A STAR IS WORN | A Damsel in Distress

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A STAR IS WORN

Posted By on Sun, Mar 22, 2009 at 11:46 PM

I just HAD to get away to L.A., Razorbabies. That’s where you go when all the world is a hopeless jumble. Yes, when raindrops tumble all around, heaven opens a magic lane direct to LAX and the stars!

 

Everything came crashing down at once for me in Little Work. The whole A.I.G. / Goldman Sachs collapsing global economy thingy; neighbors upside-down on their Chenal mortgages; all these concealed guns carrying Arkansans into churches; rising sea levels; Bad Bernie Madoff; space junk so crazy-crowded with decades of flying debris your astronauts can’t even step outside the pod for a quick smoke-break without risking a sudden deadly head-on like on the I-630 at rush hour.

 

Speaking of smoking, as if everybody isn’t tense ENOUGH, comes perhaps the last straw to civilized life as we know it: double-whammy State AND Federal tax hikes on cigarettes.

 

Ever see a rampaging smoker on WITHDRAWAL? Mulitply by 75 million Americans to know why we’ll ALL soon be packing concealed weapons.

 

Stop the madness!


THEN it hit me: If happy little bluebirds aren’t stressed out . . . why, oh why, the fuck am I?

 

Off to L.A. and pretty people! Kitson and Fred Segal!

 

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I haven’t visited friends on the Coast since last fall’s Obama fund-raiser (shared here), but L.A.’s as glorious and vibrant and star-ful as ever. From Hollywood to Malibu, the most beautiful people on earth. For sale, all.

 

Somehow, I don’t know, I feel so at home here.

 

We’re all buffed, botoxed, plumped, implanted, injected, slimmed down, pumped up, toned, ripped, stapled, lipoed, lifted, tight and tan. Vibrantly excited, enthusiastic, charismatic, optimistic and between jobs. The sun always shines, the surf’s always up, tomorrow is another deal.

 

But this trip was different. Norma’s JUST recovering, Razorbabies. Here’s the heartbreaking backstory why, and it's uplifting third-act denouement.

 

Kathy unwittingly exposed me to Hollywood’s dark underbelly. I returned to Little Work more stressed and depressed than when I left.

 

I’m no name dropper, and yes I caught up with all my old friends (I think Courtney’s gonna make it through this connubially hinky period), but Kathy’s as crazy off camera as she is on and she's adorable and we're BFFs.

 

L.A. worked its spell on me until Kathy dragged me along with her crew to shoot stuff for her show at an “old movie stars” Saturday afternoon meet-and-greet in Burbank.

 

My Hollywood dreamland fantasies are forever shaken and shattered. Kathy’s fine. She sees this all the time, but I don’t.

 

First, this Old Stars’ Autograph Swap Meet is on Vineland in North Hollywood at a Holiday Inn. Wilshire and Rodeo in Beverly Hills this ain’t.

 

I’m thinking: these Old Stars must feel pretty attention-deprived to roll into this Holiday Inn ballroom for all day Saturday for any reason.

 

Not your ordinary Holiday Inn. This one’s been beautifully renovated. It was owned by an Old Star herself, Beverly Garland, whose heyday glamour portrait, even when you see it around the premises, you won’t recognize either.

 

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“We’ll never forget you, Barbara. Loved you in 'Alligator People.' Beverly? Whatever. An awesome body of work.”

 

Old Stars aside, I’m not yet feeling the Holiday Inn daytime ballroom Love. Between the outfits and the thick metrosexual makeup, it looks like a West Memphis Tri-State R-V Seniors’ Bingo Tournament cum Mary Kay convention except these are Hollywood STARS.

 

Kathy and her crew are LOVING it. So are the Old Stars, when they realize who’s there to film them once again! Squeals, hugs, air kisses – LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION!

 

I’m too young to recognize most of these Old Stars. Jane Russell I know. Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren from “The Birds” I remember when Kathy prompts me. Tony Curtis. Angie Dickenson. Them too, when prompted.

 

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Jane! Rod! Who could forget you screen icons!


But . . . Clint Walker? Diane McBain? Jackie Joseph? Joey Heatherton? Jane Withers? Elena Verdugo? They never heard of me either, though they’re perfectly friendly and have remarkable teeth.

 

The gay ones have held up the best: Tab Hunter and Richard Chamberlain.

 

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I would if THEY would, and still could. But I know and YOU know and THEY know that ain’t gonna happen so it’s pretty much, “I really respect your body of work, Tab. Dick.”

 

Kathy and her crew round the aisle and there she is: JANE RUSSELL seated behind a cloth-covered card table! Bingo!

 

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Kathy rushes Jane Russell like she’s Jane’s BFF. They’ve never met but they’re all over each other with inane small talk for the cameras. Meanwhile, I’m studying Jane Russell’s face. It’s like two people in there.

 

I know she’s dolled up as a Tibetan monk in saffron (NOT her color, by the way) and I know everybody’s right and left facial hemispheres are different. But it’s like Jane Russell’s face clashes with itself – stunningly, of course.

 

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Jesus Jane (she’s a full-figured right-winger, you know)? Slutty Jane? Just as I’m figuring which side of Jane Russell’s face is trampier, Kathy and crew spot Rod Taylor seated at a cloth-covered card table and swoop in on him like famished seagulls.

 

“My God! It’s Rod Taylor! Star of ‘The Birds’!” Kathy gushes.

 

THAT was the moment I was Traumatized in Tinseltown, Razorbabies.

 

I was unborn at the film’s original release. I first saw “The Birds” on VHS when I was fifteen with my stepfather in his trailer, and fell in love.

 

With Rod Taylor I fell in love, Razorbabies.

 

My stepfather, bless his heart, was an unemployed but lovable shrimp. Mom’s third mistake. I was just dropping off an oh-zee to him. He’s since passed on.

 

But Rod Taylor?  Millions of girls fell as hard for him as I did.

 

HERE is what we’d have married had our Rod Taylor wish come true.

 

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Rod Taylor IS my stepfather in that trailer. An awesome karmic revelation for me and stuff.

 

That's the moment my life fell apart, as it often does. This time in Beverly Garland’s Holiday Inn on Vineland in front of Rod Taylor at this card table.

 

"Rod," I thought to myself. "How COULD you do this to me? Why didn't you just stay home and handsome forever?"

 

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I fled Kathy and her crew, turned my back on the Old Stars in Beverly Garland’s Holiday Inn ballroom (I kind of waved and winked to Tony Curtis on the way out), rushed outside and caught a cab back to the Beverly Wilshire, got to my room and tearfully called Bridgeway back in Little Rock to book therapy.

 

Bridgeway or Dr. Phil? Whom would YOU call in times of peril?

 

I want to thank the magnificent and caring Bridgeway staff for seeing me through this latest disillusionment. Particularly Bruno, my physical therapist, whose touch SO compliments Bridgeway’s psychotherapy and meds.

 

Bridgeway is there, when all your world is a hopeless jumble and the raindrops tumble all around.

 

Sadder but wiser, Razorbabies, I've said goodbye to Hollywood. There’s no place like home.

 

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