They impeded the normal flow of pedestrian traffic, and access to the stars on the boulevard. There was appeal from the community, businesses and partners and it was determined that we needed to send a message. The Police Department would have no objections if these individuals had gone out there with respect and conducted themselves in such a manner as to properly represent the Hollywood community.
–Capt. Peter Whittingham of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollywood station. Daily Breeze, June 2010
In The Reinactors, director David J. Markey explores the strange, at times tragic and hope-filled lives of character impersonators that up until three weeks ago populated Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Chinese Theaters, posing for photos, often and illegally asking for tips. Markey allows his subjects to unfold in front of the camera and what stories of desperate dreams and delusions they have.
There’s Chris, one of the original characters, who dresses as Superman, has a streak of homophobia and racism and acts as the unofficial boss of the block, despairing over the crude, annoying new characters. Chris is a “narc” for Jimmy Kimmell, always eager to report character disputes to the show’s producer and get some face time himself. An aspiring movie star, he met his wife Bonnie online; she’s a Christopher Reeves fan and they got married at a Superman convention. He also smokes pot, something other characters disparage him for doing.
Freddie Kruger look-alike Gerard is diabetic and made homeless after police arrest him for brandishing a “deadly weapon”: his costume glove. After a month of sleeping on the Metro and saving his tips, he is able to get a new apartment. Another arrest for wearing a commercially available Freddie glove throws his already tenuous existence into utter chaos. He has dreams of fame and love, but would be happy earning a living on tips, which he never asks for.
Max dresses as Batman and is convinced he’s a dead ringer for George Clooney. Hell, he even doubled Clooney once. But his “anger management issues” at work on Hollywood Boulevard, and his inability to quit performing as a character cause him and his wife some very serious problems.
Mike and Teina became engaged after a month of knowing each other. She started character work at his suggestion, performing as Elizabeth Swann to his Jack Sparrow; he was drifter whose vague resemblance to Johnny Depp was spotted by a Marilyn Monroe impersonator on the boulevard. This isn’t Teina’s first gig as an “actor;” she starred in three porn films–two while pregnant. They’ve gone from homeless to living together in a small apartment thanks to their earnings on the boulevard.
These and other “ambassadors of Hollywood” chase their hopes and dreams through Markey’s film, bringing into focus issues of homelessness, adoption, child abuse, drug abuse and the relentless pull of fame on the American psyche.
Vital and relevant, The Reinactors gives us a look at what has been lost since the crackdown and makes us realize the impact of the police and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce on these people, as well as their effects on each other lives.
David Markey is the auteur behind the cult 8mm classics Desperate Teenage Lovedolls (ask him to tell you his Kim Fowley story) and Lovedolls Superstar, as well as 1991: The Year Punk Broke and other documentaries, plus videos for Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Shonen Knife, The Ramones and many, many punk/alternative acts. He is a true DIY independent filmmaker.