On the Prowl: Star Maps of Beverly Hills
It's getting to be that time of year again when many of us gear up to fasten our eyes to the television set for those hours of glitz and glamour, red carpets and over-the-top music: The Oscars. When you watch it on TV, it's a world that seems a little bit like an alternate reality, doesn't it? All those people garbed in revealing gowns and fashionable tuxes. Sort of makes you wonder what their lives are like away from the camera. I mean, do they stroll elegantly down the hallway every morning just to fetch a cup of coffee? Do you think they ever just hang out in their yard, maybe do a little gardening on the weekends?
Well, if you're intrigued by the home-life of the stars, you might just be able to catch a real-life glimpse next time you're in Beverly Hills. All you need is a star map, a guide to the movie stars' homes that you can buy on the street. I'd heard about these for years, but because they sound like such a Hollywood gimmick, I was skeptical about whether they'd really be accurate. So, on a recent trip out to California, I met up with my producer, Molly Murphy, to check them out.
We thought we'd plan our strategy over a cold beverage in the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where we were quickly reminded of just how un-Beverly Hills we are...
That vast array of designer water at the Polo Lounge reflects the equally vast array of palatial homes scattered throughout Beverly Hills. You'll see a French chateau, next to a Swiss chalet, next to a modern split level, next to a hacienda, and all sporting teams of gardeners doing things like vacuuming the lawns. As Molly and I drove down Sunset Boulevard scoping out the territory, we suddenly spotted our object of desire.
You can hardly miss the star map signs, which look like oversized blue and yellow sandwich boards propped up by the side of the streets.
It unfolds like a typical road map and features the neighborhoods of Bel Air and Beverly Hills through which there's literally a milky way of little red stars scattered across the page, each one indicating a star's home.
We drove past Larry Flint's former estate, which is next door to Johnny Carson's former place. We casually looked for Hugh Heffner's place, which appears to be right around the corner from Aaron Spelling's, and before we knew it, we happened upon the Hotel Bel Air, which is elegantly tucked away amongst a thicket of flowering trees. We thought maybe the hotel valet could give us some pointers on star searching. He impressed us right off the bat.
We agreed we'd definitely gone to the right guy...
We didn't know whether to be more impressed by the notion that the star maps might really be accurate or by the fact that Kevin met Nicholas Cage. It led us to think, maybe we could meet Nicholas Cage. So, we pulled out our map.
So off we went in search of Nicholas, or at least his house.
Unfortunately, 'Not Very Inviting' captures the general milieu here pretty well. People like their privacy in Beverly Hills, but it shouldn't stop you from taking a look around.
Then my cell phone started ringing.
Needless to say, it wasn't Nicholas calling. In fact, we didn't see any stars that day, unless you count Kevin the valet parker. I gotta tell you, he certainly looked and sounded like a star. But we did have a great time tooling around Beverly Hills eyeing these palatial homes of the movie stars, imagining a very different sort of life.
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