Along the Velvet Trail.

When someone murmurs on about velvet paintings, where does your mind drift to?

Psychedelia with fluorescent mushrooms, bug-eyed elves, and vivid cheshire cats that beg to be viewed with a black light from Spencer’s?

Or, do you imagine demure women that belong on a Pacific isle?

Either way, Carl Baldwin and Caren Anderson want you to see velvet paintings as more than just a pop culture throwaway. Frustrated with the scorn, disdain, and loathing that has surrounded the art form, they sought to change the minds of the masses: Velvet paintings are often relegated to as the 50 Shades of Gray of the art world. Knowing this, Carl and Caren knew they needed to educate the public about this expressive art form.

Carl was my Velvet connoisseur for the day.

They did what any art savvy folk would do: together, they opened the Velveteria museum in Portland, Oregon in 2005. After spending almost 10 weird years in the Pacific Northwest, they packed up, and relocated to Chinatown, Los Angeles in 2013.

Here, is where over 3,000 paintings from almost every continent richly adorn each wall. From Polynesian princesses, to David Bowie, no one leaves without seeing something that sends their hearts a flutter. They even have a black light room with the art you haven’t seen since high school/college – but of a higher quality, and much more trippy, as the kids used to say.

Sauntering slowly through each room, Carl become entrenched in each layered detail, and minute description – it was utterly blissful having my own personal docent. Especially one that has such delightful fervor and kind passion for what the uninformed describe as, “a tasteless art form”.

Throughout the attentively curated walls, there are hand written notes, that describe in deep detail about the artist, and their work.

                                      Lots of love and effort.

There are also boards of information that entail the process, and the different qualities of velvet: not all velvet is on the same plane of existence.

To stay relevant in the world of celebrity, Carl mentioned they procure the latest celebrity/politician artwork from an artist in Mexico.  Some of these paintings are just a tad surreal. The details on each work can at times be beyond belief. How one can paint so finely on fabric is hard to wrap one’s mind around.

                The good ole days.

Before I ruin your experience of the full splendor of a velvet playground, you should just probably go. An hour should be fine for most, but allot more for a true, in-depth pleasure cruise down the velvet trail.

One more thing: please keep me posted on the new artwork: I’m hoping there’s a fancy Taika Waititi by now.

 

 

The Velveteria 

711 New High St, Chinatown, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Open:

Thursday – Sunday

11:00 am – 6:00 pm

Admission: $10

 

Happy Endings Every Time

Living in Los Angeles, no one is a stranger to the ubiquitous Chinese Foot Massage centers: you get an hour of fingers digging into all of your reflexive foot zones for a mere $20 bones.

Such a steal, why isn’t everyone there?

To be honest, most think of these as the “Happy Ending” massage places. The tawdry, flashing neon, the curtains, the sparse English. I blab on to many friends and acquaintances about how I’ll only go to these since they are the cheapest – the weight of the stares after I mention this makes me consider hiring a porter.

“Well, you have to be careful with those…you never know what you’ll get…”

A cheap, full hour massage with a Mandarin lesson included?

Yes.

Let me explain to those feeling apprehensive:

For one hour, usually around 20-35 dollars, depending on what you want and the area of LA, you’ll lie flat on a somewhat cozy, well-laundered towel coated easy chair. They soak your feet in scalding water, while they massage your head and arms and upper back with an oil you would never buy in fear of a rash – it works fine, sans rash. Then, they make your feet feel like they owe you an apology for existing – this can be a mixed bag. Afterwards, you roll over for the back portion. Men usually take their shirts off, and if you are a woman with no fucks to give, you can take off yours as well – it’s done discreetly.

Yes, it’s not the most private – you are in a room of other people getting a rub down. But they put a towel over your eyes, so you can sort of chill out. And yeah, they do whisper to one another, in Chinese. If you are super sensitive, this might not be your cup of Oolong.

I went to several while exploring the vastness  of the Peoples Republic of China on a recent trip, and I can attest: these are true, honest to God, Chinese massages. Even the pricing is similar. With people that probably just came from there a few weeks ago.

An additional perk that you won’t get at your Healing Hands place?  A punch card with $20 off if you are a lonely person/regular.

I’ve included some of my favorites below if you need some cajoling:

Hollywood/East Hollywood

Good Hands Massage

Sunny Foot Massage

Monterey Park – if you have time for a hop to the SGV

Serenity Spa