Kanye West wasn't kidding when he said celebrities are treated like zoo animals.
On a recent rainy afternoon we boarded TMZ's giant red tour bus in the heart of Times Square to embark on a celebrity safari. Yes, the word "safari" was actually used by our excitable guide, Mathew (with one T as he stated) Chadwick, as we traveled through Midtown Manhattan to the West Village on our two-hour excursion.
The TMZ NYC tour takes travelers on a very different sort of journey through the Big Apple. Dying to see the hotel where Sting and his wife got in on in public bathroom? Wondering where the Lindsay Lohan terror zone begins? Need to know where Suri Cruise take gymnastic classes? This is the trip for you.
If you're lucky you might spot a celebrity in their natural habitat, and if you are really lucky they may even join you on the bus:
We didn't spot any celebrities on our journey through the West Side of the city, but most people who take the tour, surprisingly, are more interested in TMZ founder Harvey Levin than anyone else.
"They want to know about TMZ and they ask questions about [TMZ Live] as opposed to celebs. They'll ask, 'Where is Harvey today," Chadwick told us after the tour. "But we'll do a hot topics kind of thing on the bus, so before it was Lindsay Lohan, then it was Amanda Bynes, now it's Miley [Cyrus]. Those are the celebs that people want to see because they are really hot at the moment."
The home of TMZ's original bus tour is in Los Angeles, where you can buy a map to the stars' houses on every street corner. In New York, where the tour just launched this May, it can feel like a bit of an invasion and is at distinct odds with New Yorkers' decidedly nonchalant attitude toward the celebrities in their midst.
In fact, "Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe recently revealed he calls New York his "head-up city," and it's where he'll occasionally roam the streets sans bodyguard, in a hoodie and sunglasses. "New York is the only place in the world where people might say they like your work but they don't ask you for anything," he told the New York Times Magazine.
When we asked Chadwick, who is also part of "TMZ Live," how the tour fits in with most New Yorkers' too-cool attitudes when it comes to celebrity spotting, he freely admits the people on his bus aren't locals.
"Most people who take the tour aren't from New York, so they don't have that attitude. They are here to see celebs, and they are happy to make a big deal about it," he explains. "Although we do get New Yorkers -- maybe upstate New York -- or New Jersey. For most of the people who take the tour TMZ is just their guilty pleasure."