We wrote about swim fashions on Southland beaches in In the Swim. We will now take a look at the must-have accessory for your beachwear — an exotic animal!
In the land of Hollywood the exotic becomes almost commonplace. These photos from the archives of the Los Angeles Public Library show the wild side of California beach fashion. But first, we must add the disclaimer that exotic animals do not normally belong on beaches and those who do should be left alone. Many of the stunts pictured here should carry the warning: Do not try this at home! (or anywhere else)
Venice Beach is the location for many of our photos. Here a young woman feeds a bear cub from a bottle, 1936. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00009019.
Yes, there really was an alligator farm in Los Angeles — until 1953. It was located right next door to the Ostrich Farm. Advertising from the Luna Park Alligator Farm in Lincoln Heights proclaimed, with a bit of hyperbole, “Here are to be seen hundreds of alligators of all sizes, from little babies, hardly the size of a lizard, up to huge monsters, 500 years old or more. We make a specialty of alligator bags ornamented with genuine alligator heads and claws.” (LincolnHeightsLA.com) Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00064163, undated.
The photo was taken in Long Beach, “ca. 1920.” We have no explanation for the penguins. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00064425.
This young man, protectively holding onto his lion cub, seems none to happy despite his trophy win at the Venice Beach Pet Show in 1936. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00065006.
Strolling Long Beach with a seal, circa 1920. The young woman wears a beach coat with a nautical flair. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00066776.
An undated photo of a woman, probably a model, with a baby elephant. Her wool bathing costume places the photo in the late 1920s. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00067860.
Piglets race on Hermosa Beach. The young porkers eagerly await the starting gun — well, perhaps not the one in lane two who appears ready for a nap. Although the photo is undated, the classic belted swimsuits place the event in the mid-1930s. Two girls standing at left appear to be twins. Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce Collection, Image #00069336.
Watch that shoe! Models feed a “sea elephant” (elephant seal) in an enclosure in Venice, probably mid-1920s. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, #00066743.
More elephants on the beach. The Long Beach Pier and Sun Pavilion form the backdrop for this photo shoot from about 1930. One of the keepers carries what appears to be a cattle prod. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00071558.
This 1954 photo from the Valley Times Collection is titled “Cute as a Bug,” probably the headline used in the paper. The caption used read: “Unafraid of children, this spotted fawn can be sweet and gentle but later on would not permit this type of petting without slashing out with razor sharp hoofs made for fighting off coyotes and other predators.” Wise words. Valley Times Collection, Image #00117152.
We’ll end with a more appropriate way to celebrate the wild side of beach season — playing an accordion with a stuffed seagull!
Miss California Bathing Beauty Contest, Venice Beach, 1936. This contestant displays her talent while serenading the wild life. Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Image #00070574.