Actor Paul Louis Harrell leaves his apartment building wearing a $5,000 Iron Man costume in Hollywood on June 4, 2017.
While the Hollywood we see in movies is a place of glamour and beautiful celebrities, the cast of superheroes filling Hollywood Boulevard is frequently anything but. Many are people struggling to make a dollar as they pursue their dream of stardom.
“I’m successful because I have the best costume on the block and it’s the most expensive one on the block,” said Harrell. Longtime street performers like Harrell have concerns. They say business used to be more lucrative until the boulevard became overpopulated with costumed characters. Some look grungy, while others turn off tourists with aggressive demands for money.
Toly Shtapenko, of Ukraine, takes a long stride along the Hollywood Walk of Fame wearing a Superman costume to impress tourists in Los Angeles on March 2.
Justin Harrison kisses his wife, Hope, in their apartment before heading out to Hollywood Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles in his Superman costume on May 16. Harrison said they rely on help from the government to pay their rent because his income as a superhero impersonator isn’t enough.
Harrison rides a Metro train wearing a Superman costume on his way to Hollywood Boulevard on May 16. “I always go out in a costume,” said Harrison. “I love seeing people happy and seeing them smile.”
Two Spider-Man impersonators, Rashad Rouse and Juan Carlos Banegas, change in the alley next to the TCL Chinese Theatre after working on Hollywood Boulevard on May 25. The boulevard is host to a diverse cast of superheroes from all over the world including Ukraine, England, Mexico, Germany and Nigeria.
Ramiro Rodriguez wears a Bumblebee costume, a character from the Transformers movie series, as he shakes hands with young tourists on May 26.
The 39-year-old former restaurant worker from Guadalajara, Mexico, changed his career after watching a film on Hollywood characters. Rodriguez and his brother invested all their savings in the costume. Even on bad days, Rodriguez said they still make enough to buy dinner.
A young tourist tips Justin Harrison and his roommate, Reginald Jackson, after taking pictures with them on May 22.
Harrison high-fives a commuter as he and his roommate, Reginald Jackson, head home after working on May 16. “When I put on any costume of any character, I automatically feel like I am that character,” said Harrison.
Donte, a musician who only gave his first name, straightens out dollar bills on May 25, his first day in a brand new Chewbacca costume purchased on eBay for $441. Donte said he replaced the old one because he wasn’t making any money with it.