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Arts and Entertainment

Video: Touring The Ruins Of Hollywood Hills' Infamous Spider Pool

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There used to be a house owned by an eccentric Hollywood weirdo, known for wild pool parties. While the house is in ruins, part of the pool remains. It can be seen in a new video tour.

The tour comes from Scott Michaels of the off-beat and often macabre Hollywood tour company, Dearly Departed. In the video, he takes us on a tour of the ruins of the "infamous Spider Pool" in the Hollywood Hills. The location of the pool remains hidden, and it's also surrounded by private property. Michaels happened to gain access via someone who owned property below the house and allowed him to hike up to the ruins.

The Spider Pool is so named for a retaining wall that features a large spider in a web. The pool achieved a sort of cult infamy when a number of 'cheesecake' photos—pin-up style photos of nude or scantily clad women—were shared on the Internet among fans of the genre, and the collectors started noticing that the pool appeared several times over in numerous photos. So, they wondered, what's the story with this pool?

The pool once belonged to John "Jack" McDermott, an actor and silent filmmaker, Michaels explains. In 1923, he decided to build himself a place in the Hollywood Hills. McDermott's house was built from various Hollywood set pieces and was known as the "crazy house," which could have applied to both its hodgepodge design and pool parties of ill repute.

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Michaels says that McDermott even built one room that appeared to be upside down, which is where he would bring his buddies who'd had too much to drink and needed a nap. He would wait until they woke up and spy on them from a secret passageway to see their confused reactions. He also built himself a throne and was rumored to provide women with free bathing suits that disintegrated when they got wet.

"What a kook!" Michaels comments.

McDermott himself met a tragic end when he overdosed on pills in 1946. He was 53. After McDermott's death, photographers would use the pool for the cheesecake photos. But the house also fell into disrepair, and by 1962, the City had come in and dismantled most of it. While much of the pool tile has fallen out and tumbled down the hills and all that remains of the pool is a bowl of grass, the retaining wall remains in tact. In 2009, an LAist writer went and found the pool, though he declined to say where exactly it was located.

Watch the tour here. (Warning: There are some photos of nude women in the video, so it might not be safe for work.)