Monday, January 5, 2009

Festivus 2008

Once a year, an LA clan of unemployed actors, production assistants, delivery drivers seeking to become actors, part time make up artists, booth girls, advertising salesman, photographers, and a couple of ticked off writers gather for Festivus, the annual Christmas LA holiday party.

This year, Nefeesa is hosting Festivus. Nefeesa is striking, she was a former Miss Arizona, now she works the Hollywood circuit in advertising. She gets invited to all the cool parties, like the Halloween party at the Playboy mansion.

The best I can hope for is to get invited to Nefeesa's Festivus.

This year, the party has two rules. First, you have to bring a $20 gift for a white Santa exchange, second, no jeans. Nefeesa is very strict about this second rule.

I pick up Phil on the way to her place. This year he's decided to go raunch and gotten a pink vibrator. "A vibrator?" I ask.

"It's got 5 settings, and 25 different motions. I had the clerk at the Pleasure Chest show me."

"Seriously, a vibrator."

"Dude, 25 settings. The girls will love it."

"You sure that's not over the top?"

"TWENTY-FIVE settings! It's going to be a hit!

We make it to the party. Phil's brought along his tripod, picture taking is a huge part of Festivus. What good is a Hollywood Christmas party if you can't pose and brag about what a great time you had?

The moment we get there we begin setting up the camera, complete with umbrella and studio quality lights. The guests arrive, a mixture of fashion models and guys that stepped off the cover of GQ mixed in with more ordinary mortals like myself.

I meet an attractive young woman who studied at VCU. Seeking a connection I mention I grew up in Northern Virginia and applied to that school, but never went. She explains that most of the people in Richmond couldn't decide if she was black, or white, but finally settled on mulatto as Latino's are almost non-existent there. She works in advertising.

"You wouldn't believe what they have me doing!" she laughs. "I'm promoting Marvel comics online! Is that geeky or what? It's crazy! I have to read comic books all day."

I love comics. I decide to keep this bit of information to myself. "Sounds rough."

"We made all kinds of suggestions on how they could improve their website, but they are so afraid of change. They really take their comics seriously."

I'm not going to argue it. A non-geek just simply wouldn't understand.

Nefessa's boyfriend shows up, he's wearing jeans. "Nefeesa want's us to pose for a group photo."

I groan. Once the camera's come out the picture taking is non-stop. Last year we took hundreds of photos, this year we'll take 570. Nefeesa takes it upon herself to direct.

"Okay, everyone, act like your on the middle school year book committee!" People slump their shoulders, grin sheepishly...CLICK!

"Alright, now we're all in an 80's music video!" CLICK!

"Okay, I want you to act like you're the high school quarterback and you have to go on a date with a Freshman because your mom set you up!" CLICK!

The gift exchange interrupts. The rules are simple, once you either select a gift, or steal it from someone else if you like what they have. A gift can be stolen twice. If your gift is stolen, you can go select a new gift. There are gift cards, bottles of SKYE vodka and Jim Bean, a transvestite she/male porno, a gift basket full of wines and cheeses, an Indiana Jones Bull Whip, cans of floam, bottles of hand lotion, Godiva chocolate and a thumb wresting ring with places for two thumbs to "duke" it out, and of course Phil's vibrator.

It gets stolen twice.

I get a cocktail shaker. No one wants to steal it. I try to hide my disappointment. "Hey!" Sarah calls out, "that has great re-gift value. Give it to someone else."

After the exchange more photos are taken, an orgy of digital flashes flood the room, enough to start a mild epileptic seizure. It's a red carpet event minus the red carpet, no actor ever saw a camera they didn't like. I pose for a few, stare enviously at the Indiana Jones whip, thinking about how I could use that on my students.

Dan shows up, he's an actor, so he's one of the good looking people. He's wearing ripped jeans. I ask him where his girlfriend from last year is. He shakes his head. "Can't stand her." A moment later he whips out the SKYE vodka. "Let's have a drink."

I think that's a god damn good idea.

So ended Festivus, not with a bang, or a whimper, but a glass of coca-cola mixed with vodka.

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