Hollywood in Houston?
Houston's much-publicized All-Star Weekend it's our fair city's big chance to play host to a who's-who of rich and famous celebrities. Elaborate and expensive All-Star-related parties are happening all over, mostly at clubs newly minted enough to avoid that not-so-fresh feeling.
One such newbie is Hue, which is hosting the "Celebrity All-Star Weekend," sponsored by none other than the Houston Press and featuring music from high-profile decknicians such as DJ Skribble and DJ AM. Tonight I'll be checking out AM. Not so much a celebrity per se as a celebrity-canoodler, AM has received much tabloid ink since dating Simple Life star and daughter of Mr. Say-You-Say-Me, Nicole Richie. According to AM's extensive rsum, the man has indeed spun high-profile movie premieres as well as birthday and engagement parties for the youngest, hottest Hollywood big shots. With so many celebs in town to check out the All-Star Game on Sunday, there's bound to be a few of them at AM's gig, right? Seems reasonable.
Now, finding yourself among the rich and famous can be a little daunting, especially if you're none of the above. Much planning and preparation goes into wearing the right clothes, fixing your hair just right, and arriving with the right attitude (i.e., you own the fucking place). So, yeah, before my lady and I hit Hue, I'm forced to go shopping for some new clothes, seeing as my "dressiest" duds are just above the casual line. Hell, I don't even own leather dress shoes a well-known prerequisite for looking like a million bucks. One mega-mall, two strip malls, and three hours later, I have a complete ensemble gray-and-brown striped sweater, tight black pants, a baby-blue button-up, and gray pinstripe Converse All-Stars. Bam! I haven't looked this good since prom (where I also wore Converse. Double Bam!).
We head out into the absurdly cold Houston night at ten, perhaps a bit early to be "fashionably late," but we do actually want to get into the club. We glide past a number of intended attendees, still in their cars putting on the last touches of makeup. We traipse up the requisite red carpet (this is the Celebrity All-Star Weekend, after all), where we wait dutifully for the doorman to get off his cell phone. After crossing my name off "the list" he checks our IDs and sends us inside, where we are promptly stopped by a woman sitting behind a table with a little cash box. "Do you have tickets?" she asks.
I explain all about my all-important presence on "the list," but she remains unmoved.
"You can't get in without a ticket or paying the $60 cover."
Perrrrrrrfect. I only have $20 cash. After ten minutes of frantic calls and feeling like a dog left on the back porch on a cold winter day, I spy my publisher, who casually tosses two tickets in my direction. We're in, bloodied but unbowed.
Once past the cashier-gargoyle, we find ourselves accosted by people and sounds all too familiar to anyone who has ever spent a weekend night in a trendy Houston club. All the girls are dressed the same (heels, with sparkly, revealing tops and tiny skirts), as are the dudes (blazers over striped Armani/J. Crew/Express Men button-up shirts). Opener DJ Boombai is playing a set of boilerplate dance hits along the lines of "This Is How We Do It," "The Humpty Dance" and "Milkshake" and the dance floor denizens are indeed shaking it. There are no celebrities in sight, but the night is still young.
My lady espies an awkward trio of dudes, two of whom turn out to be here from Pennsylvania to visit their Houston friend, Omar.
"Why did you come here tonight?" I ask Omar.
"I read the Press [Yes! ed.] and they usually tell the good things to do, so we were like, 'We'll come do this.' We were going to go to a dive bar and get hammered there, but we wanted to party."
Predictably enough, Omar and Co. aren't the only out-of-towners looking for a party. I approach two dapper young men named Adam and Jacob standing near the bar with a middle-aged fellow. Turns out they're brothers out with their dad, Steven, all of them in town from Connecticut for the All-Star Game.
"Are you a fan of DJ AM?" I ask Adam, 25.
"Yeah. We haven't got to hear him spin much, but we know he's really good. We've heard some of his mix tapes."
"What do you think of the club?"
"We were supposed to have a table with our name on it but when we got here, they fucked up so we're just going to hang out by the table we should've had."
A 22-year-old Houstonian by the name of Sergio is up-front about his ulterior motives. "I knew a bunch of girls would be here," he says.
"What do you think of the women here tonight?" I ask him.
"They're fucking hot, dude."
"Are you expecting to see any celebrities?"
"I don't come out for celebrities. As a guy, I'm not worried about celebrities. Girls, maybe but a guy, not really. We go for the rejects."
Just around midnight, DJ AM takes to the turntables and the crowd lets out an almost simian roar of approval. Girls are grinding against the crotches of men who obviously work out. Boobs look like they're about to fall out of the ladies' skimpy tops. Alcohol is poured in great quantities up in the crowded VIP section. The house is so packed we have to dance with our arms drawn up stiffly against our bodies. People seem to be having too much fun to notice that AM is playing a handful of the same songs that made up Boombai's set, including "You Shook Me All Night Long," the Ying Yang Twins' "Shake" and, yes, even "Milkshake." And once again, on the dance floor there's a whole lotta shakin' going on.
After more than an hour of this, we still haven't spotted any celebrities, let alone B- and C-listers, and we're starting to feel duped. All we've seen, objectively, is a lot of people paying a lot of money for a lot of drinks while dancing to the redundant sounds of a mediocre, over-hyped pseudo-celebrity.
By the time we leave it's nearly 2 a.m. and everyone is inside, including the doorman. The red carpet looks really lonely. Since we didn't get the star treatment on the way up the red carpet, my lady and I decide to stop and give each other a little of the old flashbulb tan. It's oddly satisfying: at this moment, we're our own celebrities. And, truth be told, we do feel fabulous: We're finally going home.
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