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Moon's Costume Blog

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

When Costumed Characters Get Cash Crazy

The L.A. Times’ Hero Complex column -– a great one for comic fans -- reported that a man dressed in a Spiderman costume was arrested in Hollywood last week. Distressing indeed, but apparently, it's only the latest in a string of incidents involving movie characters and celebrity look-alikes who vie for space -- and attention -- along the tourist-filled corridor that includes Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

Performers in superhero costumes, Elvis costumes, and others have worked on Hollywood Boulevard for years. They collect tips from tourists by posing for pictures or performing in front of the theater.

But sometimes the fun has turned violent. Tourists have complained that some costumed characters become abusive when the tourists refuse to pay them to pose for pictures. There have also been brawls. Two years ago, authorities convened a "superhero summit" designed to reduce tensions among the performers.

The meeting was prompted in part by an incident in which LAPD officers arrested a man in a Star Wars costume, dressed as the furry brown Chewbacca, for allegedly head-butting a tour guide who complained about the impersonator's treatment of Japanese tourists.

In other incidents, actors dressed as the superhero Mr. Incredible, Elmo the Muppet and the dark-hooded character from the movie "Scream" were arrested for aggressive begging. A man dressed as the horror film character Freddy Krueger was also taken into custody for allegedly stabbing someone, although no charges were filed.

This time, the victim, who said he had been hit on the face and arms, refused to press charges against the costumed performer. But when they discovered the warrants, Loomis was booked, and it appeared that the suspect and victim knew each other.

"Typical Hollywood; it's always something different," said Lewis, an officer at the LAPD's Hollywood station. As she spoke, Loomis, still wearing his Spider-Man outfit, sat nearby, handcuffed to a bench.

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