Party Girl Excerpt, Chapter 2Sep 22, 2021
This week, I'm giving you another excerpt from my recently re-released first book, Party Girl.
Back in LA, Stephanie asks me about the wedding, and I regale her with my exploits. She laughs hysterically, the same way I did when she told me about twisting her ankle while dancing at the wedding she went to back East; at least she thinks she was dancing, as she was actually in a blackout and didn’t want anyone around to know and so was never able to determine how it happened. “They should keep us away from weddings—the way we behave is completely foul,” she says.
I work at Absolutely Fabulous, a celebrity weekly magazine that’s basically a glorified tabloid, and Stephanie works one level down, at American Style, a weekly magazine that devotes itself to dissecting the outfits and homes of celebrities in minute detail. And thank God for Stephanie. Most of my Absolutely Fabulous coworkers are about as cool as Sunday school teachers.
Because of its high circulation rate (five million and rising all the time), those who work at Absolutely Fabulous speak of it in the revered tone most might use to describe The New Yorker. “We, quite simply, have the best writing and reporting of any magazine out there,” our bureau chief Robert likes to say, and we all drink the Kool-Aid. Glimmers of reality peak into that otherwise glorious way of thinking—like the fact that I’m sometimes embarrassed to tell people I work here, that the constant note I’m always given about my articles is that I need to “make my sentences shorter” and that the big joke about the publication is that everyone reads it on the toilet, but it’s amazing how convincing a staff of roughly 30 people can be. People seem to stretch reality just enough to motivate them—but it’s a little weird, you know? Can’t they just say, “When I was little, I didn’t imagine that figuring out what Madonna eats would be my living, but hey, this is a successful magazine and someday I may work somewhere else”? I know that it takes a bit of denial for all of us to get out of bed in the morning, but sometimes the people at Absolutely Fabulous seem to be swimming in a whole river of it.
Stephanie absolutely hates her job—only works there for the party invites and free clothes, and willingly announces as much to anyone who will listen. Which makes it all the more difficult for me when she keeps rising on their masthead while I stay stuck as a low-level writer at Absolutely Fabulous. It’s not that I want Stephanie to fail—it’s just that sometimes I wouldn’t mind if my number-one partner in crime were sort of in the same place as I am.
Unfortunately, I seem to inspire a sort of figurative foaming at the mouth from my boss Robert. This could have to do with the fact that I was hired by his second-in-command, Brian, when Robert was on leave, or maybe I just remind him of someone he absolutely hates. I try most everything to turn him around, but when people make up their mind about you, you could save their mother’s life and they’d still think you were an asshole. Case in point: Brad McCormick, my high school boyfriend, who hovered somewhere around the 5’4’’ mark during our adolescent relationship. Though he’s now about six feet tall—a late growth spurt and, unfortunately, not one I was able to benefit from—to me, he’ll always be “little Brad McCormick.”
“You ready?” Stephanie asks me on a Thursday at about six. She’s standing at my cubicle, workbag slung over her shoulder, flashing the flask that I gave her for her birthday from under her coat.
I used to get really excited before going to premieres. I think I imagined that someone would see me there and discover me for God knows what—I’m not an actress, or I should say I only am in my personal life—but I guess I thought getting discovered for being so utterly fabulous that I would need to be immediately removed from my day- to-day life and deposited into an existence that revolved around being fabulous full time. I think I thought that rubbing up against movie stars would make me happy. But it occurred to me this one night that I found myself in a cigarette-fueled drunken discussion with Jeremy Piven at a premiere. Jeremy Piven didn’t seem too happy, so why should I be happy for having had the experience of talking to him all night?
We stop for drinks at some Westwood college bar beforehand. Or, if I’m going to have to be perfectly honest and specific about everything, I should say that Stephanie stops for drinks. And I stop for drinks and a few lines.
When I first started doing coke at parties, it was usually easy enough to count on being in the right place at the right time for a steady supply. But more than a few experiences chatting up thoroughly disgusting men only to learn that they were simply fellow coke-seekers themselves had brought me to a point a few months ago where I finally understood the necessity of having my own dealer. And the sheer joy I’ve felt over the fact that I can do coke whenever I want because I’m not relying on someone else to get it has made the additional expense seem almost irrelevant.
I wander into the bathroom after a woman with gray hair in a bun leaves, and I shut myself in the stall farthest away from the door. Pulling a vial from my purse, I shake some coke onto the window ledge and chop it with a credit card, then take a rolled-up bill from my wallet and snort it up. I hear someone come in, and I hold my breath while she washes her hands and thankfully leaves. Then I pour some more coke on the ledge and snort it.
“I still have plenty left,” I tell Stephanie as I return from the bathroom and sit down in my swivel chair. The metal taste of cocaine drips down the back of my throat deliciously. Some people say they hate the drip, but I love it—that practical evidence that the drug is working its way through my body.
“Nothing could sound more foul,” she answers, as she tries to pour some of her vodka tonic into a flask. Stephanie doesn’t do coke—she used to have panic attacks and is convinced, probably correctly, that a few lines of cocaine would send her right back there—so I ask her more as a course of habit than as some sick kind of peer pressure.
“Ready?” she asks. I smile, nod and sniffle so I can swallow and taste more cocaine again.
“Leslie, over here!” the photographers all scream at once at a beautiful blonde who’s grinning seductively as Steph, and I move briskly down the section of the red carpet where the not-famous people walk. We seem to be surrounded by skeletal blond actresses, all shivering in their summer dresses on this uncharacteristically cool night as they smile obediently for the paparazzi.
The way the photographers are jostling one another and screaming Leslie’s name with such glee, you’d swear they were trying to get snaps of Julia Roberts, or at least the president or the queen or something. The fact that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Leslies with bit parts in movies like the mediocre one we’re about to see and one (if that) will actually continue to work in Hollywood after this current role certainly doesn’t seem to be at the forefront of the photographers’ collective minds. But Leslie handles her moment well.
Stephanie and I decide to make a run for it to avoid being caught in the back of one of these shots. It happened to Stephanie once—a picture of Lindsay Lohan was almost ruined by the image of Stephanie, an extremely unflattering image of her at that, doing a shot with someone the picture didn’t capture (that is, me) and the photo ran in about a hundred magazines. Stephanie has yet to live it down.
Steph takes off at a good pace, but I’m waylaid by Leslie, the actress, as she steps backward, lodging her seemingly 10-inch red heel into my big left toe in what feels like an instant toe decapitation—if toes had heads. She starts to trip backward, but her publicist catches her, glaring at me for daring to slide my foot under her client’s $700 shoe-slash-instrument-of-torture. For an anorexic who couldn’t weigh more than 98 pounds, Leslie sure knows how to put some weight into her shoe. Then again, the shoe probably weighs more than her. I limp up to Stephanie, who sympathetically hands me a bag of free popcorn with butter.
“Is it bleeding?” she asks simply.
I shake my head. “Feels more like an internal thing,” I answer. “Like maybe she crushed the toe bone. Do toes have bones?”
“Sure,” she shrugs. “Hospital?”
“Oh, God, no,” I answer as Matt Dillon walks in and waves at me. I wave back until I realize he’s actually waving at the manly looking woman wearing a headset behind me. The humiliation and possible broken foot are far from inspiring but nothing a few lines can’t fix, at least temporarily.
Unfortunately, the bathroom is stuffed with wannabe actresses who somehow wrangled invites to this and are drowning themselves in makeup and perfume to go sit in the dark for 90 minutes, after which they’ll surely have to go through the whole routine again for the after-party. Once the movie starts, I venture back to the bathroom but some security-type woman is lodged there and seems not to be budging. Is she some actress’s female security guard? An employee of the movie theater? An insane stalker who somehow got hold of some security-type uniform? I’m certainly not going to ask her. One thing’s for sure—she’s a buzz killer, in every way.