This might be the most special story I've ever told on The Pink Collar Life. Seeing as we're now in October, I figured this would be the perfect time to share with you the story of the infamous Spiderpool, and the history behind this haunting Hollywood gem. As you know, historical places of interest fascinate us, but the Spiderpool is unmistakably and easily the most evocative place I've visited. Special thanks to photographer Tom Stratton and Matt for including me on your adventure.
As a burlesque performer, Tara has always been enamored and inspired by the scintillating dancers of an earlier era, and both of us have an appreciation of all things vintage fetish, burlesque, and cheesecake. The 1920's - 1960's are the years we are most inspired by, whether it be through fashion, art, or architecture. The Spiderpool is enriched with so much history and mystery, that it covers all of the above, and I'm forever grateful that I got to experience it.
(C. 1920's-1930's) Let's begin by explaining what this Spiderpool actually is. The Spider wall that you see - surrounded by mosaic tiles and foliage, is the remaining part of a pool and property that was once built and owned by Jack McDermott. This Jack fellow was indeed a Jack of all trades, as he was an actor, writer, producer, and director and an eccentric character to say the least. As the Hugh Hefner of the 20's, he built an eclectic home in the Hollywood Hills in which he often hosted wild and lavish swimming parties. The home was built with old movie props and things he collected from sets, making it rather bizarre, but ultimately a hit. Friends and neighbors dubbed it "the crazy house," complete with trap doors, hidden rooms, upside down rooms and much more oddities!
|More Melody Ward|
Wait until you hear just how the spiderpool came to fruition - which was similar to Jayne Mansfield and her Pink Palace. Jayne would call furniture and building suppliers asking for free samples, and in the end received over 1.5 million dollars (today's equivalent) in decadent decor! Jack contacted tile suppliers from France and Italy, posing as a dealer, in which he received thousands of free tiles, leading to the unique look and mismatched tiles of the pool. When I said wild swimming parties, I meant it - Jack provided all of the women who were swimming in his pool with disintegrating bathing suits, which they did not know until they went in. This was the original Playboy Mansion Grotto of that era!
(C.1940's) Sadly, Jack was found dead from an overdose of barbiturates in 1946. Six months later, the property was burned badly by a fire, and suffered extensive damage. The house was never repaired and in it's condition it remained, abandoned for years. In 1962, the last of the home's remains were torn down...
(C.1950's-1960's) However, during the 50's and early 60's, some magic was happening beyond the walls, at the pool. Underground camera clubs were visiting the property and taking photos of nude models around the Spiderpool. These photography clubs had to be extra secretive as circulation of such nature was against the law, but the Spiderpool was the perfect location being very remote and hidden in the hills for no one to be seen. Burlesque star Dixie Evans, B-movie star Tura Satana and famed fetish artist John Willie all photographed at the pool in it's heyday, along with many others. Silent film producer Harold Lloyd frequented the pool quite often, as he also loved photographing nude women. Aside from his Spiderpool work, Lloyd also took well known and loved photographs of Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield.
(C.1990's-current day) When the internet boom happened, dozens of these photos started surfacing on "the net" and people were noticing the re occurring spider mosaic in the background of these cheesecake photographs. To this day, very few people know where it's remains are. What's left of the decaying pool sits on someone's private protected property and is extremely difficult to reach in every way, terrain wise especially.
|Bettie Blue presumed to be shot by John Willie|
|Dolores Del Monte|
|A young Tura Satana|
|Prescott was a Playboy Playmate - Miss September 1957|
When Tom asked if I wanted to shoot some nostalgia at the pool, I was very nervous and hesitant. It was the dead of summer and there were lots of treacherous "hurdles" to get through. I was completely winded, but happy that I made it miraculously unscathed (sorta). After the dust settled though, magic was made. This is "Hollywood Virtue" by Tom Stratton...
You can see how badly the decay is, from the current photos vs. the old. The actual pool itself is now non existent, as tiles continue to trickle down the mountain. I managed to find a few pieces of these historic tiles at the bottom, that had fallen from above.
There hadn't been "cheesecake" style photographs taken here in over 50 years, until this day. You can find actual photographs of models at the pool that have been recovered on eBay, ranging anywhere from $80 + each
|Wearing an appropriate jumpsuit by Vintage Inspired by Jackie|