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Chapter 1: THE GREAT DIVIDE
There are two places called Hollywood.
1.Physical Hollywood hugs the Santa Monica mountain range in Los Angeles and is accessible by compact car from Laurel Canyon Boulevard, the 101 Freeway, and Santa Monica Boulevard. A brief history: In 1886, a crippled Topeka, Kansas, man named Harvey Wilcox bought 160 wilderness acres outside Los Angeles. His wife, Daeida, christened the ranch “Hollywood,” after an Ohio town someone had mentioned on a train. In the early 1900s, movie companies were drawn to Hollywood’s intense sunlight. They also liked its distance from the New Jersey courts where inventor Thomas Edison had filed lawsuits claiming copyright ownership of the filmmaking process. Edison lost and the studios prospered.
The first Academy Awards took place in 1929. In 1960, the first star was laid in the Walk of Fame. Currently, about three hundred thousand people live in Hollywood, including many homeless teenage hustlers, a few long-legged farm girls, and several Armenian shop owners. Most of the studios are now in Burbank and elsewhere. As a star, you might pass through this community on occasion for business or entertainment purposes, but it will not be your home.
2.Magical Hollywood, which you will inhabit, crosses geographical boundaries to include parts of Los Angeles, New York, France, and Montana; the first-class lounges of international airports; nightclub VIP rooms; hyperyachts; and secluded, pampering resorts in odd locations. You may reach this Hollywood only via jet, helicopter, comfortable boat, motorcycle, or late-model Maybach. In this Hollywood, people eat raw foods, wear thousand-dollar T-shirts, and bemoan their loss of creative freedom. It is a world that only you and your peers will ever understand. Once inside, you will do anything to stay.
STAR KNOWLEDGE: Where to Live
Star abodes fall along a line stretching from Silver Lake, at the intersection of the 101 and 5 freeways, west to Santa Monica and up the coast to Malibu. A number of desirable communities lie within this geography, and each has its own personality and implications for your image.
Los Feliz/Silver Lake: This area is suitable for stars who haven’t left their roommate days behind. If you’re still here when stardom calls, move immediately to negate the risk of running into failed negative people (FNP) who haven’t made it big. You deserve better, unless you’re purchasing one of the pedigreed midcentury modern homes bordering the reservoir. If the realtor drops the names Richard Neutra, Rudolf M. Schindler, Gregory Ain, or John Lautner, immediately offer the full price, as houses by these dead architects confer great status.
West Hollywood: More a shopping and dining destination for stars than a place to pitch a tent. This is Gay Hollywood. If you are a closeted gay star (CGS) in this neighborhood, be prepared for paparazzi and make sure your lifestyle denial speech is well-scripted.
Mulholland Drive: This legendary winding road is lined with glamorous homes perched high above the city. Away from the madding crowd and far from good takeout restaurants, this area is perfect for stars who are comfortable in their skin and who like the freedom to tinkle in their backyards, if the urge hits them, without upsetting the neighbors.
Laurel Canyon: The side streets of this canyon have been home to superstars, porn stars, politicians, and drug dealers. The jumbled compounds are perfect for bohemian sensibilities and substance-addled Trustafarian souls. Neighbors will applaud your spiritual commitment when you install a large stone Buddha that dribbles water out of its mouth into your pool.
Beverly Hills: While the neighborhood certainly has cachet, it’s also less inviting and more crowded than a true star might appreciate. These days, Jed, Jethro, Granny, and Elly May would more likely be known as the Bel Airbillies.
Bel Air: Now you’re talking. The astounding amounts of water consumed by the picket-fence roses in these arid luxyons mark Bel Air as true star territory.
Brentwood: This double-income-zero-orgasm (DIZO) neighborhood features big houses, big egos, and strong gates. You might bump into your agent here. The sidewalks are so deserted that stars have been known to murder their cheating spouses right on the street and get away with it.
Pacific Palisades: Urban legend holds that families who live in this wealthy neighborhood of fresh air and tranquil homes stay together longer than families who live in Beverly Hills.
Santa Monica: A beighborhood home to surfers, flower children, and power-hungry vegetarians, this casually expensive beachside community is perfect for socially aware stars.
Malibu: Seemingly simple cottages on stilts line the beach, but be assured that luxury reigns behind their charming facades. High-wattage stars work hard to keep riffraff off the beach so they can play fetch with their dogs in peace. Check deeds for public beach access stairways before purchasing a home here, or you might end up having to file a lawsuit to remove the permanent gathering of fans just below your deck.
STAR ISSUE: How to Select a Home
Your career success depends, in part, on your home. An unseemly home (too small, too ugly, too far from power-lunch spots like the Ivy) will mark you as antisocial and unpredictable, which are undesirable traits in an industry of team players. Aim for a beautiful house that’s as unapologetically large as your ego. Choose from among the following styles:
Tudor: These houses, which feature cosmetic, nonstructural wooden beams, steeply pitched roofs, and stucco walls, became popular in the 1920s when Lon Chaney, Louise Brooks, and Charlie Chaplin reigned supreme. To Americans, the style has always evoked visions of English country homes. To everyone else in the world, fake Tudor just looks dark and dumb. Leave these houses for the Film Theory 101 professors. Tudor does not have star power (SP).
Tiki: This Hawaiian lounge look is good for young Hollywood stars. You can trade up to something more mature after your twenty-third birthday.
Mayan Revival: Serious architects are still in awe of this exotic motif from the 1920s that radiates creative power. Best for eccentric stars.
Midcentury Modern: Perfect for your weekend getaway home in Palm Springs. Reflecting pools, metal arches, airport-lounge-style sloped ceilings, overtiled bathrooms, curved colorful chandeliers, and stone walls tell the world you have arrived and are proud to be cool. Expect major magazine attention. Star friends may be a bit bored, as this trend is peaking.
Postmodern: No one knows exactly what this term means, except that it is the condition of postmodernity, or “after what is now.” But enough theory. In practice, postmodern houses make unashamedly bold and goofy statements, with oversize columns, vaguely historical windows, shingle siding, and perverted traditional forms. Favored for East Coast star retreats like Easthampton and Martha’s Vineyard. Perfect for auteurs.
Spanish Revival and Mission: These stucco houses with red-tiled roofs are always right for any Hollywood star, and they look good in Architectural Digest.
Bungalow: Low-key Los Angeles architectural form that works well for young star couples on their way up.
Minimalist: For secure stars only. This highly evolved style eschews ornamentation and color, relying instead on clean open spaces that say, “I am so successful that I need nothing.” While the houses invariably look empty, there are always many hidden closets and drawers for concealing star junk.
WHAT IS THIS FENG SHUI STUFF?
This ancient Chinese philosophy is an unlikely source of glam design in LA, but it has influenced everything from the Getty Center art museum to Laurel Canyon meditation rooms. Feng shui (pronounced “fung shway”) is based on a Taoist understanding of how the forces of nature work together to create harmonious environments inside the home. In Chinese, feng means wind and shui means water. Good feng shui leads to good fortune, and bad feng shui—you don’t want to go there. You may hire a feng-shui master (see the Los Angeles yellow pages) to study the flow of energy through your new home and help redesign the interior or even make structural changes to improve your (already great!) fortune.
According to Eva Wong, a Hong Kong–born feng-shui expert, here’s how to hire a feng-shui person:
Decide whether you want a traditional practitioner or a New Age feng-shui practitioner. The traditional experts follow centuries-old beliefs, whereas the New Age experts have only recently adapted the science to Western culture’s need for harmonious placement of dog beds, treadmills, and Oscar statuettes.
Choose either a Chinese practitioner or someone who is very familiar with Chinese culture.
Choose someone who will explain the rationale behind every recommendation. If you are going to install a five-ton boulder near the front door, you’ll want to know why.
DUTIES OF HOUSEHOLD HELP
Good help isn’t found, it’s made. With the proper resources—money, manipulation, and power—you can turn even a mediocre domestic staff into a living, breathing reflection of your own grandeur. Begin by communicating to your employees the exact nature of their duties and responsibilities. Nothing is more frustrating, or more wasteful of your valuable time, than dealing with unmet expectations. Here are the duties of the major household staff positions you will need to fill.
Majordomo or butler: Make sure everything works; dress in black to impress guests; keep guests from poaching staff.
Lawn and garden person: Keep things green; mix in other colors as needed; report paparazzi in bushes.
Pool person: Have a trim and muscular physique; maintain hygiene of hot tub; never stare at poolside nudity;fulfill miscellaneous intimate functions depending on employer’s unmet needs/desires.
Maid: Always look down while cleaning; pretend to be charmed when guests habla with mangled syntax.
Chef: Read latest diet books; lie about calorie/fat/carb content of meals served.
Property manager: Keep property immaculate; never notice unusual behaviors; take the Fifth when necessary.
Nanny: Feed, clothe, bathe, cuddle, and put to bed the children; cede bragging rights to parents.
Driver: Sit in car until needed; keep eyes on road, not on backseat; assume role of therapist during traffic jams.
Security: Look strong; look the other way; share protein powder as needed.
Dog whisperer: Fathom your companion canine’s innermost needs, desires, and anxieties.
Dog therapist: Help your canine companion to achieve needs as revealed by dog whisperer.
VETTING YOUR NANNY
It’s a given that your children’s nannies (one per child) will be English, wear uniforms, and push extravagant, oversize prams. Still, it’s wise to check the background of even the most aesthetically pleasing governess. The United Kingdom’s Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) is the first place to turn for information. According to the director of the CRB, “the role of the Criminal Records Bureau is to reduce the risk of abuse by ensuring that those who are unsuitable are not able to work with children and vulnerable adults.”
HELPFUL HOUSEHOLD PHRASES FOR SPANISH-SPEAKING EMPLOYEES
Hola. Estoy muy borracho.
Hi. I’m really drunk.
Esto no está limpio.
This isn’t clean.
Hola. Quisiera introducirte a mi nueva/nuevo novia/novio/piscinero. No nos disturbe, por favor.
Hi. I’d like to introduce you to my new girlfriend/boyfriend/pool boy. Please don’t disturb us.
Te pareces caliente.
You look hot.
Hurry up, girl/boy.
Yo sé que es duro vivir sin dinero.
I understand how difficult it is to live with not much money.
No te daré más. Hay otros que quisieran tu trabajo.
I won’t give you more. There are others who would like your job.
¿Te incomodarías si nado desnudo?
Will it bother you if I swim naked?
Pues, busca otro trabajo.
Then look for another job.
Any responsible star will try to protect staff members from sexual harassment by establishing a uniform code of conduct. Of course, many stars have hung themselves by their own petard by forgetting that such conduct also applies to themselves. If you are going to “fall in love” with an employee, don’t begin the affair by informing your love interest of his or her rights.
The International Guild of Professional Butlers offers this sexual harassment policy as an example of how you may inform the rest of your staff of its rights and obligations in this arena:
NOTE: This is a sample sexual harassment policy, notifying workers that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. Include this form in an Employee Handbook or make it available separately.
In order to provide a productive and pleasant working environment, it is important that we at (______ Household) endeavor to maintain a workplace characterized by mutual respect. Accordingly, sexual harassment in our workplace will not be tolerated.
Sexual harassment has been defined as a form of sex discrimination, consisting of unwanted sexual advances. Examples of prohibited sexual harassment include:
Supervisors or managers explicitly or implicitly suggesting sex in return for a hiring, compensation, promotion, or retention decision.
Verbal or written sexually suggestive or obscene comments, jokes, or propositions.
Unwanted physical contact, such as touching, grabbing, or pinching.
Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, or magazines.
Continual expression of sexual or social interest after an indication that such interest is not desired.
Conduct with sexual implications when such conduct interferes with the employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating work environment.
Suggesting or implying that failure to accept a request for a date or sex would adversely affect the employee in respect to a performance evaluation or promotion.
STAR QUESTION: Is It True What They Say About Pool Technicians?
Yes. Many pool technicians in the Los Feliz to Malibu corridor enjoy fulfilling clients’ non-natatorial desires. The lonely star is the one who doesn’t ask.
STAR ISSUE: PSYOPS, or Nonlethal Methods for Coping with Driveway Tourists
Even if you opt for a low-key personal life, fans eventually will gather at your gate, hoping to glimpse, touch, or, in difficult cases, assassinate you. Military forces around the world have effectively used psychological operations (PSYOPS) since the time of Jehoshaphat, whose army sang its way to a weaponless victory. More recently, the U.S. military used PSYOPS to dislodge General Manuel Noriega in Panama and to disorient insurgents in Iraq. PSYOPS works just as effectively to neutralize your driveway tourists.
Psychological operations to consider:
Indifference: Ignore the hordes in your driveway. (Difficult when they are blocking your entrance or exit.) Eventually they will leave.
Friendly: Invite them in for tea. (Not advised, for security reasons.) They will become disillusioned by the fact that you, too, have to wash your teacups (or at least have to tell someone to wash them) and will leave.
Icy cordiality: Offer autographs through the gate. (Don’t let them grab your hands.) But smile coldly. They will become uncomfortable and leave.
Insecure: Bake the organic, sugar- and wheat-free cookies you favor and distribute them at the gate. They will spit them out and leave.
Hostile: Turn on your curbside sprinkler via remote control before entering or leaving the gate. (Beware: Some people will interpret this as an affectionate gesture.)
Aggressive: Hire armed and insensitive curbside patrols.
Last resort: Play loud classical music and distribute literary novels. Display your plastic surgery scars. Fart with indiscretion, as though you were one of the regular people (RP).
SIX SIGNS OF A STALKER
Stars are pungent stalker bait. If you suspect that someone is stalking you, hire security, notify the police, and pack heat. Here are some signs that you are being stalked.
1.You receive repeated phone calls from the same (sometimes unknown) person, even when you’ve told them not to contact you again.
2.The person waits for you at your house, at the studio, or at the Ivy.
3.The person makes threats, professes love, or writes hostile reviews of your movies.
4.The person manipulates you by threatening to commit suicide unless you contact them.
5.The person sends you letters and gifts (often with overly romantic or fearsome content).
6.The person lies to others about your behavior and spreads rumors that you are a drug user.
From the Trade Paperback edition.