"And you are?" The woman acting as gatekeeper to a Vanity Fair party last night at The TCM Classic Film Festival could very well have been channeling David Spade as I set forth to bullshit my way into an event of impressive stature.
WFMU (in this instance meaning me) was conveniently placed earlier that evening in a line of young, low-life paparazzi, screaming in the face of the fragile, wheelchaired Tony Curtis. Although it's unlikely that any of these dubious types had actually ever seen a Tony Curtis film, they shouted "Tony! Over here! Over here! Tony can you smile for us!?" Truth be told, the answer is no, not really. He can't go over here or over there, and he can do very little for you other than, hopefully, hold you in contempt
I quickly excused myself from the paparazzi line so as not to taint WFMU's reputation and took my place in a line-up for Judy Garland's A Star is Born, the kick-off screening of the TCM festival. I found myself easily agitated after my exposure to the rude row of TMZ types, and became testy when an elderly man in front of me was moving too slow for my liking. Shortly thereafter a six-foot tall, statuesque (apparent) prostitute joined him and I suddenly realized I had just been directing my rage at Hugh Hefner. I pivoted to try and share the surreal moment with whoever was standing in line behind me. Fully prepared to give a stranger a nudge, my brain stopped me in time to acknowledge that the person standing in line behind me was Nancy Reagan.1 I wish I had some story to go along with this odd Hefner-Reagan sandwich of which I was the pathetically insignificant strip of meat, but I do not. I was, I will admit, somewhat starstruck by the co-star of my favorite anti-commie movie, The Next Voice You Hear. I'm fairly certain that I was not supposed to be in a line consisting of these wildly famous geriatrics, but much of this week has turned out to be about being exactly where I don't belong. And enjoying every minute of it.
So that brings me back to the woman with the clipboard at the front of this Vanity Fair party. I've learned from people more skilled than I that confidence and an irrational sense of purpose is the way you get things done. "Hi, I'm on your guest list," I told her. I knew full well that I had already been told three times in two days that I did not have any press clearance to attend this bourgeois brouhaha. "And your name?" "Kliph Nesteroff with WFMU." "Oh, I love FMU! I'm from Jersey City!" She pretended that she saw my name on the clipboard and that was that. In I went to get increasingly drunk in a room filled with the most famous senior citizens in the world.
1Turns out it was actually another huge Hollywood star of the same era, Margaret O'Brien, who is now a dead ringer for Nancy. Found this out much later, but this story is just a bit to good to change now, don't you think?