Life in the City of Angels: Jesus of Hollywood

4432411540_mIt is the Mecca of their religion with 10 million followers annually making the pilgrimage to this sacred site. This is the biggest religion in America. No spiritual following receives more airtime and print space. It is Celebritism. And the holy of holies even has an address: 6925 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California.There you will find an archeological site full of artifacts – a temple, footprints, hand impressions and a sequence of letters, words and symbols etched in concrete. Beyond the grid of this archeological site is a walk-way that the locals refer to as the “Walk of Fame.”  It is a three-and-a-half-mile (5.6 km) round-trip journey much akin to  the Stations of the Cross in Jerusalem.

Blind-FaithAbove the strata is rock art embedded with more than 2,000 stars featuring the names of not only human celebrities but also fictional characters  and even animals. Each emblem is a pink terrazzo five-pointed star rimmed with bronze and inlaid into a charcoal square. Inside it you’ll find a revered name inlaid in bronze, below which is a round emblem indicating the category for which the honoree received the star. Even those of blind faith cherish these artifacts.  Touching-the-Star-WebThe first sacrament dates back to 1960. Who was that lucky first beneficiary?  Paul Newman’s wife, Joanne Woodward. (I don’t care if it rains or blows hard – as long as I’ve seen the star of Joanne Woodward). It was on the Walk of Fame that I found Jesus. He was sitting in Baja Fresh, a popular Mexican fast food chain, deep in conversation with a fellow patron.

Jesus-in-Baja-FreshJesus was listening intently while nursing a Starbuck’s Espresso Frapuccino Grande. After finishing his taco – I could only speculate it wasn’t pork – he stepped onto the Walk and I began to follow Him.

Immediately, pilgrims of all nationalities and tongues followed Him with their eyes but none were so bold as to either approach him or engage him, so I decided to take the plunge.“Jesus, are you homeless and forced to work as an historical character here in Hollywood to survive ?” He responded by reaching into his plain linen robe and pulling out a set of keys, “No man” he said, “ I drive a Mercedes and I have an apartment.” Many of the pilgrims would smile at Him and point but it seemed as if only the elderly were captivated by the Son of God and would seek his attention. And, as expected, He would listen patiently.

Jesus-Listening-to-Elder-WebThere were impassioned voices calling from passing cars, “Jesus, Jesus”. But interestingly enough I didn’t hear a peep calling for the attention of the other faux celebrities that congregated at the Temple. Waiting-for-Tourist-WebAs far as historians can tell, Jesus first appeared on celluloid in 1903, just a few years after the birth of moving pictures.  French brothers Auguste and Louis Lumiere produced “La Vie et la Passion du Jesus Christ,” a 44-minute silent film which was one of the earliest feature-length movie and every frame was painstakingly hand painted for color. Riding high on respectability for over one hundred years the subject of Jesus came crashing down in 2001 with the release of “Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter” – a second coming musical complete with kung-fu action. Need I say more?

Located east of the main temple is a second, smaller shrine on the Walk of Fame. This location is for the most devout believers where for $12.95 you can dwell for hours in worship, adoration and photo opportunities. Eerie wax figures of living and dead celebrity  are dressed up in costumes so that followers can relive their favorite moments of their deity. In April of 2009, Hollywood auction house Profiles in History sold off  “retiring figures.” More than 200 figures were sold online, including the Last Supper and the Beatles. Jesus and His 12 Disciples brought in more than $15,000. The Beatles brought in a mere $13,000. Sorry John, but Jesus is more popular than the Beatles.

Comments

  1. Rosey Splain-Bryant says:

    What??? A great read; had to share it with my friends at work.

  2. Tying the stars and chinese theater with idolatry and religious worship around this figure is brilliant! It’s true! I’ve spent so much time in Hollywood, that it’s amazing how many people flock to the stars to feel close to someone that has touched their lives in someway shape or form. Only in Hollywood can you understand the reach that film has stretched it’s arms to people and beckoned them to come and see for themselves. Great read!

  3. Even without the stunning photographs, you’re able to paint an incredible picture. Amazing juxtaposition of Hollywood and Holy Land! So descriptive and original. Combining these two worlds that so rarely are thought of together helps make an interesting observation on both cultures without forcing your point of view on anyone. Another great read, Dave.

  4. WOW! Wonderful! As I experienced these pictures and blog, I had flashes of a short film we should do. Interested?

  5. Fred Kaplan says:

    What an interesting character. I love the John Lennon reference. Have you heard the “This American Life” episode about the man who goes out on Friday Nights dressed as Superman? I love the comparison of the ever young film icons, the flesh and blood Jesus and the the wax figures being put out to pasture. I agree with the Treyva’s post Jesus of Hollywood is a rich topic and I would be interested if there was a follow up or sequel.

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