Rock of AgesMovie Set

Rebuilding The Sunset Strip

We’ve all heard of Rock of Ages by now: in the coming weeks, the likes of Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise, and Russell Brand will be cajoling around these parts in skin-tight leather pants, presumably sweating their celebrity asses off in the Miami humidity. The big budget Hollywood glam rock drama, whose producers so cynically (and appropriately) recreated the iconic Hollywood sign atop our beloved Mt. Trashmore, has transformed the area around NE 14st and N Miami Ave into LA’s Sunset Strip, circa the 1980’s. Affected businesses have had their buildings painted and rebranded in exchange for fat checks from the studio and a free makeover. Was it worth it?

The decision to film in Miami during the middle of summer is questionable at best. Hurricane force winds would make short work of the flimsy plywood set construction, and no amount of camera filters can hide the syrupy sheen of perspiration on Alec Baldwin’s pasty, sunburnt skin. As for Tom Cruise, at least the humidity will mask his exasperated flushing after a quick break at Johnny’s Male Review. The Rock of Ages set faithfully recreates some of the most best-known establishments from the Sunset Strip’s glory days, including The Roxy, Tower Records, Whisky a Go Go, Centerfold, Filthy McNasty’s, Fredericks of Hollywood, Bourbon, Belkins, Dirty Lingerie, Book Soup, Venus Club For Gentlemen, an ancient Shell Gas station, and Carney’s, a refurbished old train car with a hamburger joint inside. (The replica train husk was tucked away on its flatbed trailer in the grass between Comedy Store and the highway when we stopped by.

The producers have even gone so far as to hire round-the-clock security for their set, which we’ve discovered is an absolute joke. It certainly hasn’t managed to prevent vandals from tagging on the freshly painted walls every night, despite an overnight detail three guards deep. Observers say the guards are often drunk and rarely man their posts, which might account for a recent uptick in crime. Despite the area’s glamorous new look, it appears as though little has changed beneath the surface. What will become of the set once the film crews leave and the thin Hollywood veneer begins to rot away? Will the renaissance continue as more businesses flock to the area, now that it doesn’t reek of squatter-shit and rusty restaurant equipment? Or will the gilded age be short lived? Check out the gallery below and speak your mind in the comments when you’re done.

Photos by  Rod Deal