I have a habit of approaching celebrities as if we know each other. I usually wave at them as I’m coming and yell ”Hey!” or walk right up to them and say “How ya been?” Then I proceed to have a drink with them or sit myself down at their table, maybe even tag along to the next club. I can pull this off because celebrities who party usually meet lots of people, and they often meet them while drunk. So their memory in regards to casual connections is typically fuzzy enough for the right person with the right confidence to convince them they’re old chums, like me.
Now this doesn’t work with stand-offish actresses or pissy little rock starts (although I once crashed the VIP table of those tweety lil rockers Red Jumpsuit Apparatus at Le Deux in Hollywood and handed out their vodka to a group of chicks I had just met, all the while telling the band I was the singer’s friend, since he was passed out on the couch after his successive shots of Jager). Most of the time it only works with two groups -- old, senile celebs, and any famous person related to the hip-hop industry (that includes, rappers, producers, and certain athletes). I do also have a way with Latino celebrities. I once attached myself to Julio Igliesas’s entourage at the old Prive in South Beach, and kept bringing over random girls to him. Over and over, I’d tell girls “Julio wants to dance with you.” They’d get really excited and then I’d bring them over to Julio, introduce them and I’d take off to the other side of the club. I spent the rest of the night outrunning these chicks, along with Julio. It was totally immature, but so much fun!
Once, about a year before he died, I got to spend four days in a row hanging with Dennis Hopper. I was covering the CineVegas Film Festival, which he chaired. CineVegas is a notoriously party-centric indie film festival programmed by the Sundance Film Festival’s Trevor Groth, held at The Palms in, of course, Las Vegas. The first night, I saw him at the opening night party outside of Simon’s. I waved to him through the crowd. He waved back with a look of slight confusion. You could tell he wasn’t sure if he was supposed to know me, but he accepted my familiarity and entertained a conversation.
The following afternoon he happened to rent a cabana by the Palms pool. I walked by, started another conversation. I remember thinking how young his wife and at the time two year-old daughter seemed, and the fact that old guy, who never put on anything but a beige linen suit, had enough juice in his unit to spawn a beautiful little girl at his age. Anyway, he chomped down a real Cuban cigar. Me being Cuban, we talked about Castro. He invited me for drinks that night inside Ghost Bar with him and his old artists friends (they’re all old, but they can drink!).The next day I attended a screening of the documentary, The Cool School
, with him. The doc, about the birth of LA’s love of modern art, which featured these old drinking buddies, led to his usual after-screening whisky straight and more conversation about anything that sounded interesting. All this, because I waved to him a few days earlier and pretended I knew him. He never even asked me what I did.
As fulfilling as it was to be pretend-buddies with Dennis Hopper, it is truly amusing to get down with hip-hop artists and producers. And that’s exactly what I was doing during this past NBA All-Star weekend at Avalon in Los Angeles. Let’s start out at The Official All-Star Weekend 2011 Tip Off Party hosted by Diddy and his Ciroc vodka gals. The Diddster is usually barricaded by body guards, but since his albums have been tanking getting close to him is much easier. I guess he needs all the support he can get.
Now The Diddy is not prone to talking too much, but he does love to dance. And during the party, when they turned up house music and things got very Jersey Shorish, Diddy got up on his couch and started fist pumping to the beats. He’s a househead. That was my cue to walk up to him (fist pumping as I approach as to relate to him) and gave him a few repeated high fives. “Yo, it’s me!” He gives me a head nod, and into his VIP section I go. Later on, I walked up to him and just gave him a bro hug. “How ya been?” I ask him. “I’m hot baby. How you feeling?” he says. I don’t think I fooled him into thinking we were buds, but his entourage thought me and Diddy were down. So for the rest of the night I was dancing with a fine young groupie who may or may not have been on the first season of Tila Tequila’s reailty show. “How you know Sean?” she asks me after dancing. I love how she made a point of calling him Sean, as if that means anything. “We go way back. I show him around in Miami.” She says, “Oh really?” We got back to dancing.
Over at an NBA All Star bash at Brent Bolthouse’s soon-to-be-renovated WeHo jaunt, Industry, the partiers were taking full advantage of truly classy golden stripper poles situated around the club. Who did I see over in by the bar but Dennis Rodman. Now I had interviewed Dennis before several times, but not often enough for him to remember. I walked up to him anyway, and the great thing about Dennis, is that even before BS came out of my mouth, the simple hand raise and familiar expression on my face was enough for him to be like “Wassup?!”
I got a big bro hug like we were best buds. Dennis Rodman is a big guy, a big loveable guy…scary though. Unlike with previous celebrities, I was truthful with Dennis. “Yo, I interviewed you back in Miami, that time, we hung out…yada yada yada,” He bops his head up, and dramatically wails his hands in the air like he just found out we’re brothers. “Oh maaaan!” he says. Then he gives me another hug. At this point he asks me to buy him a drink. Straight up. He’s like, “Hell yeah, vodka cranberry.” After I hand him his cocktail I tell him he looks like a vampire drinking something so red. “Well If I’m a vampire I’ll bet I’ll bite you.” Not sure if this was a come on, but with a date in tow I figured I’d up the ante, “how about I bite you.” Dennis responds, “if you do you might catch something…oh go ahead.” I jumped up on my tippy toes and bit him on the neck like a pretend vampire. Dennis Rodman tastes just like chicken.
I can see you… but not like, in a stalker way or anything like that.