By Jessica Whitby
Perhaps your invitation to that exclusive party during the Toronto International Film Festival got lost in the mail.
Or maybe you’ve tried sneaking in by trying to convince security that you’re on the list only to be embarrassingly turned away. Either way, you’re not invited.
So, what goes on behind the heavily-secured doors at these celebrity-infested parties?
It’s not what you might expect. Somehow, I made it the Gucci party thrown for the film I Heart Huckabees starring Mark Wahlberg and Dustin Hoffman.
I notice the usual mix of producers, directors, aspiring actors, star-fuckers and photographers. Everyone here has been invited to the party for a reason: either they’re rich, or they’re sleeping with some sleazy actor or director. I bullshitted my way in. When you go to your first celebrity party, it feels like you’re back in elementary school.
The bouncers are the bullies, the producers are the cool rich kids, the starlets are the class sluts and the actresses are the beautiful girls who always ignored you.
You’re that geeky, spotty, slightly awkward kid with the glasses.
“It’s a dog-eat-dog industry. Most people could never survive. You have to have some sort of psychopathic tendencies to succeed in this business,” said one journalist, who wishes to remain nameless.
It’s impossible not to overhear people bragging about how much money they make or who they know.
A man close by mentions that he’s working on the next biggest screenplay while a woman with fake breasts and blinding platinum hair brags about her successful acting career.
“I wouldn’t get into the industry. No, definitely not. I wouldn’t want to be a photographer or a journalist. There is too much shit to deal with. Especially being a woman,” said a photographer at the party who also wishes to remain anonymous.
Admitting that you’re a student journalist at an exclusive event where everyone has this “I’m too-cool-for-school” attitude takes a lot of guts and self-confidence.
The minute I mention to someone that I’m a student, they suddenly have to go to washroom, or to get another drink, or happen to see someone across the room who they just have to talk to.
Don’t get me wrong. There are many perks to attending a celebrity party, like the free alcohol, ritzy gift bags and delicious food. Try not to look too excited about all the catered food and free martinis, you’ll look like an amateur.
Instead, follow the cool people and brush the servers off with a shrug of your hand if they come around to you. At most parties you’ll find me staring out the window, stuffing my face with hors d’oevres and watching fans being turned away by bouncers with inflated egos.
Just a few years ago I was like these people, wanting so badly to get inside, pleading with security to let me in.
Now, I’m on the other side of the rope and believe me, it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. I head to the bar and a man in his mid-twenties catches my eye. His name is Dave and he’s only been at the party for an hour, but he’s already depressed from all the obnoxious people.
Dave downs three glasses of wine before I finish my first martini. Jokingly, I suggest we tell people that we are a producer and a director. The alcohol is starting to get to Dave and at this point, it seems he might agree to anything.
For the next 45 minutes we schmooze (industry slang for bullshit) the room and tell everyone we’re in the business. No one seems the least bit interested.
An older, distinguished man introduces himself and begins bragging about how he brushed off Mark Wahlberg. He keeps ranting about celebrities’ big egos, looking past us as he speaks.
All I hear is, “blah, blah, blah.” I can tell that Dave thinks he’s a real asshole. Eventually Mr. Hot Shot Producer asks us what we do. “I’m a producer and he’s a director,” I say in my most convincing voice.
“Right… So, what have you produced?” he asks. I can’t think of an intriguing title. “Our latest movie is called Inside Lydia’s Asshole. We produce adult films,” Dave says matter-of-factly. I almost choke on my martini.
Mr. Hot Shot Producer doesn’t flinch, but only mumbles some sort of congratulations on our new film before excusing himself. It is getting late, so I decide to head home.
I take a last glance behind me to see who has arrived and who I’m leaving behind. The pretentiousness in the room seems to be rubbing off on me.
Before I make my final exit, the woman with the blinding platinum hair heads towards us. Apparently, she overheard someone mentioning that we were in the “industry.” Here, people only know you when you’re hot. Right, blah blah blah.