“Outrageous in Hollywood”: Night Flight takes a tour of America’s most famous, glamorous and heartbreaking town

By on May 2, 2016

In “Outrageous in Hollywood,” host Pat Prescott invites us to come along on “half hour tour of Hollywood, America’s most famous, glamorous, and — sometimes — heartbreaking town,” where we’re treated to black and white newsreel type clips interspersed with colorific music videos, all of which taken together present different sides of a city with a reputation for being the place where dreamers go to have their dreams busted into pieces. Watch it now on Night Flight Plus.

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In this cleverly-edited clip show — which first aired on July 16, 1988 — we see various examples of people trying to “make it” in Hollywood, including wannabe actors and actresses, certainly, but that also goes for musicians too, of course, and right at the top of the episode, Pat Prescott tells us that, “For aspiring rock ‘n’ rollers, cracking the music scene in Lotusland, and making a living at it, can take an eternity, just ask Concrete Blonde, who is ‘Still in Hollywood.'”

We then see most of Concrete Blonde’s “Still In Hollywood” music video, during which we hear singer Johnette Napolitano singing about the types of people she would see in Hollywood on a daily basis:

“And on the bus today, I met the queen of L.A.
At least she said she was and who am I to say?
She was sixty-five and full of life
She had purple painted cheeks and glitter on her eyes
And the troll on the corner, I flipped him a quarter
And he looked at me and smiled
Well, he wasn’t abused, he wasn’t confused
He had nothing to gain and less to lose in Hollywood”

If you take a trip down Hollywood Boulevard tonight, in the year 2016, you can see it’s a street still blessed (or perhaps “cursed” is better) with sights and sounds that are just too real, like a dull dream that doesn’t seem quite real. On cool spring nights you can almost sense that the chilled air itself is palpable with glittering and authentic gold dust, which you’ll then see settling down on the sidewalk, which is encrusted with those phony bronze stars and the names of all those forgotten Hollywood ghosts that the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce would like you remember.

To an outsider, the real Hollywood can seem like a shadowy strangeworld, a place where out-of-towners co-mingle with the out-of-bounders, and Hollywood Blvd. sometimes seems less like a street where you might one day see your name in lights, and more like a long street of rank paranoid sleepwalking shit-stained methadrine nightmares.

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Photo by Ave Pildas

There, amid the tourists, you can see transient homeless people, camping out overnight in tacky iron-gated storefronts, under gaudy-shirted shop windows, or you might even see a shirtless man roller-skating by in shorts and knee socks, with a rubber plant fastened to his army helmet and his huge portable radio blaring out a staticy AM oldies station playing the Sylvers’ mid-70s hit “Boogie Fever.”

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Mostly, though, we associate those broken dreams and broken dreamers with those who come to Hollywood to break into the movie business, and sometimes it ends badly for them.

In the past, some even punctuated the dramatic end of their what they saw as their meaningless lives by leaping off the Hollywood sign, a trend that started in 1932 when a down-on-her-luck actress named Peg Entwistle climbed up a workman’s ladder behind the letter “H” before leaping into oblivion.

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The ironic thing about her story was, just a few days after poor Peg took that final five-story swan dive into the pages of Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon, a letter from the Beverly Hills Playhouse arrived in the mail, offering her the lead in a play about a woman — somewhat ironically, we’ll sure you’ll agree — driven to suicide.

It’s a good thing that jumping off the Hollywood sign eventually played itself out.

Today, if all the out-of-work actors in Hollywood decided to kill themselves, I’d be living in a city without waiters and waitresses.

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In “Outrageous in Hollywood,” we also see a more positive side of those who’ve made it, which is represented by director Cecil B. DeMille giving tips on going to Hollywood to make it big, and a hilarious newsreel clip of Mickey Rooney and Jayne Mansfield, standing onstage at the Golden Globes in February 1958.

As you can see from this clip, Rooney’s quite a bit shorter than the buxom blonde beauty, but this does help remind us what happens when the stars do shine in Hollywood.

Also features a wide assortment of music videos by Red Hot Chili Peppers, I Am Siam, Roger Waters, Cheech and Chong and a pair of videos by Weird Al Yankovic, including “Merchandising,” and “I Lost on Jeopardy”, his parody of Greg Kihn’s “Jeopardy,” which features a short cameo by his friend Barry Hansen, better known as Dr. Demento (see our post here).

You’ll also see clips from: Richard Benner’s 1987 Canadian comedy Too Outrageous! (a rags to riches sequel to Outrageous!, a film about Robin Turner, a gay hairdresser-turned-drag queen nightclub performer); Robert Townsend’s satirical 1987 comedy Hollywood Shuffle — playing the black action hero “Rambro” — and a black and white clip of Glen Campbell singing a late 60s hit “It Must Be Him,” originally a French song (“Seul Sur Son Étoile” by Gilbert Bécaud) that was also Top Ten easy listening hit (with English words by Mack David) for singer Vikki Carr.

Watch “Outrageous in Hollywood” on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.