I’m glad to see you brave folks who aren’t afraid to go the unofficial route. We may not be the most “official” tour but we are the tour with the most pending lawsuits, and that’s after one lawsuit was dropped once we added the “Unofficial” to our name. On the Unofficial Hollywood Tour we are guided not only by a retired delivery man’s memory of how to get to Jim Carrey’s house, but we also lead by example. You can’t dim this star, our headlights are always on max because we cannot find the instruction manual.
As we get started look around at the beautiful thick smog around you; that’s the famous Sierra Mist, named after the soft drink.
The inspiration for the movies you all love, and I illegally download, is truly everywhere in this town. Take for example that Toyota Corolla honking at us right now, that Corolla inspired the Pixar film Cars, a movie which we all can all agree was difficult to understand.
Stay long enough in Hollywood and the line between movies and real-life really blurs! Take for example the famous line from A Few Good Men where Jack Nicholson says, “You can’t handle the truth!” Well, it actually was also said by me, to my old tour boss Daniel after he fired me.
On your left, you’ll see the famous Chinese Theater, host of the iconic Academy Awards. You may have seen headlines recently about the Academy trying to diversify but did you know in the 93 years they’ve been around every statue given out has been of a man? Despite its growing pains, we cannot discredit some of the incredible transformative performances celebrated at the Oscars. Did you know that in order to prepare for her Oscar-winning role in the film Monster Charlize Theron killed someone?
We’re coming up to the place where a lot of films were made, Universal Studios. To think they shot all those larger-than-life films in such small apartments is really a testament to the power of movie magic. Despite the name “Universal,” it’s an exclusive place. I was kicked out multiple times when I tried to live here during pilot season four years ago.
The other tour guides, especially my old boss Daniel, are so concerned with sticking to the script. Well, I’m proud to say I’m off book, specifically the history books. A lot of people don’t know that Hollywood was founded, and named after, the actress Evan Rachel Wood. She told me once at a party I was definitely invited to as a guest and not as a caterer. Sorry to get all “insidery,” but in this town you’re either on the “inside” or the “outside,” and if you’re on the outside then you’re not in LA at all. You’re probably in Irvine.
There are a lot of terms you may hear while you’re visiting that may be unfamiliar to you. Imax refers to a type of computer I sell, they’re just as good as Macs as long as you’re okay using a keyboard without vowels. I have a few in the trunk, see me after for more info. Backlot is the part of the Avis parking garage where I took this bus. If you hear people saying “storyboard,” they’re referring to when that rat Daniel is telling one of his “factual” stories about Hollywood and you’re bored out of your goddamn skull.
As we drive down Hollywood Boulevard you’ll notice the legendary Walk of Fame, the only place you’re allowed to walk in Los Angeles. Over there is the star for comedian Martin Short who was named after his height. You’ll see one for Neil Patrick Harris which is the name of a three-person boy band. There’s the star for Jake Gyllenhaal who, of course, is imaginary. You’ll never get this close to the Walk of Fame on the other tours, we’re the only tour that drives directly on the sidewalk.
Hollywood isn’t just known for entertainment though, it is home to many famous restaurants. The iconic chain In & Out is to your right, which was first created as part of a promotional campaign for the 1997 Kevin Kline film of the same name.
We’re coming up to one of the other famous sections of the city, the Sunset Strip. Despite its name, you are NOT allowed to dance exotically there at dusk, even if you have already given up on acting and were just fired from a more reputable tour bus and frankly were out of goddamn options. Although it is a place where you might see “that guy from that film” eat gluten-free sushi.
These Hollywood streets are the runways for countless dreams to take flight, it’s why Shrek named his studio DreamWorks. People arrive from all over with hopes of making it big. Tom Hanks made a whole documentary about it, you can look it up, it’s called Big. Some wouldn’t call guiding this tour achieving success, some (named Daniel) may even say we’re only doing this tour so we can finally drive in the carpool lane. But in Hollywood, you don’t have to listen to the negative reviews. Those pedestrians jumping out of the way of our bus, are they screaming and yelling because they fear for their lives? Or are they screaming to encourage us to make a web series?
Rodney Uhler is a writer in New York who’s work has appeared in McSweeneys, GQ, Paper Magazine, Slackjaw and others. He is of average height.