This Writer’s Life: Life in the American Hotel Part I

Posted by on May 21, 2012

 “This place is a total shit hole. The manager who lives on site is constantly drunk, high or both and rarely fixes problems residents have. The shower/restrooms (which all residents have to share) are moldy, bug infested swamps. The common areas (hallways and stairwells) constantly reek of B.O., piss, weed and cigarette butts.”      — Review of the American Hotel on, 2009

 And you thought your apartment was bad. In 1991, I was in my 20s and had just moved out of 2777 Francis Street into a 200-square-foot studio apartment at The American Hotel in downtown L.A./Skid Row, above an infamous punk rock venue, Al’s Bar.

“Don’t do it. This place is a total hole in the wall. The manager who lives on site seemed a little drunk and confused.”    — Anthony J. (on Los Angeles City

 I could tell how good — or bad — the band was from my futon all the way up on the fourth floor. The apartment was near my job at a Mexican cantina on the border of East L.A where I waited on gangbangers and off-duty LAPD officers who got shit-faced and brawled in the bathrooms.

“This place is a good place to start if you have very low standards of living and you just moved to L.A. rent is about $450 (utils included) monthly for a single room occupancy (you don’t get your own bathroom and there is no cooking facilities.)” — Review of the American Hotel on, 2009

I shared thin walls and two communal bathrooms with other down-and-outers: Melissa, who kept a human-size cage in her room. Dennis, the poet who hauled a black coffin up four flights and made it into his entertainment center. A has-been cover model named Nicole who whipped out her Uzi and stood sentry on the roof during the riots. Stevie, who was bitter and angry after being diagnosed as HIV positive. Two corn-fed Iowan boys, who worked as bike messengers, and made a hobby out of screwing as many girls in our building as they could manage – sometimes at the same time.

The same time, as in, an orgy.

I listened, wide-eyed, the next morning when the girls told me the stories at the coffee shop downstairs, their hair messy and eyes bleary with lack of sleep as they puffed on their Marlboro Lights.

“I was kind of shocked at the anger of the first review. I supposed not everyone can grasp how amazing the American Hotel really is. This place is for real artists, real artists that want to live and breath this amazing lifestyle.It’s so inspiring to live and work at the American Hotel, to be in the heart of The Arts District, and to be working and living beside so many talented people. I’m glad that some people can’t handle living in The Arts District. That just leaves more room for girls like me, who live their dream everyday.” —Arts District “Rock Star” C. (2010 review on

 Dear Reader: Will you stay tuned for more about this writer’s life in the American Hotel?


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6 Responses to This Writer’s Life: Life in the American Hotel Part I

  1. Mimi

    Love these rememberings!

  2. missy

    I know someone who just moved in. Yuck. What a s*&t hole! The tenants are not artistic. They are people who have to stay there because they have no money. The halls smell of pee and smoke. The vibe is totally depressing.

  3. Kristi

    Ha! It WAS fun.

  4. Stephanie

    Absolutely. I can’t even imagine what you are going to tell us about this place!