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Did Rock of Ages Represent Los Angeles or South Florida? A Location Examination

After spending two hours and three minutes of precious time watching Rock of Ages, the Broadway-sensation-turned-Tom-Cruise-biopic (of sorts), we came away with a few lasting impressions. For starters, Tom Cruise is clearly genetically composed of nightmares. He's frightening as Stacee Jaxx and as Tom Cruise. Next, Mary J. Blige is fierce and a goddess, even when appearing in a Tom Cruise film, and finally, South Florida is fantastic, even when we're supposed to pretend it's Los Angeles in the eighties. 

Now, every one in the tri-county area knows someone who was an extra in the scenes filmed at Revolution Live. But we wanted to look at the film by way of where instead of what or who. OK, so fine, Ocean Drive did all the leg work for us that didn't come naturally. We knew most of the spots featured, but that strip club, the Venus Room, no clue. Turns out it was the Castle Beach Club, according to OD, formerly the Hilton Playboy Club. Nicely appropriate. 

The other two location facts we learned from the magazine were that, "the iconic Hollywood sign in Los Angeles was re-created on Monarch Hill Landfill, known as 'Mt. Trashmore,' in Pompano Beach." Whaaaa?! Is there anything else to say about that but ew? Since you probably went on field trips in elementary school, you know that is truly a stinky plot of land. According to Ocean Drive, "Rock of Ages also shot at the Ice Palace Film Studios, creating a backstage dressing room for Jaxx with a 10-foot round bed and other rock star trappings." Ice Palace, where raves once happened. 

Right across the street from there, North Miami Avenue in Overtown posed as the Sunset Strip in 1987. The dismal surroundings were dolled up in a particularly hysterical fashion. The exaggerated colors and cartoonish facades felt almost like a mockery of a block that houses a few popular clubs and a wide group of homeless folks. 

The thing is, knowing that street very well made it hard to watch the film and wrap our heads around the locations there. It seemed like the Bourbon Room was located where Eve now is in some scenes, but when Sherrie left the club from the back door, it was over by the corner of 14th Street where PS14/Bar used to be (during Foreigner's "Waiting for a Girl Like You." That's where the Bourbon Room was located in these pictures, but it just seemed different in the scenes. This is stuff that just hurts a native inside. It becomes all like one of those little plastic puzzles where you slide the tiles around. It felt disorienting. 

It was hard to not see Revolution Live as anything other than Revolution Live. The hanging bras, for instance, they're Revolution's hanging bras. They're our bras! The one difference between the "The Bourbon Room" and Revolution was that the Rock of Ages' Bourbon Room seemed to have more acrobatics and debauchery. But, you know, those are people being paid to have fun, not paying to have fun. We couldn't help but be pleased that Russell Brand and Alex Baldwin shared what was likely their first kiss at this Fort Lauderdale staple. Nice job, Broward County. 

It was impossible to tell where the church scene was filmed, but the building looked to be made partially of limestone, which we like to call coral rock around here, so it likely was around town somewhere. Of course, this writer was an extra at the final scene filmed at Hard Rock Live, which thanks to some sort of CGI looks like a huge stadium filled with fans. It was kind of neat to be an extra and kind of neat to see the hometown represented on the big screen. We can't hate entirely on Rock of Ages. It gave us a lot to write about! 

But... To hate for a second: It was particularly ridiculous that Sherrie arrives in Los Angeles with no clothing. Nothing, not even some really bad editing in the scenes where Drew is singing onstage at Revolution, was more bothersome. And then she went walking around with great hair and cute clothes off of the $17 she arrived with? Now, that, friends, is in no part South Florida, that is purely Hollywood. 

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Liz has her master’s degree in religion from Florida State University. She has since written for publications and outlets such as Miami New Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Ocean Drive, the Huffington Post, NBC Miami, Time Out Miami, Insomniac, the Daily Dot, and the Atlantic. Liz spent three years as New Times Broward-Palm Beach’s music editor, was the weekend news editor at Inverse, and is currently the managing editor at Tom Tom Magazine.
Contact: Liz Tracy

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