To Live and Di(n)e in LA is based on four figures in Los Angeles' true crime history, with a dish and cocktail paired to each. Get to know your dinner guests for the upcoming show.
Elizabeth Short: The Black Dahlia
Elizabeth Short was an American woman who was found murdered in the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1947. Her case became highly publicized due to the graphic nature of the crime, which entailed her corpse having been mutilated, her organs removed, and severed at the waist.
A native of Boston, she had spent her early life in Massachusetts and Florida before relocating to California, where her father lived. It is believed that she was an aspiring actress before she was murdered. She would later acquire the nickname of the Black Dahlia posthumously, as newspapers of the period often nicknamed particularly lurid crimes.
After the discovery of her body, the LAPD began an investigation that produced several suspects, including Dr. George Hill Hodel; his extensive training as a surgeon was cited as circumstantial evidence. Hodel was rumored to have built a secret murder dungeon in the Sowden House, a now-infamous Hollywood landmark built by Lloyd Wright, and his last place of residence before fleeing the country.
Our chef has based the tray passed appetizers on Elizabeth Short’s origins, showing the versatility of Beantown dishes such as Boston Baked Beans, Chowdah, and regional items like blueberry and maple syrup. The cocktail, Hollywood Babylon, is based on the original Don the Beachcomber Zombie, which gained popularity in Los Angeles in the post-war years, and named after Kenneth Anger’s infamous book of lurid Hollywood scandals, including Elizabeth Short’s morose tale.
Harvey Glatman: The Glamour Girl Slayer
Harvey Glatman was born in the Bronx and raised in Colorado. He exhibited extremely antisocial behavior and sadomasochistic sexual tendencies from an early age, including attempted autoerotic asphyxiation when he was 12. His mother took him to the family physician and was told that he would “grow out of” his behavior.
Glatman moved to Los Angeles in 1957, and put out ads for aspiring models to pose for pulp fiction magazines. He would then take them to his apartment, bind and gag them, and sexually assault them, taking pictures all the while. He would then strangle them and dump the bodies in the desert. His three known victims included Shirley Ann Bridgeford, who he met through a Lonely Hearts ad, and two women he met through modeling ads: Ruth Mercado and Judy Ann Dull.
Judy Dull was one of Harvey’s first victims, a nineteen-year-old single mother desperate for cash. According to Glatman’s testimony, he tied her up in his apartment, photographed, and raped her; he then drove her out to the desert, leading her to believe he was going to release her in Blythe, California, and put her on a bus. Instead, he hogtied her, strangled her, and dumped her body in a shallow, sandy grave.
Later, Glatman confessed to his killings, even going as far to lead police to the dumping grounds. He was executed via gas chamber at San Quentin, on December 18, 1958.
Our chef has crafted the first course after Harvey’s dumping grounds in the desert, using ingredients one would typically find there: cacti (nopales), and prickly pear. The cocktail, Rope Burn, is a twist on the Old Fashioned, utilizing tequila, mezcal, and cinnamon as key ingredients, matching the southwestern, desert inspiration of the main dish.
Charles Manson and Susan Atkins: The Sharon Tate Murders
Charles Manson grew up in and out of the prison system, and by the time he was 32, had spent more than half his life behind bars. He was a singer-songwriter on the fringe of the Los Angeles music industry, mainly through a chance association with Dennis Wilson, one of the founding members of the Beach Boys.
Susan Atkins grew up in Northern California, to a pair of abusive, alcoholic parents. When she was in her early teens, she moved with her father to Los Banos, California, only to leave custody of her father towards the end of high school, living with various relatives. She eventually met Charles Manson in the late sixties, and moved in with him. She earned the nickname Sexy Sadie during this time.
In the late 1960s, Manson attracted a quasi-communal cult based in California that was later dubbed as the Manson Family. He began first in the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco, known as the hub of the hippie lifestyle during 1967’s “Summer of Love,” and later moved down to Los Angeles with his followers, including Susan Atkins, in an old school bus. He later established a base for the group at Spahn’s Movie Ranch, a dormant movie set for Western productions, not far from Topanga Canyon. Manson was known to routinely force drugs to his family members, initiating them with his violent philosophies and often coercing them into sex.
Manson’s desire to start “Helter Skelter” (an apocalyptic race war) was the alleged motive for his crimes, including the murders of Bernard Crowe and Gary Hinman.
On the night of August 8, 1969, Manson sent his followers Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, and Patricia Krenwinkel to 10050 Cielo Drive, the current home of Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski (who was not there at the time), and told them to “totally destroy everyone in it, and make it as gruesome as you can.” The members, including Atkins, stabbed Tate (and consequently, her unborn child) and four other house guests to death.
Watson later wrote that as she was being killed, Sharon Tate cried: “Mother…mother.”
Our chef has taken inspiration from Manson's infamous usage of mushrooms and LSD. The mushrooms will be made with different preparations (pickled, powdered, caramel), and "L.S.D." is an acronym for Lentils, Shallot confit, and Duck breast. The cocktail, the Spahn Ranch Mule, is a sophisticated twist on another (alleged) Los Angeles classic: the Moscow Mule.
Richard Ramirez: The Night Stalker
Richard Ramirez was an American serial killer and rapist. His highly publicized home invasion crime spree terrorized greater Los Angeles in the mid-80s. Prior to his capture, Ramirez was dubbed “The Night Stalker” by the news media.
He used a wide variety of weapons, including handguns, knives, a machete, a tire iron, and a hammer. During his crime spree, he killed over ten people, breaking into their homes late at night and brutalizing his victims.
An avowed Satanist, never expressed any remorse for his crimes, and the judge who upheld his thirteen death sentences remarked that Ramirez’s deeds exhibited “cruelty, callousness, and viciousness beyond any human understanding.” Ramirez died in 2013, of complications from B-cell lymphoma, while awaiting execution on California’s death row.
Our chef has taken inspiration from Richard Ramirez’s mental state for his final dish, a beautifully prepared milk tea cheesecake that has been butchered or brutalized, providing a graphic and vivid ending to the night.