Like so many rhinestones tumbling from so many costume-jewelry clusters dangling from so many saggy earlobes, Orlando’s once glorified sense of megalomaniacal celebrity – no matter how artificial it was to begin with – has lost its luster, hit the pavement, and become just another obstacle to trip over on the path to ignominy. Fame is just another Botoxed expression indistinguishable from all those surrounding it somewhere in the midst of a Neiman’s lifestyle purchase at the Mall at Millenia.
“We’re way too famous for this,” Savannah’s forehead doesn’t move outside the Blue Martini, in a queue actually at the Mall at Millenia. “I mean we’re at a mall.”
“Is Tiffany playing?” I could’ve been.
No such luck. Instead, noncelebrity of the LAX variety DJ A.M. is twiddling at the turntables for $15 a plastic head on a Monday night, while outside some temporary velvet ropes are blocking off a lengthy line of unwanted-but-expensive toys from an experience they’re programmed to forget. My big idea was that tonight I would force Savannah to get impregnated by DJ A.M. in a last-ditch effort to carry on perceived pap-friendly exclusivity; she could be my Nicole Richie doll and between the two of us (I do a pretty good Mandy Moore) we could rescue the plastic fantastic from its demise. That’s what this town needs: an inexplicable baby bump!
“You look more like Nicole,” Savannah Mandys, quickly knotting her fallopian tubes. “You do it.”
But given our relative state of overdress and the yacht-rot loafer guy ass-bumping with his Julie-the-cruise-director wife (or mistress) two plastic heads ahead of us in line, I don’t think either of us will be doing much of anything here.
“Um, am I waiting in a long line to pay $30 for us to get into Ruby Tuesday?” another rhinestone falls as reason crawls up my leg. “No. I am not.”
By (Ruby) Tuesday night, we’re convinced that our Plan B is going to be far more sparkly than anything our Plan A could ever have been, as Savannah’s been party-trolling and picked up on some really juicy, bona fide bits of “happening” certain to revitalize our dwindling sense of sponsored extroversion. PLUS she’s just been notified that her kid is going to be featured in a forthcoming Life of Ryan episode on MTV, the one with the hot skater kid who, if placed within 10 feet of me, would send me to the pokey. Tuesdays are made for famous people and going to prison.
“Tonight is going to be FUN!” Savannah opens an imaginary glitter curtain.
We’ll see about that. A slight detour on the way to fun opens a whole can of fishing worms when I comment on the fact that the boys at Central Station are professional redneck hate-crime glancers, and that I’m a little bit turned on. Savannah retorts with something about the South rising again, which means instantly we’re off on some ill-advised tangent about societal shifts and all of the unlubricated butt fucks that implies, and I’m virtually tying myself to a tree. Hold me.
Over at the Dragon Room on Church Street, nobody’s holding anybody. Savannah’s convinced me via some discussion of Paul Wall, a guy named Chino, grills and bling that this is where it’s at tonight, but somehow I’m not convinced. I don’t think she is either. Brooke Hogan might be, though.
“Do you ever feel like you’re in a big white bubble?” she states the obvious.
“No, but sometimes I do feel like I’m at an audition for a Mariah Carey video,” I straighten my hair.
It’s all about subdued hip-hop, including unnecessary winks to early-’90s glamour soul – that means you, En Vogue holding on – and the cowering discomfort is evident even on Savannah’s unmoving forehead. There are people being ushered in by what resembles Secret Service to a secret back room, and it kind of feels like the prelude to a dramatic, slo-mo shooting incident. This isn’t the kind of fame I bargained for.
“I think we should go,” Savannah thinks.
We should and do. But if the Dragon Room was the potential scene of a crime, then the mess over at Vintage is the bloodstained sheet pulled over a throbbing dead body. Billed as a vanity night for former ’N Sync-er Chris Kirkpatrick, you would think that there would at least be a smattering of medicated fat girls gripping pillowcases and making weird Muppet noises. There aren’t. In fact, there are just a few mean-looking redneck guys in football jerseys, some (more) bad ’90s music and the debilitating sense that Orlando is dead. Something even worse is about to happen.
“Look, it’s your boy Nick Carter,” Savannah ruins my life.
What follows is a tragic opera in slow motion involving Nick Carter, a friend-ish minder-with-mullet, a sprinkle of self-importance, and some unlikely happy-happy-joy-joy finger-wagging while spinning in place. Nick’s wearing a hoodie and jeans that only make his ass look larger than life, and his own white bubble is getting Savannah depressed.
“I think I’m going to cry,” she snivels.
By the time Chris Kirkpatrick shows up to his own party, we’re already sewing a white flag of surrender for fame and life in general. Chalk marks, please.
“Hi, I’m Chris,” Kirkpatrick autopilots a greeting directly into my face.
“Yes, I know,” I attempt magnanimity, then fail. “My old roommate Skotty used to do your hair when it was in the silly stick dreads.”
“Oh, yeah!” he reminisces back to relevance. “Remember when I had that hair?”
“You never paid him,” I stammer, as yet another rhinestone hits the floor and Nick Carter pulls his hood up. Fame is firstname.lastname@example.org