Here at Leaf-loving MNN, we're no strangers to eye-rolling environmentally unsound vehicles, but there's a new breed of gas-guzzling vehicle that has come to our attention thanks to a handful of highly publicized incidents. We're talking about glammed-up, mega-sized motor coaches and trailers favored by touring musicians and between-take actors. Sure, celebrity tour buses and trailers aren't a recent phenomenon, but we can't help but notice that while mainstream consumer vehicles are decreasing in size and becoming more efficient, tricked-out trailers and motor coaches seem to be moving in the opposite direction.
Here are eight famous folks who are (in)famously fond of fully customized, million dollar pied-à-terres-on-wheels. While some use the vehicles to comfortably crisscross the country in lieu of air travel, that's not always the case.
Homey on-set trailers used by on-break actors to chill out between takes aren't a novel concept, but a 1,000-square-foot, 30-ton "mobile estate" with seven (!) 60-inch 3-D plasma TVs, a conference area, two bathrooms and a full kitchen replete with granite countertops? Somebody call the egregious excess police — and make it quick. The double-decker mega-trailer described above is exactly what erstwhile underwear model and esteemed actor Ashton Kutcher will be hunkering down in while working on the set of "Two and A Half Men" as a replacement for "unemployed winner" Charlie Sheen. Kutcher's lavish, $2 million mobile digs are reportedly costing Warner Bros. $8,750 a month to rent ... a whole lot of cash just to provide Kutcher with a temporary space to nap, Tweet and perhaps receive conjugal visits from his lady, Demi Moore.
In August 2011, teenaged song-and-dance sensation Justin Bieber purchased a new
shrieking 13-year-old girl magnet tour bus from a most unlikely, and most unwholesome, source: debauched musician and Waffle House brawler, Kid Rock. Known in its hedonistic heyday as "The Devil's Den," Rock suggested to Time Out Chicago that squeaky-clean Bieber best have the deluxe motor coach thoroughly "sanitized." "That bus, for a few years," Kid Rock explains, "was just evil." Rock describes the new Biebermobile's former interior: "I had the bus made with all red leather. It had embossed Detroit D's, a skylight and a fiber-optic see-through shower. You just look at it, and go, 'Oh, doesn't look like anything positive happened in here.' Now it's like an ice-cream truck."
Given that Ashton Kutcher's plus-sized mobile crash pad has managed to turn heads while sitting quietly on the Warner Bros. studio lot, you can imagine the outrage that resulted when the same model of 53-foot trailer, dubbed "the Heat," was parked on the cramped streets of Manhattan. After raising the ire of SoHo residents and businesses, Architectural Digest coverboy Will Smith — in town filming "Men in Black 3" — was forced to relocate his 22-wheel uber-trailer to a nearby parking lot a mile away. And apparently, the actor was none too pleased about it. Quelle damage. Remarked New York City Public Safety Committee chair Peter Vallone Jr. to the New York Post: "Hardworking New Yorkers have a right to wake up in the morning and not find a cruise ship parked out in front of their house. This is New York, not Hollywood. We don't roll that way."
Thanks to Oprah, we've gotten an intimate peek inside of Whoopi Goldberg's lovely, built-in-1920 home in New Jersey, but little is known about the bus (no Greyhound for Ms. Goldberg) that the famously aerophobic star travels in when Hollywood beckons. We'd like to think that Goldberg's vehicle is charming, unpretentious and filled with personal touches — just like her home. Goldberg, who starred in "The Long Walk Home," a moving 1990 film that chronicled the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, is no doubt a friend of the motor coach: In 2010, she was honored with her very own NYC double-decker sight-seeing bus as a Gray Line "Ride of Fame" dedicatee. Have plans to convert your own bus to biofuel any time soon, Whoopi?
If you ever encountered President Obama's six-wheeled, $1.1 million tour-bus-on-steroids traveling down a Midwest highway, you know it's a good idea to slow down and let this most formidable vehicle pass ... even if your name's Marcus Bachmann. Boasting an all-black exterior (no patriotic, Palin-esque flourishes here), tinted windows (natch), flashing police lights and a host of security-minded features that the Secret Service is keeping mum about, Obama's large and really in-charge motor coach is equal parts Greyhound and Batmobile. Essentially, the bus is a plus-sized take on "The Beast," Obama's souped-up, tank-like Cadillac that features bulletproof glass, puncture-resistant tires and an advanced fire suppression system.
T.I. is no stranger to controversy, but it's his preferred mode of transportation — a tricked-out tour bus — that recently landed the Grammy Award-winning rapper in some serious hot water. After serving 10 months of an 11-month stint in an Arkansas prison for probation violation in a weapons case, T.I. was picked up at the facility in a monster of a motor coach that escorted him 375 miles to a halfway house in Atlanta. This irked officials, who were told that the erstwhile inmate would be departing in a more low-key van and not a vehicle the size of a small cruise boat. In September 2011, T.I. was taken back into federal custody as a result of what TMZ calls a "tour bus bait and switch."
Like Whoopi Goldberg, legendary NFL coach and sportscaster John Madden hasn't let his crippling fear of flying (he hasn't boarded an airplane since 1979) stop him from getting around. Inspired by luxury motor coach living when he "borrowed" Dolly Parton's tour bus in the late 1970s, Madden has traveled in several customized buses over the years, all dubbed "The Madden Cruiser." (Before retiring in 2009, he clocked about 80,000 miles annually.) Madden's last bus of note, Cruiser IV, was a mighty, Outback Steakhouse-sponsored MCI E4500 sporting three plasma televisions, a queen-sized bed, steam shower, sauna, high-speed Internet access and a generator big enough to power a 5,000-square-foot house. With a 200-gallon fuel tank, Madden's 45-foot rec-room-on-wheels gets about six miles per gallon.
The woman who got Madden hooked on super-fancy tour buses, Dolly Parton, may not be a fellow areophobic, but she sure does like herself a mammoth motor coach. In fact, while working on the Broadway production of "9 to 5" the incomparably talented, impossibly busted country diva preferred staying in her plush tour bus — replete with prayer altar, wig cabinet and plenty o' pink, parked somewhere in New Jersey — to her Manhattan apartment. Parton, a musician who truly has a song in her heart and the road in her blood, has opened up her previous "home-on-wheels" to public tours at the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Also on MNN: Obama's $11 million bus draws criticism
Click for photo credits
Will Smith: AP
Whoopi: Getty Images Entertainment
John Madden: Getty Images Sports