THE GARDEN OF SIN & SEDUCTION

Lesbian orgies, martini-fueled fist fights, spoiled celebrities, recreational sex, mafia hit men, peyote parties, poolside trysts, and simmering feuds – the Garden of Allah Hotel & Villas of the 20s, 30s, 40s, & 50s was the only place to be in Hollywood.

by Kirk Silsbee

In 1938 infamous writer F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a now famous postcard—to himself! It read, “Dear Scott, How are you? Have been meaning to come in and see you. I have living at the Garden of Allah. Yours, Scott Fitzgerald.” The writer of The Great Gatsby was living at the Garden of Allah in 1938, drowning in debt, struggling with alcoholism and the demands of screenwriting in Hollywood; he was flailing to bang out a draft for The Last Tycoon while his wife, Zelda, was rotting in a dank sanatarium back east. He justified the then costly $400 a month rent as a “business expense.” He was, in actuality, living and working under a dark, Scotch-laden hedonistic cloud. After a late night binge, Fitzgerald crawled a hundred yards from his bungalow to the front desk. The horrified clerk asked if a doctor was in order. Fitzgerald gasped in protest, “No doctor. Just get me somewhere where I can die in peace!” (Fitzgerald, subsequently, suffered two heart attacks in late-1940. After the first, he moved in with Sheilah Graham, the ornery gossip columnist, who lived one block east of the Garden.)

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Around the same time, the diminutive, free-swinging bisexual French actress, Lili Damita, was hooking up with the suave, debonair, devil-may-care ladies-man Errol Flynn—a tryst of equally voracious libidos, martinis and violent love—and only the Garden, where the affair called its home-away-from-home, knew the true sordid details. (They then married and divorced a few years later.) But when Flynn began a torrid affair with actress Lupe Velez in 1937—much of their meetings also taking place at the Garden—she introduced him to a novel use for the “white powder.”  The Mexican Spitfire would reportedly dab the head of Flynn’s manhood with cocaine to dull the sensation and enable him to last longer. Flynn would indulge in coke until his death in Vancouver in 1959.

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Time magazine wrote in 1959, as Allah was closing its doors: “Through the intoxicating ’20s and ’30s, the Garden of Allah was more house party than hotel. Robert Benchley was resident clown; John Barrymore kept a bicycle there so as not to waste drinking time walking between the separate celebrations in the sprawling, movie-Spanish villas. Woollcott, Hemingway, Brice, Flynn, Olivier, Welles, Bogart, Dietrich all lived at the Garden during its green years.”

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MADAME ALLA’S LAVENDER HOLLYWOOD For over three decades, beginning in the late-20s, a picturesque oasis sat at the mouth of Laurel Canyon and Sunset Blvd., serving primarily as den of debauchery for some of the world’s most famous people. The Garden of Allah was the clandestine pied-à-terre of choice for the film industry’s most talented and illustrious transients: writers, actors, directors, producers. When Hollywood wanted to escape the scrutiny of the prying public, it went to the Garden, checked into one of its picturesque villas, pulled the shades and let its hair down. Hollywood lore is full of wild antics that went way off the meter of legality and acceptable public decorum—but no spot in Tinseltown hosted so much unbridled revelry, shameless behavior, and continual inebriation as the Garden.

8152 Sunset Boulevard, early 1900s: The mansion, then owned by real estate baron W.H. Hay, had forty rooms, with floors of teak, and richly carved decorations in rosewood and pale mahogany. In 1918, he leased the estate to famed Russian silent screen actress Madame Alla Nazimova, who named it The Garden of Alla. Beguiling movie audiences with her emotive performances in movies like Salome and Blood and Sand, the dark beauty was one of the highest-paid film stars of the era. She paid $50,000 for a 90-year lease on the three-and-a-half acres when Hollywood was still a small town with undeveloped tracts and plenty of dirt roads. Nazimova immediately commissioned a state-of-the-art swimming pool shaped like the Black Sea—then the biggest pool in Hollywood, and, of course, a nod to her native Yalta.

Though nominally married, Nazimova was one of a small subculture of Hollywood actresses who were, in fact, lesbian or bisexual. (It was allegedly Nazimova who coined the phrase “Sewing circles” as code to refer to lesbian or bisexual actresses of her day who concealed their true sexuality.) Public meetings for high profile sexual minorities involved risk, and her home became a focal point for “Lavender Hollywood.” The female gatherings around the pool were not only the stuff of whispered legend but they were also important social conduits for work.

Changing economic fortunes forced Nazimova to sell the property in the mid-20s. The new owners turned the house into a grand, two-story Spanish-Moorish hotel, renaming it The Garden of Allah. The newly christened Garden of Allah opened on January 9, 1927, with all the flourish of a movie premiere: Marlene Dietrich, John Barrymore, Francis X. Bushman and Jack Dempsey were among the notables who attended. Greeters in swallowtail coats and striped pants ushered thousands of unabashed gawkers through the rooms and bungalows, while a string quartet played in the lobby of the main building and a platoon of Japanese butlers served tea, punch, and sandwiches. When darkness fell, visitors gasped with wonder as colored lights lit up the grounds, and strolling troubadours in Spanish costumes sang and played beneath the night-blooming jasmine. The theatricality of the opening suggested the make-believe world of the movies, and it was assumed by most visitors— and reported by the newspapers the next day—that the new establishment would appeal most to movie makers.

The beautifully printed brochure that was sent to the movie studios read: “CALIFORNIA’S FINEST SUMMER HOTEL IN HOLLYWOOD: In the Garden of Allah there are 30 individual bungalows, exquisitely furnished, and offering you a delightful home, with complete hotel service. A magnificent swimming pool, surrounded by a semi-tropical paradise, transforms your bungalow into a delightful beach home in the center of Hollywood. In this alluring atmosphere of the tropics, you may “dine under the stars.” Just the place for that breakfast by the pool, bridge at lunch and a dinner party. You will appreciate the atmosphere of exclusive refinement in this garden of wonderful homes. It is truly a gem of comfort in a setting of romance.”

And rubbernecking tourists in buses that took them to see the homes of the stars were sure to have it pointed out to them. After gazing at the houses of the likes of Mary Pickford, John Gilbert, and Greta Garbo, they would roll past the restaurants and shops on the Strip, and then the guide with the megaphone would announce, “To your right, folks, the famous hotel, the Garden of Allah. Probably more luminaries living there right now than in all the rest of Hollywood put together.” Through the window of the moving bus they got a fleeting glimpse of something sprawled out in a hollow below street level—redtiled roofs smothered in tropical growth; a pink neon sign glaring in daylight among palm and pepper trees, sometimes with some of its letters failing to light up so that it announced THE DEN OF ALLAH.

But very few ever got a peek inside. Being on the Garden’s guest list became a rough gauge of a star’s popularity. Clara Bow, the silent film actress and star of Poisoned Paradise, epitomized the flamboyance of the silent era at the Garden. Producers had advertised her to the world as the “It Girl” and she became a popular figure at the poolside cocktail hour. Occasionally, she would dive off the high board in a dinner gown, martini in hand, or push tuxedoed escorts into the pool; she made the evening-dress swimming parties part of the Garden’s early lore. During her lifetime Bow was the subject of wild rumors regarding her sex life; most of them were untrue. A tabloid called The Coast Reporter published lurid allegations about her in 1931, accusing her of exhibitionism, incest, lesbianism, bestiality, drug addiction, alcoholism, and having contracted venereal disease. The publisher of the tabloid then tried to blackmail Bow, offering to cease printing the stories for $25,000, which led to his arrest by federal agents and, later, an eight-year prison sentence.

“There were no rules,” reminisced one early resident. “Nearly everybody partied—and partied hard. You would come back late at night and look around for a lighted window. That meant a party, where, of course, you’d be welcome.” The informality took many forms. Wrote New York drama critic Whitney Bolton, who lived at the Garden: “If a stark naked lady of acting fame, her head crowned by a chattering monkey, chose to open the door to Western Union, no one was abashed, least of all the lady and the monkey.” But the informality was not for strangers and voyeurs. The hotel management posted a guard at the front gate and maintained a discreet patrol of the grounds after dark, one of the watchmen leading a formidable dog that residents fondly called the “Hound of the Baskervilles.” The private police were strictly for security; they had orders not to harass the guests or interfere with their personal foibles and pleasures.

WELCOME TO WALDEN POND” Although the Garden had easygoing management, often times forsaking rent and bills for months on end, that didn’t mean that they extended their goodwill to everyone. In fact, one group of tenants was denied credit altogether. These were the Hallroom Boys, an assemblage of English actors who had flocked to Hollywood and who found occasional work as bit players in British Empire epics such as The Lives of a Bengal Lancer. These Englishmen, generally down-at-the-heels, inhabited the former servants’ rooms in the hotel’s main building. Their main occupation, it seemed, was to serve as stooges and jesters to the affluent residents of the bungalows. Wearing totally unwarranted Old Etonian ties, and blazers with the armorial emblems of Oxford and Cambridge colleges, with which they had no connection whatsoever, they amused their patrons with prattle about the English Empire, and often had tea on the vicarage lawn. According to John McClain, a New York drama critic and frequent Garden guest, “the Hallroom Boys lived on tequila and nibblings from the cocktail buffet.” Then one day, according to McClain, “the boys just disappeared.”

A year later, though, mismanagement put the hotel on the brink of insolvency. Hay bought it back at auction, installed 25 Spanish-style bungalows on the property around the pool, and planted exotic palm, orange and hibiscus trees around the grounds—and brought back Madame Nazimova who was granted a permanent residence, resuming her notorious soirees with Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and other sexual nymphs. By now, Lucius Beebe had become one of the most active residents the place had ever seen. A columnist for the New York Herald Tribune, Beebe was an expert on railroading as well as good living, and had been hired by director Cecil B. DeMiIIe as a technical adviser for the film Union Pacific. DeMiIIe did not require Beebe’s constant attendance at the studio, and so he had plenty of time to participate in—and lead—”The Life” at the Garden. He would stand near the door of his bungalow as guests assembled and greet them with a cordial shout of “Welcome to Walden Pond.” The Garden’s room service especially impressed Beebe. The staff, he noted, could put a six-bartender private bar into operation on a minute’s notice before lunch, so that those persons whom Beebe called “the maimed and dying from the previous night’s party” could be given succor.

THE VILLAGE DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE Sequestered exclusivity and its bucolic grounds made the Garden an attractive place for visiting East Coast literati. When Hollywood beckoned, writers like Dorothy Parker (an off-andon resident for almost two decades), F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the Harvard Lampoon, New Yorker and Vanity Fair humorist Robert Benchley worked at the studios by day and lived high at the Garden at night. Prohibition hung heavy over the Depression years of the early 1930s, yet bootleg liquor was, of course, available. Twenty dollars slipped to a Garden bellboy might send him over to North Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, where a venerable Italian woman supplied ready hooch. Twofisted drinkers, like Benchley, imbibed to their satisfaction at the Garden. Once warned that alcohol consumption was slow poison, Benchley pulled his head out of a martini by the pool long enough to reply, “That’s all right. I’m in no hurry.”

Another time, he tried to phone New York at night but was unable to rouse the hotel operator. He finally went to the main house, upended some furniture, and left a note on the switchboard, reading, “Let this be a lesson to you. I might have been having a baby.” One of the best-remembered Benchley anecdotes concerned a new doorman at the Garden. As Benchley brushed past him, the doorman stretched out his hand for a tip and asked, “Aren’t you going to remember me, sir?” “Why, of course,” Benchley replied. “I’ll write you every day.” Nevertheless, everyone at the Garden liked to be near Benchley, to hear his booming laugh and bask in his razor wit.

Like many guests, Benchley was an out-of-place New Yorker, somewhat uneasy with the close-to-nature California life. He got along well enough with the Garden’s cats and dogs, but waged a celebrated war against the large number of birds that flew around the grounds. One rainy Sunday, Benchley was peering out the living room window when McClain heard him explode with laughter. “You know the bird who keeps me awake all night,” Benchley asked, “the one who sits outside my window and keeps saying, ‘Chicago, Chicago?” McClain said he knew of this bird. Benchley went on, “Well, he just came in through the rain for a landing. The tile around the pool was so wet his feet went right out from under him and he slid three or four yards on his tail, coming up against the edge of the pool. Then he looked over and saw me watching him, and I swear he shrugged his wings and his expression was, ‘All right, you know me and I know you and this time you have the last laugh.’”

Benchley was part of New York’s fabled Algonquin Round Table, a collection of scalding literary wits. Dorothy Parker, another Algonquin, in particular, detested her Hollywood bosses, though, like Benchley, she made a fabulous salary when other segments of America stood in breadlines. The one woman who could hold her own with the lacerating men of the Garden, Parker was a morose drunk. Conversely, the perpetually lubricated humorist Benchley was the Prince of Good Cheer at the Garden; always up for a party no matter the hour. When another fellow Algonquinite, Alexander Woolcott, visited, he immediately proclaimed the Garden “the kind of village you might look for down the rabbit hole.”

LOVE IS A DOG FROM HELL When actress Talullah Bankhead arrived in the summer of 1933, sexual antics at the Garden increased exponentially. As a child she idolized Nazimova and, appropriately, Bankhead grew into a sexual omnivore. While at the Garden, her conquests included actresses Barbara Stanwyck, Dolores Del Rio and Joan Crawford. Olympic swimmer-turned-Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller, made Talullah “a very satisfied Jane” in the pool. Even the young Gary Cooper was spotted one night with Bankhead, scampering nude from the pool to her bungalow. (She returned to New York with a raging case of gonorrhea, a burning gift, she claimed, from Some Like it Hot star George Raft.)

The Marx Brothers came west in 1929 to make Animal Crackers, and Harpo, a notorious womanizer, took up residence at the Garden. One night after a neighbor was playing piano loudly at midnight, he set his alarm for 5AM and played the first 64 bars of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto #1” until he heard his neighbor scream in agony—and, subsequently, move bungalows that very morning. (Reportedly, somebody later told Harpo that his neighbor was Rachmaninoff, who had become so repulsed by his prelude he wished he never had written it.) In his entertaining autobiography, Harpo Speaks, he wistfully remembers: “The nightlife in and around the miniature Black Sea kept the scandal writers supplied with more juicy items than they could use. But… my little bungalow in the Garden of Allah was a peaceful retreat…once the pianist had been moved.”

The noted playwright and philandering ladies’ man George Kaufmann moved into the Garden in the mid-30s as he was adapting his Broadway plays to the silver-screen. Kaufman found himself in the center of a scandal in 1936 when, in the midst of a child custody suit, the former husband of actress Mary Astor threatened to publish one of Astor’s diaries purportedly containing extremely explicit details of an affair between Kaufman and the actress. The diary was eventually destroyed, unread by the courts, but details of the supposed contents were published in Confidential magazine and various other scandal sheets. (According to legend, Kaufmann would stuff himself in the back of a laundry truck to get from the Garden of Allah to the railroad station at the height of the Astor affair, to avoid a subpoena.) Songwriter Cole Porter, no stranger to the Garden (the words for “Night and Day” came to him while lying in bed one night) had now added “I get no kick from cocaine…” to “I Get a Kick Out of You” and would constantly have his lovers sneak into the Garden for late night trysts.

Around the same time, during the filming of the remake of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Charles Laughton would reportedly return home to The Garden for lunch, still in full character as Quasimodo, and float in the pool on his back with his face aimed skyward, to avoid ruining his complex makeup. Nothing was out of bounds at Allah.

NOIR NIGHTS Flamboyant behavior was always in vogue at the Garden, but music publicist Bernie Woods waited until 1994 to disclose a story from the early ‘40s. In his memoir, When the Music Stopped, he recalls when bandleaders Tommy Dorsey and Kay Kyser happened to be at the Garden at the same time. Each had a healthy ego— but the surly trombonist Dorsey was never to be outdone on any count. At breakfast one morning, Dorsey steered the conversation in his villa as to who had the most devoted audience. “When the argument waxed real hot,” Woods wrote, “T.D. said, ‘I’ll show you some real fans.’ With that two tall gals came out of the bedroom; they stood side by side naked as jaybirds while Kyser stared. The pubic hair on one was cut to spell a T while the other was cut to form a D.”

World War II brought societal changes but the revelry at the Garden carried on. Call girls—hurrying to their assignations or sunning at the pool—were a common sight. (One soggy night, a pack of Prohibition-era drunkards tried—and ultimately failed—to fill the 65 by 45 foot pool with empty liquor bottles.) Bandleader Les Brown moved his family in until they could find a house. Les Brown Jr. was five and the family was situated between the villas of hell-raisers Benchley and actor Louis Calhern. “Those guys would get roaring drunk,” Les Jr. says, “day and night. They kind of adopted me and it drove my mother crazy. There were all these girls out by the pool with their boobs out on display. Sometimes they were topless and sometimes all the way nude. It was an experience I never forgot!”

Nazimova, by now forgotten and near penniless, died quietly in her upstairs room in July of 1945. Bandleader Artie Shaw, already a frequent Garden guest, installed himself and his new bride, actress Ava Gardner, into her old bungalow in October. The next month Benchley developed a persistent nosebleed back in New York; four days later he was dead from a cerebral hemorrhage at 56. The world was changing and the Garden, having lost its clown prince and sultry hostess, would never be the same. Shaw loved the place, later calling it “one of the few places that was so absurd that people could be themselves.” But it was, he added, “always a little run down. You almost expected the rats to come. No one was polishing the tops of the palm trees.”

Returning G.I.s brought a new pharmaceutical awareness with them. Record producer Kim Fowley recalls being used as a decoy for his absentee father, actor Douglas Fowley, in 1946. Fowley the elder took his son along on various Hollywood scoring safaris—at nearby Schwab’s Drugs and an upstairs room at The Players, Preston Sturgis’s nightclub. The Villa Nova, where the Rainbow Club now sits on Sunset, was another spot. Kim recalls: “I was eight years old and I’d just met my dad for the first time. I was just out of the orphanage and he was back from the war. My father and his cronies were at the Garden to score opium and get high. I stood outside in my little sailor suit, playing with my new sailboat in the fountain… watching for the police.”

But with Benchley’s passing, postwar uncertainty and the specter of anti-Communist hysteria, a sea change was occurring throughout the city—and Allah wasn’t immune. On playwright Ruth Gortz’s first day at the Garden, in 1948, she spotted a dead mouse in the pool and noticed cracked tiles. Automobile exhaust from congested Sunset Boulevard not only defoliated the lush bougainvillea but it suffocated the rats that nested in the palm trees. Virginia “The Flamingo” Hill, not yet out her teens, moved in. The future girlfriend of Bugsy Siegel, in whose home the notorious gangster would be murdered, divided her time between servicing actors like Errol Flynn and Mafioso figures. (Hill reportedly blackmailed several Hollywood celebrities with information about their private vices—many of those tales taking place at the Garden.) Like the rest of Los Angeles, the Garden was looking more than a bit noir. Only natural, then, that director Rudolph Maté shot part of the climactic chase sequence of D.O.A., where the desperate Edmund O’Brien, poisoned and pursued, feverishly pursued his poisoner through the shadow-laden labyrinth of the Garden grounds. Director Nicholas Ray used a Garden bungalow as Humphrey Bogart’s home for the psychological noir movie In a Lonely Place. Ray had lived at the Garden as his marriage to actress Gloria Grahame, one of the great femme fatales, and Bogey’s love interest in the film, had crashed and burned. Though he tried to get through filming with minimal discomfort, it must have been a torturous case of art imitating life for Ray.

REEFER, MARILYN, CALL GIRLS & PEYOTE SMOOTHIES In the mid-1950s, young Hollywood’s chemical habits were changing. After an army stint, actor Robert Blake found community at the Garden. “I hooked up with Bobby Driscoll,” Blake told Detour magazine in 1995. “Dean Stockwell, Billy Gray, and several other people who were all child actors; we were all drugging—especially marijuana.”

By the 50s cannabis had already become an accessory of the Beat Generation and Hollywood elites like Robert Mitchum (he hung out at a house in Laurel Canyon that the cops called “Reefer Resort”) were “entranced by the herb’s navel-gazing properties,” while writers, actors and musicians were lighting up at exclusive Hollywood parties. Tough guys got high, too, as LA crime writer Raymond Chandler had observed in his book Farewell My Lovely: “Lots of tough guys smoked marijuana. And nice girls who had given up trying. American hashish. A weed that would grow anywhere.Unlawful to cultivate now. That meant a lot in a country as big as the USA.” The legendary character actor Seymour Cassel was growing cannabis as early as 1958 in his backyard in Laurel Canyon. Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby “loved marijuana.” Bing smoked it during his early career when it was legal and “surprised interviewers” in the 1950s and 60s by advocating its decriminalization, as did Armstrong. According to biographer Gary Giddins, Crosby told his son Gary to stay away from alcohol (“It killed your mother”) and suggested he “smoke pot instead.” And, just recently, a home movie allegedly showing Marilyn Monroe smoking a “marijuana cigarette” at the Garden sold for $275,000. Blake recalled that a trip to Tijuana in a pickup truck could yield “enough grass to last you the rest of your life—it was easy to get and tons of it. And pills were a piece of cake, too. I had drugstores that sold me pills by the handful—with no prescription.” Actor Jack Larson (Jimmy Olson on TV’s Superman) frequented the parties given by legendary interior designer Eduardo Tirella. “There was always lots of grass,” Larson offers, “but those parties would go way beyond grass. I took peyote with Ed. A young actor named Arthur Grady used to ride his motorcycle to the Arizona desert and come back with a big box of peyote buttons. He’d grind them up in a blender and you’d take them with chewing gum. I ate seven or eight buttons and I had a thirty-hour experience!”

Live music became a fixture, too. It was used in the main room bar to attract the tourist trade. Hookers lounged at the long bar and dancers, including Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, might be seen on the circular, sunken dance floor that sat below the bandstand. (Allegedly, Hugh Hefner, who was looking to move Playboy magazine from Chicago to LA, soaked up many nights here on his visits to LA, dreaming up what would be the Playboy Mansion just miles down the road.) Bongo player Jack Costanzo’s band alternated two-week stands with other Latin bands led by Manny Lopez and Tony Martinez. Jack Costanzo “Live at the Garden of Allah” on Liberty Records is a vinyl postcard from early 1959, when drummer Buddy Rich and trumpeter Ray Anthony—bandleaders both—roamed Hollywood. “That was the most exciting place I ever played,” Jack exults. “The bar had all kinds of people, including girls that were making money, if you know what I mean.”

“SAY GOODBYE TO THE MOST WONDERFUL WHOREHO– USE IN HOLLYWOOD, JACK” Jack Larson was at a Santa Monica dinner party in August 1959 when it was announced that the Garden was closing that night. The new generation of stars were now staying at the nearby Chateau Marmont because it afforded more privacy and less chance encounters with seedy hangers-on and gossip mavens; the Garden had finally lost its dirty charm. (One night, shortly before it closing, armed thugs entered the lobby, looted the cash drawer, and shot the elderly night clerk dead.)

Like other Gardenites, Larson drove east (with actress Leslie Caron) and, amid hundreds of people, shuffled through the closing gala. “We walked around the pool,” Larson says recalling the macabre proceedings, “and it was haunted. I knew about its history and the great people like Robert Benchley and Dorothy Parker who had lived there. Patricia Medina, the British actress, cried: ‘Say goodbye to the most wonderful whorehouse in Hollywood, Jack!’”

In the Fall of 1959 parasitic souvenir hounds cleaned the place out and then the wrecking ball crushed all romantic notions. An ugly and hulking Lytton Savings & Loan was erected in its place. But an even more ominous note comes from Costanzo.

“After the Garden was sold,” he says, “and it was closed, the previous owner was found dead, with his hands bound by wire to a Call Girl. He was a real estate man in Beverly Hills, and I really liked him.”

Perhaps its best to remember the end of Allah as young Mark Winkler, jazz singer and songwriter, did; he lived for three months at the Garden in the summer of 1959. “I noticed,” he relates, “that there were a number of pretty women who hung around the pool and talked to the men. I was little but I was pretty hip. My best friend there was this kid whose mother was a pretty blond at the pool. My mother never left us boys alone at the pool.”

Splashing in the pool and playing Ping-Pong, the eightyear old Winkler recalls singer Bobby Darin, blonde starlet Joi Lansing, and the famous jazz singers Louie Prima and Keely always by the pool. “Bobby was really nice to us kids,” Mark says. “Louie and Keely had an entourage around them. She always had on a blue bikini and she looked fantastic!”

In the 1970s, Joni Mitchell yearned for the bohemian days of the Garden, allegedly penning the eerily cheerful song “Big Yellow Taxi” about the property: “Don’t it always seem to go/ That you don’t know what you’ve got/Til it’s gone/They paved paradise/And put up a parking lot.”

And then there’s famous architectural writer Walt Lockley’s summation: “Not everybody who went to the Garden of Allah wanted to be seen. Somehow among the tangle of phony marriages, the fist-fights, the volume of liquor, the highpowered, insecure and spoiled celebrities, recreational sex, drugs, robberies, drunken rages, cross gender liaisons, orgies, ego feuds, money problems, and sudden changes of plan, the Garden of Allah acquired a bohemian reputation. A reputation for hedonism. Imagine that!”

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