I spent February 19 through February 23 in L.A., and I'm not quite sure what to say about it this time. I've been plenty of times since my first trip (after which I NYCnootily decided it was a vapid waste of space) and have come to enjoy visiting and to cherish the internalized feeling it gives me. There is something about it that feels like an alternate reality; maybe just because I don't live there and it's the biggest place I've been to outside of NYC.
But since my trip was so much about my dayjob, I feel a bit hindered from going on and on about every detail. Instead, I'll keep it shortish and heavy on the imagery.
The flights out (I had a connection for the first time in forever because I booked late) were uneventful, though the precocious four-year-old behind me was running his mother ragged—not easy to do while seated. Best line: "Mom, I'm just trying to LOVE you!"
Lunched with my pals David and Simon at the Aroma Café, where we engaged in full-fledged pop-culture deconstructionism, from Madonna to Britney to GaGa.
That night was the 18th birthday party of my friend Victoria Justice at a new club called Tru. As I donned by Blondie T-shirt and pulled a black jacket on over it (the invite said "Hollywood chic," but I went with "New York chic" instead), the TV told me a tornado warning was in effect nearby. Yes, this really was L.A.
Pouring rain and I was one of about six people in that city in an actual cab. Got there in time to work the party (I was invited to interview the birthday girl and a few of her guests prior to getting 20 minutes' worth of B-roll upstairs; after that, I was supposed to ignore my celeb reporter's instincts and ignore the full slate of young stars partying under my very nose. There was nothing scandalous I am biting my lip about—there was no alcohol served and a sign out front demanded that nobody swear because Nickelodeon was filming—it was just hard not to go up to Lucas Till or Nick Jonas or Austin Butler or any of the others to get quotes or video. I did ask Vanessa Hudgens to do a birthday shout-out for Vic on camera, but she politely declined, playing with her hair, saying, "I'm trying not to do things like that." I totally understood and was impressed she remembered me considering we hadn't seen each other since the height of High School Musical's impact.
I got to meet up with Simon at the party and hang out with him for most of the night.
The next day was probably my busiest. I had a shoot for my magazine in the morning at Universal CityWalk before rushing back to my hotel to meet up with Michael Gregg Michaud and Courtney Burr, the former of whom wrote the excellent book Sal: A Biography about Sal Mineo and the latter of whom was Mineo's partner at the time of his death. I conducted a lengthy interview that was the highlight of my whole trip, and which I'll add to my blog as soon as I can get it transcribed. But as a teaser, he gave me remarkably candid answers that helped shed light not only on Mineo but on gay life in the '70s...not to mention great goss about Janet Gaynor and Roddy McDowall!
Next, I had dinner with Ivan of Chexydecimal, a witty—including visually—blog you may want to check out. Never having met him, I nonetheless got into his car and even went to his out-of-this-world condo, which is stacked with collections the likes of which one doesn't often see, or doesn't see often enough. He shares with me sticky-fingers syndrome, and a penchant for indulging in whatever it is that for whatever reason makes his heart smile. Oh, and he was a zombie in Night of the Comet!
As he drove me back, a sketchy car with no lights on was zooming up beside us. Ivan tried flashing him to encourage him to put his lights on, but to no avail. Then, the car sped up, passed us and crashed into a couple of cars directly in front of us before spinning out...and then speeding away! Total hit and run by what was obviously someone or someones trying to avoid the law.
That night, Simon and (Just) Jared picked me up for what wound up being an evening so aimless Sofia Coppola should've filmed it. We drove forever, then attempted to get ice cream at Millions of Milkshakes in spite of the FREEZING temperatures outside. The line was Millions of Miles Long, but we persevered, only to be treated to the sight of an off-duty employee showing up and pitching in. My peanut butter ice cream was served with haphazardly broken-apart peanut butter cups, the receipt hanging out of the dish. I did not eat it.
We wound up going to The Abbey and then Here Lounge; weirdly, all three of us were groped. If you say I should hang out with people my own age, I say I do—added up, they're my peer. Besides, it led to me being groped by a drunk who squinted and thought I was just one of the boys.
We looked at some go-go guys and saw Jonathan Knight out front before he motored. (He might have detected my detection of him?) We also spotted Adam Shankman out in front of another bar, but that wasn't enough to entice me to stay out any later.
The next day, I did a fun photo shoot with Nolan Gould of Modern Family for my magazine. Thoroughly enjoyed meeting him and his sweet mama, and laughed when some teenage girls went apeshit over him, blurting out, "How lucky of you to be so successful so young!"
I wish I could have trawled the beach a bit longer with my iPhone, but I was equally thrilled to get to have lunch with my pal Keith, his boyf Lucas and my friends and co-workers Joe and Steve at Ocean Avenue Seafood. I spent the lunch recovering from my surprise sunburn—who knew there were enough rays to lobsterize me?
That night, I took Simon with me (or rather, he drove me) to a 30 Seconds to Mars event that I fully expected to be a small-time press affair but that wound up being an all-night Jared Leto smorgasbord. It was held at the Ricardo Montalban (the Hervé Villechaize was too small) and started with a 90-minute wait outside at the end of a line of hundreds of the band's fans. Finally, we got to go in and take reserved seats up front.
A moderator introduced Leto, who strolled out in a cloud of pure ego. Amazing-looking and amazingly young-looking guy, whose age only became apparent when he would joke about olden-days things like "Larry" from Three's Company. He introduced the band's controversial video—for its song "Hurricane"—that he directed under his pseudonym Bartholomew Cubbins and we sat there for several minutes watching a chic, finely crafted stew of Illuminati kookiness, female nudity, S&M, Leto in all his shirtless glory and even a scene containing a priest, rabbi and Muslim cleric tossing their holy books into a fire.
The band came back, but the non-Jared Leto members (one of whom is his brother) had to go after a few questions...only to hang around just out of view backstage. Weird! Leto then stayed around for HOURS. I was shocked at how almost aroused he was by his fans...he simply would not leave! He kept saying, "Two more questions!" for like 15 questions. Fave question: "Are you trying to say that violent sex can help cure emotional problems?" Guess it couldn't hurt...until it did. He ended things after a negative question and after assailing right-wing conservatism about sex (and after his bandmate extolled the virtues of Atlas Shrugged, which he's just now reading—hello, you're late for your high school flirtation with Objectivism!), but not before playing an acoustic version of "Hurricane"—which sounded incredible!
He should sing more and talk less, unless he's giving a speech on how to stay looking like a teenager. (But if you're into it, I uploaded about 45 minutes of the talk.)
Tuesday was my slowest day—just a nice lunch and an especially nice dinner at AOC.
Wednesday I had a fun, friendly meeting with the geniuses at World of Wonder (RuPaul's Drag Race, Party Monster and countless other TV and movie projects), whose offices in Hollywood are filled with cool, old-school cubicles like you'd find Mr. Mooney's employees inhabiting. I was wowed by their AVN Award for their marketing of Debbie Does Dallas...Again and took away a fabulous WOW electronic flickering candle.
My farewell-to-L.A. dinner was an absolute pig-out at Buca di Beppo with Simon, Keith, Ro and Corey, amazingly sweet company to go along with the savory meal.
I feel like I managed to write a novella while still having to leave out some of the best parts, so...enjoy the pictures at least.