once a recording studio owned by Ray Charles in the 1960’s and a slew of punk bands recorded in a studio in the section of the building around the corner. Enough people come to the museum to keep the doors to his collection open and JD seems to like it that way. This isn’t Madame Tussaud’s it’s the real thing. That’s a real decapitated head in there! The admission is worth the price believe me!
I walk out to the sidewalk after meeting JD’s Siamese two headed turtle. I get into the car and radio is playing “Detachable Penis”. How odd I think to myself, “I just saw a picture of one.”