A-list gluttony

first_imgNatives of LA love to complain about it: the pollution, the superficial, fastpaced lifestyle, the total lack of history and culture. These people live in LA for business, purely practical reasons, and once out of it they’ll move elsewhere: a calm and gentle place, a place with museums and opera houses, a place where everyone isn’t chasing their first million, a place where people have some spiritual and emotional sense, a place with people whose IQs don’t equal their weight in pounds. A place like San Francisco. It’s hard to live and survive in the movie business without being one of these types, and if you’re in LA you’re in it for the movies. That was certainly the reason I’d come to LA Not the films themselves perhaps, I could see them anywhere, but the movie culture: the stars, the sets, the general milieu. LA is the movie Mecca, the place where the deals are made, the pictures are shot, the stars are born. LA doesn’t have its own Empire State building; it doesn’t have the White House or Golden Gate Bridge. It doesn’t have Aspen mountains or Mississippi rivers. But LA has one thing unlike anywhere else on earth: more movie stars per square metre than every other place in the world. And those were the people I was there to see. Unfortunately I hadn’t arrived during Oscar season. It turned out the tickets were far too expensive and hotel prices (even hostels) were in the stratosphere. I guessed every movie geek in America made pilgrimage to Mecca at this time. So I arrived in winter, still sure that there would be enough movie stars wondering around the streets to satisfy my blood-lust. I booked into a hostel as close to the centre as I could afford. I’d heard that no one walks around the sprawling metropolis that is LA and the public transport system is nonexistent; and since I needed to be where all the action was (surprisingly there aren’t any hostels in Beverly Hills) I settled in Santa Monica, the next port of call for rich and famous. I’d prepared my trip like a paparazzo professional. After months of studying Hello!and Heat, I knew all the hangouts of the stars. I knew the glitzy vegan restaurant that fed Gwynnie and Madge, the nightclub where J-Lo liked to shake her booty. All these places had been filed in my memory and locations mapped out before I even arrived. I woke up bright and early on my first morning, rising with the LA sun and donning my jogging gear from a trip to Venice beach. Of course I had no intention of doing any exercise (being an Oxford student and not an LA starlet) but I knew that Johnny Depp took his morning excursion at said beach and I was going to witness it. Depp must be the sexiest creature in show business and probably the only thing that could get me out of bed at 6 am. So there I was, decked out in lycra, the fattest sight in a fifty mile radius, waiting for a glimpse of the high–cheekboned Adonis to rush past me. I waited and waited, my exposed parts slowly burning in the LA sun, and waited and waited. By the end of the morning I’d seen someone who closely resembled Luke Perry from 90210, an extra I remembered from an episode of Nash Bridges, and a dog-walker who I was pretty sure must have had a number of famous people’s dogs in his clutch. Such was my disappointment that I debated whether or not to follow the dog-walker back to his clients’ houses, in the hope that I might catch sight of Britney Spears or Brad Pitt. But I was in no fit state to encounter any of my idols. If there was anything worse than not meeting Brad Pitt, it would be meeting him while I closely resembled Edwina from Ab Fab. That being the case, I trekked back to my hostel to gather my wits, slather myself with sunblock and begin again. The next stop was The Viper Room, death place of River Phoenix and, I’d been reliably informed, the place to be for the young celebrity about town. This time I wore my hippest clubbing gear. I wasn’t deluded enough to think I could actually get in the club but I needed to blend in along Sunset Strip. As it was I blended in very well, spending the entire evening in an alleyway holding the arm of some filthy rich, desperately drunken teenager while she vomited the entire no-carb contents of her stomach all over my fake Manolos. Not quite the Hollywood experience I expected. A week later and the situation hadn’t improved. I’d covered half the square footage of LA and still any and every remotely famous person had eluded my grasp. I had images of Gorgeous George leaving eateries a few seconds after I’d entered them, of Winona Ryder dashing out of department stores before I’d had a chance to clock her, of Cruise and Cruz engaged in a kiss and make-up snogging session only a few feet away from me at any given time. I’d taken to nipping around street corners in the hopes of catching them unawares, of looking at the world through binoculars so I wouldn’t miss a thing. I’d even begun to follow the dog–walkers’ home. Unfortunately, despite my most concerted efforts, the situation didn’t improve. Two weeks in LA and the only remotely famous person I saw was the fat bloke from The Full Monty. A bloody Brit. I probably could have seen him down Camden Market. I packed my bags and headed for San Francisco. Maybe I’d bump into Britney in Maccy D’s.ARCHIVE: 3rd week TT 2004last_img

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