Saturday, January 9, 2010

To Botox or not to Botox?

Today, Hollywood’s most hidden vice isn’t drug abuse—it’s Botox. Practically every week, the tabs have a story on how some star’s admitted going to rehab to kick one substance or another, but you ever see an actress admitting her addiction to Botox. Hardly any of them will admit to ever using it at all, even if their faces haven’t moved in five years.

One would think that having an expressive face would be a major asset for an actress, and it the past that was true. But those expressions of emotion have a nasty habit of carving minute crevices into your face, and over time—like between ages 20 and 50—those little lines have a way of adding up.

For decades, the only option for getting rid of those pesky signs of age was drastic, expensive, invasive plastic surgery requiring weeks of recovery. But in the last few years, medical science has developed newer, sneakier ways to hide the ravages of age. The most popular is Botox, which was approved by the FDA in 2002.

What exactly is Botox? According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons®, “The cosmetic form of botulinum toxin, often referred to by its product name BOTOX®, is a popular non-surgical injection that temporarily reduces or eliminates frown lines, forehead creases, crows feet near the eyes and thick bands in the neck. The toxin blocks the nerve impulses, temporarily paralyzing the muscles that cause wrinkles while giving the skin a smoother, more refreshed appearance.”

Sounds like a less painful alternative to going under the knife, right? But the long-term results being seen on some faces are, well, not pretty. Fleetwood Mac’s 60-year-old Stevie Nix told WWD, “I had Botox and I hated it. For four long months, I looked like a different person. It almost brought down the whole production of the last tour. It was so bad, I would look into the mirror and burst into tears.

“Botox is becoming the new face of beauty and it’s unfortunate because it makes everybody look like Satan’s children. Everybody has pointed eyebrows. Everybody looks related. All the Desperate Housewives look like sisters. If you’re an unattractive girl who’s trying to be beautiful with Botox, forget it. If you are a beautiful girl who’s trying to be beautiful with Botox, you will look like you’re angry all the time. You’d have to tie me down to get me to do it again.”

Leave it to a rocker chick to tell it like it is. But for every Stevie who says “no” to Botox, there are dozens of actresses as young as 30 have made it part of their regular beauty routine, like getting facials or having your roots touched up. Some of them even admit it—just a little, though. Just like nobody’s going to admit to slugging down a quart of Jack every day, at least not as long as they’re still slugging it, no actress will own up to everything she’s using or how often she’s using it.

Most of the actresses who have owned up to going under the needle are TV stars. 36 year-old former 90210 actress Jennie Garth admitted to People that she used Botox, “in the slightest amount. I don’t want my face to change.” 36-year-old former Playmate Jenny McCarthy told the mag a similar tale, saying, “I believe in just a little bit. It allows you to keep that mobility in your face. It’s a great little secret.” TV series actresses Brooke Shields, Courteney Cox Arquette and Vanessa Williams have also revealed they imbibe—just a little.

So, is the Botox stigma a part of the past? In her article "Botox Confessions" for People magazine, Charlotte Triggs states, “Celebrity doctors in Los Angeles and New York City estimate that, based on their experience, as many as 75 percent of stars over the age of 35 get injected.”

So what’s the cumulative effect of all this face freezing on Hollywood? In his article for the UK Independent titled “Botox is destroying Hollywood stars’ ability to act,” award-winning journalist and playwright Johann Hari observed, “…This Botox-bind leaves actresses who are hitting the Hollywood-elderly of 40 in a cruel position. If they refuse to have the face done, they can’t get cast. But if they have the face done, they can’t act. They are trapped by our creepy desire to have any sign of ageing banished from our sight lines, even on the cinema screen.

“Alfred Hitchcock once said, ‘The greatest special effect is a close-up of the human face.’ Botox has stripped this effect from the movies – and left our films frozen.”

Rachael Lloyd discusses “Botox backlash” in her article “Botox-bingers” for the UK Daily Mail. “A-list stars such as Meg Ryan and Priscilla Presley have suspiciously crease-free faces. And, let’s not even go there with the likes of the ghoulish-looking Cher, Joan Rivers and Dolly Parton.

“Facial features which were once plump and yes - even a touch lined in some cases - appear too taut, too ironed and too hard. ‘People stare at images and footage of some A-listers for all the wrong reasons,’ says LA-based casting agent Alecia Whitby. ‘They have unwittingly given themselves a rather eerie, waxwork look with unusually smooth foreheads and skin around the eyes that barely creases when they smile. ‘The more obvious Botox addicts look like something out of a horror movie - their faces frozen in time.’”

OK, too much Botox can make you look like a freak, but the alternative is looking your age. Is it any surprise three out of four actresses choose to go for the Botox?

There is one A-lister whose Botox abuse is so obvious that she deserves her own chapter, but she’s been dissed so often on the subject, I’ll keep it short. Meet the Botox Queen of Denial—Nicole Kidman.

When Kidman first caught the attention of U.S. film audiences about 20 years ago, she was an adorable redhead with freckles and a charmingly natural charm. Now she’s a smooth-skinned, smooth-haired blonde whose features bear little resemblance to the ones she was born with. More alarmingly, her face is as immobile as a wax dummy. Kidman must think her new look is ravishingly lovely, because she keeps doing it, last year adding a trout pout to her already unnatural beauty.

The most bizarre part of Kidman’s obvious fondness for having things pumped into her face is the way she denies doing any of it. When an interviewer for Marie Claire magazine asked the actress about her use of Botox, she replied, “No, anybody can do anything to themselves, their bodies. I have no judgment on it. I personally believe in physical health because of the way I was raised. I can’t go in the sun; I’m fair skinned. That was a nightmare when I was a kid, but it has some benefits now. It’s that simple. I still had one skin cancer on my leg, because I put my legs in the sun.”

Not surprisingly, quite a few have trouble believing Kidman’s denials. Reality star Sharon Osbourne slammed actresses who deny Botox use on the E! Network talk show "Chelsea Lately." ”Oh my God, those liars, I hate them, those bitches. They go, ‘Oh no, I wouldn’t do anything,’ meanwhile, they’re eyebrows are here. [gestures forehead Nicole Kidman’s forehead looks like a fucking flatscreen TV - how big is that forehead?”

Also less than charitable was 65-year-old former Bond girl Britt Ekland, who said of Kidman, “It’s fatal when actresses use Botox. I remember seeing Cold Mountain, and it really looked to me like Nicole Kidman had been using it. Her face was neither sad nor glad - nor anything, she was just like a painted doll. I thought: ‘Why would she do that?’”

Dr. Martin Braun, who presides over the biggest Botox clinic in Canada, was quoted by the UK Daily Mail on Kidman, “She looks like a bat with too much of an (outer) brow lift. The middle of the brow’s been dropped. She’s crying when she accepts her Oscar, but nothing is moving.

“That’s really doing nothing to help our job because we’ve got women coming to us saying: ‘That’s what we don’t want to look like.’”

Meow! Kidman did seem to take a break from the needle while pregnant with daughter Sunday Rose, born in July 2008. Reviews of the results were generally positive. Plastic surgeon Tony Youn blogged, “Could it be that she had to quit Botox while she is pregnant? I think so. Botox injections can give a person what I call the ‘Botox brow.’ It is an overarching of the eyebrows that can give a somewhat sinister look. Botox does tend to wear off after 3-4 months, and [a recent photo] may be what Nicole looks like au naturel.”

Alas, the natural look didn’t last long, and Kidman’s post-baby appearances to promote her film Australia showed the usual immobile forehead, plus obviously fuller lips. Restylane, anyone?

So has this quest for eternal youth allowed Kidman to stay at the top of her A-list game? Not really, since her last few films have bombed, including the big-budget epic Australia. As I write this, the only roles she’s signed to do are ensemble films with all-star casts. She’s proven her acting chops in earlier roles, back when her face still moved. I really wish she’d retire to her farm in Nashville for a year or two, let her face go back to normal, and come back to compete with international actresses for the kind of parts Katherine Hepburn used to play. I can dream, can’t I?

The alternative isn’t pretty. The L.A Times blog “All the Rage” commented, “By not allowing herself to age an iota, Kidman has trapped her face in amber and the results are both frightening and depressing. It’s the Norma Desmond syndrome and we all know how that story ends.”

Saturday, September 12, 2009

This club is so hot, nobody can get in.

You can always tell how trendy a club is by the number of boldface names have been seen there recently. If a club’s hot, you’re bound to have heard of Paris, Lindsay and at least one Kardashian hanging out there. And some purveyor of overpriced vodka flavored with a weird fruit has chosen this venue for a PR party. Another dead giveaway is the imposing bouncer/doorman out front, keeping the hoi polloi safely behind the velvet rope, while the latest cable network reality star is ushered in.
If you’re judged to be cool enough, or toss the doorman a big tip, venture inside to breathe deeply of the hipness. Or whatever that funny smell is, wafting in from the patio. Make your first stop the bar, where you can wait until an unemployed actor posing as a bartender deigns to serve you a $12 vodka martini. If you’re lucky and he’s in a good mood, it may even have some vodka in it.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The 10 Most Worthless Celebs of 2009

I’m skipping the overexposed acts like Britney, Miley, Madonna etc., who actually work. These played-out losers can’t sell tickets, or much of anything else. If they all disappeared tomorrow, no one would miss them.

1. Speidi
The Hills mediahos Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag have managed to keep themselves in the spotlight way after their 15 minutes should be up. What’s next—the sex tape, The 911 call for domestic violence, or the “trial separation?”

2. Paris Hilton
She’s been the ultimate famous-for-nothing celeb for years now, and never gets any more interesting. She goes shopping, she poses for photos, repeat.

3.The Hulk Hogan Family
These inbred morons give white trash a bad name. They manage to make usually juicy subjects like infidelity, jail time, dating teenagers and pole dancing boring.

4. Pamela Anderson
She looked good in a swimsuit on TV about 20 years ago, but hasn’t done anything since to distract us from how badly she’s aging.

5. Lindsay Lohan
It’s hard to remember when she actually had a career, since she allowed her personal life to be the only drama that makes news.

6. Jessica Simpson
Has anyone else flopped so badly at so many things? After pop music, country music, acting and marriage, what’s left for her to fail at?

7. David Hasselhoff
Another Baywatch alum who only gets his name in the news when he makes a fool of himself drinking. His next "career move" will be a rehab reality show.

8. Danny Bonaduce
Yeah, he was a cute little kid on The Partridge Family, but his shelf life was over about 30 years ago.

9. Janice Dickinson
Another has-been who should have been put out to pasture a couple of decades ago, before she could embarrass herself any more.

10.Any celebuspawn on a reality show
Kim Kardashian, Brody Jenner, Sean Stewart, etc. When did just being born make you talented?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Perfect Shoe for the Working Woman…

If she’s working a pole, that is. I was doing a little discount shoe shopping at when I came across these elegant Lucite heels with a very special feature—a drawer for tips. Hey, that makes perfect sense. When you’re twirling around a pole buck nekked, where are you supposed to stash those little tokens of appreciation from customers? (Yeah, I can think of one place right off, but don’t really want to go there.)

So what could be more practical than a pair of shoes that not only enhance your sexy image but provide a convenient (and hygienic) place to stash you evening’s earnings? At only $20 or so, these Lucite beauties are not only practical, they may be eligible as deductions on your taxes next year, along with those new boobs.

In a sadly failing economy, stripping seems like a recession-proof career. I mean, you keep hearing about bookstores and record shops going under but you never hear about a strip bar closing unless it’s in some Bible-belt town down South where the local holy-rollers burn it down.

Even if you haven’t given in to pole dancing and are still trying to pass yourself off as a model/actress/reality star/whatever, they might come in handy as you’re trying to pick up a date/trick at the Hollywood bar du jour. Brooke Hogan, grab a pair before they’re all gone.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Old Movie Stars Didn’t Have More Class (They Just Didn’t Get Caught)

It seems like every time some poster has a beef with Nicole Kidman or Angelina or any other current leading lady type, they bring up stars from the past as having more “class.” They seem to think these screen stars from the past led exemplary lives compared to these overexposed tarts in films today. Three of the ladies most mentioned as classier-than-thou are Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn.

What are they, nuts? Either these posters have very short memories or can’t read because these three stars never met a married co-star they didn’t like. Monroe blatantly slept her way to the top while Kelly had to do some serious covering-up of her past in order to marry royalty. I love them and their films, but that’s “class?”

These na├»ve folks who think celeb decadence is a recent phenom need a course in Hollywood History 101. First assignment: read “Hollywood Babylon.” The first one. I found a paperback copy of this when I was in high school in Montgomery, Alabama, and it changed my whole life. Well, at least it inspired me to move to Hollywood and look for a little “decadence” of my own.

The main thing you learn from reading this scholarly tome is that film stars have been drinking, drugging and fucking like minks as long as there have been films. Some of those silent film characters make Lindsay Lohan look like Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm.

My favorite silent-era sinner is Charlie Chaplin. Yeah, he was a genius and all that but the good stuff involved his taste for San Quentin quail. Charlie was a chicken hawk who never let a starlet’s tender age prevent him from getting into her pants. My current Hollywood crib is a short walk from Charlie’s old studio and was allegedly built by him for the studio’s players. I could so see ole Charlie stashing an underage mistress or two here and sneaking over for a quickie. Back then, he would have gotten away with it because there were no camera phones, no internet and no Perez Hilton.

Can you imagine a mogul trying to pull of something like that today? Two of the neighbors and a half-dozen studio employees would be texting the hot details of the assignation to Perez while a TMZ film crew and a van from Access Hollywood would be parked on the street with cameras.

What if the patrons had camera phones with internet access back in the old days of the Mogambo and Trocadero? Well, they didn’t so a lot of secrets will remain just that – secrets. Marilyn, Audrey and Grace – be glad your pasts died with you. Lindsay, Britney, Miley and Jessica – be very careful. The days when a star had any privacy are long gone.

The Kids are All Right (No Matter What You Name Them)

You know it’s a dull day in Gossipville when a celeb names his/her new baby something more original than Bobby or Mary and a blogger gets so upset you’d think the kid was his. The latest oddly-monikered celebuspawn is Gwen Stefani & Gavin Rossdale’s new son Zuma Nesta Rock. Other recent kid names drawing heat are Pilot Inspektor (Jason Lee’s son), Apple and Moses (Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin), Banjo (Rachel Griffiths), Sunday Rose (Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban), Alabama Gypsy Rose (Drea De Matteo and Shooter Jennings) and Kal-el (Nicolas Cage).

I recall getting a press release back in 1992 announcing the birth of a baby girl named Destiny Hope Cyrus to singer Billy Ray Cyrus and then-girlfriend-now-wife Leticia. My first thought was “She’s gonna hate you.” But the exceptionally amiable toddler was soon nicked “Smiley” which morphed into “Miley.” This year 15-year-old Miley officially left Destiny Hope behind by legally changing it to the more manageable Miley Raye Cyrus. Some of these kids are likely to make similar choices down the line.

Some of the most-derided names belong to famous kids who seem to have grown up OK, like Chastity Bono, Zowie Bowie (now known as Joe) and Frank Zappa’s kids Diva, Dweezil, Ahmet and Moon Unit. I don’t notice unusually-named kids making the news by going to jail or rehab more often than the ones with duller handles like Nick Hogan.

By the time these kids hit first grade they’ll be known by their nicks anyway and the only person at school who’ll be seeing their birth names will be some old broad in the records office who probably named her kids Sunshine, Rainbo and Che. Their classmates are more likely to be named Sunday, Suri and Shiloh than Susie or John.
Sometimes I wish I had a more unusual name after being one of six Lindas in my elementary school class, which also had five Cathys. Our teachers tried calling us Linda B., Linda C., etc., but even that didn’t work so well since the presence of a girl named Linda Gail Canterbury forced them to call us Linda Faye and Linda Gail. I’ll bet Zuma and Banjo won’t have that problem.

I’ve always liked Moon Zappa’s rejoinder to a classmate who asked her “Why did your parents name you Moon?” She countered, “Why did yours name you Cathy?

Friday, August 15, 2008

How to Eat Like Po' White Trash

I was strolling the virtual grocery aisles of tonight putting together a grocery order for delivery tomorrow. Yeah, I’m lazy. I was checking out the canned goods and ran across the heading for beans. One was “Pork and Beans.” I thought, “They still make this stuff?” Van Camps Pork and Beans was a staple at my house growing up that I had long forgotten because I haven’t eaten any in years.

There are a few special delicacies my folks raised me on back in Alabama that I gave up when I got old enough to read labels and see whatthehell it was I was eating. I realize now that these “foods” appealed to my folks’ Depression-era sensibilities because they’re all really cheap. You can also eat most of them straight out of the can or on a Ritz cracker – the only kind we had at home. I may get nostalgic for this stuff but I have no desire to eat any of it. I can get my daily quota of salt and fat without eating cat food disguised as “meat.”

Those Van Camp’s Pork and Beans were probably the healthiest of the bunch if not the most tasty. You can buy a 15 Oz. can at Vons for just over a dollar and make three meals out of it with only 1 gram of fat and no cholesterol. Be sure to serve some fried bologna with your Pork and Beans to relive those happy memories of being in jail in Biloxi, MS.

One step up from plain ol’ Pork and Beans is another meal-in-a-can from Van Camp’s called Beanee Weenee, which not surprisingly consists of beans with pieces of chopped weiners. Eat these for a few days and ramen soup from the 99 Cents store will taste like a gourmet treat.

Moving down the food chain, we come to the All-American lunch meat – Spam. Vons sells a 12 Oz. can of Spam for $3.25 and each serving contains 16 grams of fat and 790 mg. of sodium. That doesn’t count the Wonder Bread and Hellman’s mayo you need to cover the taste of the Spam. Be sure to wash off that ham-flavored Jello first.

The next sort-of meat from my childhood was Armour Vienna Sausage. Not to be confused with real sausage. A 5 Oz. can costs a whopping $.60 and three sausages have 11 grams of fat. The ingredients as listed by the label include Mechanically Separated Chicken, Water, Beef, Pork, Salt, Corn Syrup, Less than 2% of Mustard, Spices, Natural Flavorings, Dried Garlic, Sodium Nitrite. Yummy! My folks kept these in the cabinet all the time so I could have some whenever I wanted. If I had kids (which I don’t) and put a can of these in his/her lunch box, how fast do you think CPS would be circling my house with bullhorns? But since back then they also put Coca-Cola (the real thing) in our baby bottles, we already had cast-iron stomachs by the time we could chew.

One step down from Vienna Sausage is Potted Meat. Not surprisingly, Vons doesn’t stock any potted meat but if you really have a jones for it, will sell you a case of 48 cans of Armour Potted Meat for $19.69. This is obviously a real bargain since “potted meat product” consists of Mechanically Separated Chicken, Beef Tripe, Water, Salt, Salt Less than 2% of Mustard, Natural Flavorings, Dried Garlic, Vinegar, Dextrose, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite. Let’s face it – this sort-of meat pate is Friskies Mixed Grill for humans. Be sure to stir in a little pickle relish before you plop it on that Ritz cracker.

I confess to actually eating the previous dubious delights when I was a kid but it gets worse. There were things my dad would eat that I haven’t touched to this day. That’s saying a lot since if you drag it out of the ocean and it isn’t actually still moving, I’ll probably try it.

Next up are canned sardines, with which my dad smelled up the kitchen frequently. Vons has Chicken Of The Sea Smoked Sardines In Oil - 3.75 Oz. for $1.00 a can. They have 13 grams of fat and I would rather slurp down an oyster that’s quivering and staring at me. Especially if there’s Tabasco sauce, horseradish and a lot of cold beer involved.

I’ve saved the worst for last. My dad loved a uniquely Southern dish called Brains and Eggs. Most folks like this for breakfast but he’d eat it anytime. North Carolina Congressman Howard Coble
shared his recipe for this delicacy:

2-1/2 Tablespoons bacon grease 

4 eggs 

1/3 cup whole milk 

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

1/4 teaspoon salt 

1 can (5 Oz.) pork brains in gravy (Rose Brand preferred) 

Melt bacon grease in an iron skillet on low heat. Add pork brains to heated grease. Stir with a fork. Add salt and pepper and stir. Whisk eggs and milk together. Increase heat and add egg mixture to brains. Scramble to desired consistency. Serve immediately over toast.

Predictably, Vons doesn’t sell pork brains but I found a site where you can buy Rose’s Pork Brains with gravy, 5 oz. for $2.54. One can, which is about 2/3 cup, has only 150 calories and 5 grams of fat but has 3,500 mg of cholesterol or 1,170% of your daily recommended intake. Bon appetite.

My parents both lived to ripe old ages. I have no idea why.