Almost every actor who’s visited LA recommends subletting via craigslist.com. Lung also uses westsiderentals.com, where it’s possible to find a nice place in West Hollywood (a preferred area because of its proximity to the major agencies in Beverly Hills) Or the ‘Newtown feel’ of Los Feliz. tip is to check the noticeboard at the Screen Actors Guild (5757 Wiltshire Boulevard) for notices from actors looking to sublet when work takes them interstate.
The expat community’s hire company of choice is supercheapcar.com, where rentals per month (hire car cover may be included in your travel insurance, so check your policy before handing over any extras). Over 18s with a valid driver’s license from their home country don’t need a California license until such time as they find a job there or become a resident (see dmv.ca.gov). You will also need a California licence if you want to buy a car. Online classifieds recyler.com and also visited the LAPD’s impounded vehicle auctions (visit nationwideauction.com for details).
You will also need a directory: the classic LA companion is the Thomas Guide, although Glenn prefers the more comprehensive Not For Tourists Guide (notfortourists.com) that includes listings for post offices, cafes and petrol stations – helpful for killing time between auditions. Of course all this adds up, especially if you’re visiting on a non-working visa, so budget for at least AU$3500 per month, and be prepared for some hidden financial burdens. These include getting a prepaid cell phone, setting up a post office box, having US-style headshots and reels done, and retrieving your car when it’s impounded (which, in LA, is frequent). A popular way to balance the stress is to set up an exercise routine like hiking, yoga or joining a local gym.
SEEING & BEING SEEN
For a taste of old school Hollywood, you can’t beat a drink amongst the glitterati at the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard. The Standard hotels and the Skybar in West Hollywood’s Mondrian Hotel are equally nice places to visit, although you probably won’t want to stay in any of them until such time as someone else is footing the bill. For a more reasonably priced stargazing experience, Mauro’s Cafe at the Melrose Avenue department store Fred Segal.
LA is famous for its health-consciousness, and some of the picks include Elixir teahouse (Melrose), sugarfree bakery and café Mäni’s (Fairfax), The Farmers Market (3rd and Fairfax), health food chain Whole Foods Market and organic restaurant Axe in Venice. For cheaper eats, head to Koreatown, Thaitown or the Mexican fast food chain Baja Fresh.
Once you land a job, you’ll be far too busy to enjoy the nightlife. so see some live acts while you can at Johnny Depp’s Viper Room (Sunset and Larrabee) or the Los Feliz restaurant Tangier. The Hollywood strip joint Jumbo’s Clown Room is a favourite haunt of industry types but for a less stimulating drink, look out for the cool, hidden bars in Chinatown, such as Mountain Bar.