Our How-To Guide for Virtual Storytellers, and a visit to Charles Bukowski's sweet & sleazy Los Angeles

Gentle reader,

Greetings from your friendly historic Los Angeles sightseeing tour company, now offering digital programming until we can again organize groups to gather and explore the city we love.

When we decided a few months ago that we wanted to create virtual experiences to keep telling the stories of Los Angeles while public tours were impossible, we looked in vain for simple solutions. Our cultural tour colleagues around the world were doing different digital things, and a lot of them are interesting. Yet none of them seemed to be doing what we imagined Esotouric Online to be.

We researched the software and hosting options, lighting, audio set up, and green screen effects, all the time wishing that someone was already doing what we saw in our heads and could lay everything out in a simple how-to list. With a lot of effort, we figured it out.

Now that we’ve hosted five Saturday webinars are are feeling comfortable with the process, we’ve written up just such a simple list, in a blog post called “How We Turned Our COVID-Shuttered Los Angeles Tour Company Into A Webinar Production House.”

While our solutions might not be exactly right for everyone, we hope the post is helpful for other public historians trying to work out how to do their thing virtually, while the pandemic keeps us from gathering groups together.

Tomorrow’s webinar is “13 Uncanny Los Angeles Crimes & Mysteries,” which means Kim will be your hostess while squeamish Richard keeps the slide show clicking along. Let us make your Hallowe’en a spooky one with a selection of offbeat true crimes and odd tales to make you glad you’re not supposed to go out trick or treating this year.

Among the tales in store is the strangest of the tragic Superman stories, the one that really makes us wonder if there could be a “Superman Curse.” Plus hobo candy, road tripping mummies, vanishing hitchhikers, cyanide eggs, stinky evil spirits and the terrifying power of the human imagination. Join us, do!

On November 7, it’s “The 1910 Los Angeles Times Bombing with Detective Mike Digby,” bringing one of the nation’s most convoluted criminal conspiracies to life and interpreting the early modern crime scene analysis and investigation through the lens of 21st century techniques.

Just announced, on November 14, is “This is Charles Bukowski’s Los Angeles.” Expanding on our popular tour, the webinar is packed with photos from the colorful, raunchy and rarely documented neighborhoods where the writer lived, wrote and got into trouble, and tells the story of how he found the voice within himself that was great while spinning stories that could only happen in L.A.

We went Facebook Live tonight to preview our next few Los Angeles history webinars and show off our road trip masks. Click the gruesome twosome below to hear what’s new. (Also available on YouTube.)

Stay tuned as we roll out a new webinar program each Saturday. And remember that if you can’t watch live or need to leave mid-stream, you can tune in to the recording for one full week. There’s still time to see “Los Angeles Underground: Sleuthing Tunnels Lost & Found” through Saturday night. “Raymond Chandler,” “Black Dahlia Days,” “Inside the Dutch Chocolate Shop” and “Inside the Bradbury Building” are now available On-Demand. And we’d love to see you tomorrow at noon for “13 Uncanny Los Angeles Crimes & Mysteries.”

yours for Los Angeles,

Kim & Richard


Subscribe! In the latest subscriber's edition of this newsletter—$10/month, cheap!—Leafing Through UCLA Special Collections' Eclectic Southern California Menu Holdings—rare artifacts from Walt Disney's Commissary, The Garden of Allah, Googie's, plus fried chicken, streamlined survivors and rose-hip soup. Not a subscriber? Sneak a peek here.


If you enjoy all we do to celebrate and preserve Los Angeles history and would like to say thank you, please consider signing up for the subscriber’s edition of this newsletter, or putting a little something into our digital tip jar. Looking for something L.A.-centric to enliven your collection? We’ve got a swell selection of local history books and maps, some written by us, others sourced from dusty warehouses. For a wider selection, Bookshop uses the power of distributor Ingram to help independent bookstores stick around. We've curated a selection of uniquely Los Angeles titles, and when you order from these links, it supports participating local shops, and us, too. You can also click here before shopping on Amazon. Or you can reserve a gift certificate to join us for a tour once we're back on the road (tour gift certificates will also be redeemable for the lower priced ticketed webinars while tours are on hiatus)... & if you love what we do, please tell your friends.


We're dark until public health officials determine that groups can gather safely. But in addition to weekly webinar programs, we've got 138 episodes of the podcast You Can't Eat The Sunshine free to download for armchair explorers, and videos of the Downtown L.A. LAVA walking tours, plus Cranky Preservationist videos.


Road Trip! Although public bus tours are on hiatus, we still get around on our social distancing road trips around our beloved Los Angeles. Be a virtual backseat companion when you click the #esotouricroadtrip hashtag, on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Corruption Corner: Jose Huizar might not be a Councilmember anymore, but he's still squandering public resources. His public defenders are fighting over access to Grand Jury selection records, which he intends to challenge.

The New York Review of Books is full of Joseph Giovannini and LACMA director Michael Govan sniping at each other, while on Channel 7, after tearing down a perfectly good art museum, Govan whines that it's illegal to reopen the small space that remains due to public health restrictions. Far more interesting is Epoch Gallery's Phantom Limb, the ruined LACMA reimagined as a virtual exhibition space.

Graber Olive House is declared Ontario's newest historical district, after the fourth generation family business asked the city to make its landmark status official. Great to to know they're planning on preservation, not redevelopment.

Shout out to Glen Norman, who was out at all hours documenting reinstallation of Sheila Klein's beloved Urban Candelabra Vermonica at its new home on historic Route 66 in East Hollywood. He captured incredible details of the vintage streetlights. (The shadow capture above is ours.)

Vidiots is getting the squeeze from L.A. Planning Department, hopes community support can get some of the costly/weird requirements (armed guard during matinees?!) scaled back so they can reopen the Eagle Theatre... some day.

November 5 at the Cultural Heritage Commission: consideration of landmarking for Otomisan Japanese Restaurant, a Boyle Heights treasure, and the Nishiyama just home behind it. Plus Dion and Richard Neutra's Reunion House, the daffy John Van Pelt Estate. PDF link.

Activist attorney Robert Silverstein is appealing New York based Proper Development's bait and switch "apartment" projects in the 5800 block of W. Lexington, actually co-living flophouses with shared bathrooms for 188 single units. Zoning allows just 38. Save Hollywood! PDF link.

We’re grateful that the Silverado Fire was kept at bay at Modjeska Canyon, where Helena Modjeska's otherworldly house museum calls to us.

By making himself part of the story, journalist Yasher Ali has done what local newspapers wouldn’t: call out the sexual abuser in Eric Garcetti’s office, and get rid of him. It’s long overdue.

1027 North Heliotrope Drive (1908) was sold in October 2019 for $975,000. But a year later, the 1700 sq. foot home on a 6200 sq. foot lot is still vacant. Bought by speculators for TOC development? It burned this week. LAFD fire photos.

Happy news from 11th & Hill, where the wee log cabin restaurant from 1930 survived a fire and now offers outdoor dining. The Cranky Preservationist was concerned about this unique landmark.

Taix Makeover Derided Over Look, Feel. (Because the proposed new building looks terrible and it feels crummy to lose a treasured community hub. A community driven landmark nomination is under consideration.)