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Blinded by the sight: Post-Oscars, Vanity Fair's Sunset party brings out stars

Good-as-gold metallics and ruffles ruled the red carpet on both one-shoulder and strapless gowns at this year's Oscars.

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By Amy Argetsinger and Dan Zak
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, March 9, 2010

HOLLYWOOD -- The stars are in high-def 3-D smell-o-vision tonight, reeking of tobacco, sporting a sweaty sheen, squirming in a pileup of breasts, buttocks and best wishes. In the Terrace Room of the Sunset Tower Hotel, actors and show-biz types mosh toward the champagne, hoping to recapture whatever twisted high comes from watching their peers win and lose chunks of gold-plated hardware. In the dimness, it's hard to tell what's real and what's a special effect engineered by one's addled, over-Oscared mind.

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Did both Macaulay Culkin and one of the Jonas brothers just spew cigarette smoke directly in our faces? Yes. Is that Kid Rock creeping in the corner, biting into an apple, alone? Yes. Did Jamie Foxx's velvet-blazered shoulders caress our chest as he inched his way past us? Yes. And yes, that is Jane Fonda perched on a suede settee, and, yes, she has just peeled off her fake eyelashes and dropped them into her handbag. Pluck, pluck. Plunk, plunk. Don't need special glasses to see the exquisite, unexceptional details of soft-partying stars. A spot on the guest list for Vanity Fair's after-party will do.

Oscars are so plentiful here in the Sunset Tower that they might as well be party favors. They rest on tabletops like abandoned cocktails. They're clutched and smooched by random people who weren't even nominated. Interlopers worship stars. Stars worship golden idolettes. It's church time on Sunset Boulevard. Let us borrow the profound cadence that Mo'Nique has perfected this awards season.

Lord. We ask. That one day. A talented woman. Will win. Best Director. And deserve it.

Prayers answered. Kathryn Bigelow, director of "The Hurt Locker," holds court on the terrace as a tangerine crescent moon floats up from the twinkly skyline. With the king of the world dethroned only hours before, the former Mrs. James Cameron seems ironically Na'vi-esque in stature: proud, substantial, at least 6-3 in heels, bare biceps quivering from arm-curling her two Oscars.

"She's tall," whispers one woman.

"She's beautiful," another says.

"Hurt Locker" star Anthony Mackie pops out of a clot of tuxedos so he can headlock both his director and writer-producer Mark Boal. "I wanna make out with you guys," Mackie bellows. They settle for a group photo instead.

Can you feel the love? An affection epidemic throbs to the beat of disco funk. Ce-le-brate good times, c'mon. Music-wise, you'd think this was a wedding reception in Dayton, Ohio, but visually it's Annie Leibovitz on uppers: white roses, walls of hedges, silver platters of red velvet cupcakes, flattering lighting, mirrors everywhere. Everyone swims through a gauzy haze, with a cool breeze wafting in from the terrace.

Out front on Sunset Boulevard, A-listers step gingerly out of black vehicles and are greeted by their randy public. Charlize, J-Lo, Ryan Reynolds, Katy Perry and Russell Brand whip gawkers into a frenzy. And yet, Lauren Bacall -- legend, icon, winner of an honorary Oscar, patron saint of sultry smarts in the movies -- hoists herself from a car onto the curb and passes by unnoticed. Nary a cheer or genuflection. This would have been merely curious instead of sad, had Suzanne Somers not pulled up behind her and elicited squeals of adoration.

* * *

We're outnumbered, outflanked. Enter the Sunset Tower at 11:30 p.m. and behold: The density of star power feels crushing. Immediately, there is Patricia Clarkson stuck in the dark corner by the ladies' room. Then Arianna Huffington, Sigourney Weaver, George Hamilton, bam-bam-bam. Kanye's here, taller than expected, smilier than expected, with a big diamond stud in his ear. Spike Lee has decided this is the night to wear a bedazzled beret.


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