A doomsday bunker salesman told me a story once. He was showing one of his bunkers to Jesse Ventura, a/k/a "The Body," a/k/a the 38th Governor of Minnesota. The bunker salesman was also a defense contractor, which is what gave him the knowledge and money to get into the business in the first place. As one would expect, Ventura tried to one-up the guy.
"Have you ever been to Area 51?" The Body asked.
"Sure," my friend said. "Have you ever been to Area 52?"
With that, Ventura looked agitated. "Hold on," he said, stepping away to make a quick phone call. He came back a few minutes later, after talking to one of his high-level government sources. Yes, Ventura confirmed, there is an Area 52 out there somewhere. Duly impressed, he put money down for a bunker of his own.
At least, that's the story the salesman told me.
We met while I was working on a short doc about doomsday bunkers or "survival condos," as they're sometimes known.
You can see the video here:
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This was in 2011. Since then, the mania for these new-school fall-out shelters has only increased.
Another famous name that came up whenever I spoke to doomsday bunker salesmen was Tom Cruise. Almost every one of them had heard that Tom Cruise was an elite Hollywood survivalist, and they loved to talk about it. I guess it made their profession seem more legit, perhaps even glamorous.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Kim Kardashian is ruffling feathers in her neighborhood by building an underground complex beneath her home in Santa Monica. In addition to the bunker itself, she's putting in a subterranean “wellness center,” underground parking, and a guardhouse.
It's not just Kim Kardashian and Tom Cruise who are (reportedly) preparing for the end times. A recent story in The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that among wealthy celebrities, security spending is way up:
Since late August, Rising S Company has ... installed 13 safe rooms, nine safe doors, two underground bunker shelters, and two window fortifications in Brentwood Park, Beverly Park and Paradise Cove, says general manager Gary Lynch. This compares to their installation of seven safe rooms in California in the 2.5 years prior.
Estate manager Bryan Peele, president and founder of the L.A.-based Estate Managers Coalition, told THR that his clients have “fully equipped safe rooms that they can live in for a few days, if necessary, that are completely hard-wired with phone cables, Internet, everything.”
While the country goes to hell and the rest of us spend our time making sure homeless people aren't freezing to death, Hollywood celebrities are investing in firearms training and security details for their children's playdates. And some are even having fake Rolex watches manufactured to throw off wasteland scavengers.
If this isn't the sign of an empire in terminal decline, I don't know what is.