Hollywood and Brine

Apr 11, 2020Breaking Newzzz
Where money talks and bullshit become stars.

Hollywood…where money talks and bullshit become stars.

LAST FIVE MINUTES OF FAME

CHAPTER 7

HOLLYWOOD AND BRINE

One thing is getting to Hollywood; the other is staying here. You can’t just stay here in the hopes of becoming a celebrity and take a job at a bank or some other menial office job in the Valley. Heaven forbid. That’s like the saddest thing you can do if you have any hopes of becoming someone since you technically aren’t anyone yet. Even the pre-celebrity gigs you take must have a hint of panache for that moment you’re secretly hoping for, which is getting asked the follow-up question to, “Who are you wearing” on a red carpet, any red carpet; when and if you are nominated for something…anything. Nowadays, every step you take in Hollywood needs to be thoroughly thought through. Your choices speak to who you are. Sure, there are plenty of celebrities that admit to having worked at places like McDonald’s or dressed as a chicken waving signs on Hollywood Boulevard for El Pollo Loco.

Might I suggest being a little more strategic in this age of social media prowess before taking one of those positions? I mean “hooker” is even a step up in this town. More respected, anyway. Being a wait-person will always be an acceptable choice while becoming a barista at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or Starbucks is a bit too downmarket—or downtrodden, surely. No offense but you’re better off being a lackey’s lackey and getting Starbucks for a lackey than pouring a non-fat caramel macchiato for some lackey’s lackey. That’s for sure. It has been established that a job in fitness is preferable these days, as well as certain retail positions that cater to a more affluent clientele like Maxfield’s or Barneys New York. Seriously, whom do you think you are going to meet at Ross For Less or any of those down-market retail establishments at the Beverly Connection?

Naturally, any job that puts you in a stone’s throw from the Hollywood Shuffle is advisable, which includes entry positions at talent agencies like CAA or WME. Yup, you’re better off signing on for that ever-so-disrespected job of Lackey’s Lackey. (See above paragraph.) At least there you’re kinda in the game. The smarter and more conniving you are, the quicker you can claw your way up the ladder to becoming an actual lackey. And from there the world is your oyster, where the next step up is being a key player, better known as one of “The Suits” in Hollywood aka Uber-Lackey.

As you embark on the life of a lackey, it’s best to keep your head down, ear to the ground, so you can garner endless gobs of dish about all the celebrities that you read about in the tabloids. Most agents act as celebrities’ unofficial legal guardians half the time anyway, bailing them out of sticky situations. The cautionary tale here for you aspiring agents, managers and assorted lackeys is that sadly, in many cases, the talent speaks ill of their agents when they are amongst themselves. In Hollywood, some two-faced celebrities are in fact four-faced because in those instances, theoretically, those celebrities have surgically received their second face, so you just multiply everything times two. No one said this was a pleasant crowd.

Then there’s the desperately sought out, highly coveted, hard-to-get, insider’s insider position of being a Celebrity Assistant. That job is not for the faint at heart or for just any lackey’s lackey. This is the Grand Poobah of over-glorified slave work, and I might add, a major step up. This gig requires grit. The job of Celebrity Assistant is not a clear-cut career choice because you are tasked with the kind of responsibilities that you wouldn’t even consider doing for a loved one. Maybe for an infant. There is a definite art in the care and feeding of celebrities that the assistant does without question because the perks of the job can be quite enjoyable and rewarding. And when I say rewarding, I mean Cartier watches, clothing, trips, in some cases furniture and access to the celebrity’s medicine cabinet. Naturally, it all depends on which celebrity you might have to spoon-feed and diaper. The on-the-job training for this type of career will determine how long you can stand the heat before you need to get out of the kitchen un-scorched. Or is it unscathed? My experience as celebrity-assistant started out as a joy ride and over time turned into a careening roller coaster car ride falling off the rails from the highest peak.

Celebrity Assistant is not for the fair of heart. Prepare to shovel shit...literally.

Celebrity Assistant is not for the fair of heart. Prepare to shovel shit…literally.

First things first. It’s all about “who you know”. Don’t expect to pick up the Hollywood Reporter or Variety to see an ad that reads:

CELEBRITY ASSISTANT WANTED

Discreet, wholesome, dedicated and loyal candidates welcome to work alongside an A-List celebrity in the luxury setting of their home. (Insecure need not apply.)

NOTE: I mention insecure because you must be thick-skinned to handle life on the celebrity’s life’s terms. Expect a lot of eye-rolling, and many condescending remarks that you will hear from your unwitting celebrity. Forgive them father, for they know not what they do, say, and sound like half the time.

After losing my mojo trying to become the next Fitness Guru, I needed a gig and fast. I bumped into a grade school friend at Jones on Third in LA one afternoon while the food ordering line was going at a snail’s pace. It was evident that we’d have enough time to recap our last fifteen years since our last encounter at a gay bar in New York City. Feigning interest in his addiction journey, which led him to Los Angeles, I then shared my harrowing tale of addiction and career disappointments, embellishing where possible, to make my saga sound more dire and interesting. Truth is, most addicts exaggerate. We’re just a bunch of garden-variety junkies eager for accolades for living one day at a time, which simply put, is finally taking care of ourselves. No applause necessary.

That aside, Glen was now working in the entertainment industry as a “chore whore” to a well-known has-been. Chore Whore was one of the nicer references that this celebrity used when badmouthing his assistants.

FACT: After a short time being a celebrity assistant I realized one harsh unchangeable truism about Hollywood: Either you are talent or you’re sucking up to talent. And never the twain shall meet and there’s little else to discuss in terms of hierarchies. Call yourself whatever title you wish, but those are the only two strata that exist in Hollywood. The sooner you accept that the farther you will go. The other gray area is the title of Producer. Carrie Fisher used to say, “A producer is someone who knows a writer”. And that should clarify that.

Glen was moving back home to join his family’s real estate business since he had just about had enough of all the Hollywood bullshit. He didn’t say in so many words that his sobriety was being compromised working for his particular celebrity, but I got that sense from his tone and anxiety level while he described his day-to-day activities. He enjoyed much of the hayride working for Mr. Self-Absorbed for the last five years but yearned for something else, something simpler. Something that didn’t keep him up at night worrying about the unbridled minutia that had nothing to do with his own life and best interests spiritually, mentally and physically. He was tasked with finding his replacement since that’s not the kind of job one posts on public forums since lunatics and sycophants will converge.

Glen asked me if I was interested in the gig. “How fortuitous”, I thought. Since all else was not working in my favor after the demise of James Blond, and that Abe & Babe’s babe had left town. Not to mention that my current boyfriend was not that into me anymore. The horrendous sounding job seemed like the best opportunity, and, in fact, the only one.

We exchanged numbers at the cash register and reiterated my “gratitude” for this opportunity to be bitch slapped and tormented by a has-been. “I can’t wait to meet him and interview for the position. I loved him in the movie Death By Proxy”. I lied. How hard could it be to be a celebrity assistant be after all? I envisioned a few errands, chats with other celebrities, shopping, laughing and reviewing what was in Page Six as the day’s chores. I’d already been a whore in New York City, so I had half of the job requirements of “chore whore” down pat. Since this celebrity wasn’t working much, what else was there to be done?

All roads led me to meet with my celebrity on a beautiful, sunny California day. He wasn’t someone I admired and hadn’t heard hide nor hair from him for years once he slipped into obscurity. There was tabloid talk of drug addiction, overdose, and divorce, typical Hollywood fodder, coupled with being box office poison. Things that actually intrigued me to want that position. His last film, Dance on the River tanked, as did the one before, The Gay Groom, where he was ostracized for taking on the role of a gay man and playing the character like an over-the-top (or bottom?) sissy, at a time when GLAAD and the gay community were trying to break those stereotypes in the media. Off I went for an interview at his compound up in Mandeville Canyon, home to many elusive celebrities and illusive has-beens.

Friggen Mandeville Canyon is in another country as far as commuting from Hollywood was concerned. This guy had better be amazing before I’d sign on for this routine twice a day. When I arrived at the house, Glen answered the door and whispered, “He’s not in a great mood”.

“What should I do?”

“Wait in the den, I’ll be right back.”

Glen walked me to a cavernous library filled with books and countless pictures of our celebrity from back in the day. There was a huge painting of him over the fireplace like he was Mrs. Skefington or Scarlet O’Hara. Love yourself much? I already dreaded meeting him after waiting for a half an hour before Glen returned to say, “Oy.”

”What’s the matter?” I asked, annoyed.

“He just got back from the doctor’s office and…”
“Oh, no, is it bad news?”

“Only if you could see his face. He’s been seeing this cosmetic surgeon way too many times lately.”

That’s the thing about Hollywood has-beens. They dread aging more than most humans do and will stop at nothing to find the fountain of youth. There was a time when has-beens were just pickled by way of too much booze in an effort to stay in denial of who they weren’t anymore. Now, they use fillers and Botox to help keep their faces from falling, though too often they didn’t know when to leave well enough alone. Like a slab of pork, they would probably brine their faces with anything that promised to be youth-enhancing. Perhaps they should try a salt mixture from Martha Stewart Living.

Glen said apologetically, “We have to reschedule”.

“Actually, no, we don’t.” I thanked him. For what, I didn’t know, besides learning that I had no intention of schlepping to the nether regions of Sunset Boulevard on a daily basis to deal with a self-absorbed, aging, lunatic. In fact, I thanked Glen for teaching me what I would NOT do to stay in Hollywood, which was being treated disrespectfully by a disrespectful boof.

As I arrived home, I got a call from Cindy. Yes, that Cindy, whom I hadn’t seen in eons and had also moved to Los Angeles, years before me. She asked to meet for lunch and I was deliriously happy to do so. Cindy was working for Carrie Fisher as her personal assistant. Suddenly the baggage of being a slave had a better ring to it. She mentioned that Carrie was looking for someone to help her get her back into writing since she’d just given birth to her first child and needed motivation. She wanted someone that does what a fitness trainer does for a lazy, slovenly slob, only here is was to get her back at doing what she did best. Pearly Gates of Heaven calling Abe Gurko. I loved Postcards From The Edge, the book AND the movie, one of the rare times when those twains meet.

 

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