Burbank feels like a small town that’s been hidden on the edge of Los Angeles. You can especially feel this small town vibe when you go down Magnolia Blvd., which is lined with quaint little boutique shops, but like a good Stephen King novel you will discover a unique and strange store nestled among the thrift stores and coffee shops. The Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum is the love child of Erick Wessel and Kiko Bailey, who have used their business to showcase and sell vintage oddities, as well as having it serve as a venue for the occult and mystic arts. Their business has taken on many forms, but their current store has grown to the point that it now fills three neighboring storefronts on Magnolia. Being huge collectors of the macabre Erick and Kiko’s main storefront is an oddities shop that sells twisted antiques and dark art pieces. The items range from vintage mortician instruments to dead animals that through the art of taxidermy have been transformed into masterpieces that amaze as well as disturb visitors.
Next door is their second storefront which is a sanctuary for the occult and all forms of spiritualism. Inside you’ll find ouija boards, tarot cards, occult inspired clothing, books on the dark arts, satanic cookie jars, and of course Mystic Museum t-shirts. Many of these items you can find at their online store, but if you actually come to the Mystic Museum you could potentially have your fortune told by the local tarot card reader that often stops by to do readings for customers.
The third storefront, and newest extension of their business, is Camp Horror. Camp Horror is a fully immersive store dedicated to the nostalgic camping horror movies we all grew up with. Funny enough this storefront had originally been a pet spa, but now the inside has been transformed to look like the interior of a cabin, including bunk beds and video monitors hanging on the walls that are framed with wood shutters that do an impressive job of making them appear to be real windows. As you walk by these cabin windows you’ll see the occasional zombie or serial killer tap on the glass from the “outside”. Here you’ll find all kinds of camp horror swag including camping mugs, stickers, and even Camp Horror counselor t-shirts. If you’re a big fan of the Friday the 13th franchise, which was obviously a huge inspiration for this shop, then visiting here will be the next best thing to actually spending a summer at Camp Crystal Lake. There are several Friday the 13th art displays throughout the shop, my favorite being a small boat that when you sit in it the child version of Jason will pop out of the “water” and attack you while your friends take pictures as you experience your childhood dream/nightmare.
As impressive as things are in the storefronts, like any good shop of mysteries, the Mystic Museum’s biggest and darkest spectacles are hidden in the back. For years the back rooms of the Mystic Museum have been the home of dark gatherings, special screenings, and the premiere venue for twisted art exhibits. My personal favorite exhibit so far being The Evil Dead Experience, which was created after lost props and art from the original movies were rediscovered in the dark corners of iconic producer Rob Tapert’s old storage unit. Having believed to be lost to time most of these props had never been seen by fans in real life, so Mystic Museum partnered up with Renaissance Pictures to create a fully immersive Evil Dead exhibit. The back of the museum was transformed to look like the inside of the original legendary cabin including the fruit cellar, and also the graveyard that was the home of the necronomicon in Army of Darkness. These spaces were filled with displays showcasing the original art and props from the movies.
At the time of writing this article the Mystic Museum’s back area has recently been transformed into a mom and pops video rental store as part of their Slashback Video: The Beginning art exhibit. Slashback Video is a movement to curate the horror videos that have changed our lives. This exhibit is their third installment and for the first time it will be a fully immersive experience where you’ll enter as a new employee at the video store and will unlock the origin story of TAPE HEAD, Slashbacks trademark monster. You start out in the break room of the video store where as a new employee you watch a hilarious training video telling you about what to expect while working at the video store. After watching the video you can use your time card, which is your ticket to the exhibit, to clock in which will unlock the door to the main floor room of the video store. True to form the video store is full of aisles with shelves covered by VHS tapes that all have incredible box art, WHICH ARE THE ACTUAL ART ON DISPLAY FOR THE ART EXHIBIT! Some of them are real vintage horror VHS’s chosen for having some of the best VHS covers from that time period, while other VHS’s on display are reimagined box art created by modern artist’s as tribute to their favorite horror films. The craziest thing is that like most of the art found at The Mystic Museum you can actually buy the VHS’s on display to add to your own home collection. If you can’t make it to the exhibit you can still see and purchase some of the art pieces on their website here. Whatever VHS you buy will remain on display until the exhibit has ended, at which point they will mail you your purchased art piece. Slashback Video: The Beginning will be available at Mystic Museum until June. You can be the first to hear about future exhibits and other Mystic Museum news by following them @THEMYSTICMUSEUM.
Usually once we reach this point of an article I would end it with my conclusion, but like most horror spots I discover, this is hardly the end as I plan on revisiting Mystic Museum again and again in the future. Instead of being the conclusion this is just the beginning of my L.A. HORROR CRAWL series. As a transplant living in L.A. I plan on exploring every horror related shop, restaurant, brewery, and attraction this city has to offer. I will continue to share my journey on here so that other horror fans that live in the area, or plan to visit L.A. in the future, can also follow this dark path if they choose too. If while following the path you happen to come across my mutilated corpse, please grab my notes while you’re taking a selfie with my body, and keep the L.A. Horror Crawl moving forward.