9/29/16

SUZAN STRAUSS- RIP



-los angeles icon- 

SUZAN STRAUSS

(june 3rd 1930-  september 1st- 2016)

 (known here in LA as "THE LAVA LADY" in florida as "THE WELLINGTON WITCH")  

passed to the other side on September 1st, 2016.

suzan was a los angeles institution.
 anyone living in los angeles during the 80s & 90s had suzan spottings, and suzan stories to tell.

my personal stories  with suzan were many.
 she daily walked down melrose and la brea aves- wearing 13 inch brown platform shoes with matching burlap pantsuits & shawl combos. all self-made.
 suzan wore her hair- dyed shoe polish back in a severe ponytail pointing straight up- 
like an antenna. 

i once saw suzan, (approx 1987ish) at the original jet- rag- (on la brea- across the street from where it is now) looking in the mirror with a brocade black rose curtain wrapped around her shoulders. 
i said to her- "hello suzan". she nodded her head  politely.
 "that's a very nice fabric. what do you plan to do with it?"
 she thought for a moment , then pensively replied,
 "perhaps a skirt."  

  years later, (approx. 1993) i wanted to show my then BF- dan where she lived in a black house off la brea ave. suzan's house and the house next door were covered in black flint rock, (hence the nickname- lava lady).
as we were viewing the two black rock houses, a man exited the house next door.
 "hay! exclaimed by BF- dan, "that's my locksmith!" 
"you know suzan's tenant?" i said in shock.
well apparently he did, so we pried him with question after question,
 and this is what we found out-

* suzan strauss was an heir to levi strauss company.
* she had a fortune in real estate, among other holdings.
* the entire outsides of the two houses, including garages were covered in black sheet rock.
* all the outside plants were green yucca & cypress ferns.


*she had a green astro turf catwalk in the front yard.
*  she would walk up and down the catwalk on a regular basis.
* the insides were cover with natural color  flint rock.
* she used no electricity, only candles,
* she once had a black panther.  neighbors complained, the city made her remove it.
* she only ate baby food , canned food and non- cooked foods.
* all the furniture was blue plastic kids furniture.
* she made all her own clothes from burlap or heavy fabrics.
* she wore 13 inch platforms shoes- pretty much everyday.
* she move to wellington florida in the early 2000s.
* two gay guys bought her black rock house and painted it beige!

 during early 2000's i saw suzan on labrea ave walking by Ralph's market.
i took out my camera and waited for her to approach, (in 13 inch platforms this took awhile)
when she saw me she hesitated. i didn't want to scare her so i immediately said, "hello suzan". "hello", she responded cordially.
"may i take your photo?" i asked.
"yes," she replied in a happy sorta way and struck this pose for me-
photo- rick castro


suzan strauss was one of the los angeles eccentrics that made this city magical. 
she was one-of-a-kind. there will never be another person like her.

RIP- MY LEGEND- RIP.
you can read my extensive account of suzan over the years  here-


 
        (suzan inspired art)                                               (suzan inspired art)

Ray Suzan Strauss

June 3, 1930 - September 1, 2016
Ray Suzan Strauss, passed away on Thursday, September 1, 2016 in Florida at the age of 86. A Graveside service will be held at 2:00PM on Sunday, September 4, 2016 at King Solomon Cemetery in New Jersey

24 comments:

  1. Aww, I remember her. R.I.P. I love the Susan inspired art. I may have to do a painting some day. Nice post,thank you.

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  2. Thank you for the article and mentioning her as an outstanding citizen of Hollywood.
    I have never forgotten her... She was so courteous and soft spoken.
    A pleasure it was to interact with her... even if so minimally.
    A loved her slow paced walks and manners. She was not just eccentric.She carried herself with so much elegance.

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  3. I saw her many times, although it's been years. I never knew who she was. Thank you for this insight into an icon.

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  4. So beautifully written. Thank you for a comprehensive explanation for people that weren't around to see her. She was a work of art.

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  5. There was also a rumour she was the orgigial voice of snow white. Any thruth to this? RIP Suzan I would see you walking daily on Melrose and you were a true city treasure. How DARE they paint her house BEIGE? Really? How boring. That place was "Mid Century Voodoo" and looked amazing!! Any more information on why she moved and what she did in Florida would be compelling. Thank you for sharing.

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  6. I remember seeing her arouound on Vine St in the early 2000s . I wondered what had become of her. She was such an interesting person . Thanks for the article :-)

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  7. I remember seeing her arouound on Vine St in the early 2000s . I wondered what had become of her. She was such an interesting person . Thanks for the article :-)

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  8. I loved Susan. One year I was her for Halloween. Not everybody got it but definitely quite a few did and they all loved her too. She was a Los Angeles icon. Thanks for posting this.

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  9. I use to live near her in the 80'S . We never spoke. I saw her in front of her house, and walking slowly down the street. We wondered about her hair style, and her strange black house with no windows. I loved her original style. I'm so glad you wrote this article about her ! Simply fascinating !!

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  10. She was one of the first people I met when I first moved to LA.I used to live at Oakwood and Spaulding and saw her regularly. What a unique individual. So sad to hear of her passing.

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  11. Thank you.. i grew up around the block from that lava house. Seeing Susan on her walks was a part of my childhood. I remember my mother speaking to her a few times. RIP

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  12. I use to work for American Rag on La Brea. She was a regular customer. Very quiet and reserved but not a recluse because she got out quite a bit. I thought her antenna was interesting. I think I saw her without it once but, maybe I'm mistaken. Sorry she's gone it glad to hear about her again. She seemed to just disappear.

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  13. I grew up a few blocks from her house. As a young girl, I was dared to ask her why she wore the heels and why her hair was styled straight up. She told me the heels made her taller and thus closer to Hashem (God). She stated that her hair pointed straight up so that when Mashiach (the messiah) came, he could pull her up to heaven by her hair. I have no idea if these were her true beliefs, or just a story told to a group of giggling girls. She will be missed.

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  14. Omg....Wow! We use to call her the Lava Lady...and I had not seen her around Los Angeles for almost a decade and a half...thanks so much for this great update. Me and a friend from My were talking about how our cities had all these icons that were famous for no apparent reason. He could only cite one or two. THE NAKED COWBOY...I blew his mind w the list starting with THE LAVA LADY, MELROSE DANNY GREEN,DENNIS WOODRUFF THE OUT OF WORK ACTOR ,ANGELINE and her pink corvette , the power walking Dr of Silverlake, the Rollerblading Dervish of Venice beach...on and on....this is the first time anyone explained what happened to one. RIP mamam! I just got such a kick out of you...you REALLY did STOP traffic in LaBrea...

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  15. Omg....Wow! We use to call her the Lava Lady...and I had not seen her around Los Angeles for almost a decade and a half...thanks so much for this great update. Me and a friend from My were talking about how our cities had all these icons that were famous for no apparent reason. He could only cite one or two. THE NAKED COWBOY...I blew his mind w the list starting with THE LAVA LADY, MELROSE DANNY GREEN,DENNIS WOODRUFF THE OUT OF WORK ACTOR ,ANGELINE and her pink corvette , the power walking Dr of Silverlake, the Rollerblading Dervish of Venice beach...on and on....this is the first time anyone explained what happened to one. RIP mamam! I just got such a kick out of you...you REALLY did STOP traffic in LaBrea...

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  16. I knew Ray Strauss in the '50's & 60's when she was married and had two children. She was an orthodox Jew, living in Washington Heights, New York. When I went to her home on Detroit St, at the request of her son, in 1994 to check up her , she knew exactly who I was. She was always eccentric. We used to call her Mrs. Hats, as she wasn't quite as crazy in the old days. She was a fixture to the children at Yeshiva Toras Emeth. Ha-Makom y'nachem et'chem b'toch sha'ar aveilei Tzion v'Yerushalayim.

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  17. Hi,

    I took the portrait of Suzann above and would appreciate photo-credit. The photoshoot was for the late great LA Magazine, Glue. There's a story that goes along with it and perhaps I'll share that after you credit my photo. I get a little touchy when people use my work without payment, permission or attribution. Not that I am looking for payment here, just credit and a link to my Facebook page which is probably where you got the image. Thank you, Jack Gould

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  18. I remember her too! I grew up in the neighborhood in the 80's. But we called her the Frankenstein Lady because her shoes reminded us of Frankenstein and Herman Munster's shoes. They were high platforms like them, which we had never seen before. (Platforms came in the 90's, we had no idea she was so fashion forward) She didn't exactly WALK down the street rather she GLIDED. She walked slowly, always looking forward, yet she seemed content. fascinating woman

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  19. I remember her too! I grew up in the neighborhood in the 80's. But we called her the Frankenstein Lady because her shoes reminded us of Frankenstein and Herman Munster's shoes. They were high platforms like them, which we had never seen before. (Platforms came in the 90's, we had no idea she was so fashion forward) She didn't exactly WALK down the street rather she GLIDED. She walked slowly, always looking forward, yet she seemed content. fascinating woman

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  20. I remember seeing her walk around my neighborhood. I am glad I was alive enjoy her presence. She will be missed.

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  21. She was a character alright. She had close to Garbo status when you could report a sighting it was like a gift! The rumor of her being a witch was just a result of her oddness I think, the black house, the antenna hair and stature, etc. I don't believe she was REALLY a practicing witch - but maybe I'm wrong? Anyway as an enigma and colorful person she will definitely be missed.

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  22. I remember seeing her back in the day. I wish I was collecting my stories back then. I would have interviewed her. She was an icon extraordinaire. RIP

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  23. I lived in LA at Poinsettia and Melrose for 10 years from 96-2006 and saw Susan walking through the neighbourhood quite a bit. I wish I had know her nick name. We called her bun head. I have quite a good photo that I took of her with an old SLR (pre digital age) She and "fast walker" (the tall thin man always dressed in a white suit) who walked everywhere at quite a pace- those two are totally legend material.

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  24. I totally remembered seeing her back in the late 80's walking no just slowly gliding down the sidewalk and thought how odd she looked and kept to herself. Eccentric is an apt word to described everything about her. She got lots of intrigue from on lookers all the time and it didn't faze her one bit. As interesting her attire was I wouldn't have thought she was either wealthy or an heir to Levi Strauss.

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