Night Stalker Supper

Chef Wes Avila of Guerrilla Tacos and Artist Juan Capistran came together to create The Night Stalker Supper, the first event in the Los Angeles Eats Itself decalogue. A meal centering around the infamous and sweltering summer of 1985 when serial killer, Richard Ramirez, single-handedly held Los Angeles hostage with his grisly crimes, Avila and Capistran’s collaboration brought you back to a summer of conflicting emotions, a contrast of genuine anxiety but also one of a community in rapt absorption of a terrifying ordeal happening all around them.  Wes Avila created an entire menu based on ‘comfort;’ recipes that used ingredients ‘that made him feel safe when he was a kid.’ From his grandmother’s meatball inspired taco, to horchata infused with a soothing Spanish lavender, Avila wanted to share dishes that would alleviate worry since so much of that unusually hot summer was charged with fear and anxiety. Served from the original Guerilla Taco’s truck, for this event Avila also debuted a new taco, the sweet potato taco, which would later become one of his signature tacos.

While eating, guests were seated at Juan Capistran’s pentagram dining arrangement, black plastic folding chairs surrounding five jet black tables that came to a blunt point while at the center of this symbolic star sat a large steel black metal ice bucket filled with drinks. Like a satanic themed house party, metal music played in the background as Capistran gave a talk explaining his tongue and cheek table and why the events of 85 deeply resonated with him. As a Mexican-born artist who grew up in a predominantly African American neighborhood in Los Angeles, Capistran remarked he listened to the same  music that Ramirez claimed was in service to his acts of murder. But for Capistran, the metal music he grew up with gave solace as well as an escape to cope with the misfit feelings of growing up in Los Angeles.

The soundtrack during that night was curated by Capistran’s own teenage son; it was mixture of songs from different death metal groups that  Ramirez often touted as having secret satanic messages embedded in their lyrics. Growing up in a place with few spaces for the misfits of youth culture, metal music wasn’t a call to hurting others Capistran told the crowd in attendance. If anything, he said it provided catharsis for feelings of alienation not yet understood or fully articulated. Metal music acted as a beacon for a newly emergent group of outsiders forming their own community. The soundtrack was Capistran and his son’s small way of reclaiming this music as something deeply important to their adolescence.

Lastly, Los Angeles Eats Itself made a small batch of bottled purified Los Angeles river water, or LARW for short, so that not only could Los Angeles eat itself, it could literally drink of itself too.

The Night Stalker Supper would not have been possible without the generous support of  Art History Department of Woodbury University and the Underground Museum.