Walking the Red Carpet
by Jo Barrett
I’m admitting something here, and I don’t want it to come back to haunt me. Like, I don’t want people coming up to me and saying, “You’re old news, lady.”
Okay, here it goes …
I had my fifteen minutes of fame. There, I said it. The limelight, I’m afraid, has faded into pale limey-ness.
I’m disappointed for a few main reasons:
Number One: I imagined my fifteen minutes to be so much glitzier. I wanted to feel like Victoria Beckham when she landed in Los Angeles with dreamy David and sauntered off the plane in the tight mod dress and the big sunglasses. I wanted to be invited to a “Sushi and Scientology Sunday Night Dinner!” with Tom, Katie, and Suri Cruise. I wanted to be on the “Today Show,” or at the very least, “Top Chef.”
Number Two: And this is the big one, folks. I didn’t realize it was my fifteen minutes, until it was over. You can’t rewind fifteen minutes of fame. It just happens, and then the clock strikes minute number sixteen, and you’re done—zapped of all Angelina Jolie-ishness.
Number Three: My fifteen minutes wasn’t that great. I felt as if I’d been invited to the Oscars, but not the Vanity Fair after-party. Or, to put it differently, like I’d been to the best steakhouse in town, and had bad shrimp cocktail. Sadly, my fifteen minutes passed with a whimper, not a bang.
I traveled to Los Angeles, where I had the pleasure of walking the red carpet at some fundraising event. All I know about the charity is many A-List stars support it and the dinner includes chicken, and fish, and a vegetarian option. People will do stuff on the stage, like auction off lunch with Paris Hilton (can you stand it!) and there is singing and dancing, and general preening and strutting around.
Before the event begins, there’s a red carpet walk with photographers crowded around on each side. They shout out stars’ names to get their attention, and the entire thing takes place in this colorful, circus-tent like atmosphere. The big name stars, like the Will Smith’s and Brad Pitt’s, walk the carpet oozing casualness, as if they’re simply walking down a sidewalk in Portland, Oregon or something. Their body language and attitude brim with this impressive, laissez-faire, it ain’t no big thing, type of nonchalance.
Meanwhile, I’m invited to lag behind some of the A-listers on the red carpet, because I have a new book out, and my publisher wants me to be the next Candace Bushnell. (Which is a lot of pressure, by the way.)
The event is indoors, which is strange for Los Angeles, but people are still wearing big sunglasses as if they are tanning on Waikiki Beach.
Oh, if only I’d worn big sunglasses. What a difference it would’ve made. Instead, I’m wearing a short aqua-colored Cesar Galindo dress and diamonds gifted to me from Bulgari.
I’m in a blue dress I bought on sale at Nordstrom’s and rhinestones, baby. But you really can’t tell the difference, I swear.
The publicist in charge of the red carpet rushes up to me wearing one of those imposing black headsets.
“WHO ARE YOU?” she shouts in my face, because everyone shouts at these things.
“Don’t you know?” I ask, crossing my arms defiantly over my chest. “I’m Jo Barrett. The novelist.”
She looks at me and blinks a few times, then flips through the pages of her clipboard. “Jo Barrett … Jo Barrett … novelist … novelist … I don’t have you down,” she says, cutting me with her knife-like smile.
“Oh,” I say, stepping off the red carpet. “Okay. I guess I’ll just walk around.” Apparently, someone in publicity has dropped the ball, and now I’m forced to do this walk of shame around the entire group of photographers who were staring at me, and waiting for my turn.
“Oh wait! Here you are!” shouts publicity girl, grabbing me by the elbow. Then, like Moses parting the Red Sea, she whisks back the red velvet rope and allows me to pass. I hear her speaking these fabulous words into her microphone: “Jo Barrett, the novelist. It’s Jo Barrett, the novelist.”
Stepping onto the red carpet, I expect people shouting my name, the click and flash and bright white flood lights of cameras trained on me, and of course, requests for my autograph.
But as I step into the first few feet of red carpet, it seems like the photographers decide to change their film all at once. I promise, you can hear a pin drop. What had once been shouts of, “Lindsay, over here! Meryl, look this way! Renee, we love you!” becomes sucked into a silent red carpet vacuum void.
I walk quickly, my face flushing in dismay. If you can imagine a woman hustling down the red carpet at top speed, as if her ass is on fire, this is what I look like.
When I reach the end of the carpet, one of the photographers takes pity on me. “Jo Barrett, over here!” he shouts.
I pivot around and flash him a dazzling smile. He clicks my photo, and looks at me the same way the vet looks at a wounded dog.
“Thank you,” I mouth to him. Then I do something zany. I shake my shoulders as if I’m salsa dancing, hike up my dress a little, and flash him some thigh.
“Get a load of this!” I say, as if I’m Zelda Fitzgerald and could pull off burlesque.
The other photographers raise their cameras for a split second, but then Paula Abdul hits the carpet and steals my thunder.
Damn, that Paula Abdul.