Celebrites as Tourist Attractions: Jackie Chan, Britney Spears, and More

Celebrity tourist attractions - star maps
Flickr, Donna Grayson

Millions of tourists visit Los Angeles every year in hopes of spotting a celebrity, but rarely see anything more than gated homes and unemployed actors in character costumes on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Some enterprising celebrities are finding ways to become tourist attractions in their own right, with live performances and theme parks for fans to see their favorites (or at least their stuff) live in person.

-Britney Spears just announced a two-year residency at Las Vegas‘ Planet Hollywood starting in December. Over 1,000 fans gathered in the Nevada desert for her helicopter arrival and performance on GMA. Tickets for the pop star’s first 16 shows this winter go on sale tomorrow.

-Action star Jackie Chan is opening his collection of historic sandalwood houses to the public in Beijing with a new theme park. The proposed park will show different cultural experiences with no admission, with some ticketed attractions to help maintain the antique buildings.

-Film and TV actors on Broadway have become de rigueur in recent years, a way to prove their serious talent and break away from roles they’ve become famous for. This season, you can catch Orlando Bloom, Daniel Craig and Patrick Stewart on stage in New York City.

-Fans of Michael Jackson have been hoping that his Neverland Ranch in California might be turned into a park or pilgrimage spot like Elvis Presley’s Graceland, but part of the property was sold off in 2008 and has since fallen into disrepair. Hearing that his children would like to buy it back, Lady Gaga was rumored to offer to help with costs or open it to the public.

Lady Gaga now a waxwork model at eight Madame Tussauds museums

Lady Gaga, lady gagaAh, Lady Gaga, what would we do without your telephone hats and nude suits?

Now the famous wax museum Madame Tussauds has unveiled Lady Gaga models at eight of their branches: London, New York, Las Vegas, Hollywood, Amsterdam, Berlin, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.

The figure at the London branch has the crazy suit shown here: a telephone hat designed by Philip Treacy and a midnight-blue Armani suit. Keeping up with Amsterdam’s debauched reputation, the museum there has a Lady gaga in a nude body suit, white jacket, and a rather phallic-looking purple hairdo. The other outfits are equally outrageous.

Hopefully her penchant for crazy clothes will continue, but not so much that she’ll have to be stripped by flight attendants like she was in March.

[Photo courtesy Madame Tussauds]

Lady Gaga and Katy Perry take over Cebu Pacific in-flight safety demo

Passengers on a recent Cebu Pacific flight got a bit of a surprise when flight attendants spiced up the in-flight safety demonstrations by busting out choreographed moves to Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” and Katy Perry’s “California Gurls”.

The Philipines-based airline has since drawn criticism from the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) who have said that they are “deeply perturbed” by the video.

“While it may look like a harmless publicity stunt to attract passengers at first glance, in the long run the stereotyping of flight attendants as entertainers will surely have a negative and sexist impact in the minds of the public, at the expense of the unwitting female-dancer-flight attendants,” said FASAP, the union claiming it has some 1,600 members.

The video, which was posted last Thursday, already has over 5 million views. What are your thoughts?

Off the radar museum: SantralIstanbul


After over four months and eight guests, I’ve seen nearly ever museum and tourist attraction in Istanbul, at least once. At this point, I don’t need a guidebook to tell visitors the history of Hagia Sofia or what’s worth checking out in the Grand Bazaar (the “Wall Street” alley is a bright spot amongst the swag). Still I try to find something new or interesting each week and recently, my explorations took me to the north end of the Golden Horn to see SantralIstanbul. Santral is a university campus-gallery-museum-cultural complex converted from an Ottoman Empire-era power plant, with multiple cafes (including a Starbucks), a playground, concert facilities, and even a nightclub on weekends. Even after an afternoon of wandering around, I haven’t entirely wrapped my mind around the concept, but it is one of the coolest museums I’ve seen, and one I will certainly add to my itinerary for future visitors.

%Gallery-102551%Don’t miss: Along with temporary art installations and exhibitions, the showpiece of Santral is the Energy Museum. I was less than excited about at first, but as soon as I walked in, my jaw dropped and I wondered if they were really going to let me wander around freely in an old power plant (yes, they were). The Energy Museum is where all your mad scientist, vintage sci-fi, steam punk, Dharma station fantasies are realized. The lower floor is comprised of interactive exhibits common to many science museums – how a battery works, fun with magnets, electric globes, etc – as well as some fun concepts like the Reactable music (apparently the future of electronic music) room and a few dangerous-looking electricity experiments that would surely invite lawsuits in America. Walking around the exhibits gives you a sense of being in a factory-like space, but it’s not until you go up to the upper level that you get the full effect of being in a nearly 100-year-old power plant. Enormous metal engines surround you on the second level, dating from 1931 and earlier, like an industrial petting zoo. Catwalks and stairs lead up to the most fascinating room – the Control Room, pictured above – the nerve center which once produced and supplied electricity to all of Istanbul. Dials, switches, and various vintage contraptions are perfectly preserved, as if the engineers just stepped out for a tea break. A few touch-screen monitors provide some information on the turbines and machines, but it’s almost more fun to let your imagination take over the explanations and enjoy the experience. If this space were transported to the United States, it would surely have all of the cool stuff roped off, only open as a location for Lady Gaga’s next video or the latest alternative event venue. In Istanbul, it serves as a perfect period piece, the occasional photo shoot background, and probably the most fun field trip in town.

How to get there: There is a free minibus shuttle from Taksim Square outside the AKM cultural center (large, black, rather ugly building opposite the beginning of Istiklal Caddesi) every half hour but they aren’t obvious to spot, look for a Bilgi University sign in the bus window and ask if they are going to Santral. You can also take public bus 36T from Taksim or a number of buses from Eminonu to Bilgi University, but it’s easy to get lost (which I did on my way back). Save yourself some headache and if you can’t find the shuttle bus, take a taxi (with the address written down) from Taksim or Eminonu.

Lady Gaga’s attire not an immediate threat, says TSA


When leaving Los Angeles after the MTV Video Music Awards, performer Lady Gaga was spotted with a handcuff hanging directly in front of her from a belt around her waist. The singer was leaving town after picking up eight awards and was dressed, well, as expected.

Always clad in shocking attire, Lady Gaga’s exploits looked like they were putting her on a collision course with the TSA, as handcuffs and chains were incorporated into the clothing. She had no problems, however. According to the Daily Mail: “A spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration said the prohibited items list is based on what experts assess and analyse as a threat to aviation security.”

Now, if they are paired with mile-high ambitions – that would be a much different story!