Get Real Goes West

“Get Real Goes West” took place in Los Angeles on the 6th & 7th October 2000, when fans of Get Real got together to see the play ‘What’s Wrong With Angry?’ for themselves. The meet also included a tour of Paramount Studios and trip to Disneyland for Gay Day at Disney. One of the attendees, Mike HR presents this report of the event.

After the Basingstoke pilgrimage what more could one do you might ask? Having seen the locations of the movie Get Real in and around Basingstoke, met so many good friends you might be forbidden for thinking that was it. Well, you were wrong. Get Real went west to Los Angeles and they did it in style.

David, our LA connection had been busy working on our behalf behind the scenes putting together an experience none of us will ever forget. From Anaheim to the Hollywood hills and beyond he fixed it for us all.

It all started with Pete meeting up with Marcus, Tony and myself at Heathrow. Flying Virgin Atlantic to LAX we boarded the flight brimming over with excitement and the events to come. Only 11 hours and several vodkas later we arrived in the city of angels, home to the stars and our place of residence for the next few days. We picked our rental car and made our way to the Marina Del Ray hotel, simply fabby accomodation on the largest man made marina in the world. Only yachts and water to gaze upon as we sat by the pool in the warm sun of California whilst we studied the drinks menu with keen interest.

The morning of the meet was sunny and glorious as we drove to meet David at a tasteful breakfast restaurant in Hollywood. It was the sort of place were you would expect to find hustlers, pimps and gangsters doing business. So we were in our element expecting anything could, and probably would, happen! David is one of those people you wished you’d either known all your life or had as your Mother… From the movement he walked in through the door we were in stitches with one joke or another. Breakfast followed typical Hollywood style, enough food to feed half the third world. Then it was off to Paramount Studios to walk in the shadow of Norma Desmond, to gaze upon the Bronson gate and think about getting an agent, just in case.

Standing on Melrose as the group gathered was fun. Putting faces to names and meeting everyone and feeling we had known each other all our lives. John, sex on USA legs, Dixon etc were friends from the start and within seconds we were a group looking for fun and memories.

We were met by your average cheerful ex cheerleader, minus baton, who took our money and led us to David, our Guide. David was rather like an overgrown school kid brimming with excitement and details that were sometimes slightly wrong. However, his heart was in the right place as he walked in front of us and backwards – like blackrod at the opening of parliament (I leave it to you lot to guess who played the queen in all of this. Every effort was made to get us onto the sound stages of Fraiser and other productions, bribes of money and sex were made to David just in case it made any difference which, sadly, it did not. We peeked into strange openings with a glimpse of greater things beyond but were unable to grasp.

David has one thing in store for us for which I would have happily married him on the spot. Suddenly we were looking at the bridge of the USS Voyager. It loomed up on us and before we could focus in the semi dark we were gazing upon the Captain’s chair, comms, nav, operations and security. With a collective gasp we were studying the bridge and the Captains office. It seemed so much smaller than it does on the television but we did not care a hoot. I peeked a looked down a corridor and wondered if I followed it I might end up in engineering or the medical bay. As an intruder I kept expecting red alert to be sounded and see Tuvok come running armed with a phaser, if only…! Faint voices of warp core breach, Kim to the bridge, Nelex to mess hall were imagined and I was all for hiding in a corner to explore alone but David took us out into the sun light and the dream was gone.

We walked the streets of New York, looked upon the cabin used in Top Gun, and studied the out door set used in the Brady Bunch. Rather like being in an accident there was so much detail we could not take it all in.

All to soon it was over and we were off for lunch, and a very good one it was. Complete with an alien to complete the experience. Memories exchanged of the trip around the studios over a drink or two.

We had some time to use up before the show in the evening and David had promised to get us within six feet of our favourite stars and true to his word he did.

Hollywood cemetery is well worth a visit, so long as you don’t plan on staying that is! We walked around and studied the graves of Mel Blanc, Tyrone Power, Rudolph Valintino and the very great Douglas Fairbanks Snr, who must have the most impressive plot off all. More land than most villages in England and complete with ducks, swans and lilies. So many names and great and not so great head stones. The one that sticks in my mind was the picnic table so when you visit the family a packed lunch might be a bonus.

We split up for a while and arranged to meet at the theatre for the show later that evening. Rather than rushing back to the hotel for a change of frock, we headed off to Hollywood Blvd to put our hands in the cement and look upon the walkway of the stars and take refreshment at the Roosevelt Hotel.

Arriving at the theatre we paid our dollars and took our seats in a room which must double as a fridge in the day, the most vicious air con you have ever seen or felt! Then the show began and our highlight had arrived.

The show was great, very different from the film and much more funny than I would have thought. It was well acted and a brave effort was made to get the accent right with varying degrees of success. Steven Carter was played extremely well and you could not help but like him, want to cuddle him and give him your telephone number (but never get on a dance floor with him). John Dixon was well acted and, unlike the film, I had sympathy for his position. As the play was written from the section 28 and age of consent view (unknown in USA) the American cast did a great job in bringing it to the stage. By the end you wanted to know all the characters and kill the headmaster.

A questions and answer session followed with the cast and crew which was informative and funny (I hope “John Dixon” eventually got his car back from the evil and jealous florist) and fab carrot cake provided as a treat from the cast and crew.

We all found ourselves on Santa Monica Blvd chatting not wanting to break the evening up or for it to end. Again the cast chatted with us and I found myself talking to Daniel Hepner who had moved from Australia to the USA and gave insight into how he found the play and was generally surprised and a little shocked to know that England is so repressed.

With great reluctance we broke up and made our way back to the hotel and dreamt of being another in a long line of excuses for Mr. Sheen to come our and made and appearance…

Disneyland followed the next day and we all met up at the gates. Splash Mountain was a splash in every sense of the word. I ended up looking like the thing from the lagoon. After spending time drying off I managed to lose sight of the group and didn’t find them for several hours. Finding them collectively like a group of excited school kids was fun and they all had a great time and I can’t wait to see the photos.

Dinner followed at David’s condo in the valley. He was the puurfect host! We were entertained to antidotes which had us in stitches and at the same time watching Sunset Blvd and LA story. Lucy the cat co-hosted and made us at home while we dined on Lasagne made by David’s fair hands.

Parting is such sweet sorrow and it was with a heavy heart we said good bye to the group not knowing whether we shall ever meet up again. Thank god for e-mail as it will make it so much easier for us to keep in contact and for friendships forged to remain strong and survive time.

Who do I thank for all of this? Peter, David, John Dixon etc. All I can say is each and every member of the group made it what it was, an unforgettable experience. Sitting back in Manchester and looking at the photos I shall cherish it all as one of the greats of my life and only wish we could have had more time together.

Well, there is always next year…

Mike HR

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