1960s Beverly HIllton

…They arrived at the Beverly Hilton Hotel at around eleven. The lobby was straight out of the fifties, walls and floor of stone, star burst chandeliers, and the ballroom, while it still maintained a sinuous two-tiered design like that of a cruise ship, was carpeted with some dreadful dark jewel toned carpet that looked like it had been installed in 1970. At the apex of the room there stood a speaker’s dais, a drape, and a projection screen. Tables were set for ten as far as the eye could see and the old guard of Hollywood was beginning to trickle in – a lot of white haired men of amazingly small stature, and a few, a very, very few, older women in bugle-beaded suits who still believed in the power of Aqua-Net. A noxious hint of perfume came her way, orange blossoms and jasmine, and an underlying stench – it couldn’t be, but she remembered distinctly a cat backing up against the garage at her father’s on Crescent Drive and something spraying out of its behind.

Anne made a beeline for the ladies lounge, which was vast and covered in pink marble. Staring at the gold plated fixtures on the sink she felt on the verge of hyperventilating. How had she gotten here? It wasn’t exactly an existential question, but where was she? The floor seemed to be melting beneath her feet and her stomach was plummeting as if gravity had given way…

Back in the ballroom Anne was placed at a table between her father and an old PR man who told her about rousting Marilyn Monroe from bed so she could appear at Grauman’s and have her extremities impressed in concrete, about James Mason’s un-spayed, extremely reproductive cats, and about the fact that he was running in the L.A. marathon at the age of eighty-three. Under normal circumstances Anne would have been rapt but she found her attention wandering.

Shamari Johnson, seated at another table, was in an animated conversation with an actress who had been in a few movies and then married a producer, adopted six children, and retired from the screen. She had taken her chair and literally turned it around so her back was to her husband. From time to time Shamari caught Anne’s eye and together they would glance in another direction. Once to see Tessa Aagard sitting, elbows on another table, chin resting on her cupped hands, listening eagerly as George Clooney cracked up his tablemates and then tossed his head back with a big, toothy, guffaw.

Another glance and Sid Ganis stepped up to the dais to deliver a few helpful hints on acceptance speeches and then he corralled the nominees into five rows to have their picture snapped for the Academy’s class picture. A talkative actress sitting center front of the portrait had to be shushed twice, “Sonia! Sonia! Are you with us, dear?! Are you with us?! Eyes front!”

Finally Shamari turned in her seat and nodded to Anne as Bill Aagard and James Johnson stood tall in the back row and beamed for the camera. If Anne had attended the Nominees Luncheon in anticipation of some helpful, singular, revelation she was coming up snow-blind in a blizzard of information.

That, poppets, is an excerpt from my book – very loosely based on reality – this year’s luncheon was February 4th. It’s kind of like a prep session for the nominees. The Academy President, Hawk Koch (his pop was a producer, “The Manchurian Candidate”, “The Odd Couple”… not the famous screenwriter of “Casablanca”)… anyhow, Mr. Koch would have given a little talk about how the telecast is run, he would have stressed again and again the time limit on acceptance speeches. He might have shown some examples of great speeches, and rotten ones – he would have said something along the lines of “speak from the heart” and “don’t read a laundry list of names to thank or we’ll play you off” and he might have emphasized the need to be engaging and tell a story while a… very… big… red… clock ticks away the seconds just above your eye line…

More on the Academy Awards as the week progresses.

Cheers, dears!

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  1. February 16, 2013

    Oh my, it’s brilliant, V! I love it! I would give anything to have your gift.
    This is very exciting… You must be so thrilled! I can only imagine that this news has put a little spring in your step, yes?
    I look forward to getting my very own autographed copy 🙂
    Love and hugs!!

    • February 16, 2013

      Lisa! I think my gift has been this community. So supportive and funny and candid. I still haven’t quite clued in to what’s happening with the book – I wonder if that’s a function of having a teenager around and having my attention directed elsewhere… A LOT 😉
      I look forward to the day when we exchange autographed volumes, wait, I’m going to project a fantasy here… in Paris at an outdoor cafe sipping incredibly rich cocoa somewhere near the Tuileries!

  2. George Kaplan
    February 16, 2013

    Fabulous! So evocative and witty. I find myself wanting to know more about the relationship between Anne and Shamari (and why she has her chair turned completely away from her husband, though I suspect that’s a deliciously telling character-comment). I really enjoy blends of Hollywood reality/history so this is right up my boulevard. Another favourite element – the line about noxious perfume terminating in the image of something squirting from a cat’s backside, ick I have experienced such awful mixed scents, nicely done, Vickie. A Very enticing extract but I should expect nothing less from our favourite Beguiling Talent.
    P. S. Is it true about James “the Voice” Mason’s “extremely reproductive cats”?!

    • February 16, 2013

      These things are true… the most lovely old PR man was really running the LA Marathon, the Mason’s had cats crawling all over their house (according to said PR man), it was hell getting a perennially tardy Marilyn out of bed… Or, so I’ve heard. Oh! And, I have to give Lanier Smith of a hat tip for explaining to me where the animalic scent of some perfumes come from.
      Some other things are true as well – but I can’t discuss them here 😉

  3. George Kaplan
    February 16, 2013

    Ooh, mysterious Ms Honey! I took a trip to Mr Smith’s web log, how sad that his partner Bryant died but how marvellous that he’s been able to create something special as tribute and comfort.

  4. George Kaplan
    February 16, 2013

    O God, that *ending*. Aw, V, you were surely right about that. Theme from The Apartment, memory as a movie, loss. That *killed* me. Why’d you do that to me, Vickie?! Now, I’m a mess.
    “I like to go to the movies and I read some”, that’s me apart from the gay bit and the fact I can’t draw to save my life. I liked the waitress, Neily, who looked like Kim Novak – it’d’ve been even better if she’d looked like Tippi Hedren! – but that may be partly for more dubious reasons ;). Seriously, it’s so touching that she loves to play the Apartment theme, bringing some magical light into her world, which in turn leads to that heartbreaker of an ending. Very well-done, Mr Smith.

  5. February 17, 2013

    Ms Lester

    First things first – your mind is most certainly anything but tiny!

    This exception extract is proof positive of that!!


    Now the Dandy is not given to either capitals or excessive exclamations, but the occasion dost call for’t.

    Oh how I look forward to the magnum opus appearing,

    Before I depart, I will do the smallest bit of hat tipping to Mr Lanier Smith too – the great man has consented to an interview, which I’m sure you and others will find fascinating.

    Do take a peek..

    Oh but I am beside myself about your forthcoming publication – how simply splendid!!

    Yours ever

    The Perfumed Dandy

    • February 17, 2013

      Sometimes I have those days when I feel my mind is the size of a walnut – but not as tasty.

      Thank you so much for being kind about the excerpt. I know it’s odd, and I keep repeating myself, but it really hasn’t sunk in yet, publishing-wise…

      If our good community here counts as my initial review – that would truly be splendid!

      Off to see your site now,

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