Another day and another fantastic interview brought to you by Pop Speaking. I got so excited when I was doing some research on my last interviewee Chris Mann and found this FANTASTIC page in connection with some research they had done with Chris. I knew I had to stalk THEM down!
OK about me – I grew up in a small San Francisco suburb, where I felt worlds away from Hollywood. I was always obsessed with movies, television shows and celebrities, though. And while my parents took me to Disneyland pretty much every year of my life, we never really went to L.A. proper. When I finally did get to visit Hollywood for the first time and saw the Hollywood Sign (at the age of 20), I just about died.
knew then that L.A. was the place for me. I got into acting at around that same time and wound up majoring in theatre in college. I moved to Pasadena, with my family in tow, in 2000 after graduating from college to try my hand at making it big. And while I did get an agent and joined SAG and went to acting school full-time (as well as working full-time), I felt like I was on a treadmill and not accomplishing much.
I would spend my free time scouring the internet tracking down filming locations and would drive around to photograph them each weekend with my then boyfriend (now husband). Whenever friends would visit, I would take them on location tours and everyone would invariably say the same thing, “You either need to start a tour company or a blog.” So I started IAMNOTASTALKER in November 2007. It started growing fairly quickly without me really doing anything to promote it and pretty soon I was working on it full time. I felt I had better control over making it successful than I did my acting career. The blog has led me to so many exciting places, introduced me to some of my now closest friends and opened countless doors for me.
It even led to me writing a weekly column for L.A. Magazine’s website.
I am so in love with this concept of looking for famous locations. I know if I was in London the first places I’d go would be to 84, Charing Cross Road, and 221 B Baker Street, from my favourite books. What is it that tweaked the idea for you?
My mom was a big movie person and growing up we would go to the movies pretty much every weekend. And she would invariably make us stay to the end of the credits to see if it was mentioned where the film was shot. So a love of locations was definitely ingrained in me from a young age. It didn’t become a full-blown fetish until many years later, though. I’ve since come to the conclusion that a love of locations almost always stems from a deep, deep love for a movie or TV show or book.
For me that TV show was “Beverly Hills, 90210.” I was completely obsessed with it. I’m talking like full-fledged obsession – had the dolls, the sheets, the pillows, my walls were wall-papered with the posters and I recorded every episode on VHS when it aired (hello ‘90s!).
On my second visit to L.A. (I was 21 at the time), I purchased a book called “The Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book” at a gift shop at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. In it was the address of the Walsh house in Altadena. I just about died upon seeing it and begged my friend, whom I had flown down to visit, to take me there. She refused, telling me that Altadena was too far away from Hollywood. Needless to say, that friendship didn’t last long. 😉 We did go “stalk” some nearby sights that day, though, and I was in heaven. But seeing the Walsh house was my holy grail. I finally got to go there with my mom the following year while my family was in L.A. on a house-finding mission shortly before we moved to Southern California. The experience was absolutely everything I’d hoped it be – and it left me wanting more. Where was Dylan’s house? Kelly’s? The school? It was then that my location-hunting obsession took off. My parents ended up buying a house less than a mile from the Walsh home shortly thereafter and it was a dream come true. Had you told me in my high school years that one day I’d be living virtually down the street from the Walshes, I never would have believed it.
You must have had some amazing adventures in your travels across the States finding places. Which state do you come from and what’s the furthest you’ve travelled to find a place? Please tell me about some of the adventures you’ve had?
As a child in South Africa, and even now to some degree, most parts of America hold glamour for me. It’s fast become a wishlist place for me to visit. Is the glamour side of things something that attracted you to finding all these incredible places? Have there been any that you’ve found that you’ve thought “wow, I can’t believe how much that actually looks like it does on the show”, or conversely “that really doesn’t look the same at all”?
Yes, L.A. definitely holds a lot of glamour for me. I love L.A. It’s the best place in the world in my opinion. I know it gets a bad rap a lot of the time, but I honestly can think of no better city. I love every square inch of it. And it definitely possesses a certain magic – a luster that has never rubbed off for me, even though I lived there for over 13 years. (I currently live in Palm Springs where I help take care of my dad, but we travel to L.A. every other weekend so that I can keep up with my blog.) Pasadena is pretty much the film capital of the world. Multiple shoots take place there every single day. So when I lived there and saw a shoot taking place, I would stop and watch. Every single time. I never got tired of it and probably never will. Many people who live in L.A. get annoyed at the inconvenience of film shoots, but not me. Stop traffic, block the street, take over parking lots, close down a store – doesn’t bother me in the slightest as long as I can observe it all. It’s absolutely fascinating to watch.
Beverly Hills 90210 was one of my favourite shows as a teenager growing up in the 90s. So much so that whenever any site requires me to register with an American post code I enter 90210. Hehe. I’m so stoked to find out you loved it as well. What did it feel like to stand in the ACTUAL WALSH HOUSE? Which has been your favourite 90210 stalk and why?
That’s hilarious that you use 90210 as your postal code. I love that. I use Britney Spears as my online name for pretty much everything. LOL (I used to love her back in the day and using that name sort of stuck. My husband gets very annoyed when he has to pick up photos at Target that I have ordered through Snapfish because he has to say, “I’m picking up photos for Britney Spears.” Ha!)
Being inside of the Walsh house was an amazing experience. And yes, Jack, the man who owns the house today owned it then, as well. Only the exterior was used for filming, though. The interior was a set. My favorite stalk ever was getting to go inside the Walsh house, for obvious reasons, but I also really loved stalking the residence used in the pilot episode because it was such a tough find – and stalk (it’s inside a gated community).
One of my absolute favourite shows was The Golden Girls. Your comment “Being that I was only eight years old at the time The Golden Girls premiered, I probably seem like a very unlikely fan of the show. But, for some reason, a sit-com which centered around the trials and tribulations of four single senior citizens living together in a Miami area home appealed to me. What can I say – I absolutely loved it!” rings true with me as well. I was 12 when it came here in about 1987 – but it was hysterical. What do you think it is about The Golden Girls house that makes it so instantly recognisable – and to use a word I hate – ICONIC – over locations from shows from the same era?
You know, the “Golden Girls” house is kind of a conundrum because it’s very non-descript, but so recognizable at the same time. And I’m not sure why. Even my husband recognized that one immediately when we pulled up and he typically recognizes nothing. I honestly don’t know what it is about that house. I think a big part of it is that nothing has changed there since it appeared on TV – I mean, there’s not even a leaf out of place! The place seems to be frozen in time and walking up to it feels like you are walking right into your TV set.
Have you ever had any challenges – people getting upset with you on their property, or going to a place and suddenly finding you have to cross a river to get there or something?
Yes, I have definitely had people get upset with me for taking pictures of their home. Thankfully though, it’s not the norm. But yeah, I’ve even had homeowners threaten lawsuits if I didn’t take their address down. Once a hotel owner threatened to sue me over a post, which I don’t understand at all. A hotel is a public place – you’d think they’d want the publicity, especially since my “review” of it was very complimentary. Fortunately, we have three very close friends who are lawyers, one of whom I sat down with just prior to starting my site so that I could find out what I legally could and could not do, and I’ve always acted accordingly. 99.9% of homeowners are very nice, though, and I typically love speaking with them. And yes, there have been quite a few locations that were harder to get to than I had anticipated. One I can think of off the top of my head is the house from Britney Spears’ “Sometimes” music video. It’s in Malibu and the beach side of it (where she sat on that long staircase) is virtually impossible to get to. I haven’t been able to stalk it yet, unfortunately, but am dying to.
I’ve just re-watched Bad Santa (you may have noticed that I am having a John Ritter epiphany, LOL), and I see on your site that you recently went after the bar that Billy Bob Thornton used to lament his lot in life. I am having goosebumps thinking that Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kevin Bacon, Adam Garcia and potentially more may have used the same spot and the same bar for different films at different times. In a 1980 interview John Ritter was asked about how he’d like to be remembered. He said he wanted to be remembered “just as a guy who was interested in the golden thread that goes through me and you and … all the people out there … That’s what an artist can do, or someone, anyone can do, if there’s a willingness. Pluck that and either it makes you laugh or it makes you cry.” Do you believe that locations, or props, as I guess the bar was, can be used as instruments to bring out emotion, touch people, and enhance moods and meaning in shows?
I definitely think that locations can be used as props or even characters to bring out emotions in people. The “Father of the Bride” house is one that I immediately think of. That house was almost a character in the movie. Bring up the film and the conversation will invariably lead to that idyllic house. Even today, over 22 year later, the property is still featured regularly on design and house blogs. It struck a deep chord with audiences. As did the “Dirty Dancing” hotel, which is still a popular vacation destination today – almost thirty years after the movie came out!
I connected with your blog through a mutual connection of ours – Chris Mann who wrote “Come and Knock On Our Door”. By googling your blog came up in connection with his name and the rest is history, I think it’s safe to say that most Three’s Company fans are grateful to you and Owen for finding the actual building! How much fun was it going there, specially dressed as Chrissy Snow?
Going to the “Three’s Company” apartment was a blast – especially dressed as Chrissy Snow. I was so bummed that the photographs didn’t come out. I sure had a lot of people honking at me, though. LOL I love dressing up (Halloween is my favorite holiday) and I try to do it as often as possible.
Scrolling through your pics of celebs met, you have met a lot of well known people!
Please chat about some of these experiences? Which have been the most meaningful or special for you?
I have been very lucky and have met so many of my favorite celebrities. I love that saying about L.A. that goes, “The guy in front of you in line at Starbucks who looks like George Clooney probably IS George Clooney.” It’s SO true. Can’t tell you how many stars I’ve met in line at Starbucks. I’ve had so many meaningful experiences that it is tough to narrow down my favorites, but Michael Buble was certainly a very special one, as was Shannen Doherty.
Meeting David Caruso on the set of “CSI: Miami” was also a fabulous experience, both because my dad and I are such huge fans of his and because he (as well as the rest of the cast) was so incredibly nice. David Caruso is easily one of the nicest guys in Hollywood.
Meeting Luke Perry was also one for the record books. When I told him how much I loved him as a teen, he kissed me on the cheek and I literally almost hyperventilated. I had to sit down for a few minutes and take some good deep breaths. “Beverly Hills, 90210” went off the air fourteen years ago, yet he still had that effect on me. Pretty incredible.
Well as you can see I can go on and on. I think I should stop there before I blind you with text.. but if there’s anything else that you’d like to add, please feel free! Maybe your wishlist for future stalkings?
I have what I call my “Stalking Bucket List.” It includes Mountain Lake Lodge in Virginia where “Dirty Dancing” was filmed; Lake Lure, North Carolina where the staff scenes from “Dirty Dancing” were filmed; Wilmington, North Carolina where “Dawson’s Creek” was filmed; Winnetka, Illinois where the “Home Alone” house is located; the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas where Britney Spears’ “. . . Baby One More Time” schoolgirl costume is displayed; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where “Mannequin” was filmed. It also includes Utah -where “Footloose” and “Drive Me Crazy” were filmed. I’m probably forgetting some, but those are ones that I think about constantly. I’m also dying to get back to New York to stalk some “Sex and the City” locations. We used to visit the Big Apple every December, but haven’t been in four years and I’m going through major withdrawals.
Go straight to I Am Not a Stalker and read Lindsay’s posts! And watch out for another post with Lindsay on an entirely different subject – diabetes.