Hollywood Boulevard home to stars, impressionists

By Lauren A. Kyger

It’s one of the most iconic sidewalks in the world, drawing 10 million visitors annually.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame has been a staple of Los Angeles tourism since 1960 when construction first began on the terrazzo and brass, coral pink celebrity stars embedded in the sidewalk of a 1.7-mile stretch of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street.

Celebrities from five categories are represented on the nearly 2,500 stars already embedded on the walkway. The majority of these stars are from the motion picture industry (47%), followed by television (24%), audio recording (17%), broadcast radio (10%) and theatre/live performance (2%).

More than 200 entertainers are nominated and apply each year, according to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which is the organization in charge of administering the Walk of Fame. Of these 200 applicants, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce selection committee ultimately chooses approximately 20 new additions each year.

Once selected, the entertainers must pay a $30,000 fee which is “used to pay for the creation and installation of the star, as well as maintenance of the Walk of Fame,” according to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

But celebrities are not the only ones looking to make a name for themselves on Hollywood Boulevard.

Aspiring musicians, actors, dancers and entertainers can be found lining the Walk of Fame, selling their products as well.

“I’m just out here promoting my album, asking for tips or donations,” said aspiring rap artist LA Spliff. “You know it earns a good living.”

He has been selling his mixed CDs on the Walk of Fame for more than a year and said he averages a $150 profit per day.

“Hollywood is like a distribution center. So instead of me going to a label giving out my music to all these different labels and distributors, I go out here,” Spliff said,

Mauricio, also known as “The Snake God,” makes his living from carrying around two large snakes and charging tourists for photographs.

“I don’t want people to feel like they got hustled when they leave me,” said Mauricio. “I want people to feel like, I paid for an awesome souvenir, and that’s what I do.“

“The Snake God” has been making his living on the Walk for three years and said it is a great way to network for his photography business as well.

Batman, Superman and even Lady Gaga impersonators can be found on the Walk, too, taking pictures with tourists for donations and tips.

“I’m dressed as Lady Gaga. I do this to pay my bills; I have student debt loans,” said one impersonator who graduated college and moved to LA to join a dance studio.

“I’m unemployed and doing this. Don’t tell anybody!” she said.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is currently undergoing a massive “facelift” which will cost more than $4 million, according to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

The facelift began in 2012 and will include the removal and replacement of damaged stars on the Walk as well as the historic preservation of damaged stars.

For more on Hollywood Boulevard, and this reporter’s experience filming it, read the sidebar: Filming Hollywood Walk of Fame not so simple.