The California Institute of Abnormal Arts

While hunting for exceptionally unique locations to feature on Weird World Adventures, I quickly stumbled across the California Institute of Abnormal Arts. All I had to read was that the owner, Carl Crew, had several dead bodies on display, and I was in!

You can find the California Institute of Abnormal Arts (or the C. I. A. as they call it) standing proudly on Burbank Blvd. This building certainly draws plenty of attention to itself. The CIA is a club, performance venue, and sideshow museum located in North Hollywood, California. The venue is owned and operated in part by Carl Crew, an actor and screenwriter with an eccentric vision.


After hearing about the collection of sideshow attractions (and dead bodies) that they have on display at the venue, I just had to set up a tour and interview with Carl Crew for Weird World Adventures. We discussed his history in the abnormal, as well as the history of the CIA. Crew, himself, is a very fun entertainer. He has been called “The Barnum of Burbank Boulevard”, so we were very excited to meet him.

Crew’s history with art and sculpting began when he worked as an apprentice embalmer in the 80’s. Shortly after that, he played Jeffrey Dahmer in the biopic Jeffrey Dahmer: The Secret Life. While still acting and screenwriting today, Crew also took on the task of opening the CIA in the late 90’s. Since 2001, this venue has been operational with the same side-show type theme. And while the venue has featured many notable performers and some pretty exciting freak shows, we were immediately drawn to feature Crew’s collection of cryptotaxidermy, oddities, and artifacts.


After discussing Crew’s inspiration and family history with Bigfoot, which was very exciting, he showed us the dead bodies of an elderly man, a jewel thief, and, of course that of Achile Chatouilleu, a circus performer who requested his body be displayed for all time in his favorite clown outfit and makeup. Chatouilleu has become well-known, having been featured by Ripley’s. His body, embalmed with aresnic, is displayed in a hermetically sealed glass coffin. And now the CIA does an annual memorial for Chatouilleu.


Also notably on display at the CIA is a monkey’s paw, many taxidermied or preserved “mermaids”, the skull of the “world’s smallest Freemason”, the severed arm of Claude de Lorraine (who was the Duke of Guise in the early 1500s), and one of the copies of the “Spear of Destiny”. But I don’t want to ruin the fun by giving too much away! You can see all of these for yourself when you visit the California Institute of Abnormal Arts!


The severed arm of Claude de Lorraine

If you like freak shows, interesting attractions, music, and oddities, be sure to swing by the CIA.  It was a very exciting place that I am very happy to feature on Weird World Adventures.

Malorie Mackey

Malorie Mackey is an actress, published author, and adventurer based out of Los Angeles, California. Throughout her experiences, Malorie found a love for travel and adventure, having journeyed to over a dozen countries experiencing unique locations. From the lush jungles of the Sierra Madre mountain range to the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, Malorie began adventuring and writing about her unique travels. These travel excerpts can be found on VIVA GLAM Magazine, in Malorie’s Adventure Blog, in Malorie’s adventure show “Weird World Adventures” and in the works for her full-length travel book. Stay tuned as Malorie travels the world bringing its beauty and wonder to you.

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