E and I were attempting to see SWEENEY TODD — again — when we made the mistake of texting our producer friend Octavius to see what he was up to for the night. He messaged back that he was at Villa with a (gorgeous) young woman he’d met at St Barts and invited us over. I’m not sure how many times now we have tried, and failed, to see this movie, but it wasn’t meant to be tonight, either.
I’ve been curious to check out Villa. It is the latest club of the moment, owned by Mark Walburg and Leo DiCaprio and some other dude (known as “the guy who did Hyde”), so exclusive that the majority of Los Angelenos haven’t even heard of it: no advertising whatsoever, just a crowd outside the door and some paparazzi and a doorman telling people it’s a private event so please go the hell away*. We stood on the sidewalk, ignoring the doorman as he ignored us, and E showed me some images on his phone of electric cars. Then Octavius poked his head out the door and hollared for us, as if this was his house and he was impatient with such lollygagging about on his porch.
Small place. Decked out like someone’s personal home, albeit the unusually flamboyant kind with a sinuous dancer in lingerie gyrating in the elevated alcove over the bar. I liked her outfit and made a mental note to perhaps get one of my own. A blonde in a sequined flapper thing went past me and I thought, There’s a girl who’s trying too hard, and realized it was the socialite who shall not be named. Octavius kept introducing us to people — Octavius knows a lot of people, is what Malcolm Gladwell terms “a connector” — and at one point I turned and saw a familiar-looking, well-built blond guy with a sweater tied around his attractive shoulders. Octavius introduced us to Leo, and I shook his hand, reflecting that girls and women the world over would be desperately wanting to be me right then.
The night continued. The place got packed and then thinned out, took on a more personal, intimate feel, as if we all knew each other and were hanging out at someone’s cocktail party. I did a shot with, or at least beside, Mark McGrath, who looks astonishingly like Ethan Hawke. I talked to a producer of BEOWULF and discovered I’d been misinformed, thinking that the studios had turned it down first when really it had been independently developed and produced all along. Mark came up behind us, greeted the producer, thumped my shoulder and said, “He’s a great guy!” and announced himself to the group as, “Hi, Mark McGrath, had two major hits in the nineties!” and disappeared into the throng. The group was bemused. Or at least I was. Ended the evening in conversation with a tall stunning friend my age who modeled and did commercials in her twenties. Leo passed by us, told her, “I’m outie.” She said, “You’re outie?” He confirmed this. When he left she rolled her eyes and implied that this had been her cue to follow him out eagerly. Then she said, “He’s a really nice guy. But I went on a date with him ten years ago, and back then he was not so nice.” Maybe not to some. I hear those crazy kids can be like that. I got distracted by a cute dark-eyed hipster who was suddenly greeting me with a kiss on each cheek: “You’re Pia,” he informed me. “From Stockholm, right?” I’ve always had a thing for that Keanu Reeves kind of coloring, so who was I to disappoint? He said “All right!” and clasped my hand, and left. I reflected that perhaps I have an alterego, and her name is Pia from Stockholm.
When we filed outside, people muttered, “Jesus”, as we were met with a wall of paparazzi. As I edged off the curb and walked round them towards the valet, I heard one tell his buddy, “I’m going for Paris.” Then they were swarming a car, lights popping, people yelling, “Justin!” The car couldn’t peel away fast enough. In its wake, I overheard people muttering in mock-amazement about how Justin was actually driving.
*I overheard a manager advising one of the doormen, or valets, or whoever he was, to “…tell people that it’s all booked up for the night so that unless you have a reservation you can’t get in, and that way they won’t get so pissed at you and abuse you like that.” While I waited for Octavius, I watched a different doorman turn away people with just this tactic, and it seemed to go well for him.