If you ask someone in LA what they favorite pastime is, they might tell you going to the beach, shopping, hanging out with friends. The usual. But it’s a lie.
Because if there is one thing Angelinos love to do, it’s to see someone famous. This is nothing short of a religious experience here. When you move here, you are plankton. You are so low on the food chain that you don’t even get to be an animal with a head.
The famous, on the other hand are gods. And from the bottom of the pond we stare up at them on the top of Mount Olympus. They are canonized in magazines, posters, websites and film. Their images, like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
And when you have proximity to one, when you share the same space as a God walking amongst us, you feel that maybe just maybe, you could be one of them as well.
These brushes with divinity are then swapped with other Angelinos like a bunch of teenage boys with baseball cards. There is a point system that is all important in deciding how valuable your Star Spotting Moment is worth.
It’s not just who you spot, but where and when. Circumstances are everything.
For instance, spotting someone famous on the street. Not bad. Seeing them in a restaurant that you are already eating in. Better. Speaking to them under a very normal pretence. Interstellar. Therefore, a chat with say a Cast member of Six Feet Under trumps a spotting of a Mel Gibson in his car. Unless he’s drink driving and you recorded it on your phone, in which case, you’re selling it already to CNN.
So under the scoring scheme, a recent personal tally in ascending order:
Danny DeVito at the cinema, coming down the escalator. He has crazy hair and an eleven year old daughter that was taller than him; he is truly, ruly short. Scoring: Not bad. Proximity by an already assigned passing on the escalators, relatively cool cinema, height revelation. But lose points for scanning around for Rhea Pearlman, my favourite character in Cheers.
Rebecca Romjin at a concert. Not as tall as you would think, but hot; her body is smoking. Lovely skin. Scoring: Seen at a concert, this is definite bonus points. Downside, she is with the new boyfriend Jerry O’Connell, I think that’s his surname. One of the kids from Stand By Me. Makes bad films in Australia now. C’mon Bec, you can do better. And her new cable series just tanked. But she has been in South Park.
Toni Colette outside a cinema door talking on her cell phone. She’s thin and she has great hair and very good cell phone etiquette. Scoring: Well, she’s A List and that’s immediately to the top of the charts with a bullet. But when she saw me looking at her, she mouthed the word, “Don’t” in my direction and gave me a look that melted the skin off one side of my face. This in itself was enough to put her under Rebecca, then I remembered how great Little Miss Sunshine is. I mean, it really is. And this counts as the first time that a celebrity has spoken to me. OK Toni, you stay here. Just.
But this wait for it… Now I am 35 so you young’ins may not quite get this. But there I was sitting outside my hole in the wall café, Ground Works, just off the Venice Beach boulevard. You’ve got to live here to know this place, and to be there first thing in the morning like I was. Two tables, four chairs. Everyone stands, gets their coffee and goes. But something told me to stay.
Then she rode up on her bike. In black leggings, t-shirt and oxywelder sunglasses, hair pulled back in a pony tail. Angelica Huston. Oh. My. God.
I watched her out of the corner of my eye. Mostly so she wouldn’t see the Toni acid burns on the other side of my face. She lines up, the barista greets her and she picks up her usual two coffees, she gets back on her bike and pedals off, leaving all and sundry slack-jawed in her wake.
Scoring: do I need to say it? Plus she was super cool. If you can share info that reveals a celebrity to be super normal, that is gold. It’s like revealing the great truth that they are just like us, furthering the possibility that we may all ascend.
My friend Michael I was with turned to me, rapture on his face, and said, “OK, that was old school. That was like Nicholson level spotting.”
I feel like such a pro.