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Traveling In Our Fabulous World -A Second Look at West Hollywood
July 18, 2008


Click For Full Size Our last column was about West Hollywood, but because there is so much to cover about that town, we have more to tell you in this issue.

We have gone to West Hollywood many times over the last 10 years, and we learned on our first visit that, just like in the movies, almost nothing there is what you think it is. Of all the cities in the country, West Hollywood and the surrounding suburbs are nearly total unreality. The beautiful estates, automobiles, clothing, parties and even the shopping are unreal. Money flows like water, or at least credit-card money flows like water.

As a matter of fact, at the bars we noticed that about 75 percent of the customers paid for their drinks with credit cards! We just wonder if they pay off their balances every month. That would be awful to have to pay interest on your drinks. Several of the gay bars charge $10 to $15 for a regular drink. Add to that the cover charge to get in, and you are going to spend a lot of money every night. But besides the large mega-bars, they do have a lot of extremely friendly local pubs, and many of them have very reasonable prices.

Shopping on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills can strain your credit card fast. And it is difficult to find lodging for under $150 to $180 a night. The Ramada Inn on Santa Monica Boulevard charges $180 a night! Restaurant prices will set you back as well.

But for everyone who has a huge estate, thousands of people are barely able to afford living in their small one-bedroom apartments. The lure of the beautiful life keeps people there. Like most other places, though, what was once beautiful and wonderful, sad to say, has faded somewhat. For a week, it IS beautiful and exciting. But that is true of most places that we visit. We love New York City but cannot imagine living there year round.

Of course West Hollywood is all about “looks.” It seems as though there are more health spas/gyms in West Hollywood than any other city. And they have dozens and dozens of shops and spas for implants, body sculpting, Botox, hair removal (or adding more hair to your head). They even have shops for customized hormone restoration to build muscles, restore vibrant sexuality and reverse the signs of aging.

The local gay magazines and newspapers are full of ads for such services, and then there are dozens of ads for psychotherapy, detox, crystal meth recovery and financial consultants. That in itself kind of tells you something about the area! Now you know why so many people are moving from California to the Midwest!

That said, though, there are a lot of great things to see and do when visiting West Hollywood. Just walking up and down Santa Monica Boulevard is a treat for people watchers, though it is not for the faint of heart. Keep your wallet in your front pocket, and don’t give money to strangers. Always ask how much something is before you start to buy it. Don’t buy anything on the street from strangers. Locals love to say how safe of an area it is, but people get mugged and robbed there all the time. Daytime, of course, is fairly safe.

One of our favorite shops in the area is Out of the Closet, the world’s most fabulous thrift store. They have clothing, artwork, home decor items, porcelain, china, crystal and antiques, and they get new shipments in daily. The chain of thrift stores in Northern and Southern California and Florida (www.outofthecloset.org) is owned and operated by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which provides AIDS/HIV medical care regardless of ability to pay.

Live shows, theatrical productions and concerts are going on all the time in West Hollywood. Some good Web sites to check out before going are: www.wehonews.com, www.frontierspublishing.com, www.visitwesthollywood.com and www.westhollywood.com.

Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone! Traveling in Our Fabulous World is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams (NOW LEGALLY MARRIED), award-winning celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast. You can e-mail them at: gaytravelers@aol.com or visit their Web page at: http://www.hometown.aol.com/gaytravelers

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