A Family Afar: A Taste of True Hollywood
Columnist Jon Bailey and his family have different views of Hollywood glitz and glamour
Illustration by Daniel Zalkus
Leading up to a long weekend in Hollywood, our girls were thrilled at the prospect of randomly meeting celebrities on the streets. Like something from Us Weekly or TMZ, they were positive that stars are “just like us,” roaming the haunts known to all tourists, waiting for that moment to be seen, adored, and Instagrammed.
“Can we meet the Kardashians?” they asked.
“Ab-so-lute-ly not,” my husband and I sniffed. “They are not our kind of Hollywood.”
While the kids packed and repacked their bags with stylish items appropriate for the inevitable celebrity meet-ups, we quietly planned activities to provide that uniquely Hollywood experience—stars or not. Off we went to The Beverly Hilton, celebrity magnet throughout history and home to many red carpet moments, including the Golden Globes. Like a true grand dame, the hotel greeted us with appropriate fanfare while the girls craned their necks for star sightings. The best they got were several beautifully displayed photos of stars through the ages.
First up after check-in was a quick jaunt to Melrose Avenue, where starlets and wannabes stroll the street and frequent the funky-chic galleries. Sophia and Ava had Googled “where the stars hang out” and insisted we go to Urth Caffé, made famous by the boys in Entourage. They proclaimed it “very Tumblr” and “Instagram-worthy,” so the appropriate photos were logged.
As we toured the supercool street murals and shops, it became clear that the prevailing style was “glam”—glitzy, sparkly, messy, torn, and maybe a little trashy. The girls squealed. We cringed.
From there, we gave them a taste of true Hollywood with a visit to The TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on Hollywood Boulevard. The theater tour was spectacular, as we viewed costumes worn by stars like Judy Garland and Elizabeth Taylor, and learned the history of founder Sid Grauman and his genius idea to set celebrity hand and footprints in the cement tiles out front. Ava posed with her namesake Ava Gardner’s tiny prints and Sophia sought out her own patron saint, Sophia Loren. To us, these women were the epitome of Hollywood glamour.
Next door at Madame Tussauds, we checked out the wax likenesses of some serious star power, each generation of celebrity presented in their best-dressed power poses. From Gaga to Beyoncé and Bette Davis to Clark Gable, the figures were uncannily real and perfectly coiffed. I tried (unsuccessfully) to lead an educational and historical retrospective on the great filmology of the 1930s and ’40s. This was met with dead eyes—from the girls, not the wax figures.
On the Warner Bros. studio tour another day, we all were excited to see behind-the-scenes glimpses into how movies are made. Ava was thrilled to recognize buildings from Pretty Little Liars, Sophia loved visiting Ellen’s soundstage, and we all enjoyed seeing the superheroes from DC Comics. In true generational theme, my husband and I were drawn to the classic Bruce Wayne/Batman and Clark Kent/Superman exhibits, while the girls went straight for Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad.
Our teen girls couldn’t care less about Hollywood glamour, even if it’s defined by industry icons like Cate Blanchett or George Clooney. That version of celebrity is too clean, tailored, well-heeled, and well-behaved. The girls’ generation prefers the “glam” of Johnny Depp, Kylie Jenner, Miley Cyrus, and Justin Bieber.
I guess there’s enough room in Hollywood—and our house—for both.
Jon Bailey pens the travel blog 2dadswithbaggage.com.