Category Archive for Art + Design

Guide to visiting Super Nintendo World: Universal Studios Hollywood! The Broad LA, Keith Haring LGBTQ art exhibit.

super nintendo world universal hollywood warp tubes instagrammable photography spots

It’s-ah-me, Princess Peach! During my brief trip to Los Angeles, I took the warp tube into the new Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood.

super nintendo world universal studios los angeles design

I’ve been a Mario fan since the 90s, when I played the original console with my cousins in Hong Kong… so visiting the Super Nintendo World theme park has been on my bucket list! Read on for tips for making the most of a Universal Studios LA visit (including tickets and early entry).

I’ll also take you inside The Broad’s Keith Haring exhibition, and The Getty museum.

Also, thank you for cheering me on as I took on my first game show – CTV’s Battle of the Generations! Here’s a 40-second compilation of my appearance on the TV gameshow, so you can see what I wore and get a sense of my Goth diva attitude.

Watch La Carmina on Episode 7 of Battle of the Generations on @LaCarmina YouTube.

nintendo world theme park rides green pipes photography spots cosplay characters

The original Super Nintendo World opened at Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan (I wrote about the Japanese version for Time Magazine). Now, you can run/jump into the world of the beloved Japanese video game at Los Angeles’ Universal Studios.

To get to the new Nintendo park, take the escalators to Universal Studios Hollywood’s Lower Lot (at the north end), and go through the green warp pipe. (Cue the “tut-tut-tut” sound effect!)

princess peach castle, super nintendo world amusement park la

Super Nintendo World does a stellar job at making you feel as if you’re inside the video game. The big green entrance pipe has light effects and sounds straight from the games, and deposits you into Princess Peach’s castle.

Ticketing info: Get tickets well in advance for Universal Studios Hollywood here. The price depends on the date and adult / child; I recommend going on a less busy weekday, and splurging on Express Passes so that you’re guaranteed entry to Mario’s universe. If not, make a Virtual Line reservation in the Universal Studios Hollywood app as soon as you arrive onsite. You can also get Early Access tickets to get inside Nintendo World before everyone else (7-8am).

inside princess peach castle super mario world nintendo theme parks

Look out for the Little Goombas!

I dressed in the style of Princess Peach. I’m wearing a puff-sleeved long dress from a Shibuya 109 boutique. Wear good walking shoes, as Universal’s amusement park areas are spread out.

universal studios super nintendo world los angeles park villains enemies

As a super-fan, I was delighted by Super Nintendo World’s design, which re-creates the game’s platforms! Yoshi, the Goombas and Thwomp move around the landscape — you must see the video of the characters in action in my @LaCarmina Instagram reel.

best time to visit super nintendo world crowds tickets entry

Here’s the reality of the setting — there are lots of people around, as this is a popular new attraction. Be sure to wear lots of sun protection (I had a hat and sunglasses, but took them off for photos).

piranha plant super nintendo world decorations animatronics games

Universal Hollywood currently only has a Mario Kart ride that uses special goggles, and the lineup can be well over an hour (you can’t use your Express Pass to skip the queue). If you’re keen to race against Bowser on Rainbow Road, I recommend that you arrive early and get in line straight away.

toadstool cafe super nintendo world restaurant reservations menu food

Also, if you want to eat cute food at Toadstool Cafe, head there as soon as you can to make a reservation. The spaces fill up fast for the dishes decorated to look like power-up mushrooms and other characters.

super nintendo world la mascots dress up characters costumes

Visitors can also buy a Power-Up Band (worn like a wristwatch) to play games, such as hitting question blocks to collect digital coins and stamps.

universal studios japanese nintendo game theme park

I was happy just to take in the vibe, and feel nostalgic for the 8-bit days of Mario and Luigi. Melissa, Eric and I also shot a fun video of the Super Nintendo World experience here.

super nintendo world restaurants food popcorn universal studios hollywood

If you aren’t able to eat at Toadstool Cafe, you can still power up at the Character Drinks and Popcorn stand, which serves themed snacks.

princess peach dolls stuffed toys

Here is my doppleganger, at the Universal Nintendo merch store. There are several shops within the theme park that sell character goods, including at Universal Studios CityWalk (so you can shop for items without purchasing passes and going inside the theme park).

nintendo star bag super mario merchandise tshirts

Pick up a Super Star box, Mario t-shirts and much more.

super nintendo world los angeles shop store merch toys

Universal LA’s Nintendo stores have stuffed toys featuring the most popular mascots: Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Toad…

boo ghost nintendo mario toy plush stuffed animals

… and this spooky cutie, Boo the shy ghost — a favorite of Japanese Goths!

boo shirts hats super nintendo world character goods shopping

I was pleased to see Boo items with “Teresa” in katakana テレサ. This is the ghoul’s name in Japanese; it’s derived from “tereru” 照れる, which means “to be shy.”

super nintendo world hollywood rides tickets opening review guide

Super Nintendo World has many colorful spots for taking photos. Don’t miss my video on @LaCarmina Instagram to see me go through the pipes, and take you around!

super nintendo world hollywood reservations express pass lines

Princess Peach had the time of her life at Super Nintendo World — thank you Universal Studios Hollywood for the express passes. Here’s the info for buying tickets to Universal LA / Nintendo World. I recommend getting express or early access tickets, and hitting up the Toadstool Cafe and Mario Kart rides first to make the most of your visit.

getty center museum los angeles maze garden gardens museum outdoors

My California adventure continued at the J Paul Getty Museum — a glorious center high up in the hills for experiencing art, architecture, and gardens.

The Getty Center has free entry (with online timed-entry reservations). Ever since opening in 1997, the grounds have been one of my favorite places in LA to hang out and see art.

nintendo japanese ghost boo t shirt teresa fashion

I took my Boo to the Getty… how could I resist getting this Super Nintendo World t-shirt, featuring the Japanese ghost in black and purple! My plaid skirt is from a Tokyo vintage store, and my bag is Maison de Fleur.

getty museum la architecture views gardens visit

The Getty Center is located in Brentwood. After parking, visitors must ride a free tram up the hills to reach the museum (it broadcasts a cheery tune, and has stunning views from up high). When you arrive, be sure to walk through the outdoor sculpture area and labyrinth pond.

getty center architecture richard meier design buildings

The J Paul Getty Museum was designed by architect Richard Meier — here’s the fountain in the courtyard. The modern curves, stone and glass create a feeling of solidity, while harmonizing with the building’s natural surroundings.

getty center museum los angeles tim walker photography exhibition

The Getty Center has a variety of galleries, featuring artists from centuries past to today. I especially enjoyed the Tim Walker: Wonderful Things exhibition, which brings you into the fashion photographer’s fantastical visions.

lgbtq fashion photographer tim walker exhibit the getty

Avantgarde alien fairytales, yes please. Tim Walker’s vivid photography (mostly from the 90s) is inspired by celebs and fashion muses, with LGBTQ themes.

getty museum sculpture garden photoshoot spots instagrammable

The J. Paul Getty Museum has a generous trust for preserving art and supporting creatives. I’m glad that spaces like this are available for the public to access, free of charge.

getty staircase architecture design museum modern art la

Next time I’m in LA, I’ll have to explore the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades too.

japanese super nintendo world t-shirt boo ghost japan universal studios osaka

Bring a camera to the Getty Museum, as there are many spots for taking pictures. The central garden is particularly photogenic, with a maze laden with hundreds of species of plants and flowers.

the broad museum building exterior museum downtown la

I also went back to The Broad art museum in downtown LA. The space-y white exterior was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Architecture-lovers can also admire Frank Gehry’s silver panes at his Disney Music Hall across the road (remember when I did a shoot here?)

keith haring art is for everybody exhibit the broad dtla

Until October 8th, you can catch a special exhibit at The Broad — Keith Haring: Art is for Everybody. The show features 120 works by the contemporary American artist, known for his dancing figures and energetic squiggles.

keith haring self-portrait with murals 1980s street art graffiti

Here’s a portrait of Keith Haring in front of one of his signature murals. He studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York in the late 1970s, and was prolific until 1988 — two years before he died from AIDS-related illnesses.

keith haring free south africa apartheid protest art

Haring’s art often has a pop culture cartoon vibe, yet reflects on global / societal issues — apartheid in South Africa, capitalism, religion, technology, and the environment (he was well aware of The Collapse, even back in the 80s).

the broad keith haring gallery paintings artwork

Many of Haring’s paintings speak up for LGBTQ rights and AIDS awareness. (We shot an Instagram video about the exhibit — please watch it here!)

keith haring lgbtq art street painting

Keith Haring’s vivid linework and colors draw in the eye, and never shy away from controversial themes.

keith haring alien art large scale paintings

Haring was known for his murals, and many of The Broad’s pieces are gigantic, such as this nuclear commentary.

the broad keith haring gallery gay artist artwork

Barking dogs and dancing figures with movement lines recur in his works.

gay art aids keith haring sculptures lgbt artist

Down with the patriarchy! I see allusions to religion, money, and social chaos.

Outfit details: disco pants by AmyLynn Clothing, black crop top by UK Tights.

pop culture art keith haring 80s 90s dancing figures

Are you familiar with Keith Haring’s works? Leap at the chance to see his show at The Broad until Oct 8.

controversial art keith haring paintings protest

The Broad LA has free general admission (including the Yayoi Infinity Mirrored Room), but you must reserve timed tickets in advance. The Keith Haring show is an extra $22, but entry is free Thursdays from 5-8pm with a reservation.

the broad museum reflection photo jeff koons balloons sculptures

For more images from inside The Broad art museum, see my post here. Photos and videos by Eric Bergemann and Melissa Rundle — don’t miss our reel of the Keith Haring exhibit.

amylynn clothing uk nordstrom green wide legged long pants

I leave you with a Studio City palm trees pic… Disco pants by AmyLynn Clothing, crop top by UK Tights, sunglasses Sam Edelman.

Dreaming of being back in California soon… I will do my best to make it happen!


Fabulous Las Vegas sign! Escape It: Jason Egan horror escape room review, Cemetery Pulp oddities Goth shop, Transfix art.

fabulous las vegas nevada sign woman instagram fashion locations

Welcome to the Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada! Couldn’t resist mugging for a photo at the classic sign, which was erected in 1959.

Photographer Joey Wong and I were here to report on how Sin City has become a wonderland of interactive and immersive art…

escape it horror escape rooms las vegas

… which includes experiences like Escape It, a next-level escape room that makes you feel as if you’re a character in the clown horror movie and novel!

travel age west magazine scan clip journalist writing clips

I wrote about Vegas’ grandiose multisensory art attractions for the new issue of TravelAge West magazine, out now in print and online here with photos by Joey Wong. Read on for a more in-depth, personal look at our interactive adventures in Sin City.

pennywise it costume, it escape room las vegas tickets

Jason Egan’s Las Vegas escape rooms have been elevating the genre by dropping you into fully immersive worlds of horror. His latest big-budget production, Escape It, is possibly the world’s largest with 16 rooms spread over 31,000 square feet. (The gigantic space also exhibits props from the Warner Bros hit movie, including Pennywise’s costume!)

derry maine it horror movie film escape room game

The exit game is based on It, the diabolical horror novel by Stephen King and its 2017 film adaptation. As a fan, I was impressed by the level of care and detail that went into the design starting from the moment you arrive. Escape It takes place in what looks like a plaza in the town of Derry (where the clown ran rampage), complete with the movie theater, Paul Bunyan sign, and Public Works building.

Outfit deets: Dress is by Sourpuss Clothing, backpack by Cyberdog, platform Goth sandals Anthony Wang, sunglasses DMY by DMY Billy.

stephen king it movie museum memorabilia props film

Even the check-in process is immersive: we felt as if we were sewer-search volunteers getting oriented, and the staff never broke the fourth wall. They even claimed to not see a red balloon behind the counter, much like the experience of the children in It (only they could see the blood and horrors).

(The venue displayed official memorabilia from the WB movie, including the paper boat that little Georgie floated to the sewers, leading to his death.)

it horror novel movie escape room review

As I write in my new TravelAge West magazine piece: “Jason Egan started his career in his teens as a Nebraska haunted house creator. When he moved to Las Vegas, he combined his flair for the macabre with the escape room format.” 

inside 29 neibolt house it haunted home

“His team built detailed, multi-sensory sets based on Stephen King’s It, including foggy sewers and a soil path that winds through foliage to a decrepit house.”

(He kindly let us take some photos inside as media — as you can see, the Neibolt house design and lighting are chilling.)

scary clowns museum las vegas it statues

Beware of the clowns, as you solve puzzles that unlock new clues and doors! Joey and I are escape room veterans, and we were dazzled by the creativity of the puzzle designs. Escape It pulls out all the stops when it comes to cinematic effects, and uses terrific actors to guide or scare you throughout.

pennywise it escape room clowns

Players will get goosebumps from the innovative frights: a slaughterhouse gives off a meaty scent, and a panel bursts open to reveal the killer clown Pennywise!

clown dolls horror escape game rooms it

If you survive to the end, you can continue the journey with Jason Egan’s other Las Vegas horror escape rooms themed after The Blair Witch Project, Saw, and It Chapter Two.

jason egan las vegas escape rooms designer it scary doors

After surviving the clown attacks, we played arcade games and posed with movie memorabilia — including these original doors marked Not Scary At All, Scary, Very Scary! You can also pick up merch like a kawaii Pennywise plush.

Escape It was a frightful delight, and I mean it when I say it’s the the best escape room / horror experience I’ve had to date. I can’t wait to come back to Vegas to descend into Jason Egan’s other worlds of horror (make sure you reserve tickets in advance, as spots sell out fast).

Cemetery Pulp oddities and more store las vegas

Sin City has plenty of other attractions for those with a Gothic disposition. We stopped by Cemetery Pulp, an oddities store that brings “all that is weird, nerdy and off the wall to the people of Las Vegas.”

las vegas oddities shop goth gothic stores nerdy

We were greeted warmly by the owner, who is always delighted to tell the stories behind the vast collections of dark / Goth homewares, craft items, books, and other spooky ‘tings.

take photo in coffin cemetery pump vegas nevada

Cemetery Pulp is a Goth’s dream shop (or nightmare?). There’s even a Dracula coffin for photo ops!

inverted cross coffin goth gothic satanic las vegas

You’ll find many devilish handcrafted treasures, like this wood inverted cross coffin container.

satan book passport holder las vegas satanists

How about a passport to Satanistan? It features the goat head in a pentagram logo (you can read about the origins of the symbol in my new The Little Book of Satanism!)

pentagram box pentacle boxes satanic home goods

Las Vegas has become home to leading alternative conventions like the Body Art Expo for tattoos, extreme body mods, and suspension. The city also hosts leading music festivals like Sick New World (nu metal, alt-rock) and Cruel World (classic Goth, New Wave and punk).

alligator taxidermy cemetery pulp weird store

Vegas’ kitschy-weird vibe makes it a fab destination for travelers like me.

las vegas comic stores wet specimens oddities stores

Cemetery Pulp has shelves of animal taxidermy, skulls, and wet specimens in jars. That’s a pig stump with a tattoo on it!

cemetery pump las vegas skulls animal heads strange odd

This oddity shop truly puts the cult in culture. Shop til you drop at Cemetery Pulp, and say hi to the team for me.

tranfix resorts world las vegas kinetic art

After dark, you can experience yet another massive, fully immersive attraction — Transfix at Resorts World. The touring exhibition lights up the city with 50 gargantuan “participatory works” spread over 200,000 square feet. 

las vegas transfix instagrammable immersive art sculptures

You’re encouraged to engage with large-scale kinetic, sound, and light installations that respond to your body — like these helixes that glow as you move.

las vegas burning man edm festival electric daisy carnival edc

Many of the installations have an alien meets Burning Man vibe, and hit all the senses (this dragon-bus emitted neon lights and thumping EDM music). 

transfix immersive kinetic art sculptures fire balls

Great balls of fire! At Transfix, many of the works morph as you play with them, like a digital wall that creates unique patterns based on your dancing.

transfix las vegas tickets review resorts world interactive art

Love how everything is bigger in Las Vegas.

photography locations las vegas instagrammable

Transfix is a dazzling playground of immersive art — check it out at Resorts World hotel.

The Lock Las Vegas Hidden Bar Speakeasy

Finally, let’s have a nightcap at an immersive bar: The Cabinet of Curiosities. Located at Horseshoe Vegas, it feels like a Victorian adventurer’s lair with hundreds of bizarre curios from around the world.

las vegas goth bars gothic clubs cocktails

Try a mezcal and chartreuse craft cocktail at The Cabinet, and then see if you can unlock the entrance to a second hidden speakeasy called The Lock. (You might have to crack the code to a safe, and do some crawling!)

the lock speakeasy horseshoe las vegas theme coolest bars

Did you know that you could find Gothic / horror / interactive experiences like these in Las Vegas?

For more tips, see my travel writing for TravelAge West online here and in the print magazine. And thank you for reading my newest book with Simon & Schuster, The Little Book of Satanism!