Had lunch today with two people involved in the LA fashion industry; one was a sleek sophisticated transplant from the east coast, the other a Los Angeles native. We were at The Village Idiot, a gastro-pub I’ve been meaning to try for a while but haven’t….because it’s way the hell out there on Melrose and has no valet*, so parking is annoying. I was delighted to have chips with salt and vinegar, which is not a well-known concept in California; you ask someone to bring you vinegar for your fries, they look at you blankly, and then bring you balsamic. Not the same.
This was the first time I’ve ever sat down to a meal with people who had to evaluate the decor of the place before they could even ask for a drink or look at the menu. The stylist pointed out that the backrest was too low: “They think this is comfortable but it’s a mistake. See? You can’t have this part be too high, but when it’s low like this it hits you in the back just so and you can’t…lounge…and spread your arms out.” He demonstrated. He had a point. “So this is actually not a place where I’d want to hang out and drink for an evening.” The designer, who had been here before, remarked how the booths were on a raised part of the floor and the tables weren’t covered or concealed at all, so people sitting below (most of the restaurant) had a full view of what was going on in the areas beneath those surfaces. Which the people sitting at those particular tables often didn’t seem to realize….”I’ve seen all types of things that I didn’t particularly want to see…The last time I ate here, there was one woman just going to town with her hands on these two guys and I wanted to get up and shake her. How dare she inflict those visuals on me…when I’m trying to eat?”
I have never gotten blasted with so much celebrity gossip in the course of one little meal. Here’s what I’ve been given permission to relay:
— There’s a well-known blonde ‘heiress’ who actually isn’t a heiress at all, has no real trust fund to speak of. This is an open secret which I’ve heard fairly often by now — a fictional character based on her in a recent novel is summed up neatly as “a fake blonde with a fake fortune”, although ‘fortune’ is relative in a town where a one-million dollar house barely ranks as middle-class. The designer, who knew the family growing up, mentioned how this girl started out trying very hard to be a model, even though she is, among other things, too short. (She claims to be five-eight, which she is. When she’s wearing three-inch heels.) The mother took her around with aggression and authority to all the agencies but the girl was deemed “completely unmarketable”. She also has naturally dark hair and dark brown eyes, not the look she’s known for — “She completely Barbie-d herself,” as my companions put it. You have to give the girl credit for such immaculate self-invention.
— The heiress has a friend whose “mysterious” dramatic weight loss that she had shrugged off as inexplicable, just the way her body works, was in truth due to her abuse of Adderall.
— The brawl I’d witnessed at Villa (see earlier entry) was due to one actor making the other actor’s girlfriend “uncomfortable” and the other actor quickly and violently “defending” her. “Frankly I think he completely overreacted,” the stylist told me. “From what I hear [the first actor] doesn’t even like girls.” He also added, “His agent dropped him. People are surprised because he was on this huge show, but the agent told me that he just wasn’t getting any work. No one will hire him.”
— A conversation about celebrities getting free stuff and expecting free stuff led to an anecdote about the Dover Street Market in London; the designer was talking to the businessman who runs it, who is very firm about no freebies to anybody, “not even celebrities”. So he was quite irked when one famous actress went through the stall, collected dresses, blithely laid them on the counter and told the salesgirl to “wrap them up.” She clearly had no intention of paying, and was so completely superior and entitled and bitchily intimidating that the salesgirl thought there must be some kind of prior arrangement in place and did as she was told. The celebrity walked off with the merchandise. “So who was she?” I asked, and the answer came back immediately: “Gwyneth Paltrow.” A pause. “Who is so totally losing her looks, by the way. That hair is just no longer working for her.”
— And possibly one of the weirdest celebrity stories I’ve ever heard anywhere. Apparently it’s another open secret — although the gods know that this is news to me — that one of the most famous and desirable men in the world is very…minimally…endowed, to the point of being troubled and conflicted about it despite his amazing success. “At the end of every relationship, he was wounded — just wounded — because he wonders if this is the cause. In his mind it always comes back to this. It’s one reason why he never really slept around.” When he married, and his wife realized she was in this for the long haul, she traveled all the way to Japan to discreetly see a doctor there about “re-virginizing” herself in order to make their sex life more tolerable. “Which seemed to work fine for a few years.” Who knows if this is true. I suspect, though, that even those women who say with blazing conviction that size does matter, in this case wouldn’t mind overlooking that one little thing. No pun intended.
*Valet an incredibly important part of daily LA life. The Kinko’s closest to my house has a valet. Insane, yes, but badly needed, otherwise their customers would probably zoom right by.