I think I’m in the minority here, but I’m a huge fan of the people who dress up as characters and essentially harass people for money at Hollywood and Highland, right in front of the Chinese Theater. Some people have a big problem with them, to the point that the cops started cracking down on them and cleared them off the street, leaving the sidewalk in front of such noted cultural institutions as the Hard Rock Cafe, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, and the mall in front of the Kodak Theater free and clear from interesting, weird and zany people.
I was heartbroken. I loved passing by and seeing the characters; I liked counting how many Jack Sparrows would be there (one day four), and I liked seeing the incongruous pairings of characters who made friends. Superman chatting with Darth Vader always made my day a little bit better. For the last few months the streets of Hollywood have been colorless, filled only with dopey tourists and the ragged few remaining scumbags who have made Hollywood their home for decades.
But now the characters will return. A federal judge has ruled that dressing up as Batman and coercing tourists to give you money for photos is a Constitutionally protected form of free speech, and bless them for it. Now these ragged, sometimes pathetic, always intriguing characters will return. And once again there will be something anarchic on Hollywood Boulevard, something that is about personal imagination and not about corporate culture, something that reflects the idea that you can come to Hollywood and be somebody else and earn a living, even if you’re earning it one tourist photo at a time.
For more about the Hollywood characters I highly recommend watching Confessions of a Superhero, a great documentary about them and their weird, fucked up lives.