Honey Don’t Leave LA

Original Publication: New York Magazine, February 19, 1979

 . . . Twenty bizarre, but true, tales concerning the inhabitants of that kingdom of the blessed, Southern California . . . 

I was standing near the cashier’s booth of a Beverly Hills garage when suddenly an arm reached out and grabbed me. “How much do you want for that vest you’re wearing? It’s shearling, isn’t it?” I turned to find a gnomelike man wearing one tiny gold earring. “Pardon me?” “The vest,” he answered. “I’ll trade you my button for it.” He pointed to his belt, where he had a giant black-and-white button. It said: “Honey Don’t Leave L.A.”

“Get serious,” I said. “I am serious,” he answered and with one deft scoop, he reached into the manila envelope he was carrying and fished out a huge was of bills. “Who are you – some rock ‘n’ roller?” For a reply, he handed over his card, on brown butcher paper, engraved “William Richard Schaeffer. Since 1946.” “How much?” he demanded. “Well,” I said, “I got this in Paris. I’ve hardly worn it. If you want it, it’ll cost you $250.”

The gnome quickly peeled of five fifities. I took my vest off, handed it over, grabbed the money, and turned to leave. “Hey, wait a minute,” he called out. “Where are you going? What about that other vest you’re wearing? I’ll give you $200 for it.”

“Two hundred for this little corduroy thing?” I said. “What are you trying to do, anyway?” “I’m trying to talk you out of your clothes, baby.”


On the religion page of the Los Angeles Times, an ad for the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles: “Special Guest Speaker Gary Kurtz, Producer of Star Wars, will give a lectern editorial, ‘May The Force Be With You.’”


The director has never had a hit movie but he has managed to acquire twelve Porsches. He does not work out of an office, so when studio executives need him they call Jack’s Body Parts or the Maxfield Blue boutique, and generally find him. The director’s assistant spends his days delivering Porsches to him at various locations, then taking taxis back to pick up the car the director has become bored with and left behind. The director ususally changes Porsches three times a day. He does not like to spend the whole day in the same Porsche.


Hot young screenwriter to pretty girl at party: “I’ve got a gun now, and I’m seriously trying to decide whether to kill Michael Eisner, president of Paramount, or Lew Wasserman of MCA/Universal.”

PG: “Why?”

HYS: “Both their studios committed themselves to producing scripts of mine. Now they’ve backed down – and just look at the movies they’re making! At least mine are great scripts.” (Pause) “You know I’m madly in love with you, don’t you.”

PG: “No, we’ve just met.”

HYS: “God, can’t you tell? I’ve stayed with you an hour, haven’t I?”


Hot young screenwriter II to luncheon companion: “I’m in a very black mood. I’ve just come from my analyst. I may quit this business. Do you know Columbia turned down my script this morning, my brilliant script? They won’t let me direct.”

LC: “Well, if you want to direct so much, why don’t you go out and raise the money independently, take a chance?”

HYS II: “Oh I am. In the event I direct, I’ve instructed my agent to lower my fee by $200,000.”


Rule number one for success in Hollywood: You can be anything you think you are. David Begelman, for example, did not think he wa a crook. At the height of Begelmania – when the whole town was talking about the scandal of Begelman’s forging checks to himself with the studio’s money – Begelman entertained. He dined at Ma Maison, where the aromas of nouvelle cuisine are often overpowered by the odor of damp Astroturf, and he shopped on Rodeo Drive, at Cardin, Gucci, Hermes. The result? Nobody treated him like a crook and Begelman’s back dealing bigger than ever. 


Rule number two: Possess a persistant fantasy and will yourself into the role. Allan Carr knows that producing Grease – the biggest-grossing movie musical of all time – and discovering John Travolta are not enough. Now he’s orchestrating – for free – the publicity campaign of The Deer Hunter (“a semi-art pic”) and elevating himself to a higher level of filmmaking. “God knows,” he said, “if there’s two things in life I hate it’s Vietnam and poor people, but I love this movie.”


Dear Maureen, 

We would like to introduce you to The Art Garden, a unique gallery borne of the desire to combine exotic plants with art to create a total, living-art environment.

We have been developing the concept of The Art Garden over the past few years while creating and maintaining plant environments for such people as the Dorsos, the Lears, the Fondas, Tony Bill, Mark Rydell, Roger Miller, the DeNiros, and others. It is with their encouragement that we are expanding on this timely idea.


Roy Silver, of Roy’s Restaurant, and his partner, Ron, make it their business to be sensitive to their customers’ needs. For example, one night Roy spotted Verna Fields, the editor of Jaws, at a table. “Stop, Verna!” he cried. “Don’t order a thing. I have a special dish for you.” In a few minutes Roy came bustling back from the kitchen with a bowl full of unrecognizable fish. “Do you like it?” he asked. “Do you like it?” “Yes,” she said. “What is it?” “It’s shark, Verna! It’s shark!”


Henry Edwards, once a pop critic for AfterDark, wrote the screenplay for Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He has now has prospered enough to be able to afford Dr. Eugene Landy, the $3,000-a-week live-in shrink.

Dr. Landy goes everywhere with Henry, monitoring his karma. Then whenever Henry begins to slip back into neurotic behavior, Dr. Landry taps Henry on the shoulder and makes him repeat himself then and there, non-neurotically.

Dr. Landy became famous in Hollywood for treating the corpulent Beach Boy, Brian Wilson, who never left his bed for two years – even after it was surrounded by a sandpile to make him feel more secure. Dr. Landy got Brian Wilson to get up. Of course, one still sees the occasional buper sticker which says, Warning: I Brake for Brian Wilson.

“Dr. Landy’s going with me on my dates now,” Henry says.

I asked him what the girls think.

“Since I only date starlets,” he said, “it doesn’t matter. Most of them have already been out with guys who see Dr. Landy.”


The butler at a fashionable dinner party: “Would you care for any coke or grass? . . . No? Then would Madame care for any other dessert?”


The music mogul netted $6 million last year. When his girlfriend, a rock-‘n’-roll secretary, told him she was pregnant, he saw his lawyer first. (Ever since ex-old ladies started suing lovers who forced them to give up their promising careers as groupies, the men see their lawyers before the wedding.) His lawyer quickly drew up the standard agreement: If they broke up within a year she wouldn’t get anything. Her lawyer advised her not to sign. She didn’t. He was enraged. The day before the wedding he called her lawyer and screamed, “If she doesn’t sign, you can tell her the deal is off!” She signed.

After the wedding she refused to drive a secondhand Mercedes. He bought her a new one.


Wedding invitation: “Please join us for our wedding ceremony and celebrate with us at a disco party and outdoor barbecue. Cocktails at seven o’clock, ceremony seven-thirty sharp. No ties please! Jeans definitely! RSVP to Mark’s office.


The rock star, once major, lived in Malibu with his wife and three children. The wife, once vivacious and witty, had become, after a decade of being Mrs. Rock Star, slightly hysterical and somewhat tedious. He ignored her. Her best friend, an actress currently hot at the box office, advised divorce. He moved out and started sleeping with the actress. Suddenly the dream house the actress was building in the hills above Malibu mysteriously burned to the ground.

“Why did you do it?” a neighbor down the beach asked his wife, after a few snorts of coke. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the wife said. “I think I’ll go out and look for some rocks.”

A few months later the wife passed out in the neighbor’s bathroom while inhaling a mixture of heroin and angel dust with the son of a Beverly Hills garment tycoon. Her oldest daughter saw her being carted out to the emergency center on a stretcher. “Mommy was supposed to take us to see Star Wars tonight,” she said.


Interviewer: “What octave do you sing in?”

Cheryl Ladd: “I don’t know. When I sing it’s just totally organic.”


The woman with the best sex life in Malibu was Rebecca. Her husband gave her a face-lift for her fiftieth birthday. She was thrilled to be having it done but didn’t know where to recuperate. “I can’t come home,” she said. “Why not?” “I have to lie perfectly still in the bandages for ten days, and if Don sees me like that he thinks I’m all tied up, and he goes crazy.”


The major sighting on the Malibu Colony beach is Jerry Brown and Linda Ronstadt walking hand in hand. Even the stars stare at them. Linda once confided to a friend, however, “I wish sex were as good as a Snickers,”

People often compare the governor to his father – the ebullient ex-Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown. “When I was governor,” Pat Brown said one day, “it was fun to be governor. I built things – freeways, bridges, universities. All Jerry does is think small.

Jerry Brown is not universally liked but he is appreciated. “He’s an asshole,” said the head of a major studio, “but he’s our asshole.”


Last winter, when the tidal waves were threatening on one side and the mud slides on the other, the governor called in the National Guard to Malibu to help stranded millionaires. One surfer applied for federal diaster aid when the bush he slept under disappeared. The guard helped nail plywood to teahouses in danger of collapsing. One was later spray-painted with the only graffito to appear on the beach – the number of a limousine service.


Paul Williams is a Harvard-educated movie director whose 1963 thesis was titled “Expressed Body Positions in the Male/Female Encounter.” “I never had any trouble adjusting to the California rhythm,” he said. “Maybe it’s because before I drove out here in 1971 I stopped off in Washington at the National Institute of Health to take some experimental drugs. I found out later that everyone who had taken one of the drugs fell in love with the first person he met afterward. So I drove out and went straight to my friend Jennifer Salt’s house. She wasn’t home, but Margot Kidder came to the door.”

“What happened?”

“It wore off in two or three months.”


Outside Schwab’s drugstore a demented man was screaming “I hate show business! I hate show business because you have to show off all the time!” Nobody paid any attention.


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