Pretty sure I’ve mentioned this ad nauseam, but I’m not a regular at the hip joints around town. Don’t care about Sky Bar. I have no interest in Katsuya. Not a fan of Chateau Marmont. Basically any place that the dudes from Entourage might frequent.* I refuse to go anywhere that has a cover charge and/or I have to wait in line to enter and/or I won’t be able to make rent if I dine there. Ridiculous. However, my self-imposed quarantine isn’t so much about time or money. It’s about douchebags. I avoid these places because of the celebrity wannabes.

They’re everywhere… But I get it. I do live in Los Angeles after all. It’s the Holy Land for all those wanting to see themselves projected in pixel form on a screen of any kind. Let’s get something straight, though. I’m not talking about those folks who are seriously trying to make a living at their craft and eat, sleep and breathe acting. No, the people to whom I am referring are those who have OD’ed on one too many seasons of The Real World and now secretly – or not so secretly – want to have their own fifteen minutes of fame.

It’s pretty easy to spot them, male or female. Brows waxed. Hair highlighted. Skin spray-tanned. Usually decked out in bebe or Ed Hardy. However, this meticulous self-grooming isn’t the most obvious clue. It’s the searching eyes that are the dead giveaway. Those eyes that are forever darting from side to side no matter where they are or what they are doing, wondering if anyone will realize they are The Next Big Thing.

If you do what I do and perpetually ignore the Sunset Strip, you’ll have an easier time in avoiding these individuals. However, you can never truly escape them. I had this sad epiphany the other week while attending a taping of Last Comic Standing. Though having lived in California for nearly six years now, I’ve only gone to one show taping. It was for the sitcom Yes, Dear, and I have never felt the need to relive that particular horror ever again. The show itself wasn’t terrible, but I swear they held us captive for about two days to tape one twenty-two minute episode… Maybe it was closer to four hours, but every hour felt like twelve. FYI – I did break my vow of abstinence for one very special man: Conan O’Brien. Last fall, I went to a taping of The Tonight Show and have absolutely no regrets. I heart Coco.

But then I broke it again to see Last Comic Standing. Anyone who knows me knows that I also love to laugh, so I figured it would be a fun time with friends. Yet once there, I began to take note of just who else was showing up. First, the tourists. Those sweet folk who drive out from Middle America to take in the sights of La La Land. Most always attired in jeans, sneakers and a T-shirt from the Grand Canyon or Gettysburg or Cape Cod, they arrive with big smiles and big eyes. They too are on the look out. However, they’ve come not to be noticed, but to notice. They want to see everything and everyone – i.e. a (real) celebrity sighting or two so they can brag to friends back home.

Then there were the aforementioned wannabes. These peeps actually live in Los Angeles and I’m guessing have been to many show tapings, but they don’t care about what they’re watching. Rather, they’re desperately hoping that some producer will see them in the crowd and pluck them from a life of obscurity.

I just so happened to be sitting behind one of these individuals at the taping. She was tall and blonde and wearing a dress so tight that she had to forcefully pull it back down over her thighs every time the audience was asked to stand up and cheer. Granted, we all were told to wear formal attire, but this chick looked like she was working nights on the corner of Hollywood and Vine. Know what I mean, eh? (I’m calling her a prostitute – just so we’re all on the same page.) And when she wasn’t adjusting her dress, she was almost obsessively combing her fingers through her hair. I wanted to hit her. But then I’d be thrown out, and she probably would get her fleeting moment of glory. I could see it making the local news. “Tonight at eleven… A reality show gets a whole lot more real!” I refused to give her that satisfaction.

Look, I get the whole “wanting to be noticed” thing. In a world of almost seven billion, it’s damn hard to separate yourself from the crowd. And who doesn’t want to feel special? I’m not above that. However, I do draw the line at whoring myself out before noon on a Monday… But I could make an exception for Conan. If he ever saw me in the crowd, he would know that we were destined to be together. For-ever.

* The irony is not lost on me that although I do not frequent these establishments, I am still well aware of their existence. I can’t help it. It’s like LA smog – you try not to think about it, but you know it’s there. You also know it’s not good for your health, but you just keep your fingers crossed that it won’t take too many years off your life.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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