What’s your Hollywood fantasy? From all over the world, people come here to experience the Hollywood dream, knowing that it isn’t just on the silver screen that fantasies can come true.
Eastside to Westside -- all around the town -- in Hollywood you can find just about anything you dream about. Want a colorful Mexican wrestling mask? They’re in the window of a Melrose import-export shop, Blue Demon. How about a Venetian festival mask of gold leaf or fabulous jewel-encrusted silver fabric? You can find one at a fine Franklin Avenue gift store, Espiritu de Veda for $60 and up. Dream about owning a five foot, gold-leaf-painted Buddha from Thailand? At Art and Antique World on La Brea, they stare beatifically at passersby from the sidewalk.
Art, clothing or a memorable piece of Hollywood cinema -- it’s all here, if you know where to look.
Hollywood Boulevard, of course, is its own fantasy, with its own “look.” Start at Outfitter’s Wigs, well-known in the film and TV industry, where the windows are filled with wondrous pastel or pouffed-out rainbow-colored wigs. Inside, there are such character wigs as “Marilyn,” “Betty Paige,” “Diana Ross,” and their latest - “Anna Nicole!”
At the other end of the spectrum, the super-hip Ozzie Dots in Los Feliz, where studio wardrobe people fight for the pickings -- is adorned with hand-picked 30’s-70’s vintage and costumes, props and accessories, and even some Victorian dresses. On our trip, we spied a swing-era zoot-suit, and a 50’s carhop uniform along with great huge rock star sunglasses, and a coconut shell bra from their “Hawaiiana” collection (sure to shock Aunt Sylvia). Bringing home a piece of the film world -- is another matter, and can be had at a variety of cinema collectibles shops in Hollywood. Serious film buffs know about the venerable Larry Edmunds, here since 1939, and believed to have the world’s largest collection of cinema and theater books (many on silent film).
Cinema Collectors on Wilcox, is a great source for stills and near-mint posters of classic films that date back as the 1930’s. And Hollywood Books & Posters sells posters from all the new films, James Bond-007 to Harry Potter, and you can rifle through bins of lobby cards, photos and master-prints (or buy a t-shirt to boot). Book City Collectibles now at Hollywood & Highland also has a vast storage of scripts, besides thousands of books.
Back at Hollywood Toys and Costumes, by the way, “toys” mean “adult collectibles” like Ozzy Osborne and Austin Powers action figures, along with rare 50’s and 60’s model Bat-mobiles, and even a limited edition Edward Scissorshands. But once you fill your walls with movie posters and books - you might be thinking about furnishing your fantasy in other ways.
At Glory, in Los Feliz (where a sign boasts “Antiques for the American Rebel”), you can dig the fabulous 50’s with vintage motorcycles, helmets and accessories. Throw in an old Texaco sign, a Shell gas pump ($2,800), and you’re on the road.
And at the aptly-named Off-The Wall Antiques, the oldest pop-antique shop on Melrose, you can buy a fiberglass cow that once graced the roof of the old Altadena dairies, or a $95 1960’s phone, and if you’re feeling flush, for a cool $48,000 -- a 100,000 year-old prehistoric cave bear (sold by a museum in Switzerland).
Further west on Melrose, the word among trendoids is “retro-punk” which, we’ve learned, means huge safety pins and zip-less zippers on all the clothing. The, um, colorfully-named Retail Slut, is considered the biggest name there, attracting such stars as Christina Aguilera, Angelyne, Dwight Yoakam and Michael Jackson ? who wore their “bondage belt” on the cover of “Bad” (so it can’t be all bad!)
But rock legends in Hollywood go back much further. At Capitol Rock, on the Boulevard, they carry silk-screened t-shirts of probably every rock star--from Jim Morrison to Kurt Cobain? along with Pink Floyd lighters and Beatles belt buckles.
Down on Sunset Boulevard, along the two-block “Guitar Gulch,” metal, glam, and classic rock reign. The giant (and most price-competitive), among the instrument stores is the Guitar Center, with its world-famous attraction, the Hollywood RockWalk, where superstars like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Les Paul, Santana and the Van Halen brothers have left handprints or signatures.
Inside, rockers and/or their kids sound a cacophony of noise, as they try out various Fender Stratocasters or Gretsch guitars--all at once! Arturo Valdez has been building his fine custom flamenco guitars for over 45-years. The charming Valdez (whose guitars sell for $1,800-$10,000), also has worked with rock guitarists, doing all of John Lennon’s fretwork and customizing Gene Simmons’ famous axe. Up on Gardner Street, Voltage Guitars deals in “rare” and “expensive.”
Owner Lloyd Chiate can sell you a Gibson ‘64 Firebird V-7--the model Keith Richards and Tom Petty use -- or show you a rare modernistic 50’s Gibson “Flying-V” in a glass case. Somewhere in back, they keep the actual 1948 D’Angelico guitar used on “Mona Lisa,” and all of Nat King Cole’s sessions.
Although, for those who prefer to just listen, the year-old indie record store Amoeba Records, further east on Sunset, is giving every record store in town a run for its money. Fans can be seen sorting through miles of music--500,000 new and used CD’s, and 200,000 vinyl LP’s!--in a mind-boggling number of genres ranging from rock to 20th century classical and everything in-between. As an added bonus, the music-loving staff (who research music for TV and film productions), do know their stuff!
As you wind down your Hollywood trip, you’ve probably fulfilled your fantasy, but if not--consider several of Hollywood’s more, well “eclectic” shopping haunts. Y-Que, home of the original “Free Winona” t-shirt (as recently featured on CNN), is a plastic paradise of frankly weird toys and memorabilia like “Blue Hawaii” playing cards and the set of Elvis coasters, “Valley of the Dolls” pillboxes or the hula girl dashboard nodder your nutty Uncle Horace might like.
At the frankly wacky Soap Plant/Wacko, (two conjoined stores which sell a lot more than soap), you can satisfy your pop-art lover’s instinct at the La Luz de Jesus gallery in back--and try to escape without grabbing a “Marilyn” watch, a Three Stooges shower curtain or a ball of glowstring!
Finally, on a hidden end of east Hollywood, there’s Metal Maddness, a storefront gallery where sculptor Mike Peery welds his little two-foot character robots, custom miniature motorcycles and intricate 1/32” scale trains that move on tracks. Peery’s eight-foot statue of St. Francis of Assisi once greeted you on the sidewalk ? till the city demanded its removal. “But,” says Perry, “for the right price, he’s yours!”
Only in Hollywood.