MUSEUM OF DEATH




I spend a lot of time contemplating death. Most of my romantic partners would agree they’ve had this conversation with me many times. Don't get me wrong, I don’t fancy murdering somebody, or even hurting people in the least. Death is a natural concept and it's an inescapable one for the entirety of us. It can be synonymous with the unknown or the biggest mystery, but eventually we all come to experience and understand it. However, I do think about what happens to us after our hearts stop beating and consciousness fades from the brain after the fabled fireworks. I see it as a scary transition. A couple of years ago I was mentoring under The Roaring Dark, who is a very knowledgeable death worker. The course has since gone cold, but it's still something I keep present in my day to day. I know that time doesn't stop for anybody and that I need to make the most of my life. I can’t explain where my obsession with death comes from, but I can tell you right now I have spent exponentially more time contemplating it than the average person does. I know this to be true.

There’s a place in Los Angeles that I can’t quite get out of my head. I had read about it in articles a couple of years ago and knew it was worthy of exploration.

This site was previously a recording studio, where Pink Floyd and other artists produced their music.

As soon as I stepped into the exhibit, I was overwhelmed. Across the room was John Wayne Gacy’s original artwork. To my right, his shoes and handcuffs. Handcuffs he used on kids. To my left, photos of Richard Ramirez, his smut magazines and a shirt he wore while in prison.  Your head gets filled with noise. I had a hard time concentrating, there was something pulling at me from every direction. Following instinct, I veered to the left to begin the experience. Letters kept in binders, photographs and original drawings. Richard Ramirez is the serial killer I have researched the most, so I looked into his corner of the exhibit first. There is a questionnaire he fills out that is very funny, it shows his humor in writing. I had the impression of having seen mix tapes, but my memory is blurring. Their wide and crazy eyes stare right back at you unabashedly through their photographs, so it’s hard to focus with so much being thrown at you. I definitely consider this experience to be an overwhelming one.

Next there was plenty of material from John Wayne Gacy, The Killer Clown. This guy is my nightmares embodied, I haven’t been very fond of clowns since I learned of his existence. Niki said his shoes stank. I saw the madness in the strokes of his art. I stood there staring Pogo who stared back with an air of kindness the art bestowed upon him. I’m not sure how I feel about serial killers depicting themselves in a light of kindness, but then I also know it’s a matter of perspective. I can’t speak for their own perspectives on their psychological makeup.



Moving along, my eyes fell on an electric chair and the decapitated head of Bluebeard Henri Landau, the lonely hearts killer of Paris. After this, what comes is a bombardment of slaughter, sex, torture, suicide, funerary processes, shrunken heads, mass suicide, war photos, public decapitations, crime scenes, suicide machines, taxidermy, creepy famous pets, children's coffins (gag! I could not approach this part of the museum at all! No sir!), The Many Traces of Death movie, the list of horrors goes on. There was even a sprinkle of spirituality in a Mexican Day of the Dead altar space. The exhibits were crammed one over the other, collaged together and filling the walls up almost entirely. It's all so overwhelming that at times you will experience nausea depending on how compassionate or numb you are.

I can compare this equation to stepping into the room of a recluse who takes delight in researching the macabre, collaging their entire room in the contents until there is no more space for a pin or sticker. This place is jam packed with morbid imagery and trophy photos documenting serious crimes. They have real belongings of the murderers, and even actual beds and personal items from the Heaven’s Gate cult of San Diego. That exhibit kept me frozen in place for a couple of minutes.

The museum staff came up to ask me if I was okay a couple of times. I didn’t say much, but I did my best to smile at them. Apparently people pass out in the museum, and their fall is called a falling down ovation in jest. I'm not kidding!

You all know me to be an empath. I think what I was met with initially were leftover feelings of shock by unsuspecting people that come into the museum unaware of what lies in it. And it only got heavier the deeper I went. I think that I gave out when I reached the room of Charles Manson and the Black Dahlia murder. I was so saturated with the previous rooms what my body could not process the gore of the crime scene photos. Afterwards all I could do was look at and take in the morbid images. I made a mental note to return another day, but I definitely wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have my partner in crime with me. She has the same sense of curiosity as I do while not being thrown into the creepy macabre fan girl group. Gross.

Scouting through the museum must have taken us a little over an hour. We didn’t zoom through the contents and tried to hover long enough to gain an understanding before continuing. There were about three exhibits I couldn’t stand to be around very long, mostly because I’m not a sadist. I can't stomach cruelty towards kids in any form. They're pure souls.

After the experience I was definitely stunned. The museum staff attentively asked us what we thought about the museum and we lingered for a few minutes more to chat.



It felt like I had so much white noise in my head that it cancelled the free flow of thoughts. We contemplated what we had just seen over burgers at Shake Shack and talked about our normal lives as if unphased by the museum.

In the days following the museum visit I have felt heavier and heavier. There is so much gore now permanently lodged in my mind that I don’t know how I feel about it. Alas, it can’t be helped. But I had a very interesting experience with that place, and if you ever find yourself in LA I recommend that you try it if you are in the proper company.

Lastly, please don't take your children. This is no place for them, even though the concept of death is inevitable. Spare them the trauma.
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