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Hollywood’s paranoids

We don’t have to tell how many people are afraid of terrorism. A threat you cannot escape from. If you’re not living in an actual war zone, you maybe don’t have to be afraid, but catastrophes are there is Hollywood as even most buildings are catching up with the needs of mother nature, some people just want to be sure. There is the 0.01% of society, who reportedly buys underground bunkers to escape civil unrest and natural disasters. These are reportedly Hollywood stars, pro athletes and billionaires.

Bunkers represent something as a new form of “insurance” for the richest and most famous. And we say it with reason, since those underground shelters aren’t just a room with enough water and Doritos for a week. In fact, those look like most rooms of high class hotels. Constructed up to 10 feet below ground and said to cost between $39,000 (£30,000) and $100 million (£76m). And believe it or not, at this price, they are said to be booming.

Some of the most commonly sold bunkers in Los Angeles were smaller – measuring 10 by 50 feet and costing little more than $100,000 (£76,000) to fit a family of four. West Hollywood-based firm, S.A.F.E., was said to be working on two different $100 million (£76m) subterranean residences featuring facilities such as a pizzeria and day spa for a venture capitalist and a developer.

It is a well-known secret that hidden chambers in Germany and the US are being seen as the world’s best safe spots if crisis strikes, according to the bunker-promoters. True they are, but is it that necessary? I mean it’s ok to be prepared for a disaster, or the zombie apocalypse, and experts say more and more of the wealthy are installing ‘safe rooms’ in their apartments – or at least fortifying rooms. But see, rooms, not underground mansions! If the apocalypse will come, it will start in New York anyway, as we know it from the movies, and it will be in not less than a 100 years. In 100 years, you can also build a pyramid by yourself. That will protect you and if you do it with old technologies, you don’t even have to buy heavy tools. Yeah, it will take a while, but hey, you have a 100 years at least!  

According to owner Vivos, a bunker-retail company, CEO Robert Vicino, “customers are encouraged to decorate their ‘chamber’ like they would their yachts…” Well, I won’t comment it…

They somehow encourage them to buy those places. In their commercial, they say: “People are sensing that a global life-changing event is just ahead… Millions of people believe that we are living in the “end times.” And they even tell in statement to MailOnline that: “We are clearly living in dangerous and changing times that the uninformed will never understand until the threats are evident. We cannot predict, but we can prepare.” Who are those people? Paranoia-factory workers?!

The secretive facilities include features such as bowling alleys, secret hidden rooms, doors and passageways, gyms, escape tunnels, games rooms and greenhouses while being served with separate power, air and water sources, swimming pools, cinemas, bars and meeting rooms to the “elite” community who can survive underground for one year according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Even though Hollywood can dream big, the biggest facility is in Germany, and it also has a name, the “Europa One.” It is “one of the most fortified and massive underground survival shelters on Earth, deep below a limestone mountain and safely secured from the general public, behind sealed and secured walls, gates and blast doors”.

Journalist Lynn Parramore wrote about another big one in Indiana, US that the gigantic bunker was like walking into a hotel, it was like the “Ritz Carlton of doomsday shelters”.

The state of the art facilities also includes a hospital, and armed guards on duty to keep the 99 per cent from breaking into the hideaway. And since the Stanford university experiments, we all know how psychology is everywhere, so they also thought of avoiding a Lord of the Flies scenario. The designers implemented a handbook that outlines by laws for the bunkered community. How thoughtful!

There are also aboveground safe houses that are popular to be disguised as a horse barn while clients also referenced different movies to replicate a particularly secret door design such as those in Indiana Jones or Batman.

To tell the whole truth, the movement started, when implication of Donald Trump came in picture. The fear of what will happen if Trump actually becomes president has been dubbed the “Trumpocalypse”. A Utah-based group, Ultimate Bunker, claimed to the be doubled its members during a year after the Trumpocalipse started, said the Hollywood Reporterbusiness. Everyone wanted a place to escape.

Texas-based Rising S Bunkers claimed its sales at the top of the market to athletes, actors and politicians have increased 700% during a year, while overall sales had risen 150%. These include a 37-room bunker spanning 9,000 square feet in Napa Valley, California, for an Oscar winner featuring a sauna, Jacuzzi, shooting range, massive home theatre and bowling alley. And all that underground fun time was said to cost $10.28m (£7.8m).

Marketing director Brad Roberson told the magazine: “Any time there is a turbulent political landscape, we see a spike in our sales.” The website reports that the same company was also building a $3m (£2.3m) facility for “a major sports figure from Southern California.”

In Del Mar, California, Robert Vicino reportedly told the Hollywood Reporter: “Bill Gates… head of security visited with us a couple years ago, and for these multibillionaires, a few million is nothing. It’s really just the newest form of insurance.”

Arizona-based Creative Home Engineering boss Steve Humble reportedly claimed sales growth of 20% annually, with a trend towards security rather than novelty value.

“I can tell you that we’ve built secret doors for many of the most recognizable and highly awarded directors and celebrities in Hollywood,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “There are a lot of Oscars and Emmys tucked away safely behind my secret doors.”

As you saw, hiding is not always an escape plan. For some, it’s more like arriving.

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How to escape Christmas

You had enough of the celebrations? You want to escape Christmas? If you think the same or just similar, we have some ideas for you to escape the festive season. Your December 25th can be like any other day. Stop the consuming, stop the shopping, turn off the TV and make Christmas your way, or the way most Hollywood celebrities escape…

1. Nepal

Maybe snowy mountains are too Christmas-like for someone, who really wants to escape all that’s Christmas, it’s the Himalayas, so you won’t care about Santa. Nepal is a Mecca for climbers and trekkers, but there are many fun stuff to do outdoors as well. You can go white-water rafting, kayaking or mountain biking and we say again, at the Himalayas.

2. Japan

Maybe there are some robotic Santas in Tokyo, but Christmas itself is not a national celebration in Japan. If you visit Kyoto or Nara for example, you won’t see any of it. If you pick Hokkaido, you can also try the best powder snow in the world. And all this grows much with the friendly hospitality of Japanese hosts.

3. Saudi Arabia

Since the last great kingdom lately started to allow visitors, with fairly strict provisos, Saudi Arabia also seems a good escape plan. You can go to the Madain Saleh (‘Saudi Arabia’s Petra’), or visit The Empty Quarter (the largest sea of sand in the world). The country’s Red Sea waters also draws a lot of tourists, which is a scuba diver’s paradise.

4. Iran

Maybe Iran’s political issues makes it hard to visit it in peace, some travelers are brave enough to go through the lines and visit its historic sights and its warm and friendly people. The ancient ruin of Persepolis, or the cultured and sophisticated city of Shiraz are must see points. If you are more into adventure, the Alborz mountains will satisfy you, when you do some skiing or walk the trails round the legendary Castles of the Assassins.

5. Algeria

Algeria has bright history and much of natural beauty. The city of Algiers has to be a first stop, if you choose to escape to this country. You must check the nearby ruins at Djemila, Tipasa and Timgad has to be on the bucket list as well. The holy town of Beni-Isguen and the town of Ouargla, known as ‘the golden key to the desert’ with its unique architecture are also mentionable. Many Hollywood star’s favorite travel spot in these times.

6. Turkey

Even Western cultures broke in to Turkey, celebrations, like Christmas are spreading slower, making it a fine place to escape from the season specials. Istanbul combines traditional architecture with a growing reputation.

7. Democratic People’s Republic of (North) Korea

North Korea take Christmas seriously. I mean they are so unfestive that they are closed to nearly every visitor, except on organized tours. If you still find it attractive, get in one of those tours to celebrate the Day of the Promulgation of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK on 27th December. It’s worth a mention though as one of the least festive places in the world, 365 days a year. Maybe you can also make an escape from the country in one piece.

8. The Bahamas

If you have more money to spend that you can easily and you’re a desperate anti-Christmas type, you can buy your private island and escape from everything. A roomy bungalow at the Caribbean that would even fit for a Hollywood star can be bought for $25,000,000, Musha Cay in the Bahamas is yours for just $37,500 per day.

10. Thailand

Between November and February, when the humidity drops, Thailand gets safe to visit and makes it an ideal Christmas-escape place. Whether you fancy Phuket, Krabi or somewhere quieter, you’ll have the pick of beachside accommodation from world-class resorts to cheap-as-chips basic dwellings.

11. New Zealand

New Zealand is also a beautiful country to make you feel escaped from Christmas. Southern Hemisphere location, is an ideal destination if you want to follow the way of Hollywood celebs, as it’s so far from everywhere else it’ll probably take you 24 hours to get there. Unless you live in New Zealand. In which case, head to Spain.

12. Retreat

If you feel that Christmas gets your wallet at the presage of bankruptcy, perhaps the place for you is a retreat. By immersing yourself in the spiritually enriching possibilities of an intensive yoga course you’ll not only skip the binging season, you’ll get a head start on the January detox. Or you could try a monastery for silent meditation. Absence of carol singers guaranteed. Most Hollywood celebs act the same way.

13. Go to a party town

It maybe seems contra productive, but another way to escape from the celebrations, but if you head to somewhere, where partying is happening on a daily basis, you can see that the holy night is actually a silent one.

It is known and accepted that December 25 is definitely celebrated in sometimes stereotypically well known, world-class party towns for example New Orleans. But it would be hard to show a city that is slightly more low key than it on this day. The rest of the year can go all the way. New Orleans’ boozy scene takes it considerably easier over Christmas, making it one of the best times to visit.

But there are places in Europe as well. Take Iceland’s capital, Rejkjavik for example, where Nordic appetites for nightlife can even scare the unprepared visitors, it happens very often during Christmas holidays. It makes it a magically peaceful getaway with such beauties like the Northern Lights.

14. Head into the wild

If a huge chunk of civilization is determined to celebrate Christmas, then one obvious escape is to avoid civilization. The last week of December happens to be one of the best times to trek because you can get the Christmas-mood from the landscape, but you don’t have to take all the commercials it comes with. Yeah, it’s colder, but you wanted to escape from Christmas, it has a price.

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The biggest escape artists ever

We’ve already wrote about those Hollywood stars, who are pros, when it comes to escaping from paparazzi. But there are bigger barriers in life, than some nasty photographer. How about real life traps, locks and puzzles?

Well, some magicians started a movement, back in the 1860s, where the act is about escaping from a dangerous-looking or actually dangerous situation. The first known act was made by the Davenport Brothers, who tied themselves up with ropes and escaped from it. The movement grew into an individual art, called Escapology. Today we are going to present you those escapists, whose art worth to follow.

Joseph Dunninger

He was born in New York City and got really popular pretty soon. When he was only seventeen, Theodore Roosevelt invited him to his place, in Oyster Bay, to do a little private show for him. The same request came from the inventor, Thomas Edison. Franklin D. Roosevelt even called him to the White House many times to show his magic.

Though he was more of a psychic or mentalist, Dunninger’s name helped spreading the shining of escapism as well, but he managed to escape, using his mental powers. Once he had a standing offer of $10,000 to anyone who could prove that he used any built in member or “brick.”  He was also a good friend to many famous magicians, like Harry Houdini, Francis Martinka and Tony Slydini.

The Great Omani

He was born in Windsor in 1915. He left school, their family’s business got bankrupted, when his father died and he got declined from the army in World War II. Well, we can tell, it’s not a lucky start. But one day in a book antiquary, he found “The Secrets of Houdini by J.C. Cannell”. That book introduced The Great Omani to the world of magic. After experimenting underwater stunts, he found himself ready to go on stage in 1950.

He was usually performing tricks in a straitjacket chained and padlocked to the legs of the pier. There was another famous act of him, when he was jumping though flames into a pit full of glass. That’s a place most of us would only escape, but never jump in. For the entertaining he went into dangerous stunts intentionally. Stunts with fire, water and glass were regular parts of his show at his favorite pub in Brighton. His final performance was in 2005. And still at the age of 90, he escaped out of locked handcuffs with both arms lit on fire with lighter fluid. Crazy!

Alan Alan

Born in 1926 and only passed a few years ago, in 2014. Alan was a brave escapologist of England. He was the first to figure out many tricks that became famous in other magician’s shows. He reached his fame by a number of dangerous stunts targeted to the media. In 1949 when he did a thing, called “buried alive” for Pathe News, which we don’t have to say, nearly went really wrong.  He was also known from his burning-rope straitjacket escape, where he was upside-down in a crane with a thick rope with petrol all over on it. Exciting, isn’t it?He was also shown in TV many times, including The Magic of David Copperfield.

But he wasn’t only doing that art, he also “taught” his prison cellmates at Wormwood Scrubs how to escape from handcuffs in his show with a bunch of magicians. His still living influence for magicians can been recognized as in 2006 The Magic Circle gave him the Maskelyne award for what he did in British magic.

John Nevil Maskelyne

Since we mentioned Maskelyne, we have to say a few words about him as well. Born in the 1820s and been at the born of real magic. He also had some famous inventions, like the pay toilet, but let’s not get lost in details. Most of his tricks illusions are still have their charm and people like them today. In 1914 he founded the Occult Committee, a group whose remit was to “investigate claims to supernatural power and to expose fraud”. He had many inventions that are evergreen in between magicians and some of them are nearly obligatory for a well-produced escapist performance.

Harry Houdini

Erik Weisz, or as the world got known him, Harry Houdini was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1874. He was only four years old, when his parents and his four brothers brought him to the US. Erik became Houdini in 1891, but has very few success during his first years. He did small gigs in coin museums and side act of productions, sometimes he had to double “The Wild Man” at a circus.

Though he focused mostly on card tricks and once he was also the “King of Cards”, he soon found himself getting the flow of escape stunts. His actual breakthrough was in 1899 at a time when Martin Beck saw his performance in Minnesota. Houdini’s handcuffs trick amazed him. As he was a manager, he gave him some advises to him for the shows and started to book bigger shows, where he could show his talent. It didn’t take long to get him to be a headliner of the top entertaining places all over the country. In 1900, he even did a European tour. He lived like a Hollywood star before Hollywood existed. As he did a show at Scotland Yard, demonstrating his talent in the art of escape, he was booked at the Alhambra for half a year.

We could tell a lot about Houdini’s achievements and the heritage he left on the future escapists, but let us mention a few of his amazing escape-repertoire. There was the Mirror challenge, which is more related to the Dayily Mirror, than a mirror itself, when he escaped from a lock that took four years for a locksmith to make. Or the Milk Can Escape, when he was handcuffed in an oversized milk can, filled with water. Or the Chinese water torture cell, the Suspended straitjacket escape, the Overboard box escape and we also originate the buried alive stunt from him.

Anyhow, these people have shown that escaping can be done in an artistic way doesn’t matter if it’s a straightjacket, a handcuff, an oversized milk can or a room.

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Welcome to the Escape Hotel Hollywood

Welcome to the next generation of Entertainment, we will soon be ready to open our doors for those brave enough to check-in and escape. Ready for the challenge? Stay tuned. Truly yours, Escape Hotel Team

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Behind the Hollywood Walk of Fame

The Hollywood Walk of Fame started as a commercial strategy for Chamber of Commerce. For today it grew out itself more than the dreamers would’ve thought. Now it on the list of Hollywood’s most frequented spots for tourists, visited by approximately 10 million people each year. It’s gonna celebrate it’s 58th anniversary in February 2018, so let us tell 12 things you got interested by about the Hollywood’s most famous sidewalk, where there is room for everyone on the screen. 

1. The story began in 1953

The main idea for the Walk of Fame is originated from a company, called the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. E. M. Stuart, volunteer president of the company, planned to build it seven years before they started the construction, in 1953. As the press said at that time, he thought of the idea as a marketing strategy to “maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners of the world.” The construction waited until January 1956 at the Los Angeles City Council for getting accepted.

2. There would’ve been caricatures as well

It took some time to select the right concept and color scheme. In the original plans, there would’ve been stars that would include a caricature of the celebrity with brown and blue walking stones. Eventually both ideas were ditched. The caricatures were hard to produce on the stars and the colors were clashed with a building that real estate developer C.E. Toberman, a.k.a. Mr. Hollywood, was erecting on Hollywood Boulevard. There had to be a stylist in the team…

3. The court made the construction longer

The construction started shortly after they sneaked out of the first eight names for the stars, and the troubles began with two lawsuits, preventing that. The first came from a group of nearby property owners who didn’t like the $1.25 million tax assessment they had to pay thanks to the Walk of Fame. “Luckily”, they failed. The second one was given by Charlie Chaplin, Jr., who wanted $400,000 because it seemed, there was no room for his father wasn’t in between these names. Seriously?! The judge of course dropped the case in 1960, and Chaplin could be satisfied with the star he got in 1972, in the same year he won his Oscar. 

4. The first star was Stanley Kramer

So they could finally start the construction on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960. Filmmaker Stanley Kramer the director of The Defiant Ones, Inherit the Wind, Judgment at Nuremberg, was the first star-owner, who could be actually seen. His star was mounted on March 28, 1960. 

5. If the celebrity agrees, anyone can nominate a star

As Robert Capa said, “It’s not enough to be talented, you also have to be Hungarian.” Well, talent is neither enough to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. True that anyone, even a fan, can nominate their beloved star to have room on the Walk of Fame, they have to run through an application process where they also check, if the nominee or his or her manager approved for it.

6. Got to pay $30,000

The Hollywood Walk of Fame isn’t a motel, where every poor people can have their room. Each nomination application must have a list of sponsors who can pay the $30,000 that comes with creating, mounting, and keeping the star clean. But that price isn’t that high if we consider that it’s a terrazzo and brass star. 

7. The star has to be there at the unveiling

Before 1968, the star’s presence was more of an honor than a requirement. Since many turned back on this honor, they made it obligatory. There was one exception though. Barbra Streisand, got a star in 1976, but she didn’t appear. Saving the situation, a reporter got creative and interviewed her wax figure at the nearby Hollywood Wax Museum. Funny thing, she did show up at husband’s, James Brolin’s star unveiling in 1998. 

8. Anyone can have more stars

If you think a star is done with one room on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, you’re wrong. Many artists, like Bob Hope, Roy Rogers, Mickey Rooney, and Tony Martin have one in four categories. There are also above 30 people, for example Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Jack Benny who own stars in three sections.

9. Michael Jackson’s and Harrison Ford’s double

Even they have the same name, these are individual people. There was also a silent film actor, called Harrison Ford, who got his star in 1960. Harrison Indiana Jones Ford got his in 2003. And also, Michael Jackson wasn’t only a singer, there was a radio dj as well and they both got their room on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1984.

10. Cartoon characters are welcome

Believe it or not, someone nominated enough cartoon characters on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that there are 15 stars dedicated to them for today. Of course Mickey Mouse was the first and he made it pretty soon, in 1978. Then came all the famous ones, like Bugs Bunny, Snow White, Woody Woodpecker, Big Bird, The Simpsons, Rugrats, Kermit the Frog, Donald Duck, Godzilla, Winnie the Pooh, The Munchkins, Shrek, Tinker Bell, and The Muppets, so Kermit and Big Bird stars in two sections.

11. Not everyone went on a spelling bee

In 2010, the designer had to be a bit tired, since Julia Louis-Dreyfus got her star spelled “Julia Luis Dreyfus.” As she told to the press, after the unveiling: “The misspelling was so perfectly apt, a great metaphor for show business. Right when you think you’ve made it, you get knocked down. It’s an ideal metaphor for how this business works.” The company acted quickly and Julia got the misspelled star as a souvenir. Dick Van Dyke was in the same situation, in 1992 when they spelled his name as “Vandyke.” 

12. Five years to organize the unveiling party

Though it’s not a sweet sixteen, not even a marriage, getting a room on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is a pretty big deal. So nominees get their notification for getting a star five years before the unveiling. That leaves enough time for them to even buy a new house for the party. As Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president Leron Gubler told The Huffington Post “Stars like to make it a big deal. That’s the way they are. They get a little more bang for their buck out of it when they time it right.”

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Welcome!

Welcome to the next generation of Entertainment, we will soon be ready to open our doors for those brave enough to check-in and escape. Ready for the challenge? Stay tuned. Truly yours, Escape Hotel Team

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