Under an unrelenting scorching sun, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart extolled what he said was the individual, grass-roots nature of the "tea party" movement.
"There is not a leader here; everybody came here on their volition," he told an energized crowd of several hundred converged on the grass before the iconic Beverly Hills sign, contrasting the movement to what he said was the lockstep organization of labor unions and calling it a "totally purist, people movement."
Breitbart was among about a dozen speakers Sunday at a tea party rally organized by actor and singer Pat Boone and some of his neighbors in Beverly Hills. They were Hollywood producers and actors, pastors, politicians looking for votes and a comedienne, speaking on an array of topics ranging from race to religion to immigration. Speaker after speaker criticized the current administration, decried socialism and attacked the mainstream media.
"You are an army in this struggle, and you have to see yourself this way," conservative advocate David Horowitz told the crowd.
It was also decidedly Hollywood affair, with repeated mentions of the entertainment industry's liberal leanings and a few musical interludes between rallying speeches.
The event started at midafternoon with a Patrick Henry impersonator declaring, "Give me liberty or give me death." Boone then took the stage, singing "I am an American," a song he said he had written for the occasion.
"I am an American, my blood is red, white and blue," Boone belted out.
Victoria Jackson, a former "Saturday Night Live" cast member, strummed a ukulele and sang "there's a communist living in the White House!" She said her generation had been "brainwashed by atheism and Marxism."
"I don't know if you've noticed, but our government is trying to control everything, and I'm super mad!" she exclaimed in a high-pitched voice.
The crowd was mostly white and older, many wearing straw hats for some reprieve from the sun. One woman wore a National Rifle Assn. hat, another carried a frilly pink umbrella. Many carried yellow flags reading "Don't tread on me" and signs criticizing President Obama.
Allen Kamrava, 31, who stood sipping a Diet Coke between whistling and cheering comments he liked, said he noticed he was a few decades younger than most in the crowd. He said he believed younger people skewed liberal because of what he called a "biased education." He said he went to the rally because he liked the tea party movement as an alternative to the two-party system.
"Both parties are just drunk with power," said Kamrava, a surgical resident. "They just want government to get more and more powerful, and that's the last thing we need."
Also in the audience was actress Alana Stewart, who said there were many "closeted conservatives" in Hollywood who were afraid to speak out for fear of repercussions in the industry. She said she was assured by the rally that the tea party was made up of "normal, everyday people."
"People are talking about it being hateful and racist," she said, stroking Bliss, her long-haired Chihuahua, perched on her left arm. "It's nothing like that."
On one side of the grassy park stood Ronald Reagan — or rather, a cardboard cutout of his image. The Bruin Republicans, a UCLA student organization, had perched it next to its fundraising booth selling what members called "capitalism cupcakes," fast melting in the heat.
"It's hard to find support for Republicans on the Westside," said senior linguistics major Anneliese Mondorf.