MaXXXine goes to Hollywood—on a bus

The MaXXXine Hollywood bus tour is cheesy, kitschy, and kind of perfect

MaXXXine goes to Hollywood—on a bus
The view from the official MaXXXine: Hollywood Is A Killer bus tour Photo: The A.V. Club

Kevin Bacon is doing his best to hype MaXXXine on the side of Santa Monica Boulevard, across the street from the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. “100% cotton,” he says, holding up a promotional T-shirt to a tour bus full of journalists and fans on a MaXXXine promotional tour. It’s not like he has a lot to work with; we’re across the street from the cemetery, not in front of it or on the grounds, probably because it’s harder to pull a miniature bus over in a more optimal viewing space, and there’s no way a one-hour tour has time to navigate parking lots. So, here we are, being distracted by a video clip from the movie, trying to camouflage Kevin Bacon emerging from a Tesla on a run-down side street beside an import warehouse with an open receiving door. Too bad I’m on the right side of the bus, against the open-air window, and I know he’s coming.

I don’t think this is what A24 had in mind when they planned this pop-in, but it feels special in a different way, more “What the fuck is going on” than “Omg it’s Kevin Bacon, how cool!” It’s a little off, a little wrong, a little seedy and sad. A chipped manicure. Dirt under the fingernails. Richard Ramirez prowling the streets of Los Angeles after dark. It feels, somehow, kind of perfect for a bus tour promoting the final movie in Ti West’s X trilogy.

If you’re thinking about booking a seat on the official MaXXXine: Hollywood Is A Killer tour from StarLine, know this: you won’t get to see Kevin Bacon, either in person or in the four promotional clips that play throughout the ride. He can’t be spending the next two weeks lying in wait next to warehouses, ready to surprise unsuspecting tourgoers with that charismatic smile and the uncanny ability to make even these strangest of circumstances feel comfortable and natural. But even without Bacon, the tour has a kind of shaggy charm; it feels just special enough that even LA residents might find something of value in the lightly reskinned sightseeing trip. If nothing else, it’s worth it to marvel at how a minibus going 20 miles an hour can navigate the city so efficiently and quickly; if I tried to replicate its route in my car, I can’t imagine it would take any less than 90 minutes. The tour, which runs three times per day through July 7 and costs $35 per person, takes off from the Walk of Fame and winds its way through Hollywood, with stops at the cemetery and scenic overlooks on Mulholland Drive.

I’ve never been on a Hollywood bus tour, but I’d bet it’s roughly the same as the MaXXXine tour, minus several facts about Ramirez, a.k.a. the Night Stalker, a serial killer who terrorized Los Angeles in the mid-1980s. I’d bet you get a little more focus on the stars of the Walk of Fame, on the bright and shiny side of Hollywood. But MaXXXine, both the movie and the tour, is more interested in the view without the rose-colored glasses. Maxine Minx (Mia Goth) wants to be a star, no matter how rough the path is to get there. The tour, aided greatly by our enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide Lisa, attempts to show us the city as Maxine would have seen it in 1985.

Hollyweird, as Lisa puts it, didn’t just come out after dark back then. It was always a bit askew, even in the daylight. Easy to overlook, though, if you’re determined enough; one film shoot on the Universal Studios backlot will go a long way toward driving away any lingering doubts about yourself, your talent, or your relative safety. Easy enough to mentally remove the bright purple Minions building mucking up the view of the backlot from a scenic overlook in the hills. Easy enough to ignore the creeping sense of dread that comes out when you don’t do a good enough job of repressing those memories of what happened back at that Texas farm. It’ll all catch up with you, eventually, in the souvenir photos you scroll through back at home, or in the private detective who won’t stop hounding you about that night you really don’t want to remember.

But that’s later. Right now, this T-shirt is 100% cotton because Kevin Bacon said so, not a mystery garment with no care tag as you discover when you get home. And even if it’s not cotton, even if it’s a heat-trapping polyester blend, well—you can be anything you want to be in Hollywood, right?

Join the discussion...