Sunday, August 02, 2009

I'd Like To Thank The Academy

When one of your very best friends calls you from LA and asks, "Do you want to work the Vanity Fair Oscar party with me?" you immediately say, "I thought we agreed that you’d stop spray tanning because the fumes make you all loopy (though in a sun-kissed, bronze goddess kind of way)." Then when she repeats herself and says that it is $300, you realize that she is serious and consider the possibility, thinking that paying $300 for a unique experience like this is fairly reasonable. When she corrects you and tells you that they pay you $300 (and subsequently accuses you of huffing the Mystic Tan), you get your butt on JetBlue. Which is how I ended up serving cocktails to Hollywood royalty.

LA friend and I had no idea what to expect as we arrived at Morton’s West Hollywood on the night of the 2002 Oscars. Blatantly disregarding the rules about bringing in any recording devices (and after being egged on by me), my friend had stuffed a disposable camera up her sleeve. And as we were going through security to get into the event, the camera fell out of her sleeve, hit the ground and the flash went off. Twice. I'm such a good friend, that when this happened, I completely turned my back to her and chatted up a replacement best friend standing behind me. (Hey. I travelled across the country. I was getting into this party.) Thanks to all the paparazzi, security did not seem to notice a couple of extra flashes, and we made it into the party with the camera (and surprisingly, our friendship) intact. She managed to sneak a few photos throughout the night, including one of Tobey Maguire and Nicole Kidman canoodling, though I’d never be so crass as to post that:

Working the party was a little surreal. And not just because I had no experience serving cocktails (which may be a slightly different story than what I told the person who hired me for this gig.) Every single person at this party was white-hot famous – movie stars, sports figures, artists, media figures, designers, supermodels, television stars, musicians – it was nuts. And you know how everyone always tries to make you feel better by saying that people in Hollywood have great lighting and are airbrushed and styled which is why they look so good? Well everyone is a big, fat liar. This is a group of people that is just genetically blessed, and each person is more beautiful than the next. (With the obvious exception of Larry King.)

And of course I'd never be so gauche as to mention which of the major stars in attendance were totally cool (Tom Hanks, Luke Wilson, Alan Alda, Sandra Bernhard, Helen Hunt, Hillary Swank), who was definitely not (Katie Couric), who made me star struck (Johnny Knoxville, Annie Leibovitz, Gwen Stefani, Diane Sawyer) and who was just freaking hot (Gary Dourdan, Vince Vaughn, Ellen Barkin, Halle Berry, Kirsten Dunst, Jake Gyllenhaal). Because even though these people are celebrities, they deserve their privacy.

It was a ridiculous, fun experience and we had a great time doing it. So, a few years later, I decided that I wanted to do it again and that Canetto must do it, too. I called the guy who did the hiring to make arrangements and found out that another friend who I’d met while working the party would also be there. I figured we should also see if our friend, Cockey, who had recently moved out to LA to be an actor wanted to join the party. But apparently, I had already used up all of my favors in getting people added to the list and he was denied. Were we discouraged? Not at all. We were motivated to come up with a great (nay, brilliant) plan to get Cockey into the party.

This is how it worked: Canetto and I had to get fitted for uniforms the day before the party at a costume designer’s studio in West Hollywood. We figured that if Cockey came with us and acted surprised when his name was not on the list for a fitting, the costume designer may figure there was a miscommunication (because how else would he have known where and when to show up for a fitting?) and go ahead and outfit him. Fortunately, it was a female designer, and fortunately, Cockey is charming, so within minutes, he was getting his inseam measured (not a euphemism) (or is it?).

The second part of the plan was that when Cockey arrived at the party the following night in full uniform, he could again pretend there was a miscommunication, which is why he was not on the security list…because how would he have a tailored uniform and know how to get to the secure staging area if he had not been hired for the event? (See? Genius.) And again, because Cockey is a deceptive bullshit artist charming, we were serving cocktails to A-listers in no time.

Okay, we actually may have spent more time helping ourselves to a little champagne and talking to people than doing any serving. At one point, I decided that I did not want to serve at all, and just sort of wandered around the party, stopping to talk to anyone who looked like they might want company. (Which is how I found out that Paul Sorvino had just broken up with his girlfriend and had an art exhibit opening in LA. It is also how I found out that Allison Eastwood got her (gorgeous) dress for only $300 off the rack. It is amazing how much people will open up to you when you are dressed like a poor man's Captain Steubing.) (See photo for humiliating evidence.)

And of course, we managed to get a picture with the biggest star of the night. (And the only one who did not try to convert us to Scientology.)

Air kisses,


The Green, The Bad and The Ugly said...

Seriously, one of the most fun and funniest nights of our friendship! Your other stories are just as funny! Though you did forget to mention how we stole the cookies with the Vanity Fair magazine covers on them and trying to smuggle them out without breaking them! I still have mine in the freezer!

Brutalism said...

To this day, I cannot believe you scored this job...and cannot believe you invited me to do it with you. That whole night was ridiculous (including the IHOP in West Hollywood at 3:00am). I may have to do a follow up post.

OneZenMom said...

You are soooo my hero. :)

Dilettard07 said...

Wow, just to make sure you looked like unimportant idiots (some important people are still idiots, especially in Hollywood), they made you wear shoulder boards. Holy crap.

And lest anyone call you lazy for not working part of the party, remind them that you brought an extra hand (Cockey) to fill in. Since he was not on the list I imagine he did not get paid, so they got extra help only for the price of a uniform.

Unless they just handed out cash at the end of the night and he took some. In which case you, dear sirs, are all charlatans and renegades.

Unknown said...

Didn't you omit a few things? I seem to remember Time #1 ending rather abruptly.

Brutalism said...

Jeannine -- what do you mean? When Meredith got the boot for taking that picture of Nicole Kidman?

dilettante07 said...

I think several follow up posts are in order.

Unknown said...

Yep. I thought I remembered you getting kicked out, which makes the 2nd hiring even funnier.

The Peach Tart said...

fabulous story darling

Ann Imig said...

Kudos. You kept my attention for the entire post (no small feat these days).

I'm sure I spelled feat wrong. Fete? Feet? Fiiit?

dilettante07 said...

I think it's spelled phijt, and I'm pretty sure there's an accent in there somewhere.

Agreed, highly compelling post. Why was Katie such a witch?

Brutalism said...

Cockey actually did get paid for the party...after convincing the whole world that he had been hired, he actually got a paycheck.

Dunno. La Couric was just kinda rude. (Not that I wouldn't have been to some Gopher-looking slacker trying to serve me a drink).

So many other parts of this experience to write riding in the shuttle from the Pacific Design Center to Morton's with others who were working the parties -- like Ross the Intern from the Tonight Show. I love him.

Oh...and I also forgot to mention that Leo DiCaprio grabbed my boob.

dilettante07 said...

Was that while you were having sex with him behind the ice sculpture?

Brutalism said...

Also, two things about the Tobey/Nicole picture -- does anyone else think that looks like Ryan O'Neal sitting to the left of Tobey? And how about that red jacket with yellow embroidery on the guy in the foreground?

Brutalism said...

It was while he was whispering to me, "I am so done with 20-something Brazilian supermodels. I am way into older women dressed like morons." It was a touching moment. (Pun intended.)

JenBC said...

Love your resourcefulness and willingness to share the good, bad, and incredibly awkward, as always. When your Octoberfest party runs its course, please launch a Vanity Fair-Oakton party. Guests could choose between Steubingwear or dressing as their favorite star. Dibs on Bea Arthur.

Brutalism said... the idea of an Oscars party -- but would have to be the night before, since it is always on a Sunday. We could drink champagne, be fabulous, and hire some dumb schmucks to serve us drinks.

Brutalism said...

P.S. Cockey went on to get a pretty big role in Lakeview Terrace and also a role in The Changeling. He should totally thank me for that.

Dilettard07 said...

Top 5 Reasons why Oaktonoberfest will Never "Run it's Course"

Anyone? It's Friday.


Top 5 Reasons diCaprio Really Whispered "Brazilian" to Ms. Brutalism

dilettante07 said...

1. Sychronized swimming in dirndls is timeless.
2. The dilettantes can never get enough sausage.
3. If they keep making beer in Germany, it's our duty to drink it.
4. It's fun to play with the uninformed who ask why it's always in September?
5. Have yet to get the cops called on us.

List 2:

Response to 1."which country's supermodels do you hate the most?"
2."Is feijoada mexican or brazilian?"
3. What nationality is Pele?
4. What sort of accent is that?
5. American bald eagle or...?

Brutalism said...

I like "Oaktoberfest".

JenBC said...

Indeed. If you'd told me it was Oaktonerberfest or Oaktoberfest, I wouldn't have dared to utter the "running its course" sentiment.

Actually, I'm thinking the real Brutalism spin-off that brings in loads of cashola might have something to do with offbeat-geek-cool-twisted-traditional party planning. Appropriate beer pairings included? Ah to be in Oakton in October.... Some day. For it will never run its course.