AFTER A DECADE OPERATING OUT OF A 600-SQUARE-FOOT STOREFRONT on Vermont Avenue, the iconic Eastside establishment Mondo Video — whose specialized sections of fringe videos include Doomsday Cinema, Delinquency, Booze and Dope, and Racial Hatred — has been “exorcised from Los Feliz Village” said Tattoo Erek, Mondo's de facto store manager. Local groups circulated three anti-Mondo petitions, but wouldn't return phone calls. The store shut its doors on Sunday and has opened new digs on Melrose.
It's not Mondo's merchandise — 20,000 mostly demented videos ranging from amputee porn to lost episodes of The Twilight Zone and every possible cult film in between — that had the neighbors' panties in a collective bunch. The cut-out penises glued to the cash register, the blow-up doll violated by G.G. Allin, the general bad taste of the mangy storefront didn't quite jibe with the trendoid boutiques and upscale restaurants that had invaded the neighborhood in recent years. “The Los Feliz business community has a long-term plan, and Mondo doesn't fit into it,” says Erek.
Shop owner Rob Schaffner said Los Feliz was but a collection of “free clinics, prostitutes and homeless people living in alleys” in 1992 when he moved there from San Pedro. His stretch of Vermont embodied the early to mid-'90s Zeitgeist: Amok Books relocated from little Hyperion circa the '92 riots, Beck got his start at the open-mike nights at the Onyx Café. “The people who lived here were real, poor artists, not trust-fund artists,” says Schaffner. “It was an atmosphere that was inspiring, not perspiring.”
The Mondo family mission to “destroy every American holiday” by holding their own, including Fourth of July transvestite barbecues and greasepaint-coated re-enactments of the Easter story, got to be a bit too much for some. “I grew up in Amsterdam. I've seen everything,” says Lynn of the neighboring hair salon Purple Circle. “They've just gotten completely out of hand in the last couple of years.”
While the denizens of Mondo aren't entirely innocent, they seem to have endured unfair treatment from the neighborhood they helped to popularize. “It's the people that have been here two, three years — they don't respect what we stand for and what we did for the neighborhood,” said Schaffner.
Enough of the past. The new location — twice as large and strategically positioned between a Hispanic church, a Masonic temple and a pizza joint — is already open for business.