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Sleepless In St. Tropez

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Sure, the $6000 bottles of Dom Perignon attached to fiery sparklers were flowing at the VIP Room in St. Tropez early Monday morning.

Go-go dancers in teeny string bikinis and aviator glasses were gyrating so vigorously that sweat poured down their enhanced breasts and surfboard-flat stomachs.

The oddly fey men found in such habitats, usually heterosexual but often looking like a cross between Paul Lynde and J.T. Leroy, were dancing, as they do, like Elaine on "Seinfeld."

DJs Cutkiller and Big Ali were in the house, barking the same refrain, "Yes, you sexy ladies, yes!"

But all I can say is, with great shame and apologies to my former colleague, Mika Brzezinski, the Sinead O'Connor of MSNBC, I missed Paris Hilton.

Mika said everything worth saying, but, unhappily, I must add one point: Paris knows how to throw a party in St. Tropez. At least one that will keep me from dozing off.

Yes, this was the romantic, Byron-esque pre-wedding party for French-American basketball star Tony Parker and Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria. The celebration began around midnight Monday at the VIP Room, one of the two most exclusive boites in St. Tropez.

The huge spread in the club's glossy magazine read: "LOVE IS IN THE AIR.... Starring Eva Longoria and Tony Parker."

It was billed as an "official" party. "Official" is a good word to use when you sell the rights to your week-long wedding celebration to OK magazine for $2 million.

All that was missing was a publicist-penned sonnet.

My favorite photographer, Rachid, prowled the club all night - bent on capturing a forbidden photo of Tony and Eva together inside the club.

Unlike Tony, who ventured on the moving dance floor, Eva stayed in a roped-off section with pals like Bruce Willis' two-minute fling, Spanish model Maria Bravo. Burly bodyguards blocked any view of Eva.Too many photos of her and - bye bye OK Magazine deal.

"C'est toujours le business!" Rachid growled in frustration. Eva and Tony, during their steak dinner in the garden outside the club, did look amorous - but in St. Tropez money always trumps love.

I reported to work on the early side - a little after midnight - with the confidence of a veteran. Unlike last year when another reporter and I arrived for Paris' party at the same club at 11 p.m. and sat comfortably on the faux-python skin-covered sofas - imagining a relaxed evening with a birds-eye view.

Until one of the leather kilt-wearing waiters informed us that we had to buy at least $600 worth of champagne if we wanted to sit down. Then I understood why each little table in had a built-in box -- for ice. The waiter shot me a look like - Get back on the turnip truck you just fell off, Elly May Clampett.

So this time I stood - and knew what awaited me.

However cute the outfit I choose before I go on the fantastically stylish front lines of what some people would unkindly term Eurotrash - I always end up feeling like Sarah Jessica Parker in
"Square Pegs."

I knew I would be mocked and derided.

I knew I would also be ignored by every man there, even the biggest toads - but I don't take that personally.

St. Tropez has, hands down, the most beautiful women on the planet. It's one of life's many ironies that the men here are always too busy looking over their shoulder for something better to enjoy the stunning woman in front of them.

Last year, at Paris Hilton's VIP Room party, I sat upstairs for hours in a private, claustrophobic room - inches away from gorgeous Penelope Cruz, Swedish sex bomb Victoria Silvstedt and a certain ex-con heiress herself.

The men - with last names like Niarchos, Casiraghi etc. -ignored them. I watched as Penelope - resplendent in black Dior, sat next to John Galliano - and nobody paid any attention to her.

Paris repeatedly threw herself at Stavros Niarchos who looked so bored she might have been his annoying little sister.

But Paris' party last year was a packed riot of what used to be called jetsetters - and colorful and sometimes royal ones at that. It was the same week Pam Anderson and Kid Rock got married and P. Diddy hosted a yacht soiree and his White Party.

I fought back the nostalgia as I hopped aboard the moving dance floor as soon as I saw Tony Parker and his cronies jump on. Instead of Penelope Cruz and Stavros Niarchos, Tony had his kid brothers in tow. The "official" party didn't even begin to fill the second floor.

Tony and Eva weren't talking but I did manage to grab their enormous, 6' 6" bodyguard and ask him a key question: What did our lovebirds have for dinner?

The bodyguard looked indignant and wagged his finger like a schoolmarm. He wanted to know who I worked for. "Who do YOU work for?" I asked.

He stalked off but my strategy worked. I find that a mix of surliness and clownish seductiveness is all that will penetrate the irritable indifference of the ultrarich and their handlers. It also helps keep me amused and awake at 3 a.m.

Sure enough, the bodyguard kept coming back, lecturing me and complaining about my overall demeanor.

I looked up at his dreadlocks.

"You're extraordinarily handsome," I said. "Why's Eva hiding over there in the corner?"

He rolled his eyes at such amateurish tactics - and sure enough started talking - a little.

Three hours later, I had....material. I wanted to leave and miraculously, Tony and Eva did too.

Their entourage of 30 were hustled into three black vans. I was still trying to find out who designed Eva's little white dress. I asked one of her girlfriends, seated in the van.

She looked me up and down with a barely-contained sneer.

"Same person who designed yours," she said.

Insults always perk me up - so I returned to the club in good cheer. St. Tropez is always the most fun when the publicity-hungry celebrities finally go home.

The VIP Room's suave owner, Jean-Roch, was waiting in the garden, proffering drinks for me and the friend I had brought along. The best seat in the house? Suddenly, no problem.

Rachid got the photos he wanted and showed them to us on his laptop. We all relaxed and drank in the balmy night air of St. Tropez.

"C'est toujours le business," Rachid said again. But this time he was smiling. Jean-Roch grinned. I felt good. Love was indeed in the air.