Sure, Gotham has its share of creaky, old walk-up buildings. And Detroit has entire neighborhoods that have been abandoned. The Bay Area has miles and miles of waterfront in which to make a body disappear. And Seattle is downright dreary.
But nobody does Halloween season like Los Angeles.
Skid Row, San Pedro, even the price tags of Rodeo Drive scare the hell out of us. But our greatest creepy asset is our people.
Here are L.A.'s 10 spookiest characters:
10. Willem Dafoe. He plays the devil in a commercial for Mercedes-Benz's new CLA "coupe," so you know his creep factor is for real. We've loved the strangeness of Dafoe since the '80s, when he played the bad guy in To Live and Die in L.A. (Yes, he reportedly lives in Rome, but he's a product of Hollywood.) Dafoe's brow is positively Cro-Magnon, his teeth vicious, his eyes ever hungry. Give him some candy.
9. Richard Vladovic. This folksy, lifelong educator known as Dr. Death was elected as president of the L.A. Unified School District board in summer and has found nothing but controversy since. He's known for his alleged behind-the-scenes bullying and tirades and even reportedly has a book filled with the names of school district inferiors he's keeping an eye on, a tome embellished with the image of an eye. Oh, and he's been accused of harassment and intimidation by two LAUSD workers. Boo!
8. Carol Schatz. As head of the Downtown Center Business Improvement District, Schatz is probably the most powerful private citizen downtown, especially now that Tim Leiweke of Anschutz Entertainment Group has moved on to smaller pastures. What creeps us out about Schatz is her group's willingness to use its private security forces to intimidate the homeless. As downtown gentrifies, these platoons of security "shirts" are the front lines against the huddled masses. In 2011 these private guards even played cop by joining LAPD skirmish lines against Occupy protesters. This after the sister Central City Association was accused of sicking cops on Occupy chalk-art protesters. Shivers.
7. Jeffrey Deitch. Actually we have nothing in particular against Deitch, although he left as head of L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art last summer in a cloud of hatred. It's just that, to be a hard-core contemporary-art aficionado on the level of this New York gallery owner is to be a little, well, weird. Witness his Hollywood Hills "party house," which looks a little like something M.C. Escher might have built after an ecstasy binge. We'd love a tour after dark. We'd even pay a cover charge and come in costume.
6. Cmdr. Andrew Smith. The LAPD commander in charge of the department's media relations section is a nice, professional guy who's often up at all hours when all hell breaks loose in this city of horrors. But his hairless head is just weird -- extraterrestrial, even. If you, say, were hopped up on meth and believed LAPD was controlling your brain via radio waves, this is the guy you might blame for your troubles. His ears would be the transmitters. And he's the last person you'd want see in uniform after you just smoked a bowl of L.A.'s finest medicinal herb. Talk about a fright night.
5. John Kerwin. The D-level (Jewish Life TV) late-night talk-show host gets our vote for Most Persistent Guy in Hollywood, having stayed on the air for more than 10 years despite the fact that nobody watches. But then he tried a lame media stunt by making a big deal of onetime guest Brandi Glanville's STD-positive status. Because he almost did it with her. Not only that, but his story is that he turned her down and, ew, she didn't even warn him about her HPV. What could have been. (The sex. The filth. Terrible things.) He went on like that for days and days via Twitter.
Look, nobody cares if you turned it down, John, but be real: Nearly every sexually active person on the planet has HPV, aka genital warts. If you don't, you're either a virgin or something much more strange.
4. Dennis Zine. He's creepy and he's kooky / mysterious and spooky / He's altogether ooky / Dennis Zine. Ah yes, our former city councilman and LAPD reservist lost his bid for City Controller in May's city election. Too bad: We enjoyed making fun of him. He's Uncle Fester! For real. From his baldish head to his swinging personal life dating City Hall lobbyists, Zine is a creepster with class. We're sure he'll be back. Just don't sneak up on us, Dennis. We scare easily.
3. Spencer Pratt & Heidi Montag-Pratt. Yes, these two veterans of The Hills come in a package. A very douchey, self-absorbed package. Even after Montag's series of plastic surgeries transformed a pretty young girl into a rapidly aging, heavy-breasted version of Dina Lohan, they won't go away: They tricked us with their hoax of a reality series called SpeidiShow, and they're probably doing it again with their announcement that they're working on having an "aura baby" -- "a product of the soul born out of the biochemistry of the universe." It's people like these who have turned L.A. into a horrific, real-life spectacle.
2. Angelyne. Oh, Angelyne, we love you, but you're starting to mess with our mind. Your age is such a mystery that Wikipedia actually provides a range, and Google's image search has a "before/after" section. Really. You're the quintessential blonde bombshell, but like some of L.A.'s earthquake-prone concrete buildings, you're starting to show cracks. We salute you for being omnipresent, on billboards, in movies and in your Corvette, running errands in West Hollywood. But we have a feeling that if Southern California were to succumb to a nuclear blast, God forbid, somehow you would come strutting out of the rubble in pink high heels. The question then would be, are you friend or foe?
And the creepiest person in Los Angeles? It's not a person ...
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1. Scientologists. This one's a group shot. And we know you're slapping palm to forehead with a knowing Yes! Of course. The government's NSA spying might freak you out, but Scientologists freak you out a little more. The allegations of interrogation-like "auditing," false imprisonment, and matchmaking for the likes of Tom Cruise are downright chilling. Just driving by the church's compound in Hollywood, with all its young white adults dressed like schoolchildren, gives us the chills. We have to wonder how many cameras and eyeballs are checking us out. We drive fast and we don't look back.