Saturday, February 12, 2011

Guys And Dolls

Friday, February 11, 2011

Today I checked out the intriguingly-named Museum of Death on Hollywood Boulevard. It's slogan is "Where the stars end and the darkness begins," which is rather clever, because it's located just east of where the stars on the Walk of Fame end. What's it all about? Well, death, in all its forms, but mostly in its most gruesome aspects. Serial killers and their female victims, electric chairs, that sort of thing. Think of it as an elaborate and more well-lit Halloween haunted house, minus the fictional monsters.

The back of the admission ticket contains this admonition: "WARNING - WARNING - WARNING - WARNING The MOD may cause headaches, seizures, epilepsy, PTSD, appetite loss, double vision, divorce, and many other problems. ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK - ABANDON ALL HOPE, YE WHO ENTER HERE!"

I'm still puzzling about the divorce part, but I think it could come from two different things. One would be if a husband managed to talk his wife into going into the museum in the first place, and an argument ensued about the overall trashiness of it, especially given the relatively high price of admission ($15), and the argument led to worse things. Sort of the "last straw" theory. The other possibility has to do with a certain extremely gruesome display of photos taken by a young couple of each other some time in the 1970s, after they murdered the woman's current boyfriend, and while they were nude and in the process of dismembering the dead guy's body. It was worse than you can probably imagine. The trouble is that it was in the days before digital cameras and computer printers, so they took the roll of film to be developed and someone at the lab turned the photos in to the police. Duh. The guy got life for the murder. The girl (whose idea it was) was having sex with the victim while the new boyfriend snuck up and stabbed him. She received a light sentence for pleading guilty to dismembering a corpse in exchange for her testimony against the boyfriend. I could see where that exhibit might start a discussion or two.

Besides that, and the almost reverential displays on Charles Manson and his family and other swell guys like Ed Gein and Hitler, the high point was a room filled with caskets and embalming instruments, in which they played an instructional video that had been made for students of mortuary science, on how to prepare a body for viewing. That actually was quite interesting to me, as I've always had an interest in such things, probably from all the time I spent at Coats Funeral Home as a kid when I had a job printing their funeral cards.

The cumulative effect of all that death and dismemberment, however, was that I felt slightly nauseated toward the end, and was happy to get out on the street again. On the whole I think the museum would appeal most strongly to teenage boys and young adult men, for its overall grossness. A great place for a first date.

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