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September 29th, 2003

L.A.-L.A. Hollywood Bound

by Rebecca Kimball

“You’re going to hate it” were the first words out of everyone’s mouth when they found out I was moving to Los Angeles. I was bombarded by stories of how fake and flaky LA is, the slow pace, traffic nightmares and smog, and how everyone goes to LA to be “discovered.” I had been an East Coast girl for 27 years. I’d grown up knowing nothing but life in Philadelphia and New York City. I was the quintessential East Coaster. I had a great work ethic; I worked hard and was responsible and efficient. What was a girl like me with a dream like mine going to do in a West Coast world? There was only one way to find out. In early 2003, I made the drive across country to LA. Previously I had worked as a personal assistant, massage therapist, and had worked every possible job in the restaurant industry, but most of all I was an actor. An actor in search of something more. Here I am, Hollywood! Land of dreams, right?

From day one, there was sunshine and beautiful, perfectly-sculpted bodies strolling along The Sunset Strip, home to places like The Viper Room, House of Blues, Skybar, The Standard, and lets not forget the Hustler store, swarming with celebs and wannabes alike. There may be fewer people here by day, but by night, it transforms into an instant party scene, where the standard dress seems to leave little to the imagination. Less is more here when clothing is concerned, and the wild atmosphere is all about having a good time.

As the days went on, I was not yet missing the East Coast, but immersing myself in the West Coast way of life. Things are a little slower here, you could say. While trying to find a job, it seemed like “hurry up and wait.” People were quick to have you come in with your resume, and no matter how strong it was, they would take forever to get back to you-if they got back to you at all. A friend from New York who works in an office here told me she was so efficient that her employer told her she worked “too fast” and that they didn’t have any thing else for her to do. Imagine this in Manhattan?

I will be the first to tell you that the weather is the perfect opposite to the weather in New York. Sunny and hot, not much rain or humidity. But what you find is that when it rains here, it pours. Enough to cause immediate flooding and mudslides. What about earthquakes and fires?

How about that traffic? It seems there’s approximately one car per person; carpools seem rare. Imagine if everyone in New York City had their own car, all the streets were at least two to three lanes going in both directions, cars went no less than 50 miles an hour and no one used their turn signals. Such is the nightmare of LA traffic: six lanes of madness. I’ve pondered calling the DMV and asking if they test drivers on how to use their turn signals, because the majority of drivers here seem to be lacking in that department. I personally try to avoid the highways. Believe it or not, I’m still in city mode and try and walk as many place as I can. I remember the days commuting on I95, the Long Island Expressway and the hot, overcrowded subways in Manhattan; I just wanted to let you know there’s suffering here too.

I have to say one of the most disturbing, yet interesting, aspects of LA life is the “breaking news,” which seems to occur during every newscast. And the helicopters? There are helicopters constantly circling in the air. Whether it’s for a major accident or car chase, there is usually a minimum of three to five helicopters covering each incident. On the news recently, there was breaking news of a car chase that was televised for over two hours! You don’t get that kind of thing back east, yet.

For the most part it is true that everyone here is “in” the business or trying to be. When I moved into my apartment one of the first things I saw was this buff guy in a red Speedo, tanning by the pool, passionately mouthing the words from his Stella Adler book. It was only a few weeks later that I was sitting outside a caf?, turned to look inside, and there again was someone with her Stella Adler book close under her arm.

Why is it that here you have to find the art? Things seem to be dripping in Hollywood gloss. I know I’ve only been here for a couple of months, but it’s tough to find some readily available “in your face” creative works like in New York or Philadelphia. Perhaps we’re too overwhelmed by the over-hyped sad “reality show” craze to remember what it’s like to be in the presence of real art. As an actor craving the opportunity to do some real work, it’s easy to become disenchanted with the whole scene. In addition to the competition of the other pretty faces, every time I turn around there is some offspring of someone famous being handed work. Or someone who has had so much plastic surgery, the networks are jumping at the chance to make a show out of it. I know of some extremely talented singer/songwriters here who are struggling to make it, while shows looking for the next “idol” dominate the airwaves. I even heard a girl say that while auditioning here, the casting director told her she was too “complex.” Trying to get “in” without kissing someone’s backside may prove harder than I imagined, even though I’ve had a good bit of experience under my belt. The ironic part is that six months after I movedout here, I began getting more audition offers back east. Isn’t there anyone left out here that wants to do good work?

After all that is said and done, I kind of like it here, for now. There’s a great pool where I can swim and feel like I am always on vacation. Everything is a new experience for me, and of course there is the beach. It’s not like the Jersey shore or Long Island, where the beach is a summertime thing; beach life and the outdoors is a constant here. People stop by the post office wearing nothing but shorts with their surfboards atop their cars outside. LA seduces you to have a sexier style. The tighter, hotter your clothes and the tanner your body, the better. You can’t go one block here without seeing a yoga studio, pilates center or gym. I never knew there were so many healers and hypnotherapists in the world. It’s just a way of life. Every day people flock to the canyons and parks to go hiking. Coffee shops, no matter what time of the day, are filled with people just chillin’ for hours at a time. After a while it makes you wonder what these people do for a living. It makes the term “laid back” seem like an understatement.

Of course I miss New York and Philadelphia, the soft pretzels, delis and ethnic foods, the wild energy of the city and the ability to hop on a train to go wherever you want. I miss the seasons and all of the green. And for all you Westhamptonites, I miss the ice cream at Crazy Dog. Although it’s a nice break, I miss the East Coast attitude and way of life. I came out here knowing only a few people, most of whom were from the East Coast. The friends I’ve made here are from the East Coast as well. We’ve got to stick together. But I will continue to do my thing out here and try not to end up like the masses of people who have been here an eternity, stranded by their old dreams of becoming a star. Perhaps I’m mad for trying to compose a life out of dust.

By Rebecca Kimball

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | the Hamptons

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