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kiwifan
Jan 25th, 2003, 04:41 PM
Hollywood Boulevard Just Isn't Big Enough For Elmo and Friends
Interlopers Don Costumes For Tips, Tussle With Law; Batman, Kato Duke It Out :haha:

By PETER SANDERS
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
October 24, 2005; Page A1

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- Last Wednesday, the furry red Muppet named Elmo learned that Hollywood Boulevard is a long, long way from Sesame Street.

In plain sight of children and tourists, Elmo -- or at least, a man named Don Harper in a knockoff Elmo costume -- was arrested here by the Los Angeles Police Department. Elmo was taken down by a special task force created to combat a growing nuisance in the Hollywood tourist district: famous costumed characters who try to be photographed with tourists and sometimes badger them relentlessly for tips.

LAPD officers, posing as clueless foreign tourists in front of Mann's Chinese Theater, also busted Mr. Incredible, the superhero from the animated hit "The Incredibles," as well as a man dressed as the villain from the "Scream" movie franchise. All three icons were arrested and could face charges ranging from illegal vending to aggressive begging.

"The Characters," as they're known in the neighborhood, are getting out of hand these days. This famous Los Angeles tourist destination has long been a place where a few out-of-work actors, dressed up as Elvis or Michael Jackson, posed for pictures in hopes of being tipped. They are all free-lancers, unaffiliated with the companies that own or created the characters.

http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/images/elmo10242005141321.jpg
Don Harper (right) was arrested last Wednesday in front of Mann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood.


But today, police estimate anywhere from 70 to 80 characters work the one-block stretch that includes not only the Chinese Theater, but also the Kodak Theater (home of the Academy Awards) and a new retail and entertainment center called Hollywood & Highland.

"When I first started here 13 years ago, you had Charlie Chaplin hanging around [the] Chinese Theater, and that was it," says Leron Gubler, president and chief executive of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. "Now, they're multiplying like rabbits."

The characters -- whose roster now includes everyone from Catwoman to Shrek's Princess Fiona and the murderous doll Chuckie -- have gotten more aggressive both with tourists and each other. Fights erupt over precious sidewalk space, especially when two of the same characters show up. Characters grab tourists as they walk down the street. Some of the scarier costumed entertainers jump out at the crowd and frighten children. Perhaps most worrisome is the practice of demanding tips from foreign tourists who don't know the custom, language or currency.

Tourists notice the hubbub, though they aren't always alarmed at being pestered by Shrek. "It's not that different than walking down the main street in Cancún, where people are handing out fliers and trying to take your picture," said Tom Hungerford of Denver, observing the scene on Thursday. His wife Linda nodded and said: "Everybody's got to do their job."

LAPD Officer Michael Shea has spent nearly 25 years patrolling Hollywood and he says this is the craziest collection of characters he's ever seen. Responding to complaints from tourists, business owners and civic leaders, Mr. Shea about a month ago gathered 68 of the characters in a room (many in costume) and candidly informed the Supermen, Batmen and Darth Vaders about the laws that apply to them, which the LAPD vowed to enforce.

For the city, it's a tricky issue: The sidewalk is a public thoroughfare and there are civil rights to be considered. The city only got involved when "tourists were not experiencing a voluntary contribution or donation, but rather much more of a shakedown and some reports of a few characters just taking money out of people's hands," says Bill Kysella, deputy city attorney in Hollywood.

Though many characters left the meeting excited about their roles as responsible "Hollywood Ambassadors," the aggressive solicitation did not abate. So last week, an undercover operation was launched.

Mr. Harper, the 40-year-old Elmo, says he was set up by the cops. But upon returning to his spot a day after his arrest, he conceded that things are tense these days among the characters, who form cliques and alliances to defend their turf and make money. Mr. Harper, for example, says his Elmo is a foe of Batman and Superman, but in cahoots with Mr. Incredible, SpongeBob SquarePants and at least one of the half-dozen Spider-Men who prowl the street.

Members of Elmo's clique often pose in pictures together and split tips when the dollars are flowing. Because many of the costumes have no pockets, wads of cash are often visibly clenched in characters' hands. But as a Saturday stroll down the boulevard showed, other characters are alone and adrift, often wearing ragged costumes and seeming to horn in on others' turf. One Spider-Man and a Puss 'N Boots character, for example, jumped into other characters' pictures at the last minute, then tried to wrangle some of the tip. Both declined to be interviewed.

The hotly competitive environment underscores basic divisions among the characters. Some are weekend hobbyists who take their performance seriously and aren't so concerned about getting paid; others see the gig as a full-time job in which they must scramble for every dollar.

In the former camp are two very passable Johnny Depp impersonators -- Jim Calibur, who portrays Captain Jack Sparrow from "Pirates of the Caribbean" and Brandon Hillock, who plays Willy Wonka from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" -- who work together. They pool their resources and give tourists a double dose of Mr. Depp. Both men have spent more than $1,000 on their costumes.

"We want it to look like Johnny Depp's character has literally stepped off the movie screen and onto the street," says the 36-year-old Mr. Calibur, who thinks there should be official standards regarding costumes and even background checks for characters who work on the street. They never mention tips -- either before or after tourists snap their pictures -- and blame the full-time characters for poisoning an atmosphere that is supposed to be fun.

But those who are trying to make a living at it can grow frustrated when the public doesn't understand the tipping ritual. Tobias Santigo's Charlie Chaplin has worked in front of the Chinese Theater for the past five years. While he also hires himself out to parties and events, his living depends on the tourists who smile under his miniature parasol. "People treat me like a rag doll and think they can do whatever they want," he says. "But if we react to it, then we're the ones in trouble and that seems unfair."

Maxwell Allen earns about $100 a day as one of the top Batmans on the boulevard, thanks to a work ethic that keeps him in tights and a cape 12 hours a day, seven days a week. But he has sometimes clashed with both fellow characters and tourists. A few years ago, Mr. Allen duked it out with Kato -- a character from the Green Hornet comic book -- who he and other characters thought had gotten too arrogant. "I guess I was the better martial artist," he brags, though he claims that he and Kato today are friendly.

But Mr. Allen -- who only refers to his Batman character in the third person -- admits his temper has flared at tourists, as well. The LAPD's crackdown "has taught me to have more patience with the tourists, and I'm getting better."

Write to Peter Sanders at peter.sanders@wsj.com

"Looks like another perfect day...I Love LA!!!" :cool:

kiwifan
Oct 24th, 2005, 09:53 PM
*fake bump*

kiwifan
Oct 24th, 2005, 09:56 PM
dangit how do you change the title? :smash:

Wigglytuff
Oct 24th, 2005, 10:01 PM
what does the subject line have to do with the topic

Pengwin
Oct 24th, 2005, 10:02 PM
It's like two discussions in one!

marmite1
Oct 24th, 2005, 10:05 PM
:lol:

kiwifan
Oct 24th, 2005, 10:20 PM
what does the subject line have to do with the topic

Everything!!!

Isn't it obvious!!! :rolleyes:

Rocketta
Oct 24th, 2005, 10:31 PM
:lol:

When you click edit you just change the subject line of your first post...

Wigglytuff
Oct 24th, 2005, 10:48 PM
Everything!!!

Isn't it obvious!!! :rolleyes:
dont get it. :shrug:

kiwifan
Oct 24th, 2005, 10:54 PM
dont get it. :shrug:

Well then you're just banned from this thread. :nerner:

Get out, now!!! :fiery:









or you could read the post right before your first post...

TF Chipmunk
Oct 24th, 2005, 10:56 PM
:retard: There's a place for all of that stuff: Disneyland, Universal Studios, etc etc. Don't need that stuff in the streets where people are walking :rolleyes:

kiwifan
Oct 24th, 2005, 10:59 PM
:lol:

When you click edit you just change the subject line of your first post...

I tried that.

I've done that before and it worked on other threads but it didn't this time. I wanted it to look like it was an old ass post (the date) even though the subject is a new article (the subject).

I wanted to see if anyone would notice the subtle glitch and instead I get stuck with a big ass glitch. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Well at least I have one poster confused :devil: so I've gotten a tiny bit of joy from my "free time workplace experiment. :dance:

Rocketta
Oct 24th, 2005, 11:08 PM
I tried that.

I've done that before and it worked on other threads but it didn't this time. I wanted it to look like it was an old ass post (the date) even though the subject is a new article (the subject).

I wanted to see if anyone would notice the subtle glitch and instead I get stuck with a big ass glitch. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Well at least I have one poster confused :devil: so I've gotten a tiny bit of joy from my "free time workplace experiment. :dance:

Ohhhh, that's why it didn't work...:lol: Tried to pull a fast one...:wavey:

I guess you'll just have to pm an admin to change it for you or leave it...it gives the thread character. :tape:

kiwifan
Oct 24th, 2005, 11:33 PM
Hey if you keep picking on me, I'll start posting photos of my main man, Bill Cosby. :haha:


:armed:

Rocketta
Oct 24th, 2005, 11:37 PM
Hey if you keep picking on me, I'll start posting photos of my main man, Bill Cosby. :haha:


:armed:

if you do then you would have to rename this thread....crazy old coots...:lol:

kiwifan
Oct 24th, 2005, 11:44 PM
I'd rename it that...if I could rename it at all...

...but I guess you're still picking on me soooooo...

http://www.superiorpics.com/hs/bill_cosby/main1.jpghttp://a1259.g.akamai.net/f/1259/5586/1d/images.art.com/images/PRODUCTS/large/10102000/10102131.jpg (http://affiliates.art.com/get.art?T=15036032&A=571017&L=8&P=10102131&S=2&Y=0)"Rocketta, you know I'm right - I'm a Doctor, woman. Recognize!!!"

TF Chipmunk
Oct 24th, 2005, 11:45 PM
:mad: We're getting off-topic :rolleyes:

kiwifan
Oct 24th, 2005, 11:59 PM
Well you got something else to add other than 'there's a place for that stuff'...

Graumann's Chinese is uh, kinda one of those places for that kind of stuff, at least for the last 50 or so years. :haha:

http://shopping.yahoo.com/video/images/muze/dvd/sm/86/230686.jpg (http://shopping.yahoo.com/p:Bill%20Cosby%20-%20Himself:1800036561:upc=024543106296:page=compar e;_ylt=AnoSKgGLxPvMOocaydE9qfn7994A;_ylu=X3oDMTBkZ mZ1NDR2BHNlYwNwcm9kc3BlY3M-) "Hey Rockie, jello pudding is the bomb, fo shizzle!!!"

~ The Leopard ~
Oct 25th, 2005, 12:07 AM
Hmmm. :scratch:

Rocketta
Oct 25th, 2005, 12:08 AM
I would deal with you Kiwi if I hadn't just been over taken by sleepiness....off to make some coffee.....one more hour of work and then an hour on the road before I can sleep. :zzz:

of course soon as I get home I'll be wide awake!! :bounce:

kiwifan
Oct 25th, 2005, 12:12 AM
Hmmm. :scratch:

Let's see, who can I post to get at this Ebert scratching in the sacred thread...

hmmm... http://www.nswrugby.com.au/verve/_resources/WEB-Phil-Waugh-in-full-flig_thumbnail_image.jpg (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:PhotoPop%28%2726246%27%29) "I used to just to take his lunch money, now I am worshipped by all normal people in Australia"

Who am I?

kiwifan
Oct 25th, 2005, 12:16 AM
I would deal with you Kiwi if I hadn't just been over taken by sleepiness....off to make some coffee.....one more hour of work and then an hour on the road before I can sleep. :zzz:

of course soon as I get home I'll be wide awake!! :bounce:

http://images.google.com/images?q=tbn:QH7VXqfPwYoJ:www.reames.org/images/fark/cosby.jpg (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.reames.org/images/fark/cosby.jpg&imgrefurl=http://forums.fark.com/cgi/fark/comments.pl%3FIDLink%3D303860&h=387&w=308&sz=13&tbnid=QH7VXqfPwYoJ:&tbnh=118&tbnw=94&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dcosby%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D&oi=imagesr&start=2) "If you ate your jello pudding, you wouldn't be so tired. I'm always right so recongize!!!"

Once Monday Night Football starts, I have a feeling I'll never see this thread again.

Unless you start up tomorrow...cuz then I'll remember to find more Coz photos. :devil:

ampers&
Oct 25th, 2005, 12:16 AM
http://img360.imageshack.us/img360/9991/wtf6uv.gif...:scratch:...:unsure:...:shrug:...

kiwifan
Oct 25th, 2005, 12:21 AM
http://www.cheechandchong.com/moviepix/nextmoviefront.jpg "Eh Homes."

kiwifan
Oct 25th, 2005, 12:29 AM
:wavey:

Blank Generation
(music R. Hell, Ork Records: Blank Generation e.p. vinyl, 1976, o.p.)
[appears on Sire/Warners: Blank Generation cd, 1990]


I was sayin let me out of here before I was
even born--it's such a gamble when you get a face
It's fascinatin to observe what the mirror does
but when I dine it's for the wall that I set a place

I belong to the blank generation and
I can take it or leave it each time
I belong to the ______ generation but
I can take it or leave it each time

Triangles were fallin at the window as the doctor cursed
He was a cartoon long forsaken by the public eye
The nurse adjusted her garters as I breathed my first
The doctor grabbed my throat and yelled, "God's consolation prize!"

I belong to the blank generation and
I can take it or leave it each time
I belong to the ______ generation but
I can take it or leave it each time

To hold the t.v. to my lips, the air so packed with cash
then carry it up flights of stairs and drop it in the vacant lot
To lose my train of thought and fall into your arms' tracks
and watch beneath the eyelids every passing dot

I belong to the blank generation and
I can take it or leave it each time
I belong to the ______ generation but
I can take it or leave it each time

I belong to the blank generation and
I can take it or leave it each time
I belong to the ______ generation but
I can take it or leave it each time

RVD
Oct 25th, 2005, 02:05 AM
:haha: :haha: Elmo is a foe of Batman and Superman, but in cahoots with Mr. Incredible, SpongeBob SquarePants :lol:
Ahhh man. Sounds like one of my bad dreams. ;)

kiwifan
Oct 25th, 2005, 02:37 AM
:haha: :haha: :lol:
Ahhh man. Sounds like one of my bad dreams. ;)

Even in the world of comic characters, we can't all just get along. :sad:

Halftime: Ron Mexico is the shizzznit but I dig "Mr. Edwards" :p as a coach too. Looks like it will be a "Dirty Bird" night. :cool:

Helen Lawson
Oct 25th, 2005, 11:59 AM
Some broad used to dress up like me and do this and even pose next to my gold-dust hand and foot prints at Graumann's for tourists. At first I was flattered, but then I learned she was doing a lot more than posing for pictures to get the right tip, so I got an injunction against her from impersonating me. I think she's doing Ann-Margaret now.

kiwifan
Oct 29th, 2005, 07:33 PM
Small World!!!

I just met the Police Officers who arrested Elmo. :haha:

Officers Duarte and Huggins.

I told them I read about the arrest in a newspaper article.

They knew it was talked about on TV and in local news but didn't know that it had made a few national news outlets.

Officer Duarte was explaining how he had to break it to his little nieces that he was the one who "took down" Elmo.

They also want everyone to know that they didn't get rough with Elmo or ever draw their weapons and Elmo was not only aggressively panhandling, he had some weed on him :haha:

Okay time for me to get ready for soccer...:bolt: