[New York Observer] From the article Paid Friends: Weary of Genuine Relationships, Rich New Yorkers Hire Stand-Ins.
Sometimes, just being fun to be around is a currency that translates into social invitations, as it has for a bicoastal producer I know.
Sitting in the afternoon sun on the terrace of the Downtown outpost of Sant Ambroeus, a few glasses of prosecco clearly provided the proper amount of social lubrication to get him talking.
“In Hollywood, you’re either in the starring role or in the supporting cast. I always said I was a paid extra,” he laughed, his stylish frames glinting in the sun.
“Did you know many paid friends in L.A.?”
“Know any? My partner and I always joke we’re America’s houseguests. We’re always being invited to fun, fabulous places, and it’s always a seaplane, a private jet, five-star villas. Wheels up, baby!”
“Any downside?” I asked.
“Well, you’re always on someone else’s schedule—sort of like being a pet monkey. But when you’re single and a free agent, you can enjoy the paid friend lifestyle at the drop of hat.”
“Do you see a difference in New York vs. L.A. paid friends?” I asked.
“It’s much more faux democratic in L.A. There, the stars go out with their stylists in sweatpants for a latte. It’s more formal in New York. The driver stays in the car; they’re not having lunch with you at Da Silvano. In L.A., domestic help really runs the house and raises the kids, because the actors and the producers can be away for months at a time. So they really are an extended part of the family.”
“And in New York?”
“New York is more formal and diversified. In L.A., proximity, traffic, carmeggedon actually keep your group smaller. You don’t just drop in on people; it’s scheduled, and you tend to socialize only with the people you work with.”
“How do the stars go about finding their paid friends?”
“L.A. is big on poaching. Once I started working with [one of the great female stars], everyone assumes if you’re good enough for her, you must be good, so they try and poach you. And in L.A., it’s accepted that all the paid friends are waiting for their All About Eve moment.”
“I once went to a small dinner party with [the star] at [another huge star’s home], and, of course, the personal chef comes out and wants to know if you eat meat or are vegan. At the same time, during dinner—it was an open kitchen—she’s grilling pineapples and pitching a movie idea to my boss. Of course, no one blinks an eye.”
“So why did you stop being a paid friend?
“We’re living here now, and we have our own lives to lead. Look, being a paid friend is complicated. When you’re in the presidential suite, it’s amazing, sometimes it can be emasculating, but I put my ego away a long time ago. Truthfully, there’s also something reassuring about it.”
“Reassuring?” I said not believing my ears.
“Well, think about it. You have these incredibly successful and wealthy people who are at the top of their game and should be so happy.”
“And if they were so incredibly happy and satisfied, why would they need me to go to Hawaii to entertain them?”
Great Female Star:
Huge Star throwing dinner party: