Friday, October 28, 2011

Sam



I'm too old to know that Lauren "L.C." Conrad from MTV's “Laguna Beach” has an internship at Teen Vogue and is unlucky in love. I know that Mischa Barton from “The O.C.” has been wearing high-waisted jeans too often and needs to give the trend a rest. I know that Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton's former BFF, likes her boys "skinny and pale," like her ex-fiancé, "DJ A.M." Adam Goldstein, and her current boyfriend, the tattooed and eyeliner-wearing Joel Madden from the band Good Charlotte, who is Hilary Duff's ex.

I look at them each week, People, Us Weekly, Life&Style, InTouch, Star, OK!, in order from least to most trashy. If there's a tremor in a celebrity's life, I know about it. I'm like a celebrity seismograph.

One week, there was a cover photo of a passed-out-drunk Lindsay Lohan sitting in the passenger seat of an SUV, eyes closed and brow furrowed and mouth wide open. She was wearing a hoodie with the hood up, as if someone had pulled the hood up for her, maybe to shield her face from paparazzi. But this photo succeeded in getting her face, head back against the seat, her lips parched and pale, her freckled skin tanned to within an inch of its life, glamorously made-up eyes pressed closed so that the lashes formed soft black crescent moons on the tops of her cheeks. What struck me was not so much this picture of a young, promising starlet living too fast and crashing before our eyes. What struck me was the person in the driver's seat.

Her name is Samantha Ronson, and she goes by "Sam." She's the daughter of someone in the entertainment industry, an “impresario” they call him, a heavyweight music producer. She has a twin named Charlotte, a hip fashion designer with long hair. Sam is a deejay, popular among the Hollywood kids, and her hair is short. She looks like a very pretty boy. I think she might be a lesbian—there were rumors of a lesbian affair between Lindsay and Sam. In the photo, Sam is leaning across from the driver's seat with a look of tender concern and protectiveness. It's a far sweeter look than you'll see on the faces of the guys Lindsay is photographed with, a turnstile succession of guys, some with names you'd put in bold type in a magazine gossip column, some who are more obscure – up-and-coming male models or Greek heirs to some unfathomable fortune.

***

From tabloids, I learn about human nature. There are patterns: Oh look, Drew Barrymore and her boyfriend, Fabrizio Moretti of The Strokes, break up, then she's photographed looking thin and laughing at the beach as ocean waves crash around her, and going to an outdoor music festival with her best friend, Cameron Diaz, and showing up at movie premieres looking happy and adorable – and now her boyfriend wants her back. When Prince William breaks up with Kate Middleton, she keeps her head held high and is photographed looking happy while shopping in London, and she goes on with her life, smiling all the while – and suddenly Will is said to want her back, too.

How do you make someone want you? Look beautiful and pretend you are happy without him.

***

Many people, even those who don't look at celebrity tabloids, know that Britney Spears had a meltdown and shaved her head. There were articles in which body-language experts studied her facial expressions in photos taken around that time and said she had the defensive stare and snarling mouth of a cornered dog.

Around the time that Britney and Lindsay were doing their stints in rehab, and that Amy Winehouse song came out about how "they tried to make me go to rehab, but I said no, no, no," I was longing for a place like that, but one that regular people could afford. In the photos, taken from surreptitious helicopters, of the posh rehab places that look more like resorts, the ones that celebrities go to, there are cabanas with clean white-canvas roofs and blooming hibiscus in bright sunshine. It's like going to a spa, and the people there treat you very delicately, or so I imagine. You have someone come and make your bed in the morning, someone to do your laundry. You eat meals prepared by a chef, maybe meditate in the afternoon, and write in a journal. Someone massages you out under that cabana. You stroll along the grounds and think about your life. No rush, no pressure, no cell phone or e-mail or BlackBerry. Around that time, I wanted a poor-man's version of this because I was thinking about ending my life; I'm not famous, so you won't read about why.

***

Here's a clue to why I was thinking about ending my life: Bart sent me a message asking me to hook up with him again. He wants to drug me with amyl nitrite, or "video head cleaner" as it's called by people who know about such things, so that my body will be relaxed enough for him to enter me anally. It falls under that category of things his wife won't do but I will. I don't know why I will. It's not as if he'll love me for it. But this is only a clue and not the overarching reason why I can’t do this for much longer. It’s not a paparazzi snapshot, but it’s the scandalous picture that I give to you so you can create a story around it; it’s likely that story will be completely wrong.

I later found out that Sam wasn't looking at Lindsay with tender concern and protectiveness. She'd had something to do with Linday's wasted state that night; the two had gotten into a fight earlier. If anything, Sam was probably looking at Lindsay with sheepishness, worried she was somehow at least partly responsible for the ruin in the passenger seat of the wrecked SUV that night. My story about that picture had been completely wrong.

In the green night-vision video of Paris Hilton having sex, that video everyone has either seen or knows about, she poses for the camera, arches her back, piles her long platinum hair on top of her head and releases it in a cascade, a tumble. She's looking to the lens for love, as if the guy fucking her isn't even there.

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