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My LA: Allis Markham on Taxidermy, Pinot Noir & Weddings In LA

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MY LA: Allis Markham

Current Gig: Owner of Prey Taxidermy, volunteer taxidermist at the Natural History Museum.

LA Transplant or Native Angeleno?
Transplant -- from IN, to FL, to NYC, to here.

How does LA compare to home?
It's become home. It has all the culture of New York and surrounding nature of the country.

How would you describe your LA?
It's like an animal: the skin is just the beginning of the story. You've really got to open it up and root around to find the cool stuff.

What local animal do you taxidermy the most?
At the moment, birds. Mostly Chukar and Quail. And even some pigeons-- I call that 'Urban Game Hunting'.

How does taxidermy collaborate with art in LA?
Taxidermy is having a real renaissance at the moment within the art scene. I think people are beginning to to get past their pre-conceived notions -- or maybe even embrace them. They're discovering that taxidermy is really just sculpture with some science and biology mixed in. That's what's so different about it as an art-form: the goal is to recreate life from death.

What are your favorite taxidermy shops?
The Rose Bowl Flea Market is great for vintage taxidermy finds. Vintage taxidermy is wonderful because you can leave it worn or clean it up with some basic household products. There's also Necromance on Melrose. They not only have taxidermy, but some wonderful bone and insect jewelry.

Have you seen this commercial? Would you ever do something like this?

Yes, I'm a Redditor and caught the Chuck Testa fever pretty early. Would I make anything like that? I guess I'd have to say "NOPE."

What is the best and worst part of your job?
The best part is working with my hands. It's very fulfilling to have physical results of your work.

The worst part is that it's pretty solitary. I tend to listen to podcasts (Stuff You Missed in History Class, Ricky Gervais Show) to keep my mind occupied during long projects.

When you tell locals about your job, how do they react?
They're usually very interested and want me to explain how it's done, which I love doing. Though occasionally I have people who inch away -- very, very slowly.

You're planning a wedding in LA -- what is that like?
Fun! We're doing the whole thing in LA though our families are on the East coast, so we really want them to see all the city has to offer. The rehearsal dinner -- In & Out truck at a raw space called Post 42 on 1st and La Brea. It's made out of old army barracks and done up in turn-of-the-century decor by Matthew Winter. And, of course, we're having the ceremony and reception at the Natural History Museum. It's such a massive and elegant space with the right amount strange. Our guests are very excited to "drink beer next to a dinosaur."

Favorite LA wedding venues? Shops?
I didn't hit up many traditional boutiques, actually. Instead, I'm working with a local designer, Cocoe Voci. She has a very vintage aesthetic and is even working with me to incorporate fur and exotic beetles into my look! It's a wonderful experience and something I know I'll treasure forever.

What are some of your favorite restaurants?
I really love Eva Restaurant on Beverly. They have the most creative, delicious dishes and are always doing interesting things with the menu. I have never had a bad dish there. I'd also recommend Parks BBQ for the best Korean BBQ you've ever had. And, I live a block from an amazing italian place called Osteria La Buca. It not only has great food, but the cocktails are incredible.

Where would you take an out-of-town friend?
I always take people to Griffith Park and then shopping along Los Feliz. I think it's great for people to see how much the city can change in a mile. And to see, yes, we have nature!

Do you have a meal that reminds you of LA?
Shrimp Tacos. I don't know how I lived without them for so long.

What is your go-to drink and where do you go for the best one?
I love Red Wine -- Pinot Noir specifically. Which is great because LA is near some amazing wineries and the local restaurants really take advantage. I usually pick up some great bottles at Fanciful on Melrose and sip them outback by my firepit. But if I'm in the mood for a fancy cocktail, I head downtown to Varnish and ask the barkeeper for anything refreshing and gin-based. They always impress.

What is the craziest thing you've seen in LA?
It was raining and I was driving down Sunset when suddenly there was a giant man in the middle of the road walking and flailing his arms. I almost hit him, but luckily was able to swerve. That man was Jason Segel.

Do you have a song that reminds you of LA?
The ice cream truck song. It goes by everyday at 3PM.

Why do you love Los Angeles?
I live in a house, have a backyard, but I can still walk to a bar. It doesn't sound like much, but if you've ever lived in a very urban or suburban environment, you know how amazing that is.

Why do you hate Los Angeles?
I hate passion fruit iced tea. I'm not the first person to express this, but it's really a problem in LA.

Why LA?
Because it's not the south, it's warmer than New York and easier than San Francisco.

This interview has been edited for length.

Around the Web

Allis Markham | LinkedIn

Allis Markham (@AllisMarkham) on Twitter

Prey Taxidermy | Facebook

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