Once Upon A Time
In Los Angeles
Once Upon A Time in Los Angeles is a photo essay of Bruce Osborn’s work from the 1970’s.
Bruce Osborn is an American photographer from Southern California. He has been based in Tokyo for over 4 decades. Osborn’s work has appeared in numerous publications and advertisements. In addition, Bruce has received a number of professional awards and recognitions for his work, published photo books, and staged many major exhibitions of his photography.
All images copyright Bruce Osborn
Atomic Cafe was located on the edge of Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles and became a hangout for punk musicians and other New Wave bands. The restaurant’s legendary jukebox was the only place with a selection between punk rock and Japanese enka records. Rockabilly music was having a revival and I took this photo on a day we got together to have a rockabilly party.
Nancy Matoba was the owner, but everyone called her “Atomic Nancy”. She enjoyed having her cafe be a punk rocker’s hangout and on any given night you might see local bands like The Go-Go’s, Devo, and X or visiting musicians like David Byrne, Blondie, and David Bowie sitting at a table eating a bowl of noodles. Late at night when the place got going, waitresses would jump from one table top to another serving food.
Late night at the Atomic Cafe
The cafe was opened from 4:00pm to 4:00am in the morning. After the clubs had closed and if we weren’t ready to go home yet, we’d go to the Atomic Cafe and stay there until morning.
Rodney on the ROQ
Rodney Bingenheimer had a popular radio program on KROQ and was the only DJ who played the punk and new wave music. Rodney had a big old Cadillac and chauffeured the bands around who were visiting LA. I was working for Photographic Record Magazine at that time and Rodney wrote articles for them about who he had been hung out with and the places they had gone. The actor Sal Mineo gave him the nickname of “The Mayor of the Sunset Strip” and in 2007, Rodney finally got his star on Hollywood Blvd.