Tagged: vanity

October 1st, 2009


I’m at a record store on Hollywood Blvd.  I see a poster of some new group, Vanity 6.  Never heard of them.  But it’s the girl in the middle of the photo that draws my attention.  Young, beautiful, mulatto, long hair, dressed in a man’s suit, staring right back at you, challenging you to say something.  “Who dat?” I wondered.  Within a month I heard a song on the radio about a “Nasty Girl.”  It was Vanity 6.  As time goes by I learn that Prince is set to film “Purple Rain” but Vanity won’t be in it.  They had a falling out and Prince banished her from his realm.  I thought too bad because what a way to launch her film career.  Shortly afterwards in the Century City Shopping Center, at the top of one of the escalators leading down to the parking level, I met Vanity.  The beautiful girl full of energy and fun was with a female friend as I said to her, “You look like Vanity.”  She said, “I am Vanity.”  As the three of us continued down the escalator I told her she should kiss and make up with Prince in order to do the film and after filming then break up with the little guy.  She thanked me for my advice and as I got to the level where my car was parked I parted company with the divine Miss V.

Much time passed and as I was walking down Avenue of the Stars a white Jaguar pulls over to the side.  The driver motions me to come over.  She asked me if I knew where 20th Century Fox was.  It was Vanity.  I reminded her we met once before at the Century City Shopping Center and I told her she should make up with Prince and do “Purple Rain.”  She remembered the conversation and told me at the time she thought I was a manager.  I gave her directions to Fox which was only a few blocks away and wished her luck on her audition.  I noticed that she was drunk.  Not exactly the state you want to be in when trying to make an impression on casting directors or producers.  I had previously seen her perform on “Soul Train” singing and acting out a song about a gorilla and knew she was drunk during the performance.  I silently wished her luck a second time.

The years flew by.  I watched as Vanity crashed and burned.  My heart went out to her.  This didn’t have to happen.  One Saturday I got a call from my buddy Karsten Kastelan, the German Simon Templar.  Karsten was staying in the guest house of Rosemary Belden, an ex-pat in Studio City.  He was having a barbeque later that day and invited me over.  As late afternoon approached I drove over the hill into the Valley.  I found Rosemary’s house and went in the side entrance as instructed.  As I emerged into the backyard a voice called out to me, “Mike, come here.”  Charles Norton, a director friend standing just inside Karsten’s guest house with a phone in his hand waved me over.  If you have every seen the “Gilligan’s Island” episode with the crazed chimpanzee running amok, he directed that episode, a classic Gilligan’s.  “This is Vanity.  Give her directions to the house.”  I took the phone and asked her where she was coming from.  Long pause.  Okay.  “Do you know where Laurel Canyon and Ventura meet?” I asked.  “Yes,” she said.  I then gave her more exact directions to the house.

As daylight turned to dusk I periodically walked out to the front of the house to meet and guide Vanity to the festivities.  On the second time I turned away from the street just as a car pulled up.  Vanity hopped out and the car sped away.  I motioned for her to follow me and we walked through the side entrance emerging into the backyard.  She was still beautiful.  Great figure.  Full of energy and adventure as on the first day I met her.  I led Vanity to Charles so she would be with someone she knew.  I left to wake up Karsten.  It was his party but he was dead drunk in his bed in a comatose state.  I pushed on him and yelled at him to get up.  Without opening his eyes he said he just needed a little bit of sleep.  Brilliant boy wonder and acerbic film critic, handsome as Thor, didn’t he understand he was supposed to get drunk at the party not before.  When I returned outside Vanity of course was the center of attention surrounded by her court of male admirers.  As everyone started to sit down at a table I moved next to her with Charles on the other side.  One of her new slaves offered to get her a plate of barbeque.  Charles offered her a glass of wine which she accepted.  I was surprised.  I had read that years of drinking and drugs damaged her kidneys and now my dream girl was on dialysis.  It sure didn’t affect her looks.  Still beautiful as ever.  Still Vanity.  Charles mentioned to her that I had met her previously.  She turned to me inquisitively.  I related the stories of Century City Shopping Center and giving her directions on Avenue of the Stars.  She said she didn’t remember.  Great.  Now in front of Charles and anyone else who was listening I was either a liar or insane.  I joked to save myself, “Or so I say.”  Vanity repeated it, “Or so he says.”  We both started laughing.  As the night went on we talked about her life and career.  “I don’t know if I’m Vanity or Denise Matthews,” she said quietly.  Interesting.

Finally, Karsten makes his appearance.  Cleaned up and still half crocked he sat down next to Vanity.  I introduced them to each other.  He was pleasantly surprised to meet the famous and equally beautiful Vanity.  They got along famously, his boyish European charm winning her over.  She smiled at him knowing he was smashed to the gills but still able to carry on an intelligent conversation.  It takes one to know one I guess.  A week later when I asked Karsten how he enjoyed flirting with Vanity he was shocked.  He had no memory of meeting her or of any of the events that night.  He said he started drinking earlier in the day and never stopped.  I informed him he was very charming and Vanity kept smiling at him.  The poster boy for Hitler youth was grateful to hear that.