Escape from L.A.
A Weekender's Guide: Gemini Manor
I toss back a preliminary shot of whiskey and shoot Stark an intrepid look. Brimming with prospect, the night could very well end up an amalgamation of Eyes Wide Shut and 120 Days of Sodom. I hope for the former, imagining a nightlong carnival of masked orgies, secret corridors, pseudo-religious rituals, and well-dressed Japanese businessmen. I summon the spirit and strength of Tom Cruise and make a list of potential passwords.
“The Mysterious, Enchanted Realm” that is Gemini Manor sits in an unassuming neighborhood in East Hollywood, adjacent to the former residence of Charles Bukowski and the “Big Blue” Scientology base. Home to nine cats, Airbnb tenants, and a handful of regulars, this Alice in Wonderland meets Pink Flamingos abode is not for the ill at ease. The house behaves as a living, breathing architectural contortionist, host to an underground tunnel (nebulous initiation required), man-made stairwells and lodgings, and a rooftop bungalow dubiously called “The Jungle Room.”
“Have you seen the time machine?” Alex Lehr, beaming homeowner and ringleader of Gemini Manor, asks.
He flicks a switch, igniting dozens of multifarious buttons and flux capacitor-type doodads—all jerry-rigged to a worn leather La-Z-Boy. I smile and fiddle with a couple knobs.
“It’s beautiful,” I tell him.
Making our way downstairs and into the kitchen, we find a manifold of snacks—cold wiener dogs with accompanying buns, some chips, a veggie tray, and what I can only guess is potato salad. We glide over to the drink table and pour ourselves a round of Johnnie Walker Black. Having already met a cast of wonderfully colorful people—one being an actor by the name of Buddy Daniels (“Or Buddy Daniels Friedman,” he says, “depending on the audition.”)—the night is still young, and I hear word of a rooftop fire dancer scheduled to perform.
Listed as a party and event planning space on their charmingly antiquated website (think back when “World Wide Web” entered our lexicon, think dial-up), the manor has entertained its share of weddings, films, and the occasional gangsta rap shindig. Bring a friend or brave it alone—either way you’re sure to be greeted with a smile and a friendly invitation to explore the grounds. But even when you think you’ve seen it all, fixed yourself a wiener dog, settled in for a good old-fashioned fortune-telling, and met the strangest person you could meet, a trapdoor may appear, leading you even further down the rabbit hole. All things considered, Gemini Manor is something to experience for yourself.
Video: The Boyers Productions at Vimeo.com/TheBoyersProductions. Special Thanks: Alex Lehr at GeminiManor.com and Camp Counselors for SnowbeastRecords.com.