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Only in LA!

Thursday, November 14, 2002
Ben checks out the wacky, weird and the wonderful side of the city of Angels.

A city of Los Angeles's magnitude has to have more of everything. More people, cars, roads, eccentrics, smog and obviously more of a sense of humour when it comes to itself.

We've all heard the expression "Only in America", but Americans say "Only in LA" and we went to find out why. It didn't take long to find some perfect examples, all in the name of fun, being different and standing out in the crowd.

Take Ken Bannister, who prefers to be known as Ken Bananister TB (aka "Top Banana"). He founded the International Banana Club (IBC) in 1972 and it has a worldwide membership who buy degrees in "bananaism". The whole purpose is to keep people smiling and provide a vehicle to keep spirits up.

Ken is a well-known sales and marketing expert, speaker and photographer. He bestows titles upon members and many of them have them printed on their business cards, stationery, licence plates. Ken takes 29-minute tours of the IBC museum, decked out in banana-coloured clothing, and naturally there are plenty of tempting things to buy.

Off The Wall Antiques in West Hollywood is another spot known for its kookiness. Things here aren't cheap but are guaranteed to give you a smile. They have a whacky range of items that are sure to tempt, including such wonderful and rare things as neon pieces in the form of barbershop poles, clocks and shop signs.

Skeletons in the Closet on North Mission began as a money raising venture to aid the failing LA County Coroner's coffers. They began with a coffee mug and T-shirt which became so overwhelmingly popular a full-on gift store was established in 1993. Now you can buy beach towels, bags, caps, key chains, boxer shorts called undertakers and office supplies.

One of their mottos is "For those of us of dubious distinctive taste" and from that you can draw your own conclusion.

With over 3000 square metres of showroom and storage, It's A Wrap is unlikely to have its claim of being the world's only store where you can find film and television wardrobe in volume or bulk.

Close to Burbank Studios they receive truckloads of stock once a show has ended or its wardrobe has been updated. Apart from wardrobe they have props and it's easy to spend hours looking at everything.

And for something really different when you're hungry, why not head to The Stinking Rose Restaurant in Beverly Hills. It's not hard to find. Just follow your nose.

Their motto is "we season our garlic with food", so if you just love this pungent little bulb, their restaurant is a must. They will regulate the amount they use to your taste, and you should check out the décor. The Michelangelo Room has a version of the artist's Creation, with God handing Adam a garlic bulb. The Piazza and Café have a full Italian theme, and the Chianti Room glows in Tuscan tradition. Of course no garlicky place would be complete without some reference to Dracula and they have a grotto in his honour. There are murals honouring "Garlywood" stars and, again, plenty of memorabilia to choose from.


The west coast of the United States.


Qantas flies daily to Los Angeles with return economy airfares starting from $1768 from Brisbane; $1769 from Melbourne; $1785 from Sydney; $2043 from Adelaide; $2429 from Perth and $2513 from Darwin. Prices are per person and include charges/taxes and are current at time of recording but may vary at time of booking. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

International Banana Club and Museum
2524 North El Molino,
Altadena CA 91001
Ph: 0011 1 626 798 2272

Off The Wall Antiques
7325 Melrose
West Hollywood CA 90036
Ph: 0011 1 323 930 1185

Skeletons in the Closet
1104 North Mission
Los Angeles CA 90033
Ph: 0011 1 323 343 0760

It's A Wrap
3315 West Magnolia
Burbank CA 91505
Ph: 0011 1 818 567 7366

The Stinking Rose Restaurant
55 North La Cienega
Beverly Hills 90211
Ph: 0011 1 310 652 7673

Qantas: Ph: 13 13 13

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