A brunette in a beaded emerald gown turns her head sharply to her companion, a dirty blonde in a red scaly dress who insists they’re on the list.
“The name,” the blonde says, “is B-A-R — ”
“Not on it. So sorry.”
The gowns seem spun around by this rejection. Somewhere beyond the barricades there is a world they long to see. They won’t be seeing it tonight.
Us? We’re on the list. ’Scuse us, ladies. Down the gated sidewalk we strut, in time to arrive at the doorstep of the Sunset Tower with Harvey Weinstein and Kristin Chenoweth, who next to the hefty producer looks like an hors d’oeuvre.
“You were great,” rasps Weinstein.
“Thanks!” Chenoweth squeaks.
Then a short gantlet of lush topiary.
Then a lightning storm of bleachered paparazzi.
Then all is vanity.
Set foot inside Graydon Carter’s Vanity Fair Oscar party at the Sunset Tower and be slung almost instantly between Halle Berry and Olympian Gabby Douglas, who then start to talk around you, as if you were an underage Chinese gymnast, or a “Catwoman” sequel. They can barely hear each other over the funky strings and sweet crooning of a Marlena Shaw track:
Like a sound you hear that lingers in your ear but you can’t forget from sundown to sunset.
California soul, indeed.
Assuming it has one.
Let’s find it here, among the glass goblets of peach roses, between the creamy leather-padded walls, in the womby glow of pink sconces, lost in a Boschian landscape of writhing limbs, where the soul survives on rum and Cokes and Perrier and vodkas and passion-fruit marshmallows on shortbread and errant glimpses of Penny Marshall and Peter Fonda, of the Hollywood Wearers of Indoor Sunglasses.
“Paw paw paw, wuh wuh,” Marshall says, waving her cigarette in circles as she holds court in one of the eight semicircle booths in the party’s expansive back room, which overlooks a Los Angeles that is night-for-day’d by a full moon.
And then suddenly we hear the strangest observation: “I love Buzz Aldrin’s outfit.” We turn and there he is, a moonwalker among a galaxy of stars, picking the wrapper off a mini red velvet cupcake at a chest-high cocktail table, wearing his Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“I keep asking to come because it’s one of the better parties,” Aldrin says, accounting for his presence. “I keep looking for a fighter pilot in Beverly Hills. But there aren’t any.” He says this with such practiced eloquence that we assume it’s a precious profundity whose meaning will dawn on us at a later time.
Now, back to Earth. Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney? Maybe neither. But that’s definitely Patricia Clarkson, and Emily Mortimer, and Kate Beckinsale being told “You know how much I’d love to work with you,” and Ryan “The Shrimp” Seacrest, and Diane von Furstenberg showing a ton of go-girl leg at booth No. 2, and Piers Morgan putting off that self-deportation thing, and the widower-making lashes of the Collins sisters. Everyone keeps one eye on the party’s many mirrors (you look fine, honey; who did your neck?) and all but the A-plus-list begin to put on their boogie shoes to the bar-mitzvah-caliber DJing.