The home of Hollywood and the US entertainment industry, Los Angeles has always exerted a strong pull on those in love with stardom. If we were to select cities that people long to visit, LA would certainly rank high on such a list. The city of angels may not boast the beauty or culture of Paris or Rome, but what it does possess is high wattage celebrity.
Los Angeles remains the city where the biggest and brightest stars live, because Hollywood and the entire film industry are centered there. Offering the chance to spot stars or just tour the studios and opulent dwelling places, visiting Los Angeles lets people glimpse the celebrity lifestyle.
The secret world of celebrities
What it is easy to forget is that the celebrities who inhabit LA have jobs, even if they are not the sort that the rest of us do. Most who live in the city work within the entertainment industry in some way and that can be a surprisingly demanding form of employment that involves long hours and rigid lifestyle demands.
The requirement to stay in shape for film and television roles – which is greater than it has ever been in the era of the superhero movie – means that working out is central to the lifestyle of most celebrities. That is also part of the secret world away from the cameras that the public never gets to see, as visitors to LA will not find film stars lurking in communal gymnasiums.
Fun and relaxation must also be a part of the life of the average LA celebrity, but the options are more limited for them than for us. In addition to the need to avoid putting on weight, celebrities must also deal with the fact that their fame makes unscheduled public appearances hazardous.
Thus it is no surprise that many choose leisure activities that can be enjoyed at home. Video gaming is as popular among celebrities as it is among everyone else, with Zac Efron, Drake, Mila Kunis and Henry Cavill all having cited it as a hobby.
Others prefer games that carry a little more risk. Visiting one of the high-end casinos in Los Angeles to play casino games is quite common among celebrities. These establishments often provide private areas for stars to gamble in so that they can concentrate without the distractions of onlookers.
There is still a chance that visitors to the city will spot a star known to be fond of casino gambling, such as Ben Affleck or Tobey Maguire, if they hang around one of these casinos for long enough though.
It is not hard to understand the appeal of this kind of gaming to stars, as they have millions in the bank to play with. Gambling at a casino also offers people who live very controlled lives an opportunity to experience the thrill of risk.
Given the importance of public relations in the world of the celebrity, it is not surprising that volunteering is also a way that many choose to occupy free time. Pop singer Taylor Swift is known to support those who have experienced abuse or bullying and Oprah Winfrey set up a school to educate South African girls.
There is often real sincerity behind these gestures, with many stars choosing causes that they feel a personal stake in, but it is also a very effective way of burnishing their image in the minds of the public.
The relationship between celebrities and the public
Although the rise of social media has exacerbated tensions between celebrities and the public, many people clearly still feel the old-fashioned magic of stardom. The evidence for that is the often fervent online followings that stars have on these sites, as well as the enduring popularity of LA celebrity tours.
These take their paying customers on bus rides to the various celebrity attractions that the city has to offer. They typically include landmarks like the iconic Hollywood Sign in the hills above the city, Hollywood Boulevard, Beverly Hills, and the Walk of Fame with its many star-names built into the paving.
The tours also usually involve visiting some of the luxury mansions owned by prominent celebrities, letting people get a taste of what their lifestyles are like – at least from a distance.
This is an older form of engagement with celebrities than that which is encountered online. The fans who take part in the bus tours want to glimpse the lives of their favorites, but overall are much less demanding than those who connect to stars using social media.
The latter group tend to be quite a lot younger and often feel that they genuinely ‘know’ the stars that they follow on Twitter or Instagram. The pressures that this can place on the shoulders of fallible stars are the reason why more are choosing to remove social media from their lifestyles altogether.
Thus it should be remembered that the LA lifestyle of celebrities that so many envy and admire can also be an extremely stressful and suffocating one at times.
The stars who live and work in Los Angeles are human beings whose lives include the hobbies and interests needed to relax that the rest of us also rely on, but their stresses are different. The view from a bus touring the key celebrity spots may look sweet, but it is not painting the whole picture.