After listening to Gigi Bermingham's reading of the novel from young Hollywood insiders Hopper and Goldberg, it comes as no surprise to learn that the veteran stage and television actress earned both an Ovation Award and an L.A. Drama Critics' Circle Award for performing her solo play Non-Vital Organs. Bermingham juggles the colorful cast of over-the-top characters in this gossipy tale with finesse. As the "Hollywood ambassador" for her "best-gay forever" friend and designer Julian Tenent, protagonist Lola Santisi earnestly seeks to heal the scars of her dysfunctional Tinseltown upbringing and overcome "career-deficit disorder" during Oscar week. Bermingham proves particularly delightful in her portrayal of Lola's nemesis, actress Olivia Cutter, whose mercurial outbursts and oddball phobias manage to generate shock value even by the jaded standards of contemporary celebrity misbehavior. The upbeat musical interludes at the start and end of each CD also help sustain the glitzy ambience. Fans of Ugly Bettyand The Devil Wears Pradaprovide a natural audience for this entertaining production. Simultaneous release with the St. Martin's Press hardcover (Reviews, Sept. 10). (Feb.)Copyright 2007Reed Business Information
Celebutantesby Amanda Goldberg, Ruthanna Khalighi Hopper
Two "Hollywood Kids" have written a name-dropping, scandal-wielding romp through Hollywood during Oscar weekSee more details below
Two "Hollywood Kids" have written a name-dropping, scandal-wielding romp through Hollywood during Oscar week
The authors, Hollywood kids themselves (Goldberg is the daughter of television producer Leonard Goldberg; Hopper's father is actor Dennis Hopper), have written a fun first novel starring Lola Santisi, a Hollywood princess who needs a purpose. On the night of the Academy Awards, Lola's emotionally isolated director father wins his second Oscar, but Lola is not having such a good evening. Actually, her whole life has gone wrong-from her widely panned turn as actress to her inability to resist narcissistic actors. Flash back to days before the Academy Awards, and Lola is determined to finally succeed. She's working for her BGF (best gay friend), a budding designer who needs stars modeling his dresses on the red carpet. Lola's last chance for a recruit is an almost psychotic Oscar nominee who refers to herself in the third person. But can Lola win the star over her arch nemesis, who's working for Prada? Tolerance for Hollywood excess, including Lola's own family and friends, is necessary to enjoy this book. It can even be difficult to empathize with Lola, whose worst day includes a free facial and designer clothes. But Peoplemagazine devotees should enjoy the fast pace, famous names, and designer everything. For popular fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ10/15/07.]
- St. Martin's Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- First Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Read an Excerpt
Paulie! Blanca! Lola! Christopher! Over here! How about one of the Santisi family all together!” the paparazzi shout as we’re bathed in a meteor shower of flashing lights. It’s blinding as we make our way down the photo-frenzied Red Carpet for Vanity Fair’s annual post-Oscar bash—Hollywood’s primo party of the year.
My mother tugs my older brother, Christopher, and me to her and shoots her husband a pleading look. “Please, Paulie, just one of the four of us,” her blood red lips purr, her Mediterranean-colored eyes sparkling through the smoky Paris-runway-ready eye shadow that François Nars himself applied not five hours ago at Villa Santisi. “We can put it on the Christmas card.” Only my crazy Jewish mother would send out Christmas cards—from the VF Red Carpet. Even if we’re not the perfect Norman Rockwell family, my mother would like us to pose for the cameras as if we were.
I swear my mother could stand here all night as if she’d won her own Oscar, pirouetting and fanning out the skirt of her shocking pink ruffled satin Chanel gown for the photographers, canting one olive Pilates’d thigh forward (“Slims the profile, Lola, you should try it”). Even the black diamond Neil Lane dragonfly pinning back her shoulder-length platinum hair seems to be begging for a photo. She’s acting like she’s back in Irving Penn’s studio posing for one of the many 1970s Vogue covers she graced.
My father rolls his eyes. “Oh, all right, Blanca, just one,” he says, and smoothes out the custom-tailored Armani, a gift from one Italian to another—except that my father isn’t really Italian. He’s from Georgia. And Jewish. As for our last name? He changed it from Sitowitz when he moved to Hollywood to be more like his idol Marcello Mastroianni, whom he also happened to resemble when he was young—and thin. Papa’s tux is camouflaging the 250-pound girth he maintains, thanks to nightly veal parm and spaghetti and meatballs in his corner booth at Dan Tana’s. Make that 260 pounds. Poor Papa’s been eating for two—his anxiety and his ego—for the two-month countdown to the Academy Awards. He wraps one arm around my mother and gloatingly pumps his little gold statuette in the air as more flashbulbs explode in our faces.
“Smile,” I hiss at Christopher as he slumps his lanky 6'1" frame against me. With his mop of mussed dark hair and the green Converse high-tops he’s paired with his tux, my brother looks more like a member of the All-American Rejects or Panic! at the Disco than the director of their music videos. “Do it for Mom,” I say as the photographers bathe us in another meteor shower.
Freeze frame on the snapshot of my family on the Red Carpet—and where do I fit in? The picture on the late-night WireImage log-on after the after-party tonight is going to reveal: Me, Lola Santisi, a twenty-six-year-old member of Hollywood Royalty without a kingdom—or even a condo—to call my own, who’s 5'71/2" (in four-inch stilettos), shoved into a last-minute wardrobe emergency—a borrowed size zero beaded garnet dress that’s two sizes too small, four inches too short, and makes me feel like the blond Ugly Betty.
“No more pictures,” Papa declares. He waves the photographers away while he reaches into the inside pocket of his tux jacket for a celebratory contraband Cohiba Esplendido. He’s choking that Best Directing Oscar around the neck like it might disappear if he doesn’t hold tight enough.
Getting his second Little Gold Man after eighteen years (and after a string of box office failures and more gray in his beard than brown) is proof of what my father’s believed since he was sixteen: He is the greatest living director. If tomorrow anyone’s forgotten? He’ll remind them.
I just wish my father loved me as much as that Oscar.
“I’ve got to get out of here,” Christopher whispers. “See you inside.” He disappears into the throng.
A photographer suddenly darts up to me in a low crouch after snapping 143 pictures of Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck in a lip-lock. He must be a newbie if he’s training his lens on me. No one’s going to want any photo of me without my father. I freeze. Christ, no, not in this dress. I didn’t have time to Polaroid.
Here it is straight: You never really know how you look until you see yourself in a photograph. That’s why you should always Polaroid your party dress before you walk out the front door. You’re in major denial if you think the mirror tells you the truth. A mirror is like a bad relationship. It reflects what it thinks you want in the moment, only to screw you with the truth later. I know. It hurts. And it never hurts more than on Oscar night.
Truth is, on my better days I’d rate myself at least an eight. Okay, so that would be walking down Main Street in Muskogee, Oklahoma. But we’re in Hollywood. Here I’m about a six. Especially standing anywhere near Charlize Theron, who’s ten paces ahead of us in a form-fitting ice blue satin organza and silk tulle Christian Dior heart-stopper. The chandelier diamond earrings tickling her bare shoulders are virtual flamethrowers, and the photographers are eating it up. She definitely Polaroided. And she gets to go home with Stuart Townsend.
I tug at the hem of my dress, willing it to grow, wishing I were wearing anything but this. All the false eyelashes, bronzing powder, and red lipstick in the world couldn’t detract from this disaster. This makes Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction look like a walk on the Alexander McQueen runway. Not even a hot bath with Wayne Dyer on the iPod is going to alleviate the pain when I see those WireImage shots. These hand-sewn ruby beads completely clash with my purple eye shadow and my purple Louboutins, which so perfectly complemented the exquisite gown I was supposed to wear.
But nothing about this night—or this week—has turned out the way it was supposed to. I was supposed to get my Happy Hollywood Ending. My first and only Kate-Winslet-and-Leo-DiCaprio-in-Titanic kind of love—was supposed to be here with me. I feel like I’ve been stabbed in the chest with those YSL silver stilettos Nicole Kidman’s wearing.
“Angelina! Brad! Angelina! Brad! Look over here! Just one more!” the paparazzi roar. Their booming, stadiumlike chant shifts from my family to the more impressive Mr. and Mrs. Jolie-Pitt, the top of the Hollywood food chain. Graydon Carter used this chain to create his Darwinian theory of staggered invitations for the post-Oscar party. The superior species gets the superior time slot. Angelina and Brad get in at 9:30 p.m., the winner of Best Achievement in Sound Mixing (no “plus one”) at 11:30 p.m. and not one second before. At least she and her Oscar weren’t relegated to Elton John’s viewing party at the Pacific Design Center with Paula Abdul and John Stamos. The day the invitations go out, everyone in Hollywood obsesses about whether they’ll make the list and the most coveted time slots. For the record, my invitation reads 9:30. Okay, so it has nothing to do with my first name and everything to do with my last. But it sure beats watching Barbara Walters’ Oscar Special in your Wonder Woman pajamas with that pint of freezer-burned Häagen-Dazs. Or does it?
My mouth is throbbing from smiling as we walk through the front door of Morton’s. I’m desperate to free my hair from this facelift-tight chignon, grab a glass of bubbly, and find Kate, my BFF. The thought of braving this party all alone and without some liquid courage and my best friend is inconceivable. Kate’s an 11:00—but surely they’ll let her in early. Her red-hot client Will Bailey, a 9:30, just snagged the Best Actor Oscar tonight.
I don’t know how I’ll ever find Kate; Morton’s is a mob scene. Every presenter, winner, and even the losers are here. Even if the fire marshal shuts off the electricity, J-Lo’s two hundred carats of borrowed Fred Leighton diamonds will keep the place lit up. I maneuver through the smiling faces of Ang Lee, Al Gore, and Sandra Bullock, who are swarming my father while Mom beams proudly by his side.
Graydon Carter, the Vanity Fair man himself, is holding court in the center of the room. G. C.’s winged haircut is so impressive that it looks like Robert Graham sculpted it. “It’s not who you say ‘yes’ to, it’s who you say ‘no’ to,” I overhear Graydon Carter say to Kelly Lynch (a card-carrying member of the G. C. Inner Circle). G. C. is very good at saying no. InStyle may have featured your five-million-dollar wedding at the Cipriani in Venice, but if your megastar other half is on location shooting in Toronto, forget about coming solo to this party. Think Russell Crowe’s wife. (Don’t worry, I don’t know her name either.) Fax a headshot and résumé and send a 450-dollar Hermès ashtray and the answer is still no. Nope. No way. Not that it stops people from trying. G. C. reportedly even said no to one desperate wannabe guest who offered him a hundred grand for an 11:30 p.m. invite. The VF party is harder to crash than the presidential inauguration—though I don’t know why anyone would want to go to that.
I squeeze by super-agent Ed Limato chatting up David Beckham and duck past Sir Elton. Guess even E. J. would rather be here than at his own party. As I dart by Dominick Dunne and Jessica Simpson deep in conversation, I hear him patiently explaining to her, “No, dear, you won’t catch the Avian flu by drinking Evian water.”
“Lola!” I spin around to find a certain Teenage Movie Queen, whose proclivity for hitting the hotspots sans panties has given her a second crown: Queen of the Noonie Moonie. She’s placed her chipped Black Satin Chanel fingernails on my naked shoulder. At least she’s no longer scarily skeletal after that unfortunate diet Death Spiral. Though she is a radioactive Day-Glo orange, another victim of the spray-on sickness that plagues celebrities during Awards season. “Great dress,” she says with an aspartame smile.
“Thanks,” I say, feeling a glimmer of prettiness rush through me. Maybe those WireImage photos won’t be so bad after all.
“Couldn’t they make it in your size?” Don’t let it in. Do not let it in. The Teen Queen’s flaxen hair extensions flick me in the eye as she barrels toward one of the few people past third grade that this dress would actually fit—her sidekick Nicole Richie—who’s thumbing away on her Swarovski’d Motorola Sidekick.
Two piercing wails split the air: Madonna and Gwyneth’s shrieks of panic when they see each other in the same shade of red. Stylists’ heads will roll tomorrow. The screeching nearly makes me crash into Penélope Cruz, who’s throwing rapid fire-Spanish in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s direction.
Penèlope’s face is pure Sophia Loren in Two Women. She must have stopped by the Soho House for one of their free Diamond Facial Acupuncture Treatments. No one wakes up looking like Sophia Loren. Not even Sophia Loren.
“Lola, get your ass over here!” I’d recognize that gravely voice anywhere. That crazy hair. That grin. Those dark old-school tortoiseshell Ray-Bans. I swear they’re the same pair Uncle Jon wore to Passover dinner when I was eight. He’s the only man in Hollywood who actually looks cool wearing sunglasses at night. He summons me with a magisterial wave from the prime-positioned booth at the front of the restaurant.
“I hate these fucking things,” Uncle J whispers in my ear as he stands up to give me a hug.
“Yeah, unless you have a new gold man to add to the three you already have above the toilet,” I whisper back.
“And now your dad has two. I always knew Paulie Santisi would be back on top. Come give your uncle some sugar.” Hollywood’s most famous satyr pulls me in for a kiss. At least this time Uncle J, who, I need hardly add, is no uncle of mine, keeps his tongue to himself. He makes space for me beside him next to Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, who are on their third order of sticky toffee pudding with vanilla bean ice cream. B. D. and D. V. F. got the next best thing to a little gold statue tonight. They’re among the 170 Carterwinian “naturally selected” A+++ specimens who were invited to watch the Awards over dinner at 5:30 p.m. The first and most touted time slot of the evening goes to those alphas not attending the Oscars, like Annette Bening and Sumner Redstone. They get to take home one of the light-up glass dome centerpieces etched with “Vanity Fair” to put on top of their toilets.
D. V. F. offers me a bite of pudding.
“I’m off refined sugar,” I say.
“Aren’t we all,” she says, putting a heaping spoonful into her mouth. “We are so thrilled for your father, dear,” she adds as she pushes the pudding toward me. It’s easy to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day during Oscar Week. It’s the same people, same conversations, only different designer outfits. We were at Barry and Diane’s house just yesterday for their annual pre-Oscar brunch, where D. V. F. was dragging my father back and forth like a pull toy across the lawn from Nic Cage’s table to Naomi Watts’s.
I spot a small gray notebook on the table tucked between an ostrich Judith Leiber pouch and the square sterling silver rose centerpiece. I flip it open. There’s a silver pencil tucked inside so each guest can vote for their picks while watching the Awards during dinner. I turn to the “Best Achievement in Directing” page. Someone has passed over my father’s name and has checked the small box next to Clint Eastwood’s. I tear out the page and shove it into my Bottega python clutch. Can’t you just see it in the family scrapbook?
I imagine the primo diners chomping on the ritzy restaurant’s popular mache salad—sliced New York steak with French fries, haricots verts, and shiitake risotto—as they placed their wagers. Did any of G.C.’s Table One dinner guests lobby for my father? Surely B. D. and D. V. F. did, right? I envision Ronald Perelman lighting Amber Valletta’s cigarette with one of the silver VF-engraved Dunhill lighters as he brags to Fran Leibowitz that Clint was just at his house in East Hampton. I can hear the sighs of disappointment that came from this booth when Julia Roberts read my father’s name.
I contemplate reaching across to the adjacent booth to see if Francis Ford Coppola, Larry David, or Anderson Cooper checked my father’s name. It’s a good thing the dinner tables are being whisked away or I’d be running from table to table stealing voting books.
There’s that waiter with my champagne. I lift the glass to my lips as I glance up at one of the plasma screens televising the arriving celebrity circus outside. My glass shatters on the terracotta tile floor.
SMITH’s face accosts me from the big screen. He’s flashing the photogs that smile that caused People magazine to name him their “Sexiest Man in the Hemisphere” (although that’s such a mouthful I just call him S.M.I.T.H). He used to train that smile on me. Before he demolished my heart and gave the tabloids their heartiest meal since poor Britney’s razor rash.
Oh God. Oh no. He’s with HER. And they’re—KISSING. I can’t breathe. I’m going to be sick. After what happened four hours ago, I thought I’d be ready, but I’m not. I contemplate licking the champagne off the floor near Rachel Weisz’s beaded Blahniks, but don’t want to look too needy. SMITH and HER are everywhere. No matter which direction I turn, there’s another plasma screen projecting their nauseatingly famous faces. I’m Alice riding the spinning teacups, and the ride is spinning faster and faster.
I feel the full frontal humiliation of an attack of the Unworthies coming on. You know, that horrible, sickening, sinking feeling that everyone on the planet is prettier, smarter, sexier, funnier, and better dressed than you. The Unworthies go into overdrive during public breakups (and with TMZ.com, is any breakup not public in Hollywood? Including my own?), box office duds, and birthdays, and they’re positively rampant during Oscar Week. Symptoms include overdoses of Botox, Kabbalah, photo ops, couture, and Ativan, but I prefer the good old-fashioned assumption of the fetal position. I cast about wildly for something to keep me off that cold floor; my gown would clash terribly with the burnt orange tiles. I down Uncle J’s scotch and water to stem the tide.
“Honey, you okay?” Uncle J covers my hand with his own. “You look kinda pale.”
“I’m fine, Uncle J,” I stammer. “I’m just going to make the rounds and get some air, you know?”
Uncle J glances up at the plasma screen, looks back at me, then arches that famous eyebrow and grins. “Lola, the only people you should ever lie to are the cops and your boyfriend,” he tells me. “Take care of yourself, honey, and tell your father I love him.” An unidentified brunette sidles up to him as I make my getaway.
THEY’RE walking through the front door. I’ve got to get out of here before there’s a run-in. SMITH cannot see me looking like this. And all alone. I spy Daniel Craig and wish he would helicopter me the hell out of Morton’s and straight to Monte Carlo.
Where’s Kate? I’ve got to find her.
Om, shit, ram . . . um . . . shit. I try to remember my equilibrium mantra to keep me grounded. Especially when I’m teetering on four-inch stiletto Louboutins and Natalie Portman’s tiara is flashing in my eyes. Thank God I didn’t borrow that Winston diamond tiara. Who can compete with Natalie Portman in the tiara department?
The mantra’s not working. SMITH, Uncle J’s scotch and water, and blinding tiara gems have me totally off balance.
I’ve got to get to that back room. I wobble my way through all the distorted faces. George Lucas and Arianna Huffington, Jack Black and Stephen Colbert, Carrie Fisher and Meryl Streep—all whirl in and out of focus. We’re pressed so closely together it’s difficult to move forward. I feel my throat chakra being cut off by the perpetual motion of checking over my shoulder for SMITH. I’m so focused on looking behind me I don’t realize I’m stepping on Kate Bosworth’s dress.
“Um, excuse me? Do you mind? You’re on my Balenciaga,” Kate trills, switching the ivory chiffon train out from under my stiletto with a spectral arm. I murmur an apology, but she’s already training her full-wattage smile at someone behind my right shoulder, someone not Unworthy. I swerve around Adrien Brody, who’s busy putting Donald Trump’s number into his cell.
I step inside the all-white room. At last. It’s how I imagine heaven. Especially since the Devil’s in the other room. Every year Graydon Carter flies in an architect to yank down the back wall of Morton’s and transform seven thousand square feet of dingy parking lot into an Ian Schrager monochromatic dream that makes the Coco Chanel suite at the Ritz in Paris look like a Motel 6. The warm, pale pink lighting is so supremely flattering that it looks like Annie Leibovitz lit the place herself. I’d love to flop down onto one of the coveted Mies van der Rohe white couches lining the perimeter of the room, but those lucky dinner guests snuck in here during dessert to stake their claim.
“Something sweet, miss?” The waiter holds out a silver tray laden with sugar cookies and fruit-flavored lollies with all the flawless faces of the A-list celebs airbrushed on them. Nice as it’d be to suck on Orlando, I gag at the sight of HER on one of the lollipops. I feel my blood sugar plunging. I bolt for the In-N-Out cheeseburgers piled on platters in the far right corner of the room. Kanye West lifts his candy apple red fur out of the way as we bite into our cheeseburgers, which somehow taste even better when you’re wearing couture. Even couture that’s the wrong size and color.
A man in head-to-toe black Ducati leathers and helmet ducks through the emergency exit next to me. I freeze; it’s a member of a terrorist cell sent to wipe out all of Hollywood. My first instinct is to hit the floor. Since that’s not an option in this dress, I instantly take cover behind Kanye West’s lime green plaid tux. As I brace myself for the impact of a deadly explosion, the helmet flies off à la Lucy Liu in Charlie’s Angels and inches in front of me stands Tom Cruise. Guess Katie’s on Suri duty or maybe baking up a new addition. Is T. C. here to wipe us all out for having our shrinks on retainer and our pharmacists on speed-dial? On second thought, full protective gear isn’t a bad option for a night like tonight. Especially if the only thing you’re taking are vitamins. T. C. may have made the most daring fashion choice of the night. I wonder if he’d let me borrow that helmet.
A petite brunette waitress walks by carrying a tray of rainbow-colored cigarettes. What the hell; I grab one. I only smoke when I’m drunk. Or when I feel like killing myself, anyway. Tonight it’s both. It feels so rebellious lighting up inside. Thank you, Graydon, for being a chain smoker. I blissfully exhale and watch my cloud of smoke mingle with Benicio Del Toro’s—doubtless the only thing of mine that will ever mingle with the sexiest mumbler this side of San Juan. He gives me a heavy-lidded wink as SMITH and HER pulverize the only pleasure I’ve known all night by invading my back room. Suddenly I can’t exhale. Stars swim before my eyes—not the celebrity kind, the I’m-about-to-asphyxiate-and-die-and-ruin-Ian’s-décor kind. Please God, don’t let THEM see me. Thankfully I spy Will Bailey, Best Actor Oscar in hand, clad in Prada down to his underwear. His shaggy hair and attitude is a flashback to De Niro in Mean Streets.
“Will, thank heavens,” I tell him, grabbing the cuff of his tux. “I need you to shield me. THEY’RE here, and SHE should be Roman Polanski’d to a barren desert with no water and lots of land mines.”
“Lola, hi.” Will spins me in place and kisses me on both cheeks. “Guess what? Pacino just told me he’s dying to work with me. So did Oliver Stone. And your father gave Christian Bale the part he promised me. I bet he’s regretting that now. When do they start shooting?”
“I don’t know, Will. By the way, congratulations,” I say, nodding at the gold statuette he’s clutching by the throat, wishing someone would just wring me around the neck and put me out of my misery. “I knew you were gonna win.”
“That’s what Kate kept telling me, too. Hey, do you know if Reese Witherspoon is here with anyone?” Will is scanning the crowd wildly. “Where is Kate? I have a buddy I need her to get into the party.”
“What do you mean? I thought she was with you,” I say, devastated by the possibility that my best friend might not be here. She has to be here.
“There wasn’t enough room in the limo.”
“So you just left her?” I say, panic rising.
“Well, it was my mother, my brother, my cousin, my buddies from Jersey. I would have put her in the trunk if I’d known it would take her this long. She should be here, for fuck’s sake. I just won an Oscar. I shouldn’t have to worry about this. She’s my agent. I’m paying her to do the worrying.”
“Kate will be here any second,” I say, patting his arm. “I’ll go call her for you, okay?”
“Thanks, Lola,” Will says. “At least you’re not letting me down.” Christ. Actors. Will was serving pizza at zpizza before he met Kate! “Plain or pepperoni?” was the extent of dialogue he had in those days. Kate’s the one who’s championed his career. Scorsese was thisclose to casting Mark Wahlberg as the lead for The Day Before Today Is Yesterday before Kate waged her relentless—and successful—campaign to win her client the part. Will wouldn’t have an Oscar if it weren’t for her—and now he’s mad that she’s not here after he tossed her out of the limo!
I race toward the front door and speed-dial Kate, who’s in full Vesuvius mode.
“It’s ten fifty-five! The door bitch just told me to drive around the block for five minutes because my invitation isn’t until eleven!”
“Kate—” I try to interrupt.
“My client just won an Academy Award! Will thanked me on national television!”
“Kate—” I try to interrupt again.
“Now I’m supposed to circle the block?! It took me a pink parking pass, twenty minutes, and two checkpoints just to make it one block down Robertson from Beverly. Bush should make Graydon Carter head of Homeland Security.”
“Kate!” I finally scream.
“What!” she screams back.
“Will’s tantrumming. And I’m teetering on Girl, Interrupted. Please, SMITH’s here. Could you just ditch the car and walk?”
“Tried that. A cop shoved me back in the car. It’s like Abu Ghraib out here. I’ll figure something out. Tell Will I’ll be there in five minutes.”
My best friend just hung up on me, I’m drunk, I’m queasy from that In-N-Out cheeseburger, and from that seasick feeling a broken heart induces, and the bobby pins in this chignon are causing pinpoint hemorrhages in my scalp. I debate dialing Cricket, my BAF (Best Actress Forever). But how can I be feeling sorry for myself when my beautiful, talented friend is in her shoe box off Abbott Kinney in Venice having her own attack of the Unworthies, eating tofu out of the plastic container and obsessing about the latest audition she bombed?
Time to go to Plan B: an aura-cleansing minimeditation in the bathroom stall, regloss, and quick pee so I can get the hell out of here and over to Patrick Whitesell and Rick Yorn’s after-after-party featuring the Leo crowd. At least THEY won’t be there. Maybe I’ll recover my appetite in time for that 1 a.m. Four Seasons catered breakfast buffet.
I open the bathroom door expecting my own private runway show. Or at least some starlet power-puking. Instead the only thing I find are a pair of scrumptious, strappy, four-inch silver Manolos peeking out from under the bathroom stall. I move in for a closer look to find the Blahniks cozying up to a second pair of shoes: black, patent, of the male variety, accompanied by what is now becoming audible moaning and groaning. I take a step back.
I am not at all morally opposed to a little canoodling in the commode. It is of immense cachet to have gotten it on in the bathroom of Morton’s at the VF party. After all, the bathroom walls are teeming with the simple wood-framed party pics from Graydon’s first fête in 1994. The photos are practically all that’s left of some of the famous relationships. Remember Nicole and Tom, Bruce and Demi, Ellen and Anne? Of even greater cachet than doing the deed is to be the first to know who’s canoodling whom before it lands on the cover of Us Weekly. I quietly kick the toilet seat down in the next stall and climb up for a better view. Our lucky guy’s scored twice tonight. He’s got a shimmering gold Oscar clutched tightly in one hand and a Mystic Tanned ass in the other.
Wait a second. Oh God, I recognize the Hawaiian Orchid polish on those toes. And that dress. Even if it’s a tad hard to make out yanked up so high. And I definitely recognize the top of that man’s head.
My father cranes his neck around and blanches. “Lola, it’s not what it looks like.”
“It’s not?” I say. “I think Mom would beg to differ.”
“Lo-la,” her glossless mouth sing-songs as her intoxicated brain struggles for what to say next. “Wow,” is all she comes up with as she flashes me her brightest, widest, twenty-million-dollar smile. Wow.
My head is spinning. I feel faint. All I can picture is my mother’s hand squeezing my father’s—hard—the moment before Julia Roberts tore open that envelope. “It’s going to be your night, darling,” she’d whispered.
I stumble down from my perch and sit with my head between my legs. A loud rap on the stall door makes me slam my head up into the toilet roll dispenser.
“I can explain—” my father pleads. I can’t listen to this for one more second. I’ve got to get out of here. I’ve got to find Kate. The bathroom door slams behind me.
Thank heavens, there’s Kate rushing through the crowd toward me. But her face is drained of all color and her blue eyes look gray. Her dark chocolate hair flies wildly around her head. Her Marc Jacobs chiffon dress hangs limply, a feat on such a perfectly sculpted figure. She isn’t teetering on Girl, Interrupted. She’s full throttle. This is only the third time in the eleven years she’s been my best friend that I’ve witnessed her G.I. Jane steely exterior crack. I grab her shoulders to steady her.
“You first,” I say.
“My life is over,” she exclaims.
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