Monday, December 13, 2010

Madame Tussaud's Hollywood

Oh, Hollywood Blvd. Full of the sound and fury, signifying nothing but broken dreams and the wealth of Scientology.Outside Madame Tussaud's, in the heart of this grimy American nightmare, dusty carnival barkers screamed at Liz and me from megaphones to come inside, shoving pamphlets in our startled faces. After we paid A LOT to get in we looked at each other wearily and made our way to the start of the tour, which is on the third floor. After stepping off the elevator we realized we may be entering the first ring of Dante's Inferno.

It appeared to be a disco filled with screaming children.

Yes, it was that bad. George Clooney leered at us from a VIP table. Loud music pumped club beats and little girls ran around the figures of hot current celebs, oddly positioned like some low rent version of Raphael's, "The School of Athens." From Carrie Underwood to Lady Gaga, the girls posed and shrieked around them while poor Jennifer Aniston stood opposite Brad and Angelina, her molded eyes glued to their every non-move.

The second floor was much quieter, since the kids had no idea who any of the figures were. It was dedicated to the older folks (which we are now, I suppose), to our last great century. We slowly started having fun, dissecting if that really looked like them ( Ingrid Bergman: NO, Bette Davis:YES), if they were really that tall (Jimmy Stewart:YES, Robert Redford:NO) and why they were still displayed (Mel Gibson, Tiger Woods). Oh, and who the hell was that. Seriously,who is this lady to the left? If you can tell me I'll give you the mold of my wax hand ($12, on the first floor).

By the time we hit the Star Trek section, the sports section, the superhero section, the classic movie section, we were having a grand time. It is like a 3-D "US Weekly", it made you want to gossip, it inspired dialogue and shared history and a sense of wonder. We both wanted our pictures taken with various high end statues and became giggly and happy when they turned out well. Hello, Jack. By the first floor, we were like more jaded versions of the little girls we had seen upstairs. It was a lot of fun.

The most interesting exhibit was the smallest. Narrated by Beyonce, to appeal to kids (although we were the only ones there), it explained the way a wax figure is made. It also told the fascinating history of Madame Tussaud, about how she was forced to make the death mask of Marie Antoinette's, and what an absolute pioneer she was in the art of self promotion. You can touch all the figures, which I really love, and though they feel like insubstantial Barbies, the best of them capture a human essence that is just as captivating as a great painting or photograph.

Which brings me to my unnatural love of glorified mannequins. In ancient Rome and through medieval times the statues we now see as white were painted fantastic shades, the colors of life. I have never gotten over my absolute love of realistic dolls, painted effigies on tombs, any statue by Bernini. I'm just a total sucker for fake people. I guess it's a good thing I live in Hollyweird.

Content: B
Subjective Coolness: A-
Overall: B+

Directions: Right next to Grauman's on the Strip. Trust me, you will not miss it. They won't let you.
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 10am-6pm. Friday-Sunday: 10am-8pm.
Price: Ridiculous. $25 at the door. $20 online. Plus $10 for parking. If you can, be smart like Liz and walk

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