I recently returned from a three month trip to California. While my boyfriend took on Hollywood in search of the longest happy hours, the meanest dive bars and the cheapest tattoo parlours, I bounced off to school to learn how to write films for the big old Hollywood screen. There was nothing about our aims that could be deemed controversial. We were, it seems, in search of the same dream as thousands before us and just as willing to be enveloped by all of LA’s wicked charm. I did, however, learn a whole bunch of valuable lessons during my time at school, but my real education took place on my journey there each morning.
If you’ve ever had the terrifying pleasure of being a foreign driver in Hollywood, you will know that you can only concentrate on the road 2% of the time because everyone and everything has been placed in the way to distract you from staying alive. The problem with this, is that the Angelenos are like learned road warriors and their fighting ground happens to encompass your shitty little rental car with quite the brutal tenacity. To be distracted is like wandering into the Hunger Games with no arms.
One huge and undeniable distraction that led me to take this gamble on a daily basis was Billy Gibbons. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t glance out of my window and hear that all too familiar internal alarm screaming at me, willing me to pull the car over immediately. There, shuffling up the sidewalk, slumped at a bus stop, hollering profanities at the sky, slugging on a quart of whisky and waiting for chump change outside a 7-11 was my man Billy. Each morning, I went through the same torment, the same disappointment and the same dance with death, stubbornly cutting across three lanes of traffic towards the sidewalk, until it dawned on me just what was happening…
— Billy Gibbons is every homeless guy in Hollywood.
For those apprehensive about my claims, I urge you to get out there and test the theory. ‘This is crazy’ and ‘was that actually Billy Gibbons?’ became part of my daily language. I was in a constant state of disbelief for a total of 78 days and frankly, I became sick at the very sight of him. There is simply no getting away from the man when every rock station in America insists on playing ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ at least 12 times every hour.
So, when a week before flying home, some friends took us to Soho House for drinks and I saw him again at the bar, I was pretty pissed off. It’s not a breeze getting into that place yet here was the guy that sleeps outside Target in a shopping trolley propping up the very same bar as if it ain’t no thing. My self esteem was battered. Just when I was about to withdraw my membership application in despair (which was never going to be accepted anyway), I was informed that this was, in fact, the real deal. I was face to face with the man I had continuously risked my life for for three months and he wasn’t doing anything even remotely weird. He was the most normal, cool, friendly, sharply dressed Billy Gibbons I’d seen in months and I didn’t have to lose any limbs to meet him. We even dragged him into the photo booth for a quick snap but I was cut out of the frame by too many excited musicians. I’m not upset about it though; if I want a picture with ‘Billy Gibbons’, I’m pretty sure I know a bunch of places I could find him.
Sophie Ioannou

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