Monday, January 5, 2009

Dark Delicacies

Ah, the Holidays. On the surface, all jingle bells and sugarplums. Beneath, an absolute Hotbed of Terror.

Horrifying airport experiences. Exhuming childhood memories better left inhumed. Family revelations rivaling those of the Bates Motel.

Escaping, for small breaths of time to the relative sanity of the outside world. A favorite restaurant, maybe. Cocktails with friends, who are in the same boat as you, and mulling over the strange vagaries of genetics and theorizing that perhaps you were swapped at the hospital with that one friend who claims that her family is just
wonderful. (We firmly believe her to be either lying or lobotomized.)

Exploring a new (to you) shop, using your blog as the raison d'etre for your temporary escape. I'll share my shop experience with you.

Before I left for my Obligatory Family Visit in L.A., I sent out a few e-mails to set up interviews with several shops and other places I felt would make for good blogging. There was one store in Burbank I had frequented, and I anticipated a good interview and some pics to share. So I sent a polite e-mail.

The reply: "I don't allow pictures in the store, and I'm really not an interview person. So I'm going to pass."

That was it. No, "Thanks for your interest." No, "I'm really shy, but maybe if you sent a list of questions, I could try to answer them." No, "Wow! Free publicity? Count me in!" Not even an insincere, "Sorry." No politeness at all.

At first, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I mentioned the e-mail to Mr. ShellHawk, and he said, "Nope. She's rude. She was like that when we were in the store." I came to find out later that this person had a reputation for throwing people out of her store, or being so rude to her customers that they would leave and never come back. (That list of people now includes moi.) Rumor (and this may be completely untrue) has it she's "somehow associated" with Rob Zombie, and possibly feels this gives her immunity to poor customer relations.
If it is true, and I were Rob, I'd be ticked off, because it reflects badly on him.

"Well," I thought, "There are other stores." I knew of one in the neighborhood I had never visited, and decided to shoot off another e-mail. I received a
much nicer response, and so when I arrived in L.A., Dark Delicacies was on the menu.

Run by Del and Sue Howison, Dark Delicacies is a shop catering to horror fans. Opened on December 3, 1994 with their own personal collection and $5000.00, the store hosts signings every weekend by such greats as Tim Curry, Dan Crawley (who did special effects for
Buffy the Vampire Slayer), screenwriter /novelist Harry Shannon, and the late Dee Dee Ramone. Del, himself, has edited several horror anthologies with such contributors as Ray Bradbury and Clive Barker. He has acted in low-budget films, (four separate times as the character Renfield, making him the man who has played the character more than any other actor.) and co-edited The Book of Lists: Horror with Amy Wallace and Scott Bradley.

I walked into Dark Delicacies and was greeted by Del, himself. His long, white hair is very distinctive, and I found a memory tickling in the back of my head. After talking with him for a bit, I remembered we had met at least 18 years ago at the now-defunct Des Regan's Irish Pub. Burbank is a very small world!
Standing (left to right) are:
Tony Frydendall, Tony Gleeson, Erick Erdek, Bernie Wrightson, Gris Grimley, Del, and Frank Dietz. Seated: Eric Pigors, Jhonen Vasquez, and Crab Scrambley. Photo credit: Erick Erdek.

Chatting with the Howisons, I was struck by the contrast between them and The Other Storekeep. (Yelp review.)The Howisons are warm and friendly people (Sue has been known to bake cookies and share them with customers), who know their topic and have a great store setup. Del got me up to speed on upcoming store signings (January includes director Tony Randall and screenwriter Peter Atkins and composer Christopher Young signing Hellbound: Hellraiser II) and some of the product lines they carry, such as Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. I browsed through their clothing (bought a Dark Delicacies t-shirt), their book collection (picked up Book of Lists: Horror), and some other fun stuff. I was sorely tempted by the Shawn of the Dead action figures. The Pit and the Pendulum miniature was beautiful, too, but alas, I couldn't think of where I could put it. I got this funky pair of glasses from my best friend for Christmas after we stopped by the store a few days later and I spotted them in a display case. I just couldn't live another day without them.
(My husband, upon seeing them, declared, "You're weird." Like that
was a revelation.)

By the way, Del's son, Jason, has a comic book store he just opened down the block. I took a walk down there and found Emerald Knights a wonderful space, slowly being filled up with comics and comic art of all kinds. I can't wait to see what that store will be like in the future.

In any case, if you're tootling along Burbank Boulevard, take a few minutes or a few hours to stop in to Dark Delicacies. Del and Sue take pre-orders of new merchandise, and are always happy to give you information on anything horror you may be interested in. I plan to stop in whenever I'm in town. Rating: Ten skulls. (And 10 points to anyone who gets that reference!)


1 comment:

  1. Great store and one of my favorite haunts (excuse the pun). One of the best things is, even though it's a popular place and been around awhile, it remains under the radar. I've enjoyed letting friends know about it over the years and they always thank me for it.

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