We were invited to a presentation at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland on a Sunday evening.
I think the last time we were in Hollywood at night was when Our Son was still too young to drive, and asked us to take him to an all-ages music venue with his friends. We dropped the kids off,and then walked down the boulevard to Musso & Franks. An hour or so later, we sauntered back to the club to pick up our sweaty and starry-eyed 14-year-olds and drive them back to Topanga.
Tonight we had no teenagers to contend with - at least none of our own. We were there to watch talented young musicians perform, but this time we weren't responsible for them, only for ourselves.
A reception was held at the Roosevelt Hotel after the program, so we parked at the garage near the hotel and walked to the theatre. We passed the famed Grauman's Chinese Theatre, where tourists marveled at the stars' hand and foot imprints, and posed for pictures with costumed characters.
How did the tradition of costumed characters began here on Hollywood Boulevard? I wonder if any brilliant and discerning graduate student of theatre, arts, or Performance Studies has done a thesis on this phenomenon.
What you have is people wearing costumes of famous non-human characters from films, standing around on the sidewalk making themselves available to be photographed. They usually look nothing like the actual film character, and their costumes are pretty tacky-looking.
I like observing them when the characters aren't "on the job," but waiting for an interaction. They stand around and chat with one another, like workers at a water cooler, except they're in fantastic costumes, on a public sidewalk.
So you might see a scene like this, where Sponge Bob, Jack Sparrow, the guy from Hellraiser, and a rather unconvincing Wonder Woman are just - well - hanging out. I think there must be a rule forbidding cigarettes in costume, otherwise I'm sure they'd be bumming smokes from one another.
It semeed like there were a lot of characters tonight - more than usual? Maybe it was because it's almost Halloween.
There was a sexy girl pirate; a couple of Transformers; a guy in a banana suit and multiple people dressed as Yoda.
There was a rather paunchy Gene Simmons - looking bored.
When our program was over, we emerged from the theatre onto the Boulevard and walked to the reception at the hotel. The street glowed with neon lights, and it was even busier than it had been before.
There were Bacon Dog vendors and guys selling glowing light sabers. It's Hollywood, baby!
My camera was set wrong when I snapped this costumed creature - but I like the blurred look - its what it felt like, leaving the theatre and seeing him pacing back and forth on the pavement, a fearsome demon, waiting for the attention of tourists.
When we left the Roosevelt after the reception, there was a guy on the sidewalk outside the hotel entry.
He was sitting on a wheeled case, changing out of costume. His long hair hung on his face, limp with sweat. He'd already removed his mask and gloves, and was taking off his Spiderman slippers to put on his sneakers. He still wore the shirt with the spider print on the front, and the tights.
We made eye contact as we came out of the hotel entry, and I said, "Evening." "How's it going?"he said.
"You have a good night." He nodded. Just another guy getting off the night shift.
A few feet away on the sidewalk, a couple of Korean tourists were snapping each other's pictures, against the lit backdrop of Hollywood Boulevard.