21 Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week

Lucha VaVOOM merges sex and violence — and spooky stuff — and Lucha VaVOOM Halloween Madness on Wednesday.EXPAND
Lucha VaVOOM merges sex and violence — and spooky stuff — and Lucha VaVOOM Halloween Madness on Wednesday.
David Espinoza

Harry Dean Stanton gets an award, SoCal ghost hunters tell their secrets, a foodie-friendly fest takes over Brand Boulevard and more to do and see in L.A. this week.

fri 10/21

L.A. is filled with ghosts — and not just of dead movie stars, studio execs and tourists. Learn to search for spooks like a professional at SoCal Ghosts & Where to Find Them. The panel discussion is hosted by Richard Carradine, co-founder of GHOULA (aka Ghost Hunters of Urban Los Angeles) and author of "The Park" After Dark: The Original Unauthorized Guide to the Happiest (Haunted) Place on Earth and Spirits With Spirits: A Guide to the Haunted Bars of Los Angeles. He'll be joined by Planet Paranormal's Brian Clune and Bob Davis, co-authors of their own books including California's Historic Haunts and Ghosts of Queen Mary (which was listed in Time magazine as one of the top 10 haunted places in the world), and North Orange County Paranormal Society's Jim Van Eeckhoutte and Sam Neill, who lead real-life paranormal investigations. Even the Last Bookstore's 100-year-old building is said to be possessed. The Last Bookstore, 453 S. Spring St., downtown; Fri., Oct. 21, 8-9:30 p.m.; free. (213) 488-0599, lastbookstorela.com. —Siran Babayan

Second City has helped launch the careers of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Chris Farley and Mike Myers, among other comic legends who aren't white. The famed improv theater isn't resting on its laurels when it comes to tackling diversity in comedy, which is why it's launching the first Los Angeles Diversity in Comedy Festival. Taking place at Second City and the Hollywood Improv, the event turns issues of "race, gender, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity" into a laughing matter with performances by house teams from both clubs and elsewhere, including Afros & Ass Whoopins, Armagayddon, Phi Beta Negro and The Black Version. The weekend-long schedule also offers workshops and panels, such as "Killer Konfidence," "Sketch Comedy Basics" and "The Art of Character," led by industry insiders whose credits include Dreamworks, Nickelodeon and Disney. Second City Studio Theater, 6560 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., Oct. 21, 7-10 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 22, noon-11 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 23, 1:30-10:30 p.m.; $10-$25. (323) 464-8542, secondcity.com. —Siran Babayan

He made his reputation in Europe helming Germany's Frankfort Ballet, but choreographer William Forsythe also developed ongoing relationships with U.S. ballet companies, three of which arrive to launch the Music Center's dance season with Celebrate Forsythe. San Francisco Ballet, Houston Ballet and Seattle's Pacific Northwest Ballet perform in this homage to the master, the culmination of a month-long series of events that included a site-specific event at LACMA and a lecture demonstration at USC's new Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, where Forsythe is on the faculty. Regarded as one of the most significant forces in contemporary ballet, Forsythe's work has been seen here in bits and pieces. This month-long series of events and especially this performance are a rare opportunity to experience the range and depth of his impact. The Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Fri.-Sat., Oct. 21-22, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 23, 2 p.m.; $34-$125. (213) 972-7211, musiccenter.org. —Ann Haskins

You don't watch Rosemary's Baby, you endure it. Roman Polanski's nerve-jangling masterpiece gets under your skin and in your head, calling into question the plausibility of its own narrative — could there really be witches in this old apartment building, and who are those late-night incantations invoking? — as you try to believe that both you and Rosemary (a never-better Mia Farrow) that you're simply imagining things. Also screening on 35mm and completing the New Beverly's double bill is The Mephisto Waltz, which was released three years later and is even more overt in its occult plotting. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Fri., Oct. 21, 6:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine

Deeply felt and endlessly revered, Spirited Away is to Studio Ghibli what Toy Story is to Pixar. The Nuart celebrates the 15th anniversary of Hayao Miyazaki's Oscar-winning anime by screening it in its original subtitled form at midnight. Still the highest-grossing film ever released in Japan (where its box-office returns even surpassed those of Titanic), the film tells of a 10-year-old girl who moves to the suburbs and finds herself in a fantastical realm of monsters, spirits and witches where humans transform into beasts when the sun goes down. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri., Oct. 21, 11:59 p.m.; $11. (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com. —Michael Nordine

sat 10/22

There's something extremely cathartic about revealing your adolescent humiliations to a room full of perfect strangers — incidentally, it's also really entertaining for the room full of strangers. On Saturday, the live storytelling show Mortified, which invites guests to the stage to unburden themselves by reading embarrassing diary entries and the like, hosts its 14th-anniversary show, which is being filmed for an upcoming TV program. (Held in cities across the U.S., the event was immortalized on film in the 2013 documentary Mortified Nation, which is available on Netflix.) At the 6:30 p.m. show, readers include Layla McKay, Maurissa Tancharoen and L.A. Weekly contributor Adam Gropman; the 9:30 p.m. show features Robert Woo, Barb and Vera Duffy and Leonard Hyman. Both shows will have surprise guests. It's always sort of fun to laugh at the misfortune of others — but especially when they want you to. Wanderlust Hollywood, 1357 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; Sat., Oct. 22, 6:30 & 9:30 p.m.; $20. getmortified.com/live. —Gwynedd Stuart

The tickets to the Brand Boulevard Block Party in Glendale are a touch pricey — $50 online, $60 at the door — especially considering it's a "block party," but the entry fee does grant access to a whole bunch of stands representing new restaurants: Shake Shack, Golden Road Brewing, Mainland Poke, The Tsujita, Lobos Truck, Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop, Epic Taco Shop, Porto's Bakery, Coolhaus, Katsuya, Lemonade, Bourbon Steak Los Angeles, Frida Mexican Cuisine ... and the list goes on. Plus, part of the proceeds go to the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program, which provides scholarships to high schoolers who want to explore cooking as a career option. There's also free-flowing wine and musical entertainment by Wayward Sons. Brand Blvd. between Colorado St. and Caruso Ave., Glendale; $60, $50 in advance. brandblvdblockparty.com. —Katherine Spiers

Depending on your mood — and the time of year — creaky 100-year-old homes are creepy as it is. Add to that a Victorian-style seance to summon the dead and a Victorian funeral, and there might be some damp trousers in the house. Heritage Square Museum in Montecito Heights hosts the 13th Annual Halloween & Mourning Tours on Saturday and Sunday, featuring the aforementioned seasonally appropriate activities plus a 1930s Halloween party and, on Sunday, less-morbid activities for kids. 3800 Homer St., Montecito Heights; Sat.-Sun., Oct. 22-23, noon-4 p.m.; $20, seniors $15, children 6-12 $8, children under 6 free. heritagesquare.org/events/calendar/13th-annual-halloween-mourning-tours. —Gwynedd Stuart

The slasher genre was in its death throes before Scream revived it; in hindsight, Wes Craven was probably the only one who could have done so. His self-reflexive riff on the cinematic movement he helped innovate (see: the next item on this list) is genuinely clever and scary, effectively deconstructing the all-too-familiar tropes of slashers even as it indulges in them. (MTV's TV series based on this exercise in meta-horror is surprisingly worthwhile, too.) Electric Dusk Drive-In, 2930 Fletcher Drive, Glassell Park; Sat., Oct. 22, 7:15 p.m. (doors at 6:30); $10 lawn, $14 car, $60 VIP. (818) 653-8591, electricduskdrivein.com. —Michael Nordine

Speaking of Wes Craven, his original contribution to the genre is also screening outdoors at the exact same time. You might not remember it based on the last four or five entries in the Freddy Krueger mythos, but the first A Nightmare on Elm Street is a genuine classic. Haunted by red-and-green sweaters, subconscious rumblings and blood-spewing beds, Craven's dreamscape established a formula so successful that it's been repeated ad nauseam — for better and (mostly) for worse. Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., Oct. 22, 7:15 p.m. (doors at 5:30); $16. (323) 221-3343, cinespia.org. —Michael Nordine

Live the morbid side of Victorian life at Heritage Square on Saturday and Sunday.
Live the morbid side of Victorian life at Heritage Square on Saturday and Sunday.
Courtesy Heritage Square

sun 10/23

Harry Dean Stanton is such a natural presence — exuding a distinctively personal combination of world-weary cynicism and unflappable, gruff wisdom — that it's easy to forget he's playing a role in such wildly disparate films as Repo Man, Cool Hand Luke, Pretty in Pink, Escape From New York, Christine, The Missouri Breaks and Paris, Texas. Tonight, the 90-year-old Kentucky native will be the recipient of the inaugural Harry Dean Stanton Award, presented by Vidiots. Ed Begley Jr. hosts an evening of film clips and storytelling, and the country-rock-crooning Stanton will revel in his longtime love of music alongside such stellar pals as Kris Kristofferson, Father John Misty, Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O, Harper Simon and The Bird & the Bee's Inara George. The Theatre at Ace Hotel, 929 S. Broadway, downtown; Sun., Oct. 23, 8 p.m.; $30-$125. (213) 623-3233, vidiotsfoundation.org/events/harry-dean-stanton. —Falling James

Upcoming Events

Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik discuss their new book, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with co-host of Call Your Girlfriend podcast Aminatou Sow. In 2013, MSNBC reporter Carmon and lawyer-blogger Knizhnik launched the Notorious RBG Tumblr, which turned the diminutive, bespectacled and fancy-collar-wearing Supreme Court Justice into a pop-culture and internet star thanks to GIFs, memes and photos of fans sporting Ginsburg-inspired T-shirts, Halloween costumes, nail polish and even tattoos. Their spin-off biography, with chapter titles named after Notorious B.I.G lyrics, includes a timeline that chronicles Ginsburg's life and career, from her Brooklyn childhood to her 1993 appointment to the Supreme Court (only the second woman to take the seat), in addition to photographs, excerpts of her dissents, her exercise regime and her late husband Martin's recipe for pork loin braised in milk. The book will serve as the basis for an upcoming exhibit at the Skirball opening in 2018. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood; Sun., Oct. 23, 11 a.m.; $15, $10 students. (310) 440-4500, skirball.org. —Siran Babayan

Amy Schumer's last local stop was during 2015's Trainwreck Tour, which included cast members from the movie. Since the release of the Judd Apatow-directed hit film, America's reigning, R-rated funny lady has published a memoir, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, and appeared in the HBO stand-up special Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo, where she riffed on trademark topics like sex, double standards in comedy, body image and beautiful people in L.A. ("My arms register as legs there," she said.) Schumer returns to L.A. as part of her first world tour, which is good news for fans awaiting the upcoming season of her Comedy Central series, Inside Amy Schumer, while it's on indefinite hiatus. The Forum, 3900 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood; Sun., Oct. 23, 7:30 p.m.; $44.50-$144.50. (800) 653-8000, ticketmaster.com. —Siran Babayan

If you ascribe any importance to such things, the fact that Vertigo dethroned Citizen Kane on the most recent Sight & Sound list of the 250 greatest films of all time should at least suggest that Alfred Hitchcock's most celebrated film is worth seeing on the silver screen — especially in 70mm. This is a capital-M movie, the kind that reminds you what's so thrilling and unique in the first place, and essential viewing for anyone and everyone. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Sun., Oct. 23, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

mon 10/24

If you missed Jamie Kilstein at Circle V, the Moby-curated, all-vegan animal rights festival at the Fonda Theater, catch him performing stand-up tonight. Since 2008, the Brooklyn-based political comedian and Allison Kilkenny have co-hosted their podcast Citizen Radio, which has included interviews with the likes of Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Dick Gregory, Ralph Nader, Janeane Garofalo and Paul F. Thompkins. This year, Kilstein even set his rants to music when he and his band The Agenda released A Bit Much, their first album of musical spoken word about Edward Snowden, the NRA, homophobia and Islamophobia. Trepany House at the Steve Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz; Mon., Oct. 24, 8 p.m.; $10. (323) 666-4268, trepanyhouse.org. —Siran Babayan

tue 10/25

Forget creepy clowns — the real terror happens tonight when Carnival of Horrors presents a screening of 1972 Hammer Productions horror film Vampire Circus. In it, the Circus of Nights — peopled by dwarves, tiger-women and strongmen — drifts into one of those archetypal 19th-century European hamlets so Count Mitterhaus can get his revenge on the children of the townsfolk that had him staked years before. These pedocidal terrors are preceded by an original Circus of Horrors mixtape, bloodcurdling booze, a puppet show and circus performers. Can you guess which ones want to bite you and pilfer your children? Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. First St., Echo Park; Tue., Oct. 25, 7 p.m.; $15. (213) 250-9995, cinefamily.org. —David Cotner

The Exorcist's legacy — including apocryphal reports that ambulances were on standby outside theaters when the movie was first released — is so outsize that it threatens to distract from what at heart is one of the most disturbing films ever made. William Friedkin's horror benchmark has been released in more alternate forms than Blade Runner, with ArcLight Beach Cities opting for the extended director's cut — this version runs 132 minutes rather than 121, so rest assured that there's no shortage of pea soup. ArcLight Beach Cities, 831 S. Nash St., El Segundo; Tue., Oct. 25, 7:45 p.m.; $13.50. (310) 607-9630, arclightcinemas.com. —Michael Nordine

Vampires run amok at Carnival of Horrors on Tuesday.
Vampires run amok at Carnival of Horrors on Tuesday.
Courtesy Cinefamily

wed 10/26

Lit Crawl L.A.'s "literary mayhem" returns for a fourth year at more than 36 restaurants, bars, galleries and other venues in the North Hollywood Arts District. Following an opening program at the Metro North Hollywood Red Line Station Plaza, the schedule offers more than 40 authors and artists doing readings, performances and meet-and-greets, including Matthew Specktor (American Dream Machine), Stephen Elliott (The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir), J. Ryan Stradal (Kitchens of the Great Midwest), Tod Goldberg (Gangsterland, novels based on the TV series Burn Notice), former Los Angeles Times book critic David Ulin and KPCC correspondent Adolfo Guzman-Lopez. The event includes additional programs, such as "Rainbows and Unicorns: L.A. Queers Writing Queerly," "From Vietnam to Operation Iraq" and "Boobs, Vaginas and Brain Tumors," as well as a closing party and speakeasy at the Federal Bar. The NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; Wed., Oct. 26, 6 p.m.-midnight; free. litcrawl.org. —Siran Babayan

Since 2002, Lucha VaVOOM has been mixing sex and violence in a high-energy show that's equal parts Mexican-style professional wrestling and sexy burlesque. Of course, masked wrestlers are exciting any time of the year, but around Halloween, things get even more monstrous. Lucha VaVOOM Halloween Madness features everyone's beloved domestic fowl Li'l Chicken along with Vampire Blanco and hula-hooper Karis. Plus, see the winner of season 7 of RuPaul's Drag Race, Violet Chachki, along with a performance by Siobhan Fahey of Bananarama and Shakespears Sister. Finally, El Presidente takes the stage, just in time for the election. The Mayan, 1038 S. Hill St., downtown; Wed.-Thu., Oct. 26-27, doors 7 p.m., show 8 p.m.; $40-$75. (213) 746-4674, luchavavoom.com. —Tanja M. Laden

Bride of Frankenstein, which is not only superior to the original but one of the best, saddest horror movies ever made, makes its way to Cinefamily as Haunted Hangover Matinee accompanied by a live set from DJ Mean Mr. Mustard. Frankenstein's monster was a monster less because he was made that way and more because he was perceived that way, a sad truth that's even clearer here than in the first installment of Universal's enduring franchise. The creation of his bride — who, spoiler alert, doesn't appear until much later than you'd expect — is presumably an attempt to tame him but mostly serves to underscore what a pitiful existence he was born into; "We belong dead!" might be the saddest line from any horror movie. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Wed. Oct. 26, 2 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Michael Nordine

thu 10/27

When superstar Mexican singer Juan Gabriel passed away earlier this year at the age of 66, millions of adoring fans mourned with a grief usually reserved for close family members. Affectionately referred to as JuanGa, his ballads and songs of love and loss provided the soundtrack to four decades of weddings, quinceañeras, and countless other special moments. His flamboyant style drew comparisons to Liberace and Elvis, but these fail to capture his singular persona. This Thursday, Amor Eterno: Un Homenaje a Juan Gabriel celebrates his legacy with performances from Stephanie Amaro, Mariachi Garibaldi, Julian Torres, Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles and others, all in front of a Día de los Muertos altar designed by the Ni Santas Collective. La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, 501 N. Main St., downtown; Thu., Oct. 27, 6:30-10 p.m.; free. (213) 542-6200, lapca.org. —Matt Stromberg


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