A Prologue: 💄📸👙
Bougainvillea on stucco. Driveway blocked again by a neighbor. Afternoons getting high on a rug with a friend who doesn’t know they’re about to become famous, or that you won’t stay close.
Parking tickets, melted lipstick, champagne you regift at a party in the Hills. Your boyfriend’s not welcome (sausage fest, strict 4:1 ratio), so you leave and meet him in Runyon Canyon for a moonlit hike you hope the rangers won’t arrest you for—it’s after sundown, after all.
Red carpet anxiety. Borrowed deodorant from a makeup artist who offers you a Xanax or a gummi, she has both. Shouting. Flashing. STRESSS. But goddamn, you feel good in this $1,200 dress you wish you could keep. There’s a friendly face! Latch on until you can French exit the fuck out.
Franklin Blvd walks in your bff’s VS hoodie. Indian food at the laundromat, bonfire on Malibu beach, game night in Highland Park. Oh the places you’ll go to connect with friends and forget you are poor and bombed your last audition.
Then an unexpected call-back. A screen test, lunch with the director. Are you ok filming in the Bahamas, he asks. Um, yes. Are you ok faking an orgasm, “fantasy-like,” with nipples and upper buttcrack? But no full-frontal, he assures. It’s not porn. You say goodbye to $50,000 because you can’t bear picturing that title on your IMDB.
You’re a series lead two years later. Press kit folks from network ask dumb questions and censor honest answers, twisting your responses into some G-rated sugar-pop version of you in a push-up bra they insist on to make you look “more shapely.” You’re supposed to be a role model of authentic Americana, but you’re actually a pot-smoking atheist learning how to be fake enough so that others will feel more comfortable in your presence. Don’t worry, you’ll master the art of masking over the next 10 years.
Runyon now smells permanently of dog piss. New friends, same deep conversations, thank god there wasn’t Instagram in your early-20s. Highland Park got cool, Malibu bonfires forbidden, but the Hollywood sign still shines bright, infecting your pessimism with hope. This town is a two-faced bitch, but she really can make dreams come true.