Me and my Doppleganger 


I feel so cheap.

Ever fancy a perfect parallel universe in which somebody wearing your very own insecurities is succeeding wildly and completely stealing the karmic gifts clearly designed for you? Somebody who smells of sweet charity while you smell of cigarettes and urine?

Sniffle, sniffle. I'm having a moment here. And a pee.

My certain somebody comes in the coiffed, lanky likeness of People magazine style editor, Steven Cojocaru. While I worship at the bloated statue of The Village Voice's Michael Musto in my prose, my vanity leans more in the direction of Steven's glitzy bile. He gets to be the twink on the couch next to Matt Lauer on the "Today" show, while peddling knock-offs from Oscar gift bags and Elizabeth Taylor's 13th chin. Me, I'd just be happy with next year's Nokia and a couple of finger sandwiches, but Steven, oh Steven, he has it all.

Or so I would like to think.

Having digested Cojocaru's wretched, premature biography, "Red Carpet Diaries: Confessions of a Glamour Boy" (released widely, and inexplicably, by Random House this month), I'm forced into a fetal position of glee. Steven is awful, it turns out -- ass-licky, soul-shitty awful -- and my professional jealousy is fast fermenting into cheap vindication. I want to talk to him! I want to laugh at him!

"Oh, Steven's only doing nationals," the random Random House rep deflates me. "But we'd be happy to see a review."

Would you? OK.

Assembled as a collection of pithy memories (of which there are many), salacious dirt (of which there is little), memorabilia, celebrity terminology glossaries (!), and photographs, "Red Carpet Diaries" smells distinctly of ham. Non-ironic boldfaces highlight celebrity mentions, even when said celebrities are merely mentioned (unlike the intense significance of the boldface here), as Cojocaru attempts to overemphasize his importance as a quick-quote gatherer for People's content-free gloss.

"Ugh, I don't want to talk about fashion," scoffs Madonna into his parasitic leer.

"Well, then what do you want to talk about, brain surgery?" He thinks he's funny.

Turns out that Steven was an insecure Dexatrim addict growing up in fashionable Canada, and he was known for designing prom dresses for fly-back girlfriends and dealing diet pills. It's a natural path, then, to the red carpets of Hollywood, where Steven now deals textual collagen to the fading faces of the movie world's mirage.

These are the notes of a creature of proximity: little false eyelashes picked up in the wake of celebrity flourish, and quickly sold on eBay.

Not that I'm immune to such superfluous association. Just last week, thinking I was the coolest girl in the eighth grade because I had Cyndi Lauper's phone number programmed like a party favor into my phone, an unsuspecting neighbor sat on said phone, activating Cyndi's number with his ass. Two minutes later, I received the call of my life: "cyndilauper" read the caller ID. Drunk, and assuming celebrity salvation, I picked up the phone.

"Is this Allison?" quizzed the Lauper.

"Um, no. It's Billy," I tucked my tail, waiting for recognition that would never come. "I interviewed you last year and forgot to erase the number. It's the funniest story."

"So you have my number in your phone?" she bopped.

"Not anymore." We are in love.

Anyway, Cojocaru kicks off his obsession's confession with a story about standing next to Donatella Versace. She ashes her cigarette on him, and he catches on fire. At least I didn't sustain any wounds. Although, I did once pee next to Joey Fatone and might have enjoyed a wound or two. I hate myself.

But I hate Steven even more. "I am the journalism equivalent of a cheese souffle," he bloats in the book. Eww.

And just in case you don't understand gay French cooking, Cojocaru provides this suburban comedy skit of a glossary, presumably to help the housewives in Oklahoma understand Hollywood and love themselves:

"Prosthetic Beak: Term used to describe hideously swollen collagened lips. Also known as a 'Melanie.'"

"Pamelas: Term inspired by Pamela Lee, used to comment on someone's large breasts (i.e., 'nice Pamelas,' or 'She made her Pamelas way too big')."

"Britney-itis: Medical term used to describe menopausal stars who dress like teenagers."

"Wedding Cake: Term used to describe a star wearing caked-on makeup (i.e., 'Look at that wedding cake with Britney-itis!')"

"I've just returned from vacation: celeb-speak for 'I had 'head-to-toe liposuction and was recovering in Palm Springs.'"

All hail the male Joan Rivers: Not funny. Not pretty. Employed.

"Beauty -- and celebrity -- is only skin deep," concludes our Steven, having spent a wasteful 192 pages as an exfoliant. "It sure takes a while for common sense to seep through these highlights."

Too long. I feel so cheap.


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