There’s this crazy guy. He has a crazy old mansion in the Hollywood Hills chockablock with movie memorabilia, leftover items from movie sets, and other oddments he’s collected from around town. Chockablock is being polite—crammed, overflowing, up to the rafters would be more accurate.
I have been to so many wrap and opening-night parties at houses up in them thar, or these here, really, hills. There was one movie I wasn’t even in, but I was some crew guy’s arm ornament. The film was about the Armenian genocide and so the party celebrated Armenian culture, Armenian food, Armenian dancing, Armenian everything. “They tried to silence us a century ago,” the director said, “but it didn’t work. We’re still here and we’re still dancing.”
The movie was extremely powerful, and it’s times like those that I absolutely adore and appreciate this industry for the influential messages it can convey. Movies can change lives. So can speeches, politics, and books, of course. So can quiet people just lighting up their neighborhoods. My chosen vehicle is movies. Being in gorgeous mansions with that amazing view of the Hollywood lights and with the yummiest gourmet finger foods doesn’t hurt either.
Although it came with that view and the yummy food, Claude’s was unlike any other house in the hills, however. A full-size statue of Goofy greets every guest. A knight in armor stands guard in the massive living room, which is full of red-velvet furniture. Some of the beds in the bedrooms are round, with mirrors overhead. That all might be fun, but I heard it’s terrible feng shui. Well, so is clutter. As various up-and-coming bands would play on the patio, I watched the Hollywood lights twinkle in the not-too-distant distance.
Once I was in the bathroom, and I looked up to find a creepy clown grinning down on me from the skylight. That was the night I met the guy with the foot fetish. I almost stopped going after that, but the insistent lure of finding things and people and situations and conversations you’d never find anywhere else was too much to resist.
I say Claude and his house are “crazy” with much affection. He isn’t the insane kind of crazy, but the fun, wild, eccentric kind. I prefer crazy (well, this kind), really. He just doesn’t conform to anyone else’s idea of how a life should be lived. His long, wavy white hair flows down his back—kind of a symbol of someone who’s seen so many ages come and go and has made his choice to keep one particular age in the present. Hey, I wonder if he knows Skye. I want long, wavy white hair someday.
One time I stayed really, really late talking to some fascinating person or other and ended up falling asleep on the couch in…the Jungle Room, I believe it was, complete with palm trees, wallpaper with a pattern of green bamboo, a (fake) leopard throw on the bed, and animal art all over. Claude had a number of different rooms with distinct motifs. I certainly wasn’t alone; bunches of folks were strewn here and there all over the house in the various “rooms”: the Queen’s Room, the Red Room, the Hookah Room, the Game Room, and the Bed Room—as in a room that has just one giant bed.
At about five in the morning, I heard something that sounded like souls wailing at the gates of hell…if there was such a thing as hell with a gate and souls wailing there.
“What in creation is that?” I mumbled.
“Coyotes,” someone answered. Ohhhhkay then!
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