Audrina from “The Hills” is smiling her fake, toothy smile on the red carpet as the paparazzi cameras flash and click like machine guns.
It’s still difficult for me to wrap my head around the name “Audrina,” which sounds like the unfortunate union of the names Christina and Audrey. I suppose it’s better than the alternative, “Chrudrey.”
Audrina (cringe) is wearing an unremarkable black dress and heels that appear to give her an extra 5 inches. Also on the red carpet, and almost more interesting, are three different luxury sports cars in brilliant Popsicle colors.
Passersby crowd the other side of the velvet rope and a line of skinny blonde girls roll their eyes as the doorman checks “the list.” The venue is tucked into the back of a parking lot, somewhere in the dregs of the Hollywood strip, the only place in the world where you can find Superman and Chewbacca walking around in full get-up on days that are not Oct. 31.
Before Audrina babbles too much to the inquiring cameramen, she is whisked inside the venue. The inside of the club looks very much like the parking lot outside, except that there’s a bar. Hundreds of 20-something Angelinos or faux-Linos are spread over the interior, and a few hundred pairs of eyeballs dart up to observe the entrance of the right hand woman of MTV-Satan spawn Lauren Conrad.
I’m not going to moan about “The Hills,” because if you know what it is, you either love it or loathe it and goodness knows there have been enough rants for both cases. But what “The Hills” really demonstrates more than anything to me is this very odd phenomenon Us Weekly refers to as “the celebrity.”
This is a word that is defined as “a widely known person who has the state or quality of being honored or acclaimed.” Its root is obviously related to the word “celebrate,” which used to suggest a celebration of the accomplishments of said individual. Ah yes, accomplishments … how easily they thwart us. What was it you said you did for a living again, Audrina?
Sitting in the dressing room at the Barney’s in the Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip, the smell of whiskey suddenly assaults my nostrils. I sniff the garment I had been about to try on, wondering if some over-zealous tippler sloshed whiskey on it. But it smells fine; the way clothes smell when they’re airing out on the sales floor after having been smooshed in a box that was shipped over from Cambodia or wherever they were sewn.
Following the smell, I poke my head out of my dressing room and see, a few doors down, a man sitting on a couch strewn with suits and dress shirts. An overly-quaffed salesman is attending to him graciously, smiling in a confident yet servile “you need to own this” manner. The seated man has cleverly adorned himself in one of those douche-y fedora hats, along with an oversized T-shirt and baggy shorts. Some sort of jumbo soft drink cup sits on a coffee table in front of him and he turns around to meet my snooping eye, as people always do when they feel they are being looked at.
Realization dawned only too late as my jaw hung open and the letters K and FED scooted closer and closer together in my mind’s eye, pulled by an invisible hyphen, the way words used to do on Sesame Street. Why God, why.
It’s one thing to be fawned over on the red carpet when you’re a recurring character on what has been described as primetime’s juiciest “reality” show. But giving VIP-treatment to the estranged baby-daddy of Britney Spears’ children? Hold on guys. Are we facilitating this kind of behavior?
I can only change my radio dial so quickly before the Pussycat Dolls spew their sopping lyrics: “I want to be famous / I want to be a star.” My heart tells me that we as a public have a little bit of say in who we “celebrate.” And this is who we choose?
There’s hope, however, that not all F-list, famous-for-no-reason people will be fawned over. I’ll leave you with one last tidbit. One that I hope will put your soul somewhat at ease. A few days after the K-Fed scenario, I was waiting with a friend in the Las Vegas airport to catch our planes home.
As we trudged slowly through the Southwest line, I noticed a huge blonde weave/hair extension combo out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head fully and, after seeing what the extensions were attached to, hissed and pinched my friend’s arm. My excitement fell a little when I realized, with disappointment, that it wasn’t an epic Las Vegas tranny but instead just boring old Bridget Marquardt from “The Girls Next Door,” followed closely by Kendra Wilkinson and Holly Madison.
We watched the three of them, all with their luggage in tow and no one to wait on them. “Where’s Hugh’s private jet?” my friend whispered to me as the three of them approached the ticket counter. It seems that the combination of their rather messy falling out with Hugh Hefner and the current economic climate meant low-budget travel for the girls.
I guess Us Weekly is right: sometimes “stars” really are just like us.