Naked Hollywood - MARK EDWARD HARRIS
Lens Magazine|November 2020
Hollywood is more of an idea than a place.
While the dream factory (i.e., the film industry) is for the most part on a hiatus due to the COVID-19 outbreak, tourists for the first few months of the pandemic were stripped from Hollywood’s Walk of Fame where the who’s who of the silver screen, television, radio, and music are immortalized.

Gone were the selfie stick-wielding sightseers comparing their hand and footprints with their favorite stars in front of the Chinese Theatre. As the pandemic took hold in the United States, foot traffic began to slow all along this tourism mecca.

Having no one to pose with for money, the Darth Vader’s, Jokers, and other costumed “performers” began to disappear.

Then the death knell came. On Wednesday, March 4, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency.

He had a good reason. An elderly man with underlying health conditions had just died from the COVID-19 at a hospital in Roseville that morning after most likely been exposed to the virus on a cruise from San Francisco to Mexico in February.

This first death was a harbinger of what was to come not only in the Golden State but across America.

One week later, on March 11, Tom Hanks’ announced on Twitter from Australia that he and his wife Rita Wilson had contracted the coronavirus, bringing home the reality that anyone was susceptible to this invisible enemy. After all, he is Hollywood’s “common man.”

For more than three decades, I have traveled to the most remote parts of the globe to cover both news-breaking and daily life stories. In fact, I had just returned from Australia, where I was doing a photo essay on the impact of the recent bushfires on the koalas of Kangaroo Island.

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