Chateau Marmont, or "The Chateau" as it is commonly known, is an oasis of charm and history nestled in the hills just above Sunset Boulevard. I know that because that's what it says on their brochure. If you'd like to stay there, and you have a spare $3700, you can kick back in the two-bedroom penthouse. If that's too much to spend (keep in mind these rates are American dollars), you can laze in either a poolside bungalow for just $1800, or a simple room for $395. If you have seen the darkly comic 'Bring It On', you have never been able to look at cheerleaders in quite the same way again. That's all thanks to screenwriter Jessica Bendinger, a 43-year-old former model who also served as a writer and consultant for 'Sex and the City', Season 4. Bendinger has now released her first book, The Seven Rays. Last night, I was invited to the coming-of-age novel's launch at the swanky, legendary Chateau Marmont hotel on the Sunset Strip. Led Zeppelin drove motorcycles through its lobby. John Belushi died there. Keanu Reeves called it 'home' for a while.
Chateau Marmont, or "The Chateau" as it is commonly known, is an oasis of charm and history nestled in the hills just above Sunset Boulevard. I know that because that's what it says on their brochure. If you'd like to stay there, and you have a spare $3700, you can kick back in the two-bedroom penthouse. If that's too much to spend (keep in mind these rates are American dollars), you can laze in either a poolside bungalow for just $1800, or a simple room for $395.
I don't enjoy walking into The Chateau because there are usually paparazzi skulking around the hotel's driveway. If you are ever looking for a way to feel unimportant in Los Angeles, walk past a hungry flock of paparazzi. As you stroll by, they reach for their cameras, crane their necks and stare at you in an effort to figure out if you're famous. When they realize that you're not a celebrity, they drop their cameras, resume looking bored and say, "Don't worry. It's nobody." Thankfully, last night, there were no paparazzi to be found. They must have been in Palm Beach stalking Tiger Woods.
As I walked into The Chateau, I saw the basket of apples they keep at the concierge desk, which reminded me of when I lived in LA for 6 months in 1997 (before I moved back to Toronto for 10 years). My then-roommate was thrown out of The Chateau for taking an apple, because she was neither a hotel guest nor a guest of a hotel guest. Only the rich are entitled to eat for free in LA.
As I walked into the darkly-lit, elegant lobby, I was treated like a princess by the staff when I told them I was there for the book launch. When you attend fancy events in LA, you are often treated like royalty, because the staff figure that you might be famous, almost famous, have famous parents or that you might parent a child, one day, who will grow up to be famous.
I was the first one to arrive at the party due to my bad habit of showing up early in a city that thrives upon being fashionably late. I walked outside to look around the outdoor restaurant's grounds, where it costs five dollars for a Diet Coke. There were very important people (with their very important dogs) having very important food and very important meetings over very important drinks.
When I returned to the lobby, I was happy that the soiree had started. Jessica Bendinger arrived, all smiles. She was sweet, excited and gracious. Most of the guests were friends of hers. Plenty of people showed up, which is impressive. You never know who your real friends are in LA. If you invite people to your birthday party, you hope that someone lives close enough to the bar to want to show up to celebrate with you.
I walked around the cocktail party and enjoyed hors d'oeuvres, including mini-grilled cheese sandwiches and vegetarian spring rolls, and I chatted with some of the guests. I met a Russian singer/songwriter who remarked that, outside of a Barnes & Noble, you'd never see this many people in one room in LA who actually read books. I met a writer who was trying to figure out if he had slept with a woman who was standing close to us. He told me that if she looked at him with disdain, that he would be able to tell if he had 'been' with her. I asked him if knowing with whom he has slept is a usual problem for him.
Moving right along, I was given a copy of Jessica's book and she signed it for me. Aimed at the teen crowd, which is now commonly known in LA as the "'Twilight' demographic", 'The Seven Rays' is the story of Beth Michaels, a 17-year-old honours student who starts receiving mysterious gold envelopes containing messages like, "You are more than you think you are." Initially, Beth thinks she's being stalked by a crazy person. However, when she starts to be able to see people's thoughts, feelings and personal histories on their electromagnetic fields, Beth begins to think that she, herself, is the crazy person. When her concerned mother institutionalizes her, Beth learns of her supernatural powers and her mysterious adoption. Hell-bent on breaking out of the institution, with the help of the hottest boy in town who becomes infatuated with her after having kissed her, Beth embarks on a road trip to find out why all of this strangeness is happening to her.
With glowing praise from both spiritual guru and author Deepak Chopra ('The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success' and four million other similarly-themed books) and author Greg Behrendt ('He's Just Not That Into You') on the back of the book's jacket, the story's ending - which, incidentally, has 'sequel' written all over it - and the current flurry of attention from movie producers who want to turn the book into a film, 'The Seven Rays' could be the next big wave on the teen tide, once they finish sucking all the blood out of vampire stories.
I just checked my mail. All I received were bills from Time Warner, T-Mobile and the LA Department of Water and Power. No mysterious gold envelopes with special messages for me. Maybe tomorrow.
For more info on the book, check out the website.
You can also check out Jessica Bendinger's site.