***If you are looking for drama, look elsewhere. This is a story of good-humored decadence, dancing, and cenotaphs, inspired after the writing of Francesca Lia Block. See below for pictures and playlists.***
Sophia wasn’t sad to leave the city of brown and navy skyscrapers. In fact, she was rather thrilled to see both her favorite city and one of her favorite friends. She sipped champagne like good white girls do, and had her hair straightened and curled, straightened and sprayed in a lemon yellow salon. After somewhat careful deliberation, Sophia squeezed all the satin and color and sparkle her wardrobe had to offer into a carryon bag. Goodbye, New York, she said, looking out the plane’s window and onto the rainy runway. Goodbye City of Anxiety. Indeed, there was something rather tormenting about The Big Apple. Perhaps it was the way that everyone looked as though they were on the verge of tears, or the constant visual tension, or the crazy, dark streets of FiDi where she worked. New York was beautiful, too, in a dark way — brimming with secret neon gallery openings and sex parties, drugs and dancing until four o’clock in the morning. There were dive bars where she could sip crystals, and balmy rooftops that rose into the heavens. New York was brilliant, cold, and stylish. But she simply had to leave. Be there soon, she texted Sharon. Harvey, Sophia’s seat mate, was a Freshman at Columbia University with green eyes and an analog camera. He struck up conversation with Sophia about the Kardashians and the Cold War. He was significantly more knowledgable about the former. But eventually Sophia swallowed a yellow doll and fell into sleep. Nightmares of 15-story monstrosities faded into sweet sedation.
Sharon was waiting for Sophia at Terminal 5 upon arrival. She descended from her big black Jeep of a throne and into Sophia’s arms. The girls were so thrilled to finally be together after months of planning, heartbreak, and expectation.
“Your hair!” Sophia exclaimed, lightly touching the warm scarlet ringlets that framed Sharon’s beautiful face. Sharon was a vision, even in jeans — big, opal eyes set into the most perfect alabaster cheekbones. The red red hair only added to Sharon’s allure. Smoke blew into Sharon’s ringlets as she sucked at a creamy tobacco vaporizer.
The girls headed home, where they fell into a cloud of makeup and Mary Jane. Sharon changed into a cornflower blue bomber jacket and poured the girls pink frosty goblets of wine and vodka cranberry. Sophia gave Sharon a satchel of items she’d collected; larger than life heart-shaped hoop earrings, Hentai stickers, and a red lollipop. Sharon’s cottage-apartment surpassed expectations (and damn high expectations at that!). Everything was pink except for the chandelier, which cut glass rainbows onto the ceiling. Even Sharon’s dishwasher rack was pink! Sharon had a sparkly Hollywood star magnet, an art deco vanity, a plethora of cosmetics and jewelry, an altar complete with rose petals and sage and juniper berries. Sharon’s casa was as beautiful and picture perfect as she was. My, Sophia thought, to live here!
With a kiss and an outfit change, the girls walked down Hollywood Boulevard to a speakeasy-type bar called L’Ono filled with palm tree wallpaper, luscious drinks and a framed painting of a white colonizer. They ordered sticky-sweet drinks and caught up on old times and then went to the world of Hustler, to covet rhinestone-studded collars and ruby red Maribou robes and sex toys. Sophia donned a vial of pheromones and rubbed them onto her wrist. She didn’t want the lost dogs of Los Angeles to chase her alone, so she dabbed some onto Sharon’s as well.
“We’ll be back!” The girls promised and danced back into the pink star streets. Los Angeles is the city of grime and magic and flowers. Even in Hollywood, the air was permeated with exhales of magic — or perhaps it was not so much Hollywood, but Sharon’s aura of sweetness and patience. The girls ate sweet potato fries and chicken fingers and Diet Cokes at Mel’s, Sharon’s favorite diner which was next to Sophia’s favorite museum. They dreamed up images of Marilyn and Audrey and then took photos under the tessellating red and blue lights before returning home for an anxious altar session (on Sophia’s part — obsessions and fatigue spell for a deadly medley). Sharon had an ample variety of lotions and potions dusting her vanity which the girls slathered onto their faces before blowing out the candles and putting out the chandelier. They curled into soft floral sheets and doll-supplemented slumber. Both understood better than the other the value of beauty sleep.
Early the next morning, when the elixirs had worn off, the girls woke up, checked their phones as good millennials do, and began to prepare for their first full day. Two Angels in the City of Angels. Sharon flipped through a Sharon Tate hardcover, searching for inspiration and the perfect overdrawn lid. Sophia covered her chest with temporary tattoos of flowers and butterflies. The girls gossiped as they slowly put their faces on, and dressed, settling on only the wildest accessories. Sharon wore a long brown and pink and orange 1960s dress and re-curled her ringlets. Sophia borrowed Sharon’s lavender ombre kimono (which mysteriously ended up in her luggage on the way back home…), and donned neon yellow tassel earrings and a blue and purple tessellating eye.
Sharon and Sophia climbed into Sharon’s cute white girl Jeep and went to Gold Citi, a dispensary.
“You girls look majestic,” two ducks exclaimed as the girls entered.
“What a great compliment,” the girls agreed. If only cat-calls consisted of words like “majestic” and “starry” as opposed to more vulgar adjectives. Sophia bought pre-rolleds and sweet granny smith candies and then it was back to the road (you have to drive everywhere in LA).
The girls browsed old time-y stores on Sunset and took film photos by the bougainvillea. The streets seemed to be oscillating between trash and flowers, trash and flowers. Even the trash in Los Angeles was poetic.
They danced to Spellbound Sky, the best crystal shop Sophia’d ever been to (it had been recommended by @eatglitter, a vegan Kundalini fashion designer who Sophia had been following for ages), which was situated between tiny cozy cottages and the most romantic flowerscape. They fingered smoky quartz and jade, calcites and sages, settling both upon angel aura quartz. Sophia also picked up a square slab of honey calcite which was heavy enough to induce feeling.
Next came Sunset Beer, Sharon’s absolute favorite emporium which was brimming with brews. They selected rinks, Sharon settling on a larger bottle of Duchesse de Borgogne, and Sophia purchased a bottle of Italian beer with a pink label. It was chilly, so they decided to forgo sitting inside and save their beers for “primping and face beating and pre-gaming” time, as Sharon called it. They did, however, make room for The Trencher, a quintessentially California cafe with perfect chips and salads and veggie burgers.
By afternoon, the girls were ready for a nap and a refresher. Sophia started on beer and the vodka cranberries, overlining her lips with Mac red and settling into her most provocative outfit yet — a gold chainmail halter top with rhinestone lines set amidst her breasts. Sharon drank more moderately, lined her eyes and shuffled into a gauzy pastel romper. They smoked Camels on the fire escape and took questionable flash photos; listened to Kali Uchis and Cardi B (see playlist below).
In the Lyft, their warm-hearted driver told them that Los Angeles was all about “TnA.” I ought to move here, Sophia thought. They had to walk a bit to the Good Luck Bar, a Chinese-fortune cookie themed bar with red and gold lanterns and sweet hipsters who gave them a list of “must-see” places in the city of angels. Sophia gulped down a creme de banane. She was feeling herself in that gold number.
Next came The Short Stop for dancing. Sophia critiqued the DJ, as good EDM-loving girls do, and he brushed her off but then apologized profusely. Gotta love the West Coast! Sophia thought. Two short ducks bought the the girls a few rounds of drinks but neither Sophia nor Sharon were interested. They just wanted to dance and be cute together. Boys are for never.
The following morning, the girls woke up and thanked Goddess for not feeling the after-effects of too many vodka cranberries and G&Ts. They rolled out of bed, Sharon got dolled up in her finest Weetzie-wear (a vintage floral dress the color of peonies, a white leather fringed jacket, copious gold jewelry). The girls got large Diet Cokes at the drive-through Jack-N-The-Box and went to Hollywood Forever to take film photos of Sharon and the cats and the doves. They bought pink flowers and gave one to a beautiful old Latina woman who was tending to her lover’s grave.
“There’s a real cat problem in LA,” Sophia commented. “Too many kittens.” Cats sprawled out across the verdant graves, and an orange baby even let Sophia photograph him. In the mausoleum, the girls looked at holographic glass collages and boxes filled with funerary items. Sharon sucked at her creamy tobacco vape all the while. The girls looked, almost in vain, for Jayne Mansfield’s cenotaph, which was tiny and stark and impossible to find. They wanted to leave a token of appreciation for the goddess who died too soon, but had nothing to give—not even a lipstick.
“Ooooh! Cigarettes!” Sharon suggested.
“But did she smoke?” Sophia asked.
Siri said yes, so Sharon lit a cigarette and took a puff, passed it to Sophia, and then placed it delicately on Ms. Mansfield’s grave. Only the good die young.
Next came Panpipes, Sharon’s favorite magickal store, which was owned by a red-and-black haired woman with exquisitely painted cat eyes and an indiscernible accent. Sophia bought a snuffer, Amazonite chunks for her coworkers, and a ‘666’ sticker.
Next came Sunset Boulevard, to Fred Segal to spot Jiva Apoha at CAP (and to check the scenester decor and neon cannabis light), and to the pretty pink Wildfox cottage where the girls lusted after pastel jumpers and sugar-sweet perfumes. Sunset was dotted with luxury hotels and Sharon told a story about a doctor duck who had a house atop one of the hills. The girls next went to Pink Taco, and then to Crossroads, Sharon’s favorite thrift shop on Sunset, where Sophia tried (and failed) to squeeze into a metallic Halston Heritage dress. Sharon bought a silver sequin number and a Led Zeppelin t-shirt. The girls added a white cross candle to their altar and returned to Sharon’s floral bed to screen the day’s beauty captures once again.
Night brought it’s usual mystic glamour. Sophia promised not to pre-game too much, so that she could take more crisp flash photos than she had the night before. Sharon slipped into a leopard jumpsuit and the loveliest of heels; Sophia a too-tight pink jacquard dress and purple-black sequined kimono with orange suede heels. False lashes were applied, eyeshadow was applied with generosity, and then the girls took a hurried Lyft around the corner to Beauty & Essex.
Beauty & Essex is a luxury chain spot, but for all intents and purposes, it was a decadent heaven of New York-priced cocktails, silicone breasts, and handsome, middle aged Ducks who cared about data analytics.
Sharon was starstruck — “This is where I belong.”
Sophia was less enthusiastic, but was nevertheless feeling herself. She was content to take millions of flash photos beneath the chandelier and sip on mashed strawberries and people watch. Beauty & Essex was the definition of bougie.
The girls ordered salads and mushrooms and a toffee ice cream sundae pie.
Upon exit, Sharon and Sophia met a skinny nymph named Savannah in a body con dress with her tiny brown nipples spilling out. Savannah’s eyelashes were a mess, and her Botox-ed lips uttering total nonsense. She’d been kicked out of a club and was insistent upon going to 1Oak, but the bouncers were not having her, and she was clearly vacationing on another planet.
Girls need to help other girls, Sophia thought, conjuring up her white savior complex, so she and Sharon tried to help Savannah find her boyfriend Judah, and flirted with the idea of going to 1Oak with her, but ultimately decided to call her a car to her “$72.5 million dollar house,” and not even that worked as Savannah was too intoxicated to find the car (she insisted on ordering a Black car, despite the fact that her Lyft was pre-set to Line). Sharon and Sophia eventually gave Savannah back to the bouncers and moved along with their night.
The next stop was The Body Shop on Sunset. They quizzed their driver as to his opinion on strip clubs, but he didn’t seem too keen on them. The Body Shop had a big neon light and a beautiful mural of a woman’s silhouette that had been graffiti’d over. Sharon handed over cash for a cover charge and Sophia ordered the girls Diet Cokes ($5 each). They sat by the edge of a silver and red tessellating stage nervously fingering dollar bills. Two Asian girls were being fed money by a much older white man who encouraged them to dole it out to the dancers. A few of the men in the club were handsome, sad, and pathetic. A heavy woman in a wheelchair graciously accepted attention from one of the dancers. “How lovely,” Sophia commented.
The girls trembled a bit as they slipped dollars into the seat of the stage. They marveled at the dancers/ cocoa-butter soft skin and tattoos. They watched with big eyes as the dancers twirled around the pole and writhed on the laps of strange men. Some ducks had stacks of dollars that they threw through the air. A creamy stripper with a killer tan grabbed Sophia and Sharon’s hands and had them grab her silicone breasts. The girls giggled and looked at each other. Wow! A smaller breasted woman motorboated Sophia and pressed her face into Sharon’s cleavage. The girls passed more and more dollars onto the stage, and Sophia Shazam’d songs including Bad Tings by Zoey Dollaz, Everywhere by John Dahlback, and rockstar by Post Malone. Of course, we’re only here for the music.
The next morning, Sunday, the final full day of Sophia’s West Coast voyage, the girls went to Mel’s for Diet Cokes and french toast and chicken fingers, then hopped in Sharon’s Jeep to head to Malibu. The drive was particularly scenic and the girls were thankful to have at long last received warm weather (the rest of the trip had been chilly and grey). They stopped at Ralph’s for kombucha and macarons and then descended a set of warm steps at the beach, and set up camp in a cozy, sandy nook. Sharon had a lovely blue floral circular beach blanket which they sprawled their bags across, a mess of books and cell phones and water bottles. Dogs named Figaro leaped across the beach and Sharon was absolutely delighted. Sophia mourned for the cats in Hollywood Forever. After a quick smoke, Sharon fell into slumber and Sophia postcards back home. This is heaven, she thought, looking at her sleeping friend with the sparkles smeared over her cheekbones.
The final stop was an unplanned rock n’ roll Thai place. Sophia wore her pink airplane blanket across her head and shoulders because she was cold. Sharon laughed and took photos. Sophia screamed just for the fun of it, and then Sharon drove them home for packing and the final altar session. A perfect end to a perfect trip.
***Next up, New York City in June.***
- Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love) – Ella Fitzgerald after Cole Porter
- The Girl from Ipanema – Astrud Gilberto, Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto
- Since I’ve Been Loving You – Led Zeppelin
- Somebody’s Baby – Jackson Browne
- Time of the Season – The Zombies
- Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones
- Over The Hills and Far Away – Led Zeppelin
- Where the Boys Are – Connie Francis
- Cheek to Cheek – Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
- Tangerine – Led Zeppelin
- Dancing Queen – ABBA
- Fernando – ABBA
- Happy Together – The Turtles
- Be My Baby – The Ronettes
- Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
- Killing Me Softly With His Song – Roberta Flack
- Spanish Rose – Van Morrison
- I’ll Be Seeing You – Billie Holiday
- Doctor My Eyes – Jackson Browne
- I’m A Believer – The Monkees
♰♡♰ Hollywood Forever ♰♡♰
- Feel Like a Fool – Kali Uchis
- God’s Plan – Drake
- Dead To Me – Kali Uchis
- Nothing In This World – Paris Hilton
- I Do (feat. SZA) – Cardi B
- Cherry – Lana Del Rey
- One Kiss – Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa
- Transportin’ – Kodak Black
- Miami (feat. BIA) – Kali Uchis
- Company (feat. A Boogie wit da Hoodie) – Remy Ma
- Find Your Love – Drake
- Guys My Age – Hey Violet
- Florida Kilos – Lana Del Rey
- 2U (feat. Justin Bieber) [Robin Schulz Remix] – David Guetta