There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune



Tales from the B List or We'll Always Have Paris


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Editor's Note: By popular demand, this is the original Paris Hilton story, from August 2004. I wrote this because not 12 hours after the incident occurred I had numerous voicemails from bosses and clients calling from New York asking about details regarding my escapades in LA-LA-land. Eventually it was passed around to the entire Executive Committee of the firm, who were forever suspicious of the fact that my deals seemed to require me to visit places like South Beach or the Sunset Strip.

The following is true.

As I walked past the bouncer into the [redacted] restaurant, I couldn’t help but reflect on an eventful and productive day. We had, during the preceding hours, visited four properties, toured two real estate submarkets, lunched and dined with prospective clients and enjoyed a brisk run in the Hollywood Hills. Truly, diligence is the mother of good fortune: I could now look forward to a relaxing chat with JK, proprietor of the [redacted] Hotel, Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood.

Our quiet tête-à-tête was not to begin immediately, however; we found JK engaged in animated discussion with a member of his staff. It seemed that Fate, in her wisdom, had burdened Mr. K with that noxious entity known as MaryKateAndAshleyOlsen, scourge of publicans nationwide.

“The Olsen Twins are here, Sunset” he sighed. “I need to make sure they are not served because I will not allow us to lose our license.”

My eyebrows arched in a mixture of commiseration and alarm. It wasn’t too long ago that we had hired an attorney whose sole mandate was to navigate the Byzantine statutes of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Sensible men avoid any hint of rift or misunderstanding with that particular authority. We agreed that under no circumstances should wine, beer or spirit touch the delicate lips of those young millionairesses. JK gave strict instructions to the bartenders, while I privately vowed to intercede with violence, if necessary, to prevent the demon rum from corrupting the nation’s youth.

“I describe my job as ‘kindergarten teacher’,” JK explained, emphasizing his point with animated gesticulations. “It’s me trying to explain to fifty people in plain English how to do their jobs! I told ‘em I wanted wristbands, but they used stamps. Stamps can rub off, you know!”

Satisfied that his displeasure had been adequately transmitted to the rank and file, JK selected a comfortable chair where he could survey the scene and we began our little conference. The topic consisted mainly of business matters which are not germane to this chronicle. Every so often, JK would be interrupted by an acquaintance (a producer, perhaps, or a designer), to whom we were dutifully introduced. One fellow, it seems, worked for JK's partner.

“Oh,” I nodded, obtusely, “one of your limited partners?”

I had gotten the wrong end of the stick. JK had meant his life partner, an American neologism I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of. He went on to describe this gentleman in glowing terms, expounding on his considerable virtues and achievements.

“Well, I guess that’s lucky for you,” I pointed out, in a manner I thought judicious.

“And lucky for him, too, you mean!” he shot back, with mock indignation.

Our chat was very pleasant and light-hearted, both due to the fact that JK had good news to share and due to the refined ambience of the retaurant. Our table was perched on a raised level which comprises the main bar and overlooks the rest of the room, with the patio and pool shimmering beyond. Overhead, dark art deco ceiling beams extend inward from crenellated eaves and are separated by illuminated skylights. Wall-mounted lanterns softly emit a fan-shaped fuchsia glow. The effect, in toto, is rather striking.

Presently, we wrapped up our discussion and JK, weary from his flight from New York, sauntered off to bed. I grabbed my cocktail, eased back in my chair and took in the growing scene of revelry. A few moments later, JK was unexpectedly back. He fixed us with a wide, mischievous grin.

“Hey, you guys want to meet Paris Hilton?”

I couldn’t even bend my mind around the many implications of this question. I deferred to my colleague, DF.

“Umm, yeah, we would!” she answered, in the tone that one takes with tiresome people who wait for responses to obviously rhetorical questions.

JK led the way through the crowd and I followed behind, with bated breath and whispering humbleness. As I pushed my way through the throng, I casually noted that I was brushing aside one of the aforementioned Olsen miscreants. She gave me a sidelong glance. “Scuse me,” I murmured, absently, as I looked past her.

Seconds later, we found Miss Hilton, dancing by herself, with the crowd discreetly pretending not to gawk from a distance. She was very tall and very blonde and had made liberal use of her eye shadow. Her cocktail dress looked rather expensive.

“Sunset Shazz, meet Paris Hilton,” announced JK, using an unnecessarily grand, formal tone.

“Pleased to meet you” she cooed, delicately proffering a lithe hand.

At this moment, I could have said: “Have we met? Oh no, it’s that I recognize you from your internet video.” Fortunately, the cautious aspect of my character judged the remark to be a tad infelicitous. Instead, I merely took her hand and bleated a cordial “how’d’you do?”
She was gently swaying back and forth, dancing some sort of crazy heiress dance, when she turned to JK to ask him a question. I couldn’t quite catch what she was saying since every word she spoke was an exaggerated whisper.

“Oh, Paris,” exclaimed JK, suddenly. “I loved your new Guess ad in Vanity Fair! You look great! Sunset, you know what I’m talking about, right?”

The expression of abject cluelessness that graced my visage, although well known to my schoolteachers, was unfamiliar to poor JK. “Huh?” I replied, with all the eloquence I could muster.

“The Guess ad?” He gave me a meaningful glance. “You’ve seen it, haven’t you?”

I gathered from his widening eyes that he desired that I answer in the affirmative. “Oh sure!” I replied airily, in what I hoped was the worldly, cosmopolitan manner of a man who reads Vanity Fair assiduously, paying particular attention to the jeans advertisements. “Paris, the shots look great. Really, really good.”

“Thank you,” she simpered.

I was beginning to enjoy myself. “Paris, it’s really good that you know JK,” I heard myself saying. “He is the enfant terrible of the hotel industry.” JK let out a big bellow of a laugh. “Everyone in the industry either loves him or fears him,” I added.

Laying it on a bit thick, I know, but as I say, I was enjoying myself. Paris looked vaguely puzzled by the last, absurd statement, while JK was reduced to mild hysterics. Evidently, despite her pedigree, young Miss Hilton has little knowledge of – or interest in – the hotel industry. In the next world, old Conrad weeps for his progeny.

As Paris swayed to the music, pouting vapidly at no one in particular, I realized I could not stand there forever. I remembered my manners. “Well, it was very lovely to have met you.”

“Nice to meet you, too,” she smiled.

This time, the crowd parted before us, as though we had suddenly been granted the imprimatur of Important Persons. Again, one half of the Olsen duo glanced our way. She was a tiny, timorous waif with an enormous coiffure. While most of her shopping needs were met in the petite department, her millinery was clearly plus-sized. A less charitable observer might have described her as “plain”.

“That Olsen twin keeps looking our way,” commented DF. “She’s probably checking you out.”

“Yeah,” I laughed, “she’s wondering, ‘who’s that mysterious man?’”

Actually, my best guess is that she was pondering how a hundred and fifty million dollar self-made fortune still left her upstaged by a vacuous celebutante whose main résumé line reads “participant, amateur erotic cinéma vérité”. Perfidy, thy name is Hollywood.

As we had no intention of carrying on discussions with eighteen-year-old teensploitative* tycoons, we retired to the terrace and drank by the pool, dissecting the cult of celebrity. I knew that my friend PMcG, a real star-fucker, would get a kick out of this one. The rest of the evening was moribund, and the comparative dullness reminded me of something JK had said earlier.

“Whatever you think about Paris Hilton,” he explained, “she delivers. She is always just as you had imagined, only more so.”

When he had originally delivered this puzzling epigram, I had merely nodded insincerely. Now, with the passage of time and the luxury of reflection, I think I see what he meant.

*”Teensploitation” is one of the newest additions to the lexicon, according to the editors of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (Associated Press, July 31, 2004). I have used what I presume to be the adjectival form of the word.


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About me

  • I'm Sunset Shazz
  • Living the dream in Istanbul, Turkey
  • I grew up in the hardscrabble streets of suburban Ottawa, Ontario, committing petty crime, insulting the elderly - basically the classic misspent youth. When I was 19, I moved to West Philly, where I put myself through the Wharton School by dealing crack and hustling. After stints in Paris and London, I eventually graduated and moved to San Francisco, where I put in eight years hard labor working for The Man. But now I pop bottles with models, deciding cracked crab or lobster - who says mobsters don't prosper?
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