My brief, last-second trip to L.A. was, um, memorable!
It started with a dinner out with my gay buds. We invited '30s child star Jane Withers, 87; former Miss America and TV/stage actress Lee Meriwether, 78; Police Academy and Laverne & Shirley bombshell Leslie Easterbrook, 65; and Here Comes the Brides & Harper Valley P.T.A. actress Bridget Hanley, 72. Diverse group of girls, right? The dinner was memorable not only for Leslie's hubby Dan, who'd worked on Captain Kangaroo, letting us know that Bob Keeshan was a terrible jerk, but for Jane telling us long (yet too short!) stories of being championed by W.C. Fields, discovering Rita Hayworth (when Jane was 8 and a major star and Hayworth a mere chorus girl) and spearheading the campaign to get Charlie Chaplin a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Jane's met everyone and, like Debbie Reynolds, has collected everything. Her stories are not just stories, they're oral histories of Hollywood. Hearing her mimic W.C. Fields while re-enacting their entire on-set conversation when he first noticed her was like being at a seance where Fields was summoned up. Her memory of Rita Hayworth as being shy was so touching. Jane's so kind the worst thing she could ever bring herself to say about somebody she'd met is, "It pains me that a star as big as Oliva de Havilland isn't nicer than she could be." Other than that, she never met anyone she didn't like, and I can't really imagine anyone not liking her.
I stayed with my buddy "Chexy," aka Ivan, who played zombies in '80s movies and now roams the earth in search of dazzling conversation. Ivan is one of the smartest people he knows. I mean...that I know. We need our own reality show, because I become a flake around him and he tolerates me about as well as Moe did Larry. Except the level of our discourse is several notches higher. Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk.
Following my day at The Hollywood Show, I stayed two nights at mystery photographer Venfield 8's (Work Unfriendly) compound. I'm going to interview him and get the word out about his new work, which is like a combo of Helmut Newton's best nightmare and Bruce Weber's secret jack-off fantasy, yet is fine art and not just boycake blow-off snaps. This guy is going to explode, so art lovers should hop on the train early in order to ride the furthest with him. He's also a gracious host, though I won't reveal more since I'm sworn to secrecy. But naked hot-tubbing happened.