Charlotte Never

Photo by James BunoanWe'd always wondered about those $3,000 outfits the Newport matrons lavish upon themselves (after their champagne and rose-petal and baby's-blood baths, of course): Where on Earth could they wear their fabulous couture?

My best friend Jess and I found out Thursday, May 29, at a fundraiser for the Children's Hospital of Orange County at Crystal Cove's Novecento: they clothe themselves in their fantasy creations to do more shopping!

The women doing the charitizing were from mid-20s to mid-110s, and they were fantastically beautiful peacocks. They wore brooches the size of hockey pucks nestled in the plump nests of their loving cleavage. They wore terrific vertical-striped silk suits, and then turned around to reveal drag queen pancake makeup and Liza Minnelli eyes. Their painted-on lips stretched ferally across their mouths so their MAC and Trucco wouldn't bleed as they nibbled at salmon and at chocolate strawberries, and they made sloe eyes at the few men brave enough for the lion's den of a fundraiser at a women's boutique. God, I love my life.

Those few men included, as always, flack Larry Feldman, who looks just like Larry Miller, and the omnipresent party guy and eradicator of every disease for which OC has a charity Al Freeman,who introduced us to some of his fellow veal from last year's wonderfully zippy charity bachelor auction. Kedric Francis, the gay-seeming but quite straight editor of Riviera, stood about bored, as the food was good but the bribes were scant. This is the man who got bumped up (free) to the presidential suite at Paris' George Cinq (free) on his way to his jaunt (free) to the Seychelles, and then complained that he was lonely. Other men just hung on their women's arms and looked pretty. Pretty vacant!

We love it, we love it, we love it! If you are a person who enjoys slathering money on your nude body while small children run crippled and annoying through the streets, do go to Novecento. Their clothes are very flashy and expensive-bohemian. Sadly, after mingling with Larry Feldman's lovely wife and the inimitable dame Gloria Zigner, of Coast or Orange Coast—I forget which, but isn't the similarity in the names just a lawsuit waiting to happen? Oh, yes! It already did!—my girl and I had to get gone. We had sciencey smart people to see!

In the house were Laguna Art Museum curator Tyler Stallings and artist Naida Osline, and the program featured a credit for “rat brain sounds.” Reading Frankenstein at UC Irvine's Beall Center for Art and Technology had to be good.

And mostly, it was! The show told the story of Mary Shelley—but Shelley as a scientist whirling around in a lab coat like she's doing the hokey-pokey. Her Adam is virtual (he seemed kind of Chilean and hunky in his bondage outfit to play the monster, but who's quibbling?), and he growls a whole bunch of angsty stuff about cognition before he starts killing kids at their computers to protest his lack of a bride. It was no A.I., whose delvings into cognition explored intangibles like faith and belief before copping out with the most insulting ending—and I mean infuriatingly insulting and rude, the meanest, most meager excuse for mother love I've seen since Anna Nicole's son stopped appearing on The Anna Nicole Show. But it was still really smart and cool–rat brain sounds! Appearances by a real life stem-cell-researchin' neurobiologist!—even if emotion (from which it was estranged if not quite divorced) could be found only echoing through such digital lines as “I ought to be thy Adam but I am instead the fallen angel” and “I am malicious because I am miserable.” Oh, we know, hunky Chilean monster dude. We know too well.

Then we went back to the Novecento fashion show! But our city was gone. Sad, we ate all the food and then skipped over to the perfectly populated Kitsch,where we met nice, smart girls (one of whom had graduated that day with her advanced degree in neurobiology, and how jealous was she when she heard about Reading Frankenstein?). And the music was good, and pretty Haley was pouring the drinks, and all was right with the world.

Friday, we hit the Coach House for Ghost Town, Todd Stedman, Lee Rocker and Deke Dickerson. But we forgot you can't dance at the Coach House, and it depressed us, so after our $6 amaretto sours were down the hatches, we left there too—but not until after the bass solo perpetrated with fierce lassitude by the bass dude. While every rockabilly bassist in the world can play while standing on the side of his bass, this one started getting all Cirque Du Soleil on one leg while making bored gum-chewing faces, and then picked up that bass and played it behind his head, and we couldn't help but like it. Neither could the San Juan Capistrano Hawaiian shirt fella who stood up during the bass solo, hiked up his shirt and wobbled his massive belly at the band. It was the most odious display of blubber I've seen since Anna Nicole started keeping her clothes on instead of humping everything in her line of sight.

We gussied up and traveled north for Wet Daddy's Badass Lit Joint Saturday in the outer reaches of Altadena, as our friend Neal Pollack (the greatest living American writer) was hosting a reading in conjunction with the Book Expo America booksellers convention. Neal uncharacteristically ate it, as he read satire about the Jayson Blair controversy from his purposely ponderous blog, during which he satirically suggested that black professionals no longer be permitted success. Although everyone got that it was satire, he didn't read it convincingly enough, as he was embarrassed and he was sitting in a house comprising (almost exclusively) black intellectual professionals. It died long and slow before he finally euthanized it in the middle. Other readers included organizer Donnell Alexander reading from the wonderful Ghetto Celebrity, Tour reading from the beautiful Soul City (and attended by his gorgeous Middle Eastern girlfriend—a “consultant” to fashion designers—in her cherry Manolos), and Danyel Smith with the trying-too-hard coming-of-age More Like Wrestling. Still, if Wrestling wasn't my thing, it was as well received by the rest of the house as any of the others. Not so for poor Dennis Escobedo, who read the first scene from his new play, charlotte sometimes, where a blind date features conversation that is actually more dull, if possible, than actual blind-date conversation. Also, halfway through the scene the accountant remembers his tenor-sax days and as he's remembering it, a red light comes up. At that point, desperate to avoid the train wreck before us, we started flicking pennies at Pollack, who took it rather well. Twerpy Escobedo reads: Charlotte stands, and as the tenor sax wails, does a sensual dance, caressing her breasts and stomach and thighs.

A red light? Seriously? And an imaginary sensual dance? And the lonely wails of a tenor sax? Escobedo, darling, XYZ: your barn door's open and your clichs are coming out.

Okay, so I didn't know who killed Lisa Fisher.


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