Thursday, April 21, 2005

Grauman's Chinese Theater: Weirdoes in Costumes

Paris has the Eiffel Tower, San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge, and Hollywood has the Chinese Theater.

It is probably the finest movie palace on earth and definitely the most famous. I know, I know I covered this all before here, but there are some details that I didn't get into. Today it's the "Weirdoes in Costumes".

The Chinese Theater is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. As a matter of fact, in Southern California, only Disneyland rivals it in popularity.

There is only one problem. People don't know what to do when they get there.

Picture this: you are some random guy. Let’s call you Joe. No wait, lets go with Ralph. Oh, even better RALF. With the "f" at the end. Yeah, I like that.

You are Ralf. You have three kids and a wife who isn't aging well. You scrape together $1100 out of your meager income and make the car trip from Tempe, Arizona to fabulous Hollywood, California. You arrive on Hollywood Blvd. and park on the street half a block from the Chinese Theater.

You have arrived.

But, you have two problems! First, how can you get your kids to appreciate the Chinese Theater? Second, your wife was yelling at the kids on the way and turned around to yell at them but got stuck between the headrest and the ceiling and is now stuck in the car facing backwards kneeling on the seat with her butt against the dashboard.

What do you do?

As for the wife, Ralf, I recommend that you put a blanket over her and put up a "no radio in car" sign to keep thugs away. As for the kids... hmmmm that is an interesting problem.

What should Ralf do?

This is a moronic question since OBVIOUSLY it has SOMETHING to do with "Weirdoes in Costumes" so let me move on.

First of all, a quick explanation of the theater is in order. The theater has over 200 hundred hand prints, foot prints and autographs of movie stars. Everyone from R2D2 to John Wayne is out there. The theater itself is a marvel full of ornate designs and wonderful little touches.

Inside plays the hottest film of the week on one of the biggest screens anywhere. They also offer tours that give you a great historical perspective on the theater.

It is a movie lover's dream.

But, what about the kids? To them it's a weird building full of handprints of people they never heard of that's most likely showing an R rated film that they can't watch.

To accommodate the kids, the theater has set up booths where they can make a "handprint" souvenir to take home. But some enterprising people have outdone them.

A group of costumed freelancers stand outside the theater everyday. The costumes range from "absurd" to "mainstream" and "theme park quality" to "Halloween store rejects" but they all have one thing in common. They charge you to take a photo with them.

The fee isn't much, usually $5, but it could add up quickly. The kids love it, and often these guys have lines longer than (NOTE TO SELF: Think of amusing "line" comparison and insert it here.)

Let's take a look.

Here's Captain America standing next to 'sexy lady cop'. For some reason he is holding Spider-man's mask. I don't know what is being implied here, but I don't like it.

You notice that they tend to line up on the sidewalk in front of the theater rather than on the handprints themselves. That must be a rule of the theater.

Next it's the King! This Elvis impersonator is probably the best of the bunch. I must say, in person he looks more like Jim Belushi than Elvis, but there probably isn't much call for a Belushi impersonator. He has a small speaker and a microphone and he sings and talks to people as they pass. He puts on a good show and gets a lot of $5's. Good for him.

Captain America has moved his attention from 'mocking Spider-man' to 'looking woefully at the horizon'. Fighting crime is a lonely job.
Sexy lady cop wasn't doing well; she was not pulling in the clients. I think she had one of those costumes that just doesn't have a target audience. The kids aren’t interested and Dad isn’t allowed to be.
Sure single men oogle her, but no one wants to pay $5 for the joy of standing next to her. Too bad.
Also, her crime fighting skills seem to be lacking. Both she and the Captain stand idly by as the Evil Queen that poisoned Snow White, Maleficent, stands on the sidewalk.
Maleficent seems to have mellowed, however, she is waving happily to everyone she sees.
She looks just like my friend's crazy aunt. Hi Marge!

This was hands down the most popular costume there, for obvious reasons. But there was one MAJOR problem. The guy was TALL, REALLY TALL! Too tall to be Mickey Mouse. He towered over everyone including the gentleman walking by in the photo. I love that guys look; it says "I don't have time for you today, giant mouse!"

This dude was just strange. I don't know who he was trying to be, but he was giving the "hard sell" to everyone that walked by. The girl on the left is thinking "Do I really need a photo with... uh... what is he supposed to be? A gay pirate, a gay Zorro or just an annoying gay guy?" Sexy lady cop stands alone.

These are just a sample of the characters standing outside on a weekday afternoon last fall. Every day is a little different. Marilyn Monroe is usually there, in fact, once I saw 2 Marilyns at the same time. Creepy Homer Simpson is also a staple as is Ogre Fiona from Shrek.

Most make me smile, but some make me sad. I just about tear up whenever a picture a young lady looking in the mirror in the morning saying "Yeah, I look like the female ogre from Shrek."

I also get sad thinking about Ralf's wife.

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