Seemayer Studios presents a new documentary, now in production, about the American Hotel in downtown Los Angeles and the Arts District that surrounds it. Since 1979, the American Hotel has been the beating heart of a rich community of artists who began moving into the deserted factory buildings between Alameda and the Los Angeles River.

The Stories

Filmmakers Stephen Seemayer and Pamela Wilson have interviewed more than 80 residents, former residents and neighbors of the American Hotel. "Tales of the American" will weave together their stories and memories of nearly four decades in what is now known as the Arts District in eastern downtown Los Angeles.

The History

Built in 1905, the American Hotel was originally intended to provide a haven for black travelers and entertainers in the early 20th century, when other downtown hotels were segregated. It has withstood several earthquakes and the groundshaking punk scene that once rocked Al's Bar on the ground floor of the hotel.



The Setting

Originally surrounded by factories, warehouses and train tracks, the corner of Traction Avenue and Hewitt Street is now the hub of what the City of Los Angeles terms its Arts District. The brightly painted walls sport graffiti as well as sanctioned murals on streets that now are home to cafés, galleries, restaurants and theaters.


The Legacy

The infamous punk-rock dive Al's Bar, where bands such as White Stripes and Red Hot Chili Peppers played before fame found them, was located on the ground floor of the American Hotel for 21 years. Also, several exciting, if short-lived, L.A. art groups, such as 50 Bucks, Bedlam and Deep River Gallery, at one time called the hotel home. 

Now in postproduction in Downtown L.A.

As postproduction continues in 2017, the filmmakers will update progress and post video samples of what to expect from "Tales of the American." 

Besides managing the American Hotel and Al's Bar from 1994 to 2001, Toastacia Boyd, familiarly known as Toast, played drums and other instruments in several bands, including Paper Tulips, the Neptunas, the Ray-O-Vacs and Jackknife. "Our sticker said, 'Fuck you, I'm in Jackknife!" says Toast, who now devotes her time to collecting and racing motorcycles.

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© Tales of the American / Seemayer Studios LLC 2014