The film ‘Raving’ was the sensation of the Festival; it was gritty, honest and powerful and the first official screening had made instant megastars of its four previously unknown young protagonists and the wild-eyed director who’d ring-led their unflinching and heartfelt performances. Of course, it was British; Hollywood would never have had the balls to make anything quite like this and everyone wanted to go to the premiere party. Studio heads would have sold their legitimate children for a chance to breathe the second hand smoke of even the assistant to the director of ‘Raving.’
The crowd outside Le Casino, a glamourous venue set on a promontory at the far east of the Croisette, was twenty deep and braying dangerously at the doorman, Ollie for admittance. Naturally, Samantha and Angelika knew him from the ‘80’s London club days and they were waved briskly through the crowd, which bore a terrifying resemblance to the throng who had once howled so successfully for the pretty, young head of Marie Antoinette.
‘Fool’s Gold’ by The Stone Roses was playing as Angelika and Samantha pushed through the heaving masses and greeted Ollie who beamed at them and said, “Yo Angel, Sam, what’s up babes? Are you sorted?”
Samantha smiled and pointed to her swollen stomach, “Pregnant, Ollie.”
Ollie grinned and gave her distended Donna Karan-clad tummy a gentle kiss. The girls then continued down a long, arched, black-lit tunnel where the bass thumped through the floor, causing intense vibrations to pound through Angelika’s body and startling Samantha’s unborn fetus out of it’s dreamy, squishy reverie. Everybody was smiling warmly, welcoming them into the party. Angelika hadn’t experienced anything like this in years, as in Hollywood it was tantamount to admitting you were a pathetic loser if you actually smiled at a complete stranger at an event. Angelika looked around her, intrigued and said to Samantha,
“What’s Ollie mean, ‘sorted’?” Samantha gave Angelika the benefit of one of her withering, world weary looks and replied,
“Jesus, LA is so far behind. Have you never heard of Acid House?”
The DJ then dropped ‘Connected’ by the Stereo MC’s, and then impressively mixed in the overdubbed chanting of Tennants-crazed British soccer fans. Angelika looked incredulously at Samantha, and said,
“That speeded up disco music?” She’d heard snippets of the genre on late night radio back in LA, but it hadn’t grabbed her. It didn’t feel funky enough for Angelika, who still considered herself to be black deep down inside.
Samantha replied enigmatically, “You obviously haven't had the whole experience.”
Now Angelika was really intrigued, “What? Tell me.. Don't leave me out of the loop.”
They had reached the end of the tunnel by now and were greeted at a fluorescently glowing bar by a beautiful French girl dressed in soccer kit, who smiling, handed them two glasses of champagne. Samantha gave her glass to Angelika, who immediately guzzled them both.
“Don't sweat, you'll figure it out soon enough.” replied Samantha. The icy champagne was relaxing Angelika while simultaneously inducing a powerful throb of anticipation,
“Speeded up disco music?” she mused, then she continued drinking in silence.
At that moment, a grinning apparition appeared before them and embraced Angelika like a long lost friend. It was a cute, wild-haired English guy dressed in a bright scarlet dungaree ensemble with a crazy ass red and white striped Dr. Seuss hat, perched raffishly on top of his funky skull. Although flattered by his affection, Angelika couldn’t quite figure out who the fuck he was.
“Do I know you?” she inquired politely.
“Fuzzy Angel! I’m hurt to the core. I met you at Simon’s house in LA. We partied like rock stars. I believe we had a rather heated argument about Impressionism which I of course won. I’m Luke?”
Suddenly, Angelika clicked, as she did remember him now; he had been the most interesting person that she’d met at Simon’s house, not that that was saying much. She remembered having arrogantly given him a hard time for his upper class accent, just to test his reaction. Angelika suddenly realized with a stab that she was crushingly embarrassed by the person that she’d once been.
“Oh my God! Luke! I'm really sorry, the past is another country and all that, I'd blocked that part of my life out, you know?”
“It’s cool.” replied Luke, elegantly lighting them both a cigarette while Sam threw him a filthy look, “What happened to all those crack heads anyway? That scene was way too heavy for me.”
Angelika was relieved to hear this, “Yeah, me too. I bailed. I don’t know what happened to any of them and neither do I care.” She didn’t want to relive any part of that experience.
Luke continued, “How are you? Isn't this party fucking wicked? Are you sorted?”
“Everyone keeps asking me that.” replied Angelika, giggling. Luke surreptitiously handed Angelika a tiny piece of paper and a half eaten blue tablet.
“What's this?” she asked.
“The future as we know it.” replied Luke enigmatically, as he was patently even more theatrical than she. Angelika looked puzzled. “Half a microdot and half an E. You know, surf and turf.” said Luke, shrugging nonchalantly.
Angelika glanced at Samantha for support. “Hey, baby on board over here. You go ahead, I've got your back. I'll be Miss Vicarious tonight.”
Angelika then sized up the items in her hand. “It's been a while, but it sounds like all the major food groups are covered. I'm still not convinced about the music, though...”
Angelika then swallowed the pill and the piece of paper and chased them back with champagne. Luke hugged her, a sensation that she was starting to rather enjoy and arm in arm, they all left the magic tunnel and entered into the noisy tumult in the main dance room.
Angelika, who was grinning inanely, sat at a table in the roped-off VIP area while Samantha chatted to a be-suited and coked-up music industry executive. Samantha was now a successful model agent, but she was always ahead of her time and was currently in the process of shopping a record deal for one of her less vacuous protégé’s, an Italian singer-songwriter called Claudia, who was musically talented as well as a husky-voiced knock out. Samantha had thrived on the other side of the camera and she was now widely respected for her sharp business acumen, her enduring marriage to one of the coolest rock stars alive and of course, her fabulous cleavage.
They were surrounded by a motley array of film-biz schmoozers, gorgeous barely-dressed women and sundry hangers-on. None of the ‘Raving’ cast had shown their newly famous faces yet, but everybody was already drooling at the mere thought of laying their ravenous eyeballs upon them and promising them lunch, a three-picture deal or at the very least, a blowjob.
The house music anthem, ‘Where Love lives’ by Alison Limerick started to play and Angelika suddenly found herself transported. She closed her eyes and started swaying to the music when out of the darkness she heard a gentle male voice say,
“Excuse me...” Angelika opened her eyes and squinted up at the most beautiful man in the world ever! Brad fucking Pitt. He glowed from within.
“Yes?” She answered, momentarily at a loss for words that would adequately sum up the enormity of her feelings.
Brad smiled politely and continued, “My friend and I were wondering who made your dress?”
“My dress?” responded Angelika, who was not exactly on Dorothy Parker - esque form. Brad’s darkly handsome but rather invasive friend appeared from out of nowhere and proceeded to try to read the label that was sewn into the nape of her Gucci gown. “Whoa!” objected Angelika.
“Sorry, he's really serious about fashion.” answered Brad, who seemed sweetly long suffering for an A-list movie star.
Angelika was touched and replied, “He's kind of invading my personal space.”
“He does do that.” said Brad, nodding sagely.
“Could you have a word?” implored Angelika, as the friend would obviously never listen to her, a mere mortal.
“David. Back off.” At Brad’s words, David magically dematerialized into the swarming mass of humanity.
“What about you?” continued Angelika, staring deep into Brad’s warm blue-green eyes. He really was extraordinary, with skin that was like a dewy golden peach. And he was tall. Properly tall, unlike most actors. She felt her insides actually dissolve.
“I’m a big fan. Huge fan.” replied Brad of the perfect full lips.
“Of?” teased Angelika, feeling herself being drawn ever closer to his remarkable body. She could feel his animal heat radiating from him and she could smell the subtle musk of his delicious skin. Angelika desperately wanted to take a bite out of him, but mercifully managed to control that particular impulse.
“You. You have to come home with me.” flirted Brad.
“You live here?” replied Angelika, enjoying the sensual touch of his fingertips which were delicately stroking the smooth naked skin that was exposed at the small of her back. Tom Ford really was a God-given genius.
Brad laughed and said, “I have no fucking idea where I'm staying.” Angelika found herself utterly hypnotized by his mouth.
“We have so much in common.” she flirted while thinking to herself, Christ I’m a slut!
“I sensed that.” And at that, Brad expertly leaned her back and kissed her. Oh my God, thought Angelika, this is probably the high point of my entire life. It is definitely going to be all downhill from here. Angelika and Brad eventually had to come up for air only to find that they were suddenly surrounded by hundreds of male and female party guests who were all staring at them, flinty-eyed with envy.
Angelika smiled sensually at Brad, “That was pretty close to being a perfect moment.”
He grinned and after delicately pulling her upright, responded, “Man...will I see you later?”
Angelika coolly replied, “The night is still young, my friend.” Brad smiled, bowed elegantly and then strode out of the VIP area, while sexily gazing over his shoulder at Angelika. Every woman in the place was now glaring, while sizing Angelika up and simultaneously deciding that she really wasn’t all that hot. Samantha approached and forced Angelika to face her, as Angelika’s eyes were still trailing Brad’s god-like physique through the magically parted crowd. He was like a modern-day Moses, she thought.
“OH..MY...GOD!” said Samantha, who’d never before been quite this impressed with Angelika. She was also just a teensy bit jealous, although that, she would never have admitted.
“I know...” mouthed a limp Angelika, who was still lost somewhere on a planet far, far away in post–Brad lust-shock.
At that, Shelly rushed over, a vodka cocktail in hand and squealed, “Darling, you've got to meet Herbie.”
But Angelika just stared at Shelly as if she were an alien being. After all, once one has seen the perfection that is Brad Pitt up close and personal, it’s very hard to ever look at an ordinary person quite the same way again. Or want to, for that matter. Angelika tried her best to concentrate and then eventually she replied, “This is all sounding horribly familiar...”
Shelly continued, talking a mile a minute. “Herbie Schuley? Everest Pictures? He was at the screening. He's THE guy in independent film, darling. And he absolutely loves you.”
“Then he must have truly appalling taste...” replied Angelika, suddenly remembering the abject horror that had been her film.
Shelly refused to listen, exhausted as she was by Angelika’s innate inability to blow her own horn, “Tush tush. As your manager, I demand you say hello.”
Angelika whispered to Shelly, “I warn you, Shel, I'm just a teensy bit wasted.”
Shelly covered her ears, said “I'm not listening” and then physically dragged Angelika in the direction of an immensely large, Mafia Don-type character who was seated in the roped off VIP banquette.
It was he, Herbie Schuley and he was the acknowledged king of independent film. This man could make or break a career with one snap of his fat, hairy, manicured fingers and here he was smiling broadly at a wide-eyed Angelika. Herbie stepped forward, said, “Angelika, hi, Herbie Schuley, Everest Pictures. I'm a big fan.” And then he engulfed her tiny hand in his enormous, sweaty paw.
“I'm so popular tonight.” said Angelika, who was uncharacteristically feeling herself the very height of cool. Brad must have rubbed off on me, she mused; in fact, the very thought of Brad rubbing off on her sent her once more into paroxysm of sexual abandonment.
Angelika was hopelessly distracted and so Shelly kicked her painfully on the shin and then said meaningfully, “Angelika...” while desperately batting her eyelashes at the great and omnipotent Mr. Schuley. He continued, extremely intrigued by this actress’ blatant lack of interest. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been quite so flagrantly ignored; it got his not inconsiderable juices flowing, big time.
“No, really,” he continued, “I thought in spite of the crushingly obvious post modern slash retro Film Noir aesthetic of ‘Lanterne’ you gave a truly authentic and touching performance.”
Angelika actually blushed at his praise and struggled without joy for a fitting response. “Wow. A speech. Thanks.” she managed to utter. Angelika could then sense Shelly’s stiletto heel inching once more within painful striking distance of her bruised shin.
Herbie smiled sincerely at Angelika and Shelly and said “I'd like you both to have lunch with me tomorrow, at the Hotel.”
“We’ll be there.” interrupted Shelly through her greedy thin lips; dollar signs were already wheeling in her eyes like those of a capitalistic cartoon character.
“We will? At the Hotel?” parroted Angelika unenthusiastically as she wasn’t sure if that was exactly what Brad might have had in mind. Maybe they could both go there together after a languid champagne breakfast in bed? Shelly smiled a brittle smile at Herbie and then she roughly grabbed Angelika’s delicate forearm.
“We will. C'mon Angelika.”
Suddenly Angelika found herself transfixed by Herbie's massive, extreme ugliness and she couldn’t stop herself from staring at his monstrously hideous face. His distended pores resembled the craters on the dark side of the moon and she could almost picture Yuri Gargarin stomping about in them. Talk about one extreme to the other, she thought, isn’t humanity endlessly fascinating in all its variegated shapes and sizes?
“You seem really nice, Herbie.” said Angelika sweetly, while Shelly looked like she was about to have a serious fucking meltdown.
Shelly announced as brightly as possible, “See you tomorrow, Herbie.” And then she dragged Angelika away, while whispering viciously, “Quit while you're ahead, Angelika.”
“Really looking forward to it,” boomed Herbie after them, “I see a big future for you with us, Angie.”
Angelika grinned, waved at Herbie and then she turned back to Shelly and said profoundly, “He seems really nice, Shelly. A really nice, real, sensitive,
real person. Rare. Real. Keeping it real.”
“Keep walking, Angelika.” spat Shelly through tightly clenched porcelain veneers. Her nail tips were digging roughly into Angelika’s highly susceptible arm flesh but Angelika wasn’t feeling any pain by now and she loved every delicious minute of it.
Angelika was beaming with an uncontrollable euphoria. She and Luke were in the epicenter of Le Casino’s sweltering dance floor surrounded on all sides by sweaty, ecstatic faces as thick smoke billowed around them, rendering the proceedings ever more surreal. ‘Always There’ by Incognito was playing and the soulful vocals were propelling them higher and higher. The ‘Raving’ stars had arrived by now and the energy at the party was electric. They were just four young Manchester lads really and all they wanted to do was party, so they’d ditched their fretting flacks in the VIP area and were grooving alongside Angelika and Luke who were without doubt the funkiest people present.
Angelika looked over to where Brad was making his way towards her through the crowd and she smiled invitingly at him. Then he started to dance close by which was, as it turned out, an unfortunate and fatal move. The god possessed no discernible rhythm at all and he was patently as lily-white as Middle America grows them. This had always been a deal-breaker as far as Angelika was concerned, as she held tight to the belief that if you can’t dance, then you probably can’t shag. Oh well. There had to be something wrong with him. She smiled indulgently and turned back to face Luke.
Angelika then closed her eyes and let the music transport her to places she hadn’t been in what seemed like a lifetime. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt this relaxed and free and she was relishing every second. The hideous screening was instantly forgotten and the vagaries of Hollywood were but a mere smoggy memory. Then Luke took her hand and hugged her and she felt joyously at one with everything.
Angelika opened her eyes and looked around herself in awe. All the visuals had now intensified, and the throbbing beat had become a multi-layered spidery thing, with ever deepening trance-y layers of deep bass and screaming, soulful gospel vocals. The once flat art installations were now pulsating with mutating, multicolored life forms and glittering wakes of incandescence followed her dancing, expressive hands; her fingernails trailed bright blue streaks of perfect, deep sea phosphorescence. Angelika stared at her hands and then she giggled, deeply amused by the image.
The DJ then teasingly mixed in the bass even louder. Yes, this Acid House thing was most definitely, unequivocally for her. Angelika looked over at Luke and shouted in all sincerity,
“Now I understand...” Luke grinned at her, he understood, too. The two new friends then hugged again, laughing.
“Fuzzy one!” shouted Luke and after kissing her amicably, they proceeded to dance like certifiable maniacs.
Suddenly, Angelika glanced up at the elevated dais where the DJ was spinning. Now there was something you didn’t see every day. This skinny, white boy could dance, in fact he was the grooviest thing Angelika had ever laid eyes upon. He was smiling widely revealing even, white teeth and his unbuttoned Helmut Lang shirt showed off his tanned, ripped stomach to lust-inducing perfection. His shining blue eyes met Angelika’s and then they stayed locked there.
Luke waved at the DJ, who gave him a cheeky grin and a thumbs up. Luke then turned to Angelika and screamed in her ear, “That's JC.”
“Jesus Christ!” replied Angelika, who couldn’t tear her eyes away from his. Now here was a religion that she could more than get her head around.
“He is risen!” yelled Luke. They both started to laugh like morons and to throw themselves even deeper into the groove. Suddenly, the guitar riff from Nirvana’s ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ pounded through the speakers at which point, Angelika completely lost it, shouting,
“Oh my fucking God!”
“I know! I am a guitar god! The spirit of Jimmy Page dwells deep within me!” screamed Luke, as they both launched into some funky air-guitar shit. Angelika looked up. JC was totally watching her and grooving on her vibe; he was so very, very sexy. She started giving her "guitar solo" some extra for his benefit and then everyone around her followed suit. It was madness. The place was peaking, everyone was singing along and then JC expertly mixed in ‘Gett Off’ by Prince.
Angelika stared open-mouthed at JC’s musical audacity and they shared a silent moment of mutual understanding. At that, Luke grabbed her by the hand and they both went thoroughly ballistic.