Just when you thought you knew everything about El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río Porciúncula (a.k.a. the city of Los Angeles), yet another cool source for L.A. intel has arrived for your listening pleasure.
As a way to dig into the City of Angels' cool culture (and — no shame — spread the word about its DTLA-distilled vodka), L.A.-based liquor brand Our/Los Angeles tapped Disco Dining Club founder Courtney Nichols and filmmaker and creative director David Charles to lead the ten-part podcast. The duo first met while working together on a project for Airbnb and "became fast friends, mainly over our love of Los Angeles," Charles tells us.
"David and I share an unparalleled obsession with Los Angeles and all its eccentricities," says Nichols, who had previously worked with the L.A. vodka company when curating one of her decadent theatrical dinner parties. When the liquor brand approached Charles with their podcast idea, Nichols was his first choice for co-host, he says.
The Our/Los Angeles podcast series tackles a range of only-in-L.A. topics, from the beloved Bob Baker Marionette Theater (which recently relocated to Highland Park) in "S is for Strings" and the Mexican wrestling show at Lucha VaVoom in "L is for Lowriders" to the underground party scene in "L is for Late Nights" and transcendental meditation in "O is for Ohmmm" and more, all through the lenses (errr, voices) of local creatives, entrepreneurs, and experts.
"We decided to spell out L-O-S A-N-G-E-L-E-S with each episode focusing on the multiplicity of worlds and flavors that exist here," continues Charles, who was also behind that Hollywood superstar-powered Vote Your Future campaign directed by Alejandro Innaritu, David O Russell, and Joss Whedon, among other projects.
We challenged the proud Angelenos to a round of 10 Questions — keep reading to find out their top L.A. people-watching spots, their go-to under-the-radar bars, their favorite random factoids that they learned while creating the podcast, and more, then listen to Our/Los Angeles on Spotify or iTunes.
If you had to choose, which podcast episode is your favorite and why?
David Charles: That's super hard, but I would have to say episode two, "O is for Ohm," simply because Maja Adjoust, the White Witch of Los Angeles, read tarot for the entire city. It's not every day that a whole megacity gets its future laid out so elegantly and perfectly like that.
Courtney Nichols: Los Angeles has a fervent puppet community. From renegade puppet performances on the streets of Koreatown, to macabre inspired puppetry at DTLA popup events, to Jim Henson certified puppet theatrics in Hollywood, puppetry is all over L.A. On our episode "S Is For Strings," Alex Evans from Bob Baker Marionette Theater joins us at the distillery to chat about this flourishing scene and the decades of puppet culture that has come to define this city. Campy yet informative, this episode exemplifies the juxtaposition of Los Angeles culture.
What's currently on your L.A. transit playlist?
DC: I love ATH Kids (a hip-hop group from Athens, Greece), Princess Nokia, Fat Tony and, of course, Kendrick Lamar, who writes about L.A. better than most. On another spectrum, I'm really into local DJs like Foreigner, Shuga Shay, Kaili, and Nina Tar.
CN: Although five years senior, this compilation perfectly encompasses that blissed out L.A. sound: Dublab & Digital Harinezumi present Light From Los Angeles.
If you could travel back to any time in Los Angeles, when would it be and why?
DC: I'd love to come hang out here in the 1920s and 1930s — the heyday of speakeasies, old Hollywood, and forbidden opium dens.
CN: My mother is an L.A. native and her stories (although fragmented) best represent the L.A. that I fantasized about when I was a child. I would like to follow her for one day, retracing her steps as she attended a Love-In in Elysian Park, or the first-ever theatrical performance of Rocky Horror Picture Show on the Sunset Strip, or sneaking out of her Mar Vista childhood home to go to Broadway and 110th to flirt with the drummer from Otis Redding's band.
In your opinion, what's L.A.'s most under-appreciated tourist spot/destination?
DC: Its nature. All of its parks. Maybe the Hollywood Reservoir in particular.
CN: The Hollywood Museum on Highland is supremely underrated, especially amongst all the tourist chaos of that intersection. The horror basement alone is worth the cost of admission.
Where's your favorite spot in L.A. for people-watching?
DC: Sunset Junction during the day. DTLA at night. And the Hollywood freak show at 2 a.m.
CN: Jones, West Hollywood, after 10 p.m.
What's the "most L.A." experience (however you define that) you've ever had?
DC: One night I was driving home through Elysian Park when I spotted a coyote right in front of me. We locked eyes and I slowly followed it, in my car, up the mountainous roads of Elysian Heights and it led me to the most beautiful view of the town. That and the day I went to a random party and ended up dancing with Paul McCartney, Kim Gordon, and Dita Von Teese with Win Butler from Arcade Fire DJ'ing.
CN: Although most these memories are a bit hazy, I distinctly remember a warehouse party at an indoor skatepark I attended some years back. At 4 a.m. a live disco band came out complete with a horn section and voguing drag queens. This was the moment that I knew this was my city.
Most favorite L.A. bar and why?
DC: I can't say it, because my favorite thing about it is that it's not crowded. My second favorite bar is Zebulon.
CN: I am an old-school fiend. With that being said, my favorite bars have been known how to make a perfect martini for decades. With that being said, I am a regular of Musso & Frank Grill, Billingsley's, Pacific Dining Car, and The Smoke House in Burbank.
Favorite new discovery in L.A.?
DC: The colorful sock vending machine at the bowling alley in Koreatown.
CN: As of late, I have been spending my working hours at Mama Shelter in Hollywood. In fact, I am there [typing this] right now.
Your favorite source for shopping for _(fill in the blank)_ in L.A. is:
CN: My favorite source for shopping for communion wafers is Cotter Church Supplies.
Favorite random fact about L.A. that you learned during the making of the podcast?
That it's illegal to lick hallucinogenic toads here. And I was like, that's it, I'm moving to Topanga.
CN: I learned about the annual Pageant Of The Pigeons that takes place at the L.A. County Fairgrounds from Atlas Obscura field agent, Sandi Hemmerlein. And for that I will forever be grateful.
The sound(s) that you feel best encompass the spirit of L.A. is/are:
DC: Manic laughter after a night fueled with mezcal and poppers.
CN: Yes, David nailed it — that jovial, boisterous laughter of a city that knows how to live.