Authors: Tyne O'Connell
Dedicated to Cordelia, Kajji and Zad for being dead cool and utterly fabulous.
I love you and that's all there is to it.
was born in Australia holding a glass of champagne, wearing six-inch heels and reading Nancy Mitford. Educated by Catholic nuns in the arts of deportment, elocution, feminism and charm, she spent several years traveling the world as a professional gambler before trading in her dice for a laptop and settling in the U.K. She has previously written five novels for Headline Review, features for U.K. newspapers and magazinesâincluding
âand also spent two years in L.A. as a sitcom writer.
Having misplaced two husbands, Tyne now prefers to live alone with her laptop, Nancy. When not having heated debates with Nancy in their cramped flat in Mayfair the two divide their time between New York and Los Angeles.
The Sex Was Great Butâ¦
is Tyne's first novel for Red Dress Ink.
You can find out more about Tyne at:
Big it up for all the inhabitants of Los Angeles, the city that never walks! When I first pitched up at Chateau Marmont after ICM sold an option on my third book to Katie Face Productions, nothing, not even a vat of Cosmopolitans, could have sobered me for the extraordinary world of Hollywood.
All those infinity-pool parties, and wild nights at the Sky Bar were nothing compared to my days on the Columbia TriStar lot where nothing is real apart from the rewrites. The surreal sight of Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie in full evening dress, screeching round the corner in their golf cart while I tragically tottered along on my nine-inch (yes, nine) Vivienne Westwood heels, seemed to sum up this city for me: celebrity, random chaos and the delusion that I could face it in heels. Thank God I had the divine Nicole Clemens as my guardian angel/agent and Wendy Goldman as my laughingâ¦sorry, writing partner.
Groveling gratitude must go to Glenda Stone, SP and my family, who had to readjust me to London life, educating me to forget about valet parking, limos, sunshine and carb-free food.
Air kisses for all the staff of Home House and my Homies there: Robin, Zak, Sophie, Rosemary, Camilla, Jessica, Dino, David, Raf, Andrew, Justin, Colette and Man of Bronze, photographer Stuart McClymont.
A shout out to my fellow authors: Sarah Mlynowski, Jessica Adams and Faith Bleasedale; you know bloody well that this book simply wouldn't exist without you (and a few crates of Veuve Clicquot) any more than it would exist without the flair and perspicuity of my too-gorgeous-for-words RDI editors, Samantha Bell and Margaret Marbury. But then the entire International RDI team, Margie Miller, Carolyn Smalley et al. are so phenomenal I just want to weep with awe.
As ever, huge hugs and kisses to Mummy and Daddy for just being you and never judging.
“No one goes âHollywood.' They were that way before they came!”
“Normality in L.A. has got a lot more dangerous since the last time you looked.”
e don't need any introductions. You've seen me on television, plastered on bus stop seats, society pages and gossip columns. Talking to Leo (DiCaprio), laughing with Rosie (O'Donnell), dancing with Matt (Damon).
Maybe I've even passed you in an airport or a hotel lobby. Maybe you're one of those people I hear turn to their friends and whisperâonly not so quietly that I can't hearâ“I think she's retaining waterâ¦”
“That nose is sooooo fakeâ¦”
“Who's she kidding with those tits?”
“Did you hear about how she thinks she's too good to talk to her own mother anymore?”
“I've heard she's a total bitch to work with.”
“A friend of my brother's girlfriend slept with her! He said she was frigid!”
“I hear she drinks her own urineâ¦”
There are no secrets for me anymore. You've heard about my love life, you've seen my mother on Dave Letterman, whining about how I don't include her in my world. You know that even though I am the face of L.A. Vodka I'd really rather drink tequila shots. You know how much I hate closure and attract guys who want to talk to the press about our relationship when it's overâsometimes even before it's over. You probably know as much as my nutritionist about my weird dietary fadsâwell, he told you on Leno (the scumbag). Let's not kid ourselves. You know it all. You know all my Stuff.
And I figure that degree of intimacy with an entire nation can only end in tears.
There's a saying in this town that says you're no one until somebody wants you deadâi.e., wants your ratings to tumble, your show to be pulled, your boyfriend to talk to the press about your weird neuroses and your personal life to disintegrate publicly. Because the truth is see, people only hate the people who matter. So I guess, given what has just happened, I should be feeling pretty damn important right now.
The first words I heard on the morning that was going to change my life forever wereâ¦
“Brace yourself, Holly!”
They were uttered at six a.m. by Nancy Catkin, my show's producer and best friend.
I was still struggling to get out of my bedroom-pink
satin eye mask and dig the earplugs out of my ears as she continuedâ¦
“You have just been voted Shallowest Woman In Showbiz by
“Is that good or bad?” I asked, clinging valiantly to the truism that all publicity is good publicity.
“Bad,” she assured me. “In fact, I wouldn't blame you if you took to your wrist with a razor!”
Nancy's advice frequently involves self-mutilation, but there was a new edge to her voice that dayâan edge that had never been there before. And the edge was fear. “Between Ted's revelations in the
your popularity is in a tailspin, Holly.”
So there it was. I was ruined.
My reaction was to drink ten wheat-grass shots in a row, douse myself in Rescue Remedy, snort a line of Colombian (by the way, I never do drugsâit was left by an old boyfriend) and go berserk on the step machine. Five minutes later I started having palpitations, so I rang Nancy back and told her I was going to go out to do some errands.
I didn't like the way she snorted when she repeated the wordâ“Errands?”
“Yes. I have things to do,” I said importantly.
“Wait, let me get this straight: you're planning on doing
your own errands?
I can see the headline in the next
âHolly Klein Picks Up Own Dry Cleaning! Shock-horror Exclusive!'”
I hadn't actually imagined anything as demeaning as picking up my own dry cleaning, but I was sure I could manage it if I put my mind to it. I could get one of my
PAs to fax me a map and detailed instructions on how to comport myself in a dry cleaner's.
“Yes, I've decided I need some normality in my life,” I breezed confidently.
“Yeah? Well, you might want to take a handgun with you. Normality in L.A. has got a lot more dangerous since the last time you looked, babe.”
She was right, of course. Nancy is usually right.
Two hours later I was in meltdown, sitting in my black Ford Explorer (the most normal car I own) as I argued on my car phone with Nancy about the drastic damage control measures we would need to take over this readers' poll.
It was eighty-seven degrees and I was in a traffic pileup on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. Even the palm trees were perspiring. By now the readers' poll had become fodder for DJs' wisecracks on KCRW. All of them in the vein of, “Did you hear the one about Holly Kleinâ¦” You can imagine the rest.
I took a slug of water from one of the tiny Evian bottles that seem to be Velcroed to my hand these days. I'd just told my junior assistant Cameron to tell my agent Larry that she couldn't manage to get hold of me. I could imagine what he'd want to say. All Larry's ever told me is what princess wants princess gets. Usually right before he signs me up for some grim promotion or interview.
Ironic, isn't it? Four years ago, when I first came to L.A. in a clapped-out Subaru, this was my dreamâto be the subject of a national poll and to sit in traffic in a high-status car on my car phone, yelling at my producer and telling my personal assistant to lie to my agent. Scratch that. This is the dream of everyone who has ever crash-landed in Hol
lywood, searching for a dream. Be careful what you dream of; you just might get it.
A few minutes later, when the traffic started moving, my foot slipped off the pedal and my car stalled. Everyone behind me leaned on their horns. I wound down my window and yelled out, “Hey, asshole!” at the pack of drivers behind me all yelling, “Hey, asshole!” at me.
Some surfer dude with boards strapped to the roof of his station wagon recognized me. “Hey, Holly, over here!” he called, as his car slid slowly past mine. Then he did something really obscene with his tongue. Erh!
Nancy's right. Normality is a much tenser place than it used to be.
One of the myths of this industry is that celebrity brings control. Actually all it does is distribute the control between more people. And as the celebrity status thing kicks inâand I mean kicksâthe fear takes over and pretty soon you're delegating like a lunatic.
Suddenly you're spreading control between everyone from gurus (who've only been in the country a month), to lifestyle coaches (who know less about you than your manicurist). Then there are the nutritionists, the Pilates coaches, the therapists and the assistantsâI have more assistants than there are hours in the day. Most of them are interns and doing it for nothing. If I let them they would happily pay to work for me. All of them think I'm a total bitch, obviously.
Some of the time I don't know who I'm employing to look after my life, although mostly they are all pretty debutantes with business or law degrees from Harvard and names like Sloane and Cameron, with a smattering of
preppy boys with names like Brad and Clarke who went to Harvard. All of them running over my life like it's some kind of adventure playground built especially for them. All of them willing and able to sell my panties on eBay.
My life has become an industry, and trying to control the industry seems more and more pointless.
Like most girls, I secured my celebrity with a mixture of luckâotherwise known as knowing/sleeping with/being in a position to blackmail the right peopleâand timing. Forget talent. No one really believes that talent counts in this town any more than they believe skill counts in Las Vegas. The odds are stacked against you and, however hard you try to outsmart the house, you can only ever be really sure of one thing. You will be screwed in the end. The only question isâ¦in which end?
Maybe that's why celebrities are so paranoid. Why we see therapists, lifestyle coaches, philosophers and gurus and surround ourselves with yes-people. Not because we're precious and self-obsessedâ
although we are
âbut to deal with the open-all-hours paranoia party that keeps us awake at night.
Actually, the press started gunning for me last year, after
declared that I was the âpresenter of the moment' or, as they put it, âThe Oprah Winfrey of the celebrity makeover.' After that it was open season on me because, unlike Oprah's, mine isn't a show that's going to change the worldâor even sell books, for that matter.
I do makeovers on has-been television starsâactresses you were just about to forget before I put them back in your face. Some critic worked out that one in five of my celebrities have actually turned their careers around as a di
rect result of being on my show. This means the competition to be chosen for one of my makeovers is fierce. Everyone who was big in television or movies five, ten, even twenty years ago are now falling over their breast enhancements to be my best friend. It's real important stuffânot.
Nancy wanted to change the world, and I think that's what disillusioned her. That and growing up in San Francisco with the most boring, uncool parents in the world. P.S.: My parents were boring and uncool too, but at least they were also fucked up, alcoholic, bigoted and dysfunctional. In Connecticut I felt normal.
Nancy and I have talked about doing something more meaningful with the show, but how meaningful can you be with a pair of tweezers, a makeup pallet and a limitless supply of designer clothes and shoes? I mean, it's not as if global warming is going to stop because Farrah Fawcett's changed her hair colorâ¦
I had another one of my assistantsâSienna, I think her name isâtry Wilhelm, my therapist, for me. She asked if I wanted her to get Larry back on the line. She pretended to be joking when she said he was ruining her life with his incessant phone calls. It's my experience that when assistants say “life” they mean “manicure,” and no one in Hollywood jokes about manicures.
I told her to just get me Wilhelm, and she sighed one of her assistant-to-a-star sighs. Maybe that's the problem in my life; maybe if I were in control, instead of all these assistants with attitude, I wouldn't be in this mess.
Wilhelm came on the line and told me he was far too busy to listen to me whining about my “petty princess problems.”
“Nice attitude,” I told him, and he laughed loud and long. It's obvious he's off his treeâbasically, he eats way too many mushrooms.
I explained to Wilhelm that Nancy thought my reputation was in tailspin and he reminded me that reputation is a form of social masturbation. I wanted to ask him what that meant, but either I'd driven into Cell Hell or he'd hung up.
In a town where youth is golden, Wilhelm is the oldest person I know. I'm serious. He took acid with Tim Leary in the sixties. His fifteen minutes of fame came after he wrote
Emotional HealingâAn Anarchist Reconsiders.
He thinks I rely on Nancy far too much to interpret events for me. But then Wilhelm is always at me to mistrust people more.
Mistrust and disappointment are the cornerstones of Wilhelm's EAT (Emotional Anarchy Therapy). That and declaring war on my fears and terrorizing my insecurities. Despite the fact that he's a complete head case, he's a kind of amazing guy for his era, and I'm not the only one who thinks so.
declared him this millennium's guru to the stars.
There has been gossip that he advised a prime-time actress to take hallucinogenic drugs to boost her career, and that he encouraged a major Hollywood action hero to try anal sex. It's practically gospel in this town that Wilhelm hypnotized Tom Cruise into believing he could communicate with “the aliens within.” Like any therapist looking for publicity, he refuses to admit or deny, preferring the enigmatic, “I can't discuss any of my clients.” One thing is certain: none of these rumors has dented Wilhelm's popularity.
I've not stuck with a therapist for this long before (three
months). At the time I started seeing him Emotional Anarchy Therapy looked like it was going to be the next big thing, and any girl within a three-mile radius of Beverly Hills Mall was declaring that she wouldn't go anywhere without her anarchist.
Things have moved on since thenâanarchy turned out not to be all it was cracked up to beâbut I'm sticking with Wilhelm. Sticking with people is one of the things Wilhelm is helping me with. Nancy rolled her eyes when I told her this.
The traffic on La Cienega was ugly, but I find being in my car strangely relaxing as it's one of the few things I do that gives me a sense of control. My phone rang and I hesitated before picking up, in case it was Larry, but then I noted the number and pressed speaker. Nancy's voice reverberated around the car.
“The fallout's started. Jay Leno's people have already been on the phone, asking about your shallow habits. The newspaper vultures are gathering overhead.”
“Nice to be noticed,” I quipped insouciantly.
“This is crazy, babe. You've spent your life trying to make people like you, trying to be popular and flawless, and for what?” I hate the way she makes it sound like trying to be flawless, liked and popular is something she's always warned me against.
“Listen to thisâ”
Despite my protests, she started reading from the article.
“âHolly Klein is considered by her own sex to be shallow (93%), spoiled (87%), has no idea how the other half live (98%), and cares little about vivisection or world hunger (79%).'”
“That's outrageous! I care!” I shrieked, as I took off at an amber light on Wiltshire, to the absolute horror of an elderly woman struggling halfway across the road in her walker. Whoops. I mouthed the word “sorry” to her and watched on ashamed as she lumbered back to the curb in fear.
“I care a lot, Nancy. You know I careâright?” It wasn't really a question.
“Do I?” I knew she was joking really.
“I always try to do the right thing. I'm always polite. I don't believe in weapons of mass destruction. I don't eat meat in public or wear fur. I give generously to my elected charities. I even saw a Chekhov play last night!”