Funny, Sad, Beautiful, Revealing: Online Videos Depict Life in WeHo

For some, “Alice in WeHoLand” describes what West Hollywood is all about. The YouTube video featuring Todrick Hall and produced by the city to promote crosswalk safety already has garnered nearly 200,000 views in the two weeks since it launched. It also has won  praise from fans  of Hall, of the clueless and twinky crosswalk pedestrian (Willam Belli) and the boys in tank tops dancing in the streets.

While that video provides one look at West Hollywood, there are many perspectives. A search of YouTube and Vimeo turns up dozens of videos (beyond those that are advertisements for local businesses) that call out the city’s history, look at its residents and their various ways of life and both poke fun at and celebrate the city we love. What follows is a sample:

 

HISTORY

Alla Nazimova’s Garden of Allah was located just over the eastern boundary of what in 1984 would become the City of West Hollywood. This video, produced for WEHOville in 2013 by Kaitlin Parker, tells the story of the Garden of Allah and takes a look at what has replaced it.

 

The Spike, a gay leather bar on Santa Monica Boulevard at North Genessee, is no more. But this clip from a “Roughed Up at the Spike” video from the Leather Archives & Museum offers a look on the inside and at the Spike’s sexual energy, with that energy in this video ending just before it becomes NSFW.

 

Just two years after the incorporation of West Hollywood in 1984, EZTV erected a “West Hollywood” sign that was both a spoof on the iconic Hollywood sign and a way for WeHo to show pride in its new status as a city. EZTV founder John Dorr, who died in January 1993 from complications of AIDS, is credited with creating one of the world’s first video theaters, computer art gallery and independent media centers, which was housed on Santa Monica Boulevard near West Knoll. This video shows the unveiling of EZTV’s West Hollywood sign, designed by Michael J. Masucci and known as “sculptural graffitti.” It became a major destination for tourists and for local politicians preening before news cameras. By 1991, the West Hollywood sign was gone, its letters having been slowly picked off by thieves.

 

LOVE

The pedestrian daily life of a couple in West Hollywood is on display in this video by Graham Kolbeins. Kolbeins filmed it more than six years ago in the apartment of his friends, Dave White and Alonso Duralde. In just five minutes, the video takes a viewer through the apartment, giving a hint of White and Duradle’s life together with scenes from the kitchen and living room, ending with a look at the couple cuddling in bed.

 

Sometimes love is unrequited. That is the case for Joseph Smith in “Rabbit Holes Rabbit Follows,” a 2010 video by Behrad Gramiam that charts Smith’s travels through West Hollywood during the LA Pride festival in search of the “Blond Haired Girl” he first sees in Tasty Donuts.

 

LIFE

As these two women dining in West Hollywood ask: “In what other community can you walk up to a truck and get an STD test?” In 1.16 minutes they go from loving WeHo to hating it during “Dinner in West Hollywood.” The video is produced by Rory Uphold, who chronicles Los Angeles life on “Only in HelLA.”

 

Think of “WeHo Girls” as “The Real Girlfriends of West Hollywood.” This YouTube video series, launched in 2007, chronicles the lives of a group of girls looking for love in all the wrong place. Some of the videos have received hundreds of thousands of views.

 

In a city where visitors can triple the population on the weekend, much of what goes on is inside hotel and motel rooms. “West Hollywood Motel” is a YouTube trailer made in 2013 that features a medical student (Matt Riddlehoover), his extrovert boyfriend (Andrew Callahan), an adulterous actress (Starina Johnson), her lover (Heather Horton), and a dutiful husband (Phil Leirness) whose wife (Amy Kelly) wakes to find she has a penis. Definitely NSFW, and not suitable for the kids for that matter.

Gay men dance their way up Runyon Canyon in WeHo House’s “Of Runyon and Representation” video.  It’s one of several videos that WeHo House describes as “vignettes about life in West Hollywood.”

 

The Real Houseboys of West Hollywood” is a series of trailers for a video series that unfortunately never took off. Nevertheless, they offer a hilarious portrait of the stereotypical West Hollywood gay boy. Equally funny is an appeal by the grandmothers of those “real houseboys” for viewer support.

 

AMBITION

Bob, Carl, Ted and Tyler are the characters in this eponymous video about “four West Hollywood metrosexuals (who) chase their Hollywood dreams and turn L.A. upside down.” Producer Michael Richard, who wrote the script as part of a UCLA screenwriting program, says it is “dedicated to West Hollywood and the diverse community of West Hollywood” where Bob, Carl, Ted and Tyler live.

 

Kim Rescate created this trailer for “The Wish Makers of West Hollywood,” directed by David Grotell, which is described as “an homage to the 1954 classic ‘Three Coins in a Fountain’.” “Wish Makers” follows three young men on their summer-long quest for love and careers. It was produced as a full-length film titled “The Wishmakers.”

 

(PAINFUL) REALITY

Nightlife in West Hollywood isn’t always fun. If you doubt that, take a look at the 19 videos on WeHo Fight’s YouTube channel showing party boys (and some girls) engaging in fisticuffs. Most were filmed in the city’s Boystown gay bar district.

 

Another painful side of West Hollywood gay life is revealed in “101 Rent Out Boys,” directed by World of Wonder‘s Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. This video  features interviews with nearly a dozen male escorts in West Hollywood of the 101 in the actual film. The video was made in 2000, before the proliferation of mobile phone apps such as Grindr and Scruff that have taken escorts off the streets although not out of West Hollywood life. “I don’t really have any friends, I just have customers,” says David, summing up the sadness of the story.

 

BEAUTY

In only 43 seconds this video shows the transformation of Sunset Boulevard from morning through night, all from the perspective of a room on the 12th floor of the Mondrian Hotel.