Hi. My name is Joan Renner and I’m the person behind the scenes at Deranged L.A. Crimes. I am a writer, lecturer, and a social historian with an expertise in historic Los Angeles crime.
I have been fascinated by crime since I was a kid growing up in Chicago. My earliest recollection of following a crime story is when I was about 8 years old. I read in the Chicago Tribute about a boy, close to my age, who had disappeared. He was later discovered murdered. I don’t think the crime was ever solved. The last report I remember reading was that the boy’s father had died of a broken heart. My child brain didn’t grasp the concept. All I knew was that I wanted to find out what made people tick. It’s been a long tie since I was 8, and I have yet to figure people out. It’s a life-long study.
Over the past several years I have appeared in about 20 episodes of various ID Discovery Channel programs such as: Deadly Women, Evil Twins, Deadly Affairs, Evil Kin, Nightmare Next Door –you get the idea. If the show has Dead or Evil in the title I’ve probably been interviewed for it at least once. And, if anyone out there has a connection, I’ve always wanted to appear on Wives with Knives (also on ID Discovery). Who can resist a show with that title? A few years ago I appeared in a segment on film noir for the Turner Classic Movie series Film Fanatics and I been interviewed by the History Channel for a show on famous mobsters from the early days of crime.
I worked for 6 1/2 years as an archivist at the Los Angeles Police Museum and was an assistant curator for a limited run exhibit based upon the LAPD’s continuing investigation of the 1947 unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short, aka The Black Dahlia. I was fortunate to have been part of a small book team that edited a book of crime scene photos for the Police Museum. The book is LAPD ’53 and was published in May 2015. James Ellroy, the Demon Dog of American crime fiction, wrote the narrative to accompany the photographs. It was an incredible project and I loved every minute of it.
I am no longer affiliated with the Los Angeles Police Museum, however, I am currently a volunteer archivist/historian for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Museum, slated to open early in 2017. Actually there will be two museums. A small museum which will open in the Hall of Justice downtown and feature artifacts reflecting the original inhabitants of the Hall: the Sheriff’s Department, District Attorney, and the Coroner.
A museum which will focus exclusively on the history of the Sheriff’s Department will open at what was formerly the Los Angeles County Women’s Jail, Sybil Brand Institute, likely some time in 2017. It is going to be nothing short of spectacular.
I have lectured at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, the Central Library, and private organizations on such diverse topics as: “Gold Diggers & Snake Handlers: Deranged L.A. Crimes from the Notebook of Aggie Underwood”, “Felonious Flappers: Bad Girls of the Art Deco Era”, and “Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: How the ‘Bob’ Changed Hiistory”. The “Gold Diggers…” lecture provided the inspiration for the Deranged L.A. Crimes blog.
In addition to Deranged L.A. Crimes, I write a blog called Vintage Powder Room (http://vintagepowderroom.com) that explores history, women, art, and provides me with a blatantly transparent excuse to add to my extensive collection of vintage cosmetics ephemera. I am honored to have a photograph I took of one of my items included in an exhibit on radio advertising at the Smithsonian.
I am a board member for the non-profit Photo Friends (affiliated with the Los Angeles Public Library). I have served on the Advisory Board of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Museum and on the Los Angeles County Peace Officer Memorial Committee.
Several times a year I am a tour guide for Esotouric, a company that gives, among their many offerings, crime-themed tours of Los Angeles. Look for me on the Black Dahlia; Blood and Dumplings; Hotel Horrors & Main Street Vice, and East Side Babylon tours.
After threatening for the past few years to complete a book on some of the cases that reporter Aggie Underwood covered during her time as a reporter, I can finally say that I am nearing publication! The book is undergoing its final round of editing, then it will be formatted, designed and ready to go. The book is entitled: Deranged L.A. Crimes from the Notebook of Aggie Underwood. Follow the blog for news and information about the book and other Deranged events.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet many of you– the readers of Deranged L.A. Crimes–and I’ve corresponded with many more. I am consistently impressed by the depth and breadth of your knowledge about crime, human nature and a variety of other related topics. I am in stellar company.
Thank you all for your readership. I truly appreciate it.
Feel free to contact me at: email@example.com