By A.J. Llewellyn
As a kid growing up in Australia, movies were my life. I was obsessed with the classics. I was obsessed with the daily lives of celebrities and hid movie magazines inside my text books. A sure sign I was gay, yes. A sign that I was headed to Hollywood? In my mind, another yes.
When I got the chance to move here and complete my college education, I jumped at it. I threw myself into the Hollywood culture but the Hollywood I loved was frankly, gone.
The famed nightclubs are now freeway overpasses.
The Garden of Allah is a parking lot. I could go on.
Oh, there are glimpses of it, but the glamorous city I loved, the stars, the movie sets are there only when I am on a studio lot.
I discovered quickly I don't like the Hollywood of today. I love the Hollywood of yesterday, when story was important, when story mattered. Today, being famous, wearing the hot new thing, getting noticed is more important than the movies coming out of the celluloid factory.
There are many like me, who care about story still. And I have carved out a niche for myself helping to nurture story. As a writer and a script reader, I feel I am right there, able to offer input and a genuine concern into the process of movie story telling.
Sometimes though, I must take work that is So Hollywood I want to kill myself.
Yesterday, in the early evening (true Hollywood is in bed by 9pm folks) I found myself hiding out in a big white chair in the men's room of the SLS Hotel which has become the mecca for the trendsetters.
My boss, who is a Hollywood player insisted we go.
This is another thing. I discovered early on I am not into the 'scene' and yes it's still called a 'scene' but I thought hey, it's research and I found myself squashed at a table at the buzzingest of buzzing places in Hollywood at this hotel.
The owner is a Jacques somebody who has a cooking show on PBS and he prepared scientific meals.
My boss and a handful of her friends had to go and I wheeled and dealed to get a reservation and was dismayed to learn that as her new assistant I had to go.
Since I've become accustomed to a few of life's luxuries, like gas and electricity for example, I went. I was hungry, too.
I still am.
I have never eaten such an expensive or minuscule meal in my life. The appetizer of an egg sounded okay until the egg shell arrived. I believe it was a quail egg shell with a tiny bit of yellow foam at the bottom. I wasn't sure how to eat it. Each person treated it differently. My boss used a fork, some of us used spoons. None of us could really say we loved it and so the meal progressed.
"Talk about pretentious," I said after the third ridiculous non-existent food setting was placed in front of me. A spinach souffle was another bit of green foam. I felt like I was in my own private I Love Lucy episode, the one where Lucy snatches the food away before anyone can taste it. Only Fred Mertz has a drop of soup left on his tie and proclaims it to be split pea.
Last night was like that. I was so hungry I thought I would die.
I sloped off to the men's room and found this ludicrous big white chair and wondered why it was there until a famous actor ran in and looked pissed to find me there.
"You took my hiding place," he said.
Oh, that's what it's for!
We chit-chatted about the ludicrous meal, the stupid Hollywood-ites who gushed over the invisible portions and then he said, "You want to see something really stupid?"
He led me to the sinks, which have been built at a slant so that as you wash your hands you are not offended by the sight of water going down the drain.
Oh My God. Really? Is this what we have become? Even the sinks are Hollywood?
As for me, I wrestled the star for that big white chair and ultimately found myself back at the table demanding coffee, which mercifully arrived in a regular cup.
And I got my story, which I bring to you today.