The Awful Truth

Our City Kicks Your City's Ass


Cintra Wilson
February 28, 1996 3:16PM (UTC)

I have a new boyfriend. He's freezing cold and mean and covered with garbage. He is the city that never sleeps. He is also the city that never bathes, that never apologizes, and never interferes if you're getting beaten by thugs. He's a big evil-smelling bastard with countless incurable problems, but he's so intelligent and culturally with-it ya gotta love the brute.

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I have forsaken my Shellacked Lady, L.A., for this monster. I shall never look back.

My fab New York Agent dragged me to an HBO screening. An HBO screening in New York is no light item. It's at least as huge and obscenely expensive as anything any Hollywood film studio puts on to toot their completed-movie horn. We're talking thousands of shiny tuxedos and little black
frocks teeming in the famous Rainbow Room penthouse in the clouds, with champagne boys every four feet and a huge table against the left wall covered with meat and tiny forks.

In attendance was a star of the movie, who was mysteriously devoid of fame remoras sucking the hem of his garment like they do in L.A. In L.A., the parties are all full of Ambition Junkies feverishly ass-kissing up to the Actor Star of the second, lavishing praises like margarine all over Its famous lapels. New York parties are full of people ignoring the big Face (who's only an actor) and getting on with the REAL story which is: How in the fuck did you do that better than I did? Who do you know that I don't know? And what the hell's your secret anyway? Give it to me give it to me. Straight for the hidden power jugular.


*(Actual NYC ad campaign slogan -- on T-shirts, bumperstickers, etc.)

The Actor Star at the New York party was actually far less important to the crowd than some of the older tanned bald guys, who were so flagrantly important that they were seated on More Important Tables high above the dance floor like a flock of grooms on a Moonie mass-wedding cake. The deeper the tan on the older the guy, the higher up on the cake and the more shrill 30-year-old women in sport coats surrounding him saying "I'm sorry, you can't go up there" to those who dared to approach. Those are private tables. Get back down on the dance floor with the rest of the Great Unwashed or we'll have your body vanquished with this modern elimination device and pour your remains into one of the Andres Serrano ashtrays.

In L.A. the old guys would have all been shuffled off into some cigar room and given a pack of nudie cards. They would not be allowed to be near the front of the action at the unveiling of the 90-foot Bruce Weber/Leonardo Di Caprio photo mural or the squad of 18-year-old Bud Lite girls lipsynching Rap against AIDS, lest they muss up the publicity shot with their saggy old eyesore heads. Hollywood implicitly states: If it would look wrong in bed with Courteney Cox, it might as well have its feet pierced and be left on some remote desert hill to be exposed, to avoid embarrassment for everybody. Let the 20-year-olds run the planet. The bleached old bones of the discarded elders will make nice lamps, once the carrion eaters have had their way. Just Do It!

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"Whadda ROCK!" I shouted in the champagne din, as I struck up conversation with the plastic surgery-enhanced lady whose face hovered before me like a canvas-stretched moon. I was commenting on the gem-shaped ice-sculpture she had on her ring finger, big as a shoebox. "THANKS!" she trumpeted back, all packed tight in her red bolero jacket with the little knots of Chanel down the front. "I'm WORTH it!" she continued. "GODAMMIT! IT'S TRUE!"

I admired her tyrannical confidence. In L.A., had I screamed "Whadda ROCK!" at somebody, it probably would have been some kind of 30-something Bo-Derek type paralyzed by the imposition of being Good Looking and scrambling with every cell of her being to retain this status. She would have mumbled something inaudible and shivered away from me and thought me crass, even though she would have sucked every knob in town to have gotten to this party in the first place. She would look at me like I reminded her of where she came from, some lower-middle-class pit of terminal mediocrity and non-glamour that she inflated her breasts to enormous size to float far away from. L.A. women are a sad and pathetic lot, all strangling themselves to stay a porno-rag version of "beautiful," so that they can marry somebody and get power. In New York, women go straight for the power themselves and leave beauty to nine-foot, 63-pound teenage mutant supermodels like Kirsty Hume, who is as much a freak of nature as a three-headed praying mantis, and everybody knows this and feels OK about eating.

After 18 or so flutes of free champagne in L.A., you must either have had a program installed in your Lexus so that it can drive itself home from any point on Laurel Canyon, or you must hope that you have made yourself sexually available to someone in The Program who has only been drinking bottled water and furtively chain-smoking all night. Half of your night in the city of Angels will be behind the wheel, and unless you are truly a saint you drive drunk with great frequency and hope that prayer and loud radio will keep your wheels on the asphalt part of Mulholland.

In late night New York, the loud rosy mob whirls two by two out of rotating glass doors and curlicues directly into the bloodline of taxicabs that pulse comfortingly by every few seconds, and the black coats are swallowed warmly by the yellow doors and the drunks are whisked away in their fresh chariots, which are as abundant as fruits in Eden and stop for every man, regardless of class or income.

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Snow is falling in New York. Like small townsfolk, everyone talks to strangers about it, and everything is blurred a clean, frenetic white.


Cintra Wilson

Cintra Wilson is a culture critic and author whose books include "A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Re-Examined as a Grotesque, Crippling Disease" and "Caligula for President: Better American Living Through Tyranny." Her new book, "Fear and Clothing: Unbuckling America's Fashion Destiny," will be published by WW Norton.

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