Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
The celebrities strolled the red carpet, the cameras flashed, television reporters waited with their microphones and the crowd shrieked, holding cell phone cameras aloft and straining against the barrier.
And thus a hot dog stand opened on the Las Vegas Strip.
Oh, how the glamorous have fallen.
Three years ago, even only two years ago, it seemed you couldn’t throw a $300 bottle of table service vodka on the Strip without hitting some castaway from Planet Fame. (Alas, no one tried.)
It seemed every week in Las Vegas had its own semi-star-studded opening. At the top, there were genuinely A-list famous people opening festivals, award shows and new casinos. Mixed in with the A’s and often opening restaurants, you had people from the B list. Below even them were the C and D listers, the parasites of the celebrity food chain, hosting at night clubs and, more amazingly, getting paid to do so. So it’s a measure of how bad things have gotten that it looks like the big opening this September is a hot dog stand at Planet Hollywood. True, it’s the first franchise of L.A.’s beloved Pink’s, where the dog menu starts at $4.50 and tops out at $8.50. (They’re cheaper in L.A.)
So what does glamour look like in our autumn of diminished expectations?
Well, if you were in the crowd of maybe a 100 or so people outside, on spotting a head of blond hair emerging onto the far end of the red carpet, you might shout, “There she is! Holly!”
The hair belonged to local drag queen Frank Marino, who is, among other things, taller than Madison.
The real Madison lived up to her reputation as game and eager to please, even finding time for a startlingly intense woman who wanted to give Madison a badly printed and creased picture of herself with Madison.
Then there was Kardashian, who is famous for reasons that have never been adequately explained. She looks like a magazine cover, most eerily in the gaze of queenly love she bestows on every camera. Those looks are extremely rare in photo shoots, in which subjects are usually giggling or looking gassy. To see someone wear that countenance as her permanent expression is to realize that while most people spend their 20s becoming ever more aware of other people, slowly realizing that they are not the star of “Life: The Movie,” a very few people learn something different. Walking, smiling, eating a hot dog — all of these are activities that you can receive love for. You don’t even have to do anything special or extraordinary.
Otherwise, why would all these people have their cameras out?
Kardashian’s handlers had to pull her away from the crowd.
At the other end of the scale were the owners of the original Pink’s, all of whom walked the red carpet and then came back out to gawk and take pictures of other people walking the red carpet.
But before we lament our lost days of red carpet glory, maybe it’s worth asking what we got out of those nights of (often rented) celebrity. Mostly, we got a lot of nightclubs we couldn’t afford to drink in.
At the end of this carpet, there will be really good hot dogs.