Hollyween meltdown

The party is costume-mandatory: John Cusack comes as a werewolf, James Woods comes and leaves, Neve Campbell comes as herself -- no one gets it.

By David Goodman
Published November 19, 1999 5:00PM (EST)

Dear Button,

Before regaling you with promised Halloween bash dish, I must first tell you who I met last night. That's right, John from "CHiPs"! There I was, minding my own business during a little celebratory soirie at Taverna Tony in Malibu, when who should appear but Larry Wilcox himself?

He was bedecked in an expensive-looking Italian number and running around singing the praises of his latest acquisition: a keypad/pager/e-mail/Internet device the size of a credit card. I asked to see it as he was introduced around -- it was small and lightweight and impressively futuristic. Larry joked that he was planning to go sit out the party and play with his new toy. Everyone laughed cordially as he scampered off. I didn't think he was kidding.

So, you wanna hear about Halloween?

I arrived early to beat the rush and help tie up any loose ends. I was promptly informed there were no loose ends, so I stood outside and early greeted some other pre-punctual friends. My car was parked by the entrance in anticipation of the valets, but my buddy Jason and his posse (including, it turns out, the hot, pierced, tattooed girl) told me there was parking close by. So I uncharacteristically decided to park myself. (This story is actually going someplace.) I asked my buddy Ward to take the half-block ride with me. We slid into my car and were about to slide out when a paramedic truck cut us off. Now, because I live in L.A., my immediate mental response was, "Thanks for cutting me off, asshole!" Then it sunk in that paramedics help injured people, pick up the dead, etc.

It turns out that our fearless co-leader Amy Cohen (party patron, namesake and originator, off whom we suckle party energy like babies and around whom we revolve like spokes in the great party wheel), had fallen victim to gravity. Half an hour before the shindig began, she took a spill from high atop her roller skates and broke her ankle in three places.

With Amy in the hospital, the lovely Jennifer was running the show on her own. Now, I have personally witnessed Jennifer simultaneously reshuffle Matt and Trey's schedules, deal with press, arrange interviews, make appointments, order beefy lunches and make reservations for a huge dinner all while Matt yelled, "I hate you!" at her and Trey put things from her purse in his ass. This woman can handle pressure. But the Halloween party did present some unique problems.

Put yourself in her place, if you will. It's 9 p.m. on Saturday night and a thousand people are driving to your party. Your partner has just been whisked away screaming to the hospital and the valets have not arrived. You don't have the valet company's name or number because that was one of your partner's jobs. What do you do? If you are anyone else, you lock yourself in the bathroom and cry. If you are Jennifer, you kick your way into the storeroom, rifle around for the number and get on the horn.

Then you find out the valets are scheduled for the next night. One thousand friggin' people driving straight at you right now, and not one valet in the city is even thinking he should be anywhere near your party. What do you do? OK, nowyou go to the bathroom and start bawling like a child. That's what I would do.

Jennifer, however, is a different entity. She gets on the phone and gives the valets hell and tells them to get people down there right away or else. And they do. And no one even knows who fucked up in the first place. Problem solved.

Then Neve Campbell shows up without a costume. It was a costume-mandatory affair, and Neve comes as a rule-breaker. (Hey, Neve, get over yourself. I don't care that you came with John Cusack, that's the whole point of the night. John, at least, came as a werewolf.) I also saw James Woods early on, but I think he was leaving. No matter, because Neil Peart was there, dressed as Mandy. Big black motorcycle leathers, enormous blond wig and makeup. The greatest living rock drummer now a hulking transvestite. The guys from Rush are fans of the show (as we are of them). They sang "O Canada" for the "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" soundtrack.

So, things are finally silky smooth again and I'm making out with lots of different people and our friend Keef is spinning really well and everyone is in the same space mentally and the groove is hitting -- when suddenly the fire marshal shows up and says we've got too many people.

Too many people means that everyone who went out for air or to smoke or to use the outside bar or the outside bathroom or just to look for a friend is stuck outside. And they're lucky, because outside the outside party area is a line of people down the block who haven't even gotten into the outside party area. Well, this just won't do. But what does one do in the face of Mr. Marshal? (I, of course, would still be in the bathroom crying.) Jennifer, however, takes him aside and within a few minutes everyone is freely moving in and out, and the line down the block is gone. The woman is grace under pressure personified.

Perry Farrell was also in attendance, and strangely, he looked a little dressed down for Halloween. Last I saw him -- backstage at the KROQ Acoustic Christmas Concert -- he had Christmas lights strung through his hair. So I guess he'll always seem dressed down to me from now on.

Which reminds me, after that Christmas concert, Trey mentioned overhearing Perry doing press (we hadn't met him at this point) and said he was spouting all this bizarre, whacked-out-sounding stuff. I had seen plenty of wine bottles rolling around, and had also caught some of (guitarist) Dave Navarro's antics. There was a palpable tension backstage and lots of whispering as we all tried to gauge whether or not Jane's Addiction would even be able to go on stage.

Now fast forward to "Chef Aid: The South Park Album." Frank and Perry have become better friends and Perry agrees to do a song for the record. Trey's driving over and can't help wondering what the hell is going to happen. He's the boss, and Perry is definitely an X factor. Sure, Perry's spent gobs of time in the studio, but what if he's all prima donna? What if he goes nuts? What if he doesn't show? What if ... what if ... what if? Perry is a rock and roller.

So Trey gets there and starts singing vocals so that Perry can hear how the song goes. He does this two, maybe three, times. Perry doesn't even seem to be paying close attention. But then Perry gets in the booth and begins dancing and singing and swirling about until everyone is infected with his energy and the whole studio comes alive, and he nails the vocals on the first take. He was prepared, professional and inspiring. Just blew everybody away.

And speaking of albums, South Park is putting out "The Mr. Hankey Christmas Album" sometime around Thanksgiving, and there is one song I think you'll particularly enjoy. It's called "The Most Offensive Story Ever Told." I'll send you up a copy.

And now back to Halloween. Well, no one else so exciting was there. My friend Celeste was in town, and she's quite exciting, but she's never strung Christmas lights through her hair. Not that I've seen, anyway. All in all, it was a good, safe, loving time. Every cloud has its orange and black lining, as it were. The indomitable Amy even wound up holding court in the Moroccan room by about 1 a.m., fresh from the emergency room with a soft cast and a surgery appointment.

I think everyone will be back next year.



P.S. I've got some sad news from the world of "South Park." Mary Kay Bergman, who did all the female voices in the show and the movie, passed away last Friday. She will be sorely missed.

David Goodman

David Goodman, like Steven Spielberg before him, grew up in Haddonfield, N.J. He writes for "South Park" and is the editor of bluelawn.com.

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