Esotouric News for July 2008

Gentle reader,

When times are tough one of the first things to suffer is the essential daily allotment of fun. We at Esotouric (the bus tour side of On Bunker Hill) want to make sure that economic panic doesn’t cut into your Vitamin F, and that’s why we’re announcing a very special sale. From July 17-31, an Esotouric Season Pass costs just $180, a savings of $52. Look at the bottom of this post for a list of tours you can use your Season Pass on (with more to be announced in coming weeks), and we’ll be looking forward to seeing a lot of you on future Esotouric bus adventures.

Last weekend’s THE NEW CHINATOWNS tour was one of those events that reminds us why we launched Esotouric: bringing a great group of people together to share our passion for the city’s hidden gems, and flying high on a feedback loop of information–we had a one-time towel girl from The Tikis nightclub on the bus! The first whistle stop, at the exquisite 1950s grill-yer-own-steak bar The Venice Room, set the scene, when the pre-lunch beer drinkers nearly convinced us to dump the schedule and sidle up onto a bar stool. Roaming through the grounds of the sylvan Paradise Trailer Park was like a time travel trip into a much quieter and more affordable L.A. El Encanto’s Spanish tile and hammered iron dragons drew oohs, aahs and many photo ops. By the time we split into two groups at Wing Hop Fung, one to take tea under the direction of store owner Keng, the other to enjoy wine and dim sum pairings with sommelier Dore, the fun meter was at 9 and rising. We hope to offer this tour again — but need to hear from folks who want to see it on the schedule. For now, enjoy the tour vicariously in the photo set below:

On July 10, we had the second excursion of THE HIPPODROME, Esotouric’s free floating salon and psychedelic shuttle bus during the Downtown LA Art Walk. Most seats were filled as Madame Pamita told fortunes in song, Senor Stretchy Skin did truly horrible things with clothespins, ZonaLilly regaled us with the obscenely catchy "Hippodrome Theme Song" and Mike the Poet and pals closed out the night with verse. Click below for a peak at what you missed, and be sure to put the next Art Walk on your calendar. The Hippodrome will roll repeatedly past 5th & Main Streets with some big surprises on August 14 from 6-10pm. For some scenes from last week, see

What’s next? There’s no tour this weekend, but on Saturday JULY 26 we’ll bring Crimebo the Clown out of mothballs for a very special PASADENA CONFIDENTIAL tour, including for the first time a tour of the Cravens Mansion, one of the rare surviving great houses on Millionaire’s Row. No, dears, nobody was decapitated there, though the place was roundly and soundly looted under its prior owner. For more about this popular and quite hideous crime bus tour, please visit

AUGUST 2: It’s the ROUTE 66 tour, a chance to explore the Mother Road without leaving L.A. County or getting food poisoning. And we really do have some of the best roadside attractions out in the San Gabriel Valley, including the historic Waldo Ward fruit farm, the Egypto-googie Covina Bowl, Robert Stacy-Judd’s strange and visionary Aztec Hotel and the delightful bungalows of Monrovia. Join us, do, at
AUGUST 9: A special edition of the Charles Bukowski HAUNTS OF A DIRTY OLD MAN tour, departing from Vroman’s Bookstore with special guests from the Bukowski archives at the Huntington Library on board. Call Vroman’s direct to reserve your spot, Tel: 626-449-5320

AUGUST 16: THE REAL BLACK DAHLIA rolls from the Biltmore Hotel on a time travel journey into post war Los Angeles, where we’ll put Beth Short under our microscope. Who was this strange girl who would become the most famous unsolved murder victim of the 20th century? At tour’s end, you’ll know more than her friends did, and hear a fascinating theory of who killed her. Info at

AUGUST 23: Skylight Books present the long awaited return of JOHN FANTE’S DREAMS FROM BUNKER HILL, our exploration of a lost neighborhood and the literary giant who chronicled it. The tour closes out the week long run of UCLA’s restoration of the great lost Bunker Hill film "The Exiles" — show us a ticket stub from the film for 15% off the $58 ticket price. Our special guest on the tour is John Fante’s daughter Vickie, and the tour concludes with a book signing for Stephen Cooper’s Fante bio "Full of Life." Info at

AUGUST 30: We have a little more than 10 seats left on CRAWLING DOWN CAHUENGA: TOM WAITS’ LA, the debut of a new bus adventure co-hosted by David Smay (author of the 33 1/3 book on "Swordfishtrombones") and myself. Tom Waits’ summer American tour sold out in an eye blink, and he didn’t play LA, so this is your only chance to immerse yourself in the Waits legend, from skid row to Coppola’s Zoetrope, lonesome bottles to love’s redemption. Email to reserve or visit


Upcoming Esotouric bus tour schedule (special events starred, all others may be ridden by Season Pass holders):
Sat July 26 – Pasadena Confidential with Crimebo the Clown
Sat Aug.2 – Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles: Route 66
*Sat Aug 9- Vroman’s Bookstore – Haunts of A Dirty Old Man: Charles Bukowki’s LA
Sat Aug 16 – The Real Black Dahlia
Sat Aug 23 – Skylight Books – John Fante’s Dreams from Bunker Hill
*Sat Aug 30 – Crawling Down Cahuenga: Tom Waits’ LA
Sun Sept 7 – Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles: South LA
Sat Sept 13 – Blood & Dumplings ($5 dumpling fee for Season Pass holders)
Sat Sept 20 – Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles: The Many Downtowns
*Sat Oct 4 – Bodhi Tree – Visionary Hollywood
*Sat Oct 11- Vroman’s Bookstore – Raymond Chandler’s LA
Sat Oct 18- Raymond Chandler’s Bay City
Sat Oct 25 – Halloween Horrors with Crimebo the Clown

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