Amanda is a freelance contributor to Time Out Los Angeles.
The best sex shop options in Los Angeles
Sex shop storefronts in Los Angeles are almost as ubiquitous as coffee shops—or strip malls, honestly. Throw in all the erotic dancing establishments (GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS!) plus full-on (read: full-frontal) strip clubs and you've got a city in which sex rules, sells and is pretty much on everybody's minds all the time. Luckily, along with high-end lingerie and clothing boutiques, L.A. has some very classy sex shops—in which discussing carved wood anal plugs and $100+ vibrators is no big thing. Prefer your sexy shopping with a little more comedy (and a lot more tourists)? Check out our cheesy options, better suited for bachelorette parties and costume shopping. Just looking to get your rocks off already, don't care where? We've even got the best of the sleaze. Even if you don't plan to buy anything, a trip to browse these sex shops can be very educational. If you have questions or need product recommendations, chances are the sales clerks will have an earful to share with you. Trust us, there's nothing these folks haven't heard before, so no need to be shy. Be aware, most sex shops won't sell products to anyone under 18. On the other hand, many of them are open 24-hours for those 3am "sex emergencies." So whether you're looking to indulge a fringe fetish or just want to buy some lube for lots of missionary, we've got you covered with a sex shop for every whim and whimsy, from Culver City to Silver Lake.
The best shops in Echo Park
If you're on the hunt for a designer clutch, you head to Beverly Hills. This year's Coachella wardrobe? You hit up Melrose. But where in the horizontal expanse of LA do you go to cultivate a unique signature style you can rock anywhere? You know Echo Park for top-notch coffee and great indie music venues. But think of the sharpest dresser you know, or the person with the coolest apartment; odds are they shop in Echo Park. Here, we show you where to go for the best vintage wares, locally crafted goods and Instagram-worthy oddities, all to be found between the 101 and the 5. RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Echo Park
The best gifts for men this holiday season
Whether the guys on your list are dapper or dudely, these gifts for men are ones they won’t want to return. Forgo the predictable gift card, and opt for unique and thoughtful gift ideas—from beer accessories and brass combs to tech gifts and leather goods. This Christmas or Hanukkah, you’ll outdo the rest with these unique and manly gift ideas. RECOMMENDED: See the full holiday gift guide
A guide to the Downtown Arts District
What once looked like a warehouse wasteland (and provided a low-cost haven for L.A.’s artists) has become a beautiful, burgeoning hub for L.A.’s young, professional and creative. With approximate limits of Second Street to Seventh Street and Alameda Street and the L.A. River, surprisingly, the Downtown Arts District is totally walkable in pockets. Sprinkled amidst these perimeters are the makings of a community rich in character, featuring stylish galleries, handsome coffee shops, socially conscious boutiques and some of the best restaurants and bars. These pockets of budding establishments lie amidst a stretch of early 20th-century warehouses—many ex-factories—converted into swanky lofts and creative spaces. Get the lowdown on the Downtown Arts District’s best places to eat, drink, shop and explore. RECOMMENDED: See more in our guide to Downtown Los Angeles
The best Los Angeles tattoo shops
L.A. streets are dotted with tattoo shops—just drive down to Hollywood Boulevard or Melrose and you probably wouldn’t know where to start if you were looking to get inked. Which presents a problem if you’re in the market for body art that lasts forever: Where do you begin? We recommend finding the city’s top tattoo artists and going from there—which is exactly what we did to bring you this list of the best tattoo shops in the city. Whether you’re looking for neo-traditional Japanese designs or a classic black-and-grey portrait, these shops are the real deal, and are staffed with true artists. Trust us, you’re going to want to be one of their clients.
The best shops in Manhattan Beach
Manhattan Beach is one of the few neighborhoods in Los Angeles that truly makes you feel like you're on vacation—er, staycation. Yes, our city is blessed with quite a few scenic towns alongside our best beaches, but there's something about the freckle-faced, flip-flopped, unselfconscious vibes of Manhattan Beach that transport you farther from the cosmopolitan bustle than any other zip code. Believe it or not, there's more to do in Manhattan Beach than hang ten all day (though there's certainly nothing wrong with that). It also boasts an eclectic array of boutiques: whether you're looking to restock your swimsuit drawer, score a new funboard or support your local indie bookstore, here are the best places for shopping in Manhattan Beach. RECOMMENDED: A full guide to Manhattan Beach
The best shops in Burbank
We all cave to making that big Burbank pilgrimage for the occasional TV show taping or Ikea outing, but believe it or not, there's a quirkier, darker side of the neighborhood worth exploring. In between the expansive parking lots and retail chains, there exists a covert community of vintage charm, where in one trip down Magnolia Boulevard, you'll find an authentic '50s frock, a rare comic book and a taxidermied owl. While retro shops in Hollywood or Silver Lake tend to get picked over quickly, these Burbank boutiques are yours for the taking. Whether you're looking to outfit your period indie film, develop your record collection or find a one-of-a-kind board game, here are the best shops in Burbank for your eccentric needs. RECOMMENDED: Our full guide to Burbank
The best gifts for men this holiday season
Whether the guys on your list are dapper or dudely, these gifts for men are ones they won't want to return. Forgo the expected gift card and opt for unique and thoughtful gift ideas—from beer-making kits and brass combs to techy gifts and leather goods. This Christmas or Hanukkah, you'll out-do the rest with these unique and manly gift ideas. RECOMMENDED: The full holiday gift guide
The best gifts for men this holiday season
Whether the guys on your list are dapper or dudely, these gifts for men are ones they won't want to return. Forgo the predictable gift card, and opt for unique and thoughtful gift ideas—from beer accessories and brass combs to tech gifts and leather goods. This Christmas or Hanukkah, you'll outdo the rest with these unique and manly gift ideas. RECOMMENDED: The full holiday gift guide
11 fashion bloggers in LA every fashionista should follow
We combed through the (always chic) black hole that is the fashion blogger-sphere to curate this list of LA-based style idols. From artful outfit-of-the-day photos and street style snaps to tips for browsing the best shops in LA (and even for some recommendations for things to do in LA), these 11 plugged-in muses serve up some of the chicest content you can find in cyberspace. Whether you're a lady or a gent, a rebel or a vintage-lover, you're bound to fangirl over the eye candy and advice on these choice blogs. Just wait until you stumble upon one taking #ootd photos on Melrose—that's the peak of stylecrush fandom. Here are our favorite 11 LA fashion blogs (in no particular order). RECOMMENDED: 13 must-have apps for Angelenos
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Eat|See|Hear travels to different locales throughout the city on select weekends during the summer, showing cult flicks on an inflatable screen taller than your average Malibu mansion. Bring your own bites or sample snacks from the featured food vendor and show up early for a set from local L.A. bands. Parking is free at most of the venues, and tickets for screenings at the Autry even include admission to the museum. What’s more? If you want to skip the crowds and stroll in casually during the opening credits, spring for a VIP pass, which guarantees you a reserved seat in front. All of the events dog-friendly, and a portion of ticket sales benefit Best Friends Animal Society.
Renaissance Pleasure Faire
The hour stands before another springtime, and the Renaissance Pleasure Faire is nigh. Good mistresses and masters, prepareth thy schedules and costumes for the return of the oldest Ren Faire in the country, a spectacle that cov’reth 20 Irwindale acres with Elizabethan libations and amusement: fully armored joust tournaments and tea parties with the Queen along with beguiling stage acts, rides, games, delicious edibles and ales abound. The fesitivies will transpire each weekend at the Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area; procureth day or season passes in advance by visiting ye olde online box office. And no, we can’t stop talking like this.
Dance Yourself Clean
Love music festivals and dance clubs in theory, but hate the pretentious clusterf*ckery they offer in practice? You're just the audience for this low-key dance party, which gives indie pop music buffs a no-frills place to dance that doesn't feel like a sweaty fashion show. Dance Yourself Clean started in Seattle and now puts on weekly events throughout the country.
Pacific Palisades Fourth of July Parade
Cruise on up to the Palisades for a beachy Independence Day extravaganza. Things kick off in the afternoon with a 2pm WWII fighter plane flyover to herald the start of the parade. The baton twirlers and marching trombonists will begin their promenade on Sunset Boulevard, between Via de la Paz and Drummond. There’s usually a late-afternoon concert, followed by a 9pm fireworks show at Palisades Charter High School (tickets required).
Desert Stars Festival
One of the most grassroots and crunchy granola music festivals around (and we mean that in the most flattering way possible) is held in an outdoor theater in Joshua Tree. Pack your camping gear and cruise out to the desert for two days of fresh air and killer tunes. Mercury Rev, Ringo Deathstarr, Twink, Pete International Airport, Alex Maas and Death Valley Girls top this year’s lineup. Passes are a steal compared to some other fests, making this comparatively chill music event a worthwhile way to round out your festival season.
New Year's Eve at the Ace Hotel Palm Springs
It’s tricky to find New Year’s Eve plans that won’t leave you feeling both out of place and out of money, but this music-centric evening at Commune at Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs solves both holiday conundrums with a tinsel-filled show from Helado Negro (who’ll be spinning poolside the next afternoon) and a DJ set from Jeremy Sole. Finish off your night of good vibes with a midnight champagne toast, included with the well-worth-it price of admission.
We can all agree that no Los Angeles apartment is fully decorated until a row of succulents adorns a windowsill or coffee table. They’re the decorative cashew dish of the 21st century. But if your taste in desert plantlife leans a little more indie, hit up Echo Park’s hottest rare cactus emporium. The 350-square-foot boutqiue specializes in unusual breeds of cacti too quirky for Pinterest, ranging from modest $25 varietals to near-thousand dollar conversation pieces. Whether or not you’re in the market for a nine-foot Lophocereus schottii, the place is worth a window shop.
The Phantom of the Opera screening
No, it's not Andrew Lloyd Webber's bombastic megamusical; in fact, quite the opposite. The most faithful film adaptation of Gaston Leroux's illustrious novel comes in the form of this 1925 silent horror film, starring Lon Chaney as the ghoulish masked man. Behold the iconic work at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, with a live organ accompaniment.
Salt & Straw
Transplanted from the hipster-foodie capital of the west (Portland, of course), craft creamery Salt & Straw puts an artisanal churn on the standard scoop. Their extensive menu boasts flavors both sinful and curious including Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, Freckled Woodblock Chocolate, Avocado Strawberry Sherbert and Santa Ynez Valley Walnut Oil—many of which feature ingredients exclusive to Southern California, reflecting the company's "farm-to-cone" philosophy. The best part? You don't have to choose just one. For $10, guests can opt for an ice cream flight including your choice of four flavors from both classic and seasonal menus. The pristine globules are served in healthy scoops across four individual glass bowls, presented on a (undoubtedly reclaimed) wood tray. Can't decide which to pick? Salt & Straw's staffers, who are about as chipper as you'd expect artisanal ice cream scoopers to be, are thrilled to help you assemble the perfectly complementary quartet.
Young Japanese visionary and entrepreneur Ryu Isobe brings handcrafted, customizable recipes to this unique little nook on Melrose. Pop in before 3am on weekends to place your order on one of the iPads secured to a wall up front—a popular set up in Japan. Interacting with only the touch screen (which can be a plus when you’re hungry and bleary-eyed at certain wee hours), you choose a base ramen bowl—either The Naked Ramen ($9) or the standard tonkotsu—before flicking across the screen to select your add-ins, such as pork, tofu, green onions and dried seaweed. Grab yourself a beer, swipe your credit card and within a few minutes, you’ll wonder why every late night dining experience can’t be so comfortingly anti-social.
The posh labels of Beverly Hills meet the eclectic, bohemian nature of the South Bay in the form of this homey menswear and womenswear boutique. Decked with furnishings that strike that oh-so-trendy balance between mid-century modern and crafty tribal (think: Navajo blanket draped over vintage mahogany credenza), the shop flaunts a luxe roster of designers from Isabel Marant to Rag & Bone. Owned by life-long Manhattan Beachers, the shop has a nostalgic vibe, bolstered by the storied antiques on display, including a totem pole that has been in the owners' family for centuries.
Puns and zany shoreline tchotchke shops seem to go together like tie dye and peace sign pendants. Which are, incidentally, the sorts of hippie-dippie souvenirs to be found within this technicolor, jam-packed trinket shop. Even with a cartoony cow-print exterior and bovine bust mounted over its front door, the store's interior is somehow equally flamboyant, thanks to its overflowing racks of beachy wall hangings, brightly patterned lounge pants and jingle-jangly accessories. The shop has been a Manhattan Beach mainstay for over 30 years, and its peppy staffers have the neighborly demeanors to show for it.
One of LA's most talented female tattoo artists sets up shop in WeHo
Thirty years ago, Zoey Taylor was sketching portraits by candlelight from the Oregonian cabin where she grew up. Sixteen years ago, she packed up her art supplies and moved to LA to become a tattoo artist. Two years ago, we first met Taylor at her one-woman tattoo studio in Lincoln Heights—a cozy gold-and-gray space accented with antique mirrors and hand-painted furniture—where we fell slightly in love as she told of her fondness for vintage clothing, bunny tattoos and the creative intimacy that comes with her work. This month, Taylor joined the major leagues of LA's tattoo scene by cutting the ribbon on The Warren, her sparkling new, full-service shop in West Hollywood. "I feel like I have come full circle," she says. "This exact location is the place where I became a real artist." Taylor spent well over a decade paying her dues in LA's heavily saturated tattoo community and worked for eight years under the previous owner of what is now The Warren before venturing out on her own. It's also the place where she met tattooer Danny Dunbar, now on staff at The Warren, as well her assistant Nicole Crown and manager/fiancé, Swedo. "It's amazing how life works," she says. "My staff is my family." Zoey Taylor doesn't have the hardened look of a typical big-city tattooist—every morning, she enters the shop decked in head-to-toe '40s- and '50s-inspired attire, her hair in a teased updo, her face curved into an inviting smile. That classic spirit is reflected in the elegant interiors of
Why Fairfax's artsy new salon is about to become your favorite hangout
Flick a hair tie in Los Angeles, and for every fit blonde in Lululemon compression tights, you'll hit a trendy hair salon. Which is to say, there's a whole bunch. In fact, the average LA neighborhood sports four or five salons per square mile—each chockablock with scissor-slinging hopefuls waiting, foils ready, for Kate Hudson or Kate Upton (or Kate Gosselin, for that matter) to walk in and choose them to be the one that does their babylights. But we can't all be famous Kates. Luckily, the newest salon to join our well-manicured city doesn't care about that—in fact, it's preferred. With its matte black, art-accented interiors and team of tattoo-bedecked staffers, Fairfax's The Pretty Pretty Collective (PPC) feels more like an underground rock 'n' roll club than a SoCal salon. PPC was founded by stylist Georgia Rew in San Francisco's Mission District back in 2010, and has since doubled as an art gallery, fashion photography studio and event space. Now, Rew and company bring the same edgy aesthetic and community-driven spirit to a sister salon in LA's Beverly Grove. They've even added a juice bar to the front of the salon for the cold-pressed pleasure of both clients and passersby. Hair salon/art gallery/juice bar—not a ton of those per square mile. We swung by the PPC's opening night party on Saturday night, where the uniform was black leather, Crayola-colored hair and head-to-toe ink. We didn't get the memo, but it didn't matter. DJ Don Cesar's amplified beats and free 16-oun
Heard on the street: Made In America
We heard a lot of amazing things over the weekend at Made In America, not all of which was music. Here are the little nuggets of intelligence and hilarity we overheard in the crowds. (P.S. See our photos and recaps of Made In America here.) —"I'm glad I didn't bring my mom after all. She loves Kendrick Lamar and everything, but it is too hot out here." —"Pretty sure that cop is taking a selfie."—[In enormous line for beer] "This is like Coachella all over again." "Um, not even close."—"There's grass on your back." "Like weed?" "No, like grass from the ground."—[Right after a catfight broke out during Iggy Azalea's set] "Did you see the Asian chick throwing punches? That guy was totally grabbing her ass the whole time."—"Mayor Garcetti has been loving this, getting to hang out with Jay Z and shit."—[After someone smoking a cigarette walked by] "It's crazy how pretty much nobody smokes anymore. That girl is like, behind."—"Everybody's got beers, but I think there might be margaritas somewhere. I hope there are margaritas somewhere."—"I forgot that we like, took the train here. That's so weird. But also rad."—"So I guess my dinner was 32 ounces of Budweiser and a churro."—"Like all my fake gold tribal tattoos?" More of what we heard on the street at... FYF 2014 Coachella 2014 FYF 2013 Just minding our own business... Going about our lives in LA.
Our 3 predictions for Budweiser's Made in America Festival
A shit show or not a shit show? That is the question. This weekend, music powerhouses Live Nation and Mr. Beyoncé (known in some circles as Jay Z) mount the Made in America Festival in LA for the first time. The two-day event will take place across three stages in 12-acre Grand Park—risky, considering the three-ring circus that was FYF Fest, which obliterated another stretch of DTLA just last weekend. The promise of massive street closures and noise for Made In America had Angelenos calling clusterfuckery from the start, not to mention the fact that the festival sponsor is none other than Budweiser—a.k.a., the single entity responsible for every American's first (and often last) drunken mistake. Despite any and all red flags, however, it's hard to pass up the chance to see Kanye West and Iggy Azalea in the space of one weekend (and even harder not to wish for a spontaneous collab). So, with an open mind, we share with you our top three predictions for Made in America. 1. The Crowds: Probably not-so-insanely horrible Trustworthy-ish rumors say that organizers anticipate no more than 35,000 attendees each day, even though they'll be able to accommodate 40,000. Other sources say it could be more like 50,000. When we spoke with Made in America reps directly, they said they don't have any numbers at all. Regardless, we're predicting less chaos than everyone's expecting because 1) they're expecting a lot; and 2) unlike the one-entrance-only fiasco at FYF, there will be four entr