“Would you please mind turning round? A very well-known customer is here and doesn’t like other guests facing him…”
Hollywood’s Sunset Tower Bar is a place of murmured conversations, film-noir lighting and raffish 1940s golden-age charm. If Errol Flynn swooped in, chasing skirts and guzzling gimlets at the walnut-panelled bar, you wouldn’t be surprised. As befits a saloon described by its owner as somewhere “a celebrity can dine with his family one night and his mistress the next”, a white-jacketed bartender has just told me to swivel 180-degrees in my chair, lest his A-list patron catches a glimpse of my unsightly visage.
Not being looked at. It’s up there with Mariah “not doing stairs” or Kanye demanding somebody iron his “bumpy” dressing-room carpet. Still, for some pathologically English deferential reason, I agree.
It doesn’t stop me from ogling his table on (now-regular) sorties to the loo. Hang on! Isn’t that Sid Owen? The hen-pecked hubbie from EastEnders? A further glance reveals Sid’s no more than a doppelganger, but I recognise his scopophobic friend, a movie-player of such stratospheric fame that I dare not mention them here. It’s definitely not, I can at least say, Jennifer Aniston, who’s a regular at the hotel.
I’d arrived in Los Angeles with a mission. Could I, with my decidedly English teeth, threadbare budget and new Primark blazer, infiltrate the very same turf as Hollywood’s genetically blessed gentry? Not only that, but could I do it on a budget in a city where this weekend’s Oscars guests will tuck into gold-dusted popcorn?
No frills airline Norwegian whisks me to LA, where I check into the Beverly Hilton. It may not be budget digs (although you can often find rooms going for a song if you luck out and book it on a “secret” website like Hotwire, which offers rock bottom rates but doesn’t disclose the…