California artist Frank Bowers was obviously inspired by the Embers moniker. His seductive oil works of topless Hollywood starlets as she-devils in a fiery underworld are everywhere here (two big pieces smolder behind the bar and individual paintings above each booth). Marilyn Monroe, Kirk Douglas, Natalie Wood, Jayne Mansfield and Rock Hudson are all depicted on the walls in suggestive poses that recall old pulp fiction paperback novel covers. The kitschy/sexy art is the main draw, but the Embers also has everything a dive aficionado could desire: extremely comfortable worn-in leather booths, pool tables for 50 cents and one of those "adults only" souvenir dispensers in the bathroom (four quarters yields tiny booklets filled with sex positions or stickers with dirty jokes).
The debate about what constitutes a dive will never be settled, not even in a bar brawl. We realized this the minute we endeavored to write a definitive book about the subject in 2010, Los Angeles' Be... More »