After spending Memorial Day weekend at what my boyfriend called “that hippie nudist colony” (Harbin Hot Springs in Napa) with my “lesbian lover” (my girlfriend), landing at Kari Feinstein’s pre–MTV Movie Awards–style lounge extravaganza in Beverly Hills the following Thursday made for some serious culture shock.
A weird mix of the famous, the almost famous and the media who love/hate them gathered at a makeshift valet near the lower reaches of Benedict Canyon. A candy-apple Lincoln Navigator, whose back end had been converted into an entertainment center complete with wide-screen TVs and oversize speakers (rendering it able to seat only four, including the driver), shuttled us up the canyon to the party. “How many miles to the gallon?” I asked the driver, himself a Lincoln rep. “Not many,” he replied.
A squeaky publicist in a bubble-hemmed mini greeted us with red wristbands and empty tote bags. A Youth AIDS in Action information table off to her right sat empty and forlorn as the throng focused on the task at hand: filling bags with obscene amounts of shwag.
Eager for the Thai massage, reflexology and facials touted in the invite, my friend and I marched inside the spacious and uninhabited Spanish estate, which was empty but for the whirlwind of grab-bag madness. In search of bodywork, we meandered through unfurnished rooms, filled with jewelry-smattered tables and hair products. We passed through the “kitchen,” and politely declined sake, vitamin water, sliced abalone and other foodstuffs offered by enthusiastic vendors eager to place their products in the hands of Hollywood royalty of varying pedigrees.
We sidled by Jessica Alba, who was poring through floor-to-ceiling stacks of Reebok sneakers in an otherwise barren library. We wandered outside, hoping to happen upon a manicurist or chiropractor or a gaggle of cute boys to play with. Instead, we saw Anne Heche trying on canvas espadrilles and a Kate Hudson look-alike smoking a cigarette. Nary a bodyworker was in sight.
“Let’s suck some oxygen,” shrugged my friend, leading us to the Oxygen Plus table, where a bored-looking guy offered us a taste of peppermint-flavored air in a reusable can. Succumbing to the temptations of clean air, we filled our tote bags with trial-size canisters of O2 and climbed the stairs in search of strong hands and nimble fingers with a massage table in tow.