Friday, May 05, 2006

The Secret Life of Public Costume Wearers

This was my first time ever in Hollywood. I find myself equally attracted and repulsed by it. Stars can be the wackiest people, and fortunately for us their oddities are reported on so we can realize that they are a world apart, with their own culture. But I'm not writing about that. Not this time. Even stranger.

Mission Impossible 3, was premeiring across the street from the hotel I was staying at. I hovered around the area, halfly to kill time, halfly to see exactly what goes on at these events. On the red carpet. In the end I ran out of time, but not before I ran into a fascinating subculture I never knew existed: costume wearers.

You see them every now & then in Vegas and Reno, the Britney Spears and Supremes doppelgangers. They are professional, or whatever. Some are dead-on, others look nothing like them except for the costume. It's a deriviative; not incredibly entertaining but amusing nevertheless. Especially the Marilyn Monroe ones - They're never old and always in skimpy dresses.

But paying to see some joker that looks like, but isn't, someone else, is kinda dumb to me. Unless they sing. Then I guess it's at least entertainment, although I still wonder about the sort of people that pay money to see them. Maybe these are same people that think cubic zircona is a good deal.

Other times you'll see them on the streets, which is a bit disconcerting, but at least it's free. They hang out at Star Wars conventions and, from my experience in Hollywood, at movies.

In the hours leading up to the premiere, while everyone was lining up against the rails in hopes of catching a glimpse of whoever, I first noticed an Elvis look-a-like. Actually he was more of a look-nothing-at-all-alike. He was short, overly fat (I know Elvis gained weight, but not this much weight), and didn't even sound like him. Here's a video:

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I crossed the street and then noticed a guy dressed up in a Batman costume. This was not a cheap outfit. It looked incredibly like the one in the movies, made of hard plastic, not the limp fabric that you see kids wear on Halloween. Dude even looked like George Clooney. He waved his cape in the air every now and then, drawing gasps and giggles from passersby.

Then I noticed two others: A gal in a cheap loose-fitting Supergirl costume, and a really lame looking Johnny Depp pirate character. These guys were working together. People were taking pictures with them, and the girl was smiling.

Another Johnny Depp pirate dude was across the street with Freddy Krueger. This guy had the costume down. He actually grew facial hair and styled it to look like him. I was pretty impressed. Freddy was wearing a mask, better than what I've seen in stores. I have to say I was a little bummed, but I gave him a break since that'd be hard to do. His glove didn't have real blades, which bummed me out more than the mask. I was expecting real blades, because that would be so cool, but when I saw they were plastic, I wasn't really let down, because honestly, a Freddy glove with real blades would be pretty hard to pull off in public.

I was compelled to see what motivated these guys to dress up. Was it for fun? Did they secretly wish to be these characters, like kids? Does wanted to dress up as an adult when it's daylight, not Halloween, and not under the influence make one a bit off?

I got my answer when I asked to take a video of Freddy.

"Sure, you can take a video. But just to let you know, I do this for tips."

Street performers. These guys are simple street performers. Like the dude with the organ and monkey. Except these guys are different. They have absolutely no talent.

Think about it. All street performers have to do something. There's the guys who paint themselves all over with metallic paint and play old school ghetto blasters and pop lock and do the robot in Union Square. On Venice Beach there's the kids who dance like Michael Jackson. They all got skills.

These jokers, these people that dress up? Losers. There's no talent in that. What do they do, put on a costume? That's it? What's the talent in that? Deflated blowup dolls have more flair than any of these.

And then I saw more: Shrek, Jason with a plastic machete, a midget in a Chucky outfit (the midget would have been entertaining without a costume). And then, I saw something incredible - they all knew each other.

I got a gotta have it from Cold Stone Creamery and was walking around the mall near the theater, when I saw them. All together. Having some sort of meeting. Pointing, as if to say, "All right, I've got the corner of Hollywood and Orange, and all the rest of you work south." Is there a home base? Are they union? WTF?

I decided one dollar was worth the entertainment if I could catch them on video. I asked Freddy and Jack Sparrow to pose for a dollar. They said alright, but Jack seemed pissed, as if I was cheating him out of a decent wage.

"What makes you decide to wear a particular costume?" I asked. I wanted to know what made these guys tick. "Does it depend on how you feel?" Jack shrugged.

"Yeah," and then he looked away. He seemed uncomfortable. Sure enough, he left after about 5 seconds. Freddy stayed, though. I got him to look scary. Here's the video:

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Still no answers. But I wasn't prepared for what I saw next: Elvis and Marilyn Monroe pimping Jesus.

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What were these guys thinking? That maybe if they dress up, they'll attract attention, and then whip out invitations to a prayer service, which is fine, but doesn't the costume and getup kinda make it all just a little non sequitur and kinky?

Unless that's your Jesus. In which case, it might be kinda cool to get schooled by Elvis about the Messiah.


Blogger Chiada said...

I think the most disturbing bit of this post is the air-humping Storm Trooper.

May 10, 2006 11:56 AM  
Blogger the sightspeed guy said...

I can't tell you how much I wanted that costume as a kid. And I saw one in Hollywood at a costume store. For $1000.

May 10, 2006 12:26 PM  

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