After a stroll through the new Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center in Myrtle Beach, you might have an extra eye for details of its stars.
From the eyelashes on Salma Hayek to the faint freckles on Nicole Kidman’s right arm, to simply the stern stare in Vin Diesel’s eyes, these accuracies in replication make the biggest difference to the presentation.
This museum, at 21st Avenue North and U.S. 17 Bypass, shows celebrities in various genres. One musical corner honors Beyonce Knowles, who might come across as taller than she looks in concert, standing next to Lady Gaga, with Pink, in a bent-over pose and – nearby, clad in red, white and blue – Katy Perry.
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Paul Barnes, the curator, walked through all the galleries, hewing to his routine of spending several hours a day double checking each of the stars portrayed to ensure they look “right on the money.”
Barnes, who’s spent about 30 years in the movie business in California, said building one wax figure could easily consume a couple of months. That’s what he spent with the Johnny Depp reproduction, because more than a dozen components go into such a piece, way beyond sculpture, hair color and wardrobe.
Pausing by the Julia Roberts figure, Barnes said finding the right hair style – in this case, lighter brown and straight – clinched her look.
He said that with women, the options expand because of the variety of choices of clothing, jewelry, and hairdo (think Jennifer Aniston’s changes during and since the “Friends” sitcom on NBC), but “with men, there’s only so much you can do.”
Each of the 112 figures is presented with a setting, and sometimes music: Whistling emanates from the area where Clint Eastwood is shown in a “Fistful of Dollars” moment.
Barnes said heavy research goes into presenting each figure. For the Eastwood creation, that entailed the hat, poncho, belt, spurs and other parts “down to the snakes on the gun handle” look-alike in the holster.
The museum stands its figures to encourage photo-friendly moments for guests, who can tower over petite Dolly Parton or give George Clooney some company in a wing where wedding music is playing. In the horror chamber, you can feel dwarfed next to Frankenstein. Or sidle up to Leatherface from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
To re-create real-life experiences, the museum shows Jim Carrey wearing pretend giant feet with which he once graced the red carpet, Martha Stewart at home in the kitchen, Playboy magazine patriarch Hugh Hefner sprawled on a bed – complete with white, combed hair and facial wrinkles, all gleaned from a “seven-second” digital head scan that Barnes said “Hef” allowed to help the artist.
To tip a hat to classics, look for Audrey Hepburn sitting at a cocktail table and Marilyn Monroe, smiling in her trademark white dress.
Sports? There’s space for any visitor to stand for a photo op between NASCAR champions, Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jr. Tiger Woods stands alone by a golf course backdrop, with room to add other pros, Barnes said.
The wax museum has enough space for the staff to update, tweak and change exhibits – incentives for the public to return.
Barnes said plans are underway to bring in figures for Charlie Chaplin, Tim Curry in his role in “Legend,” and Daniel Craig, an acclaimed actor even before he became the sixth man to play James Bond.
In the meantime, when checking out the wax figures, don’t miss a display on each person with “fluky facts” and famous quotes, such as with the late Lucille Ball, as the “I Love Lucy” TV show theme fills the speakers overhead.
You may be aware she’d been married 20 years to co-star Desi Arnaz. But who knew she was born with the middle name Desiree?