Saturday, February 11, 2012

St. Tropez--ticking clock

I have always found the  older man-younger girl subject intriguing. As a young girl myself years ago in Hollywood, there were many opportunities to hook up with an older, wealthy man, well placed in the industry, but I found it, well disgusting.  I had a number of experiences where these old, "important" guys would pull me aside at some party and jam their ancient tongues down my throat.

"Whatever you want you can have. A house in Malibu? Done. A huge career? Done."

But I wanted to build my own life and make my own money, beholden to no one.

So, many years later, I am now witnessing all around me young girls in the same situation. I think I am noticing more now because I have two young girls.  Not that this will be their path, highly unlikely, but I've become extremely maternal.

I was in St. Tropez a couple years ago, caring for a friend who had recently lost her husband. She was devastated so an exotic trip seemed in order.

I have been to the South of France many times, but this was the first time I went when it was the height of "cherry picking season," or August. By that I mean, the scene is set up and designed for gorgeous models, some internationally known famous faces, others still trying to make their mark; and old guys with lots of dough who want to get laid.

Every lunch, that would go on for four hours, and dinners, that would go on all night, were basically hunting grounds for these guys to look around and sample the goods.

I found it very disturbing. This is the place. Despite it being sunny outside it was always dark, like Vegas.  Byblos, the party place, the hip place, the everyone who is anyone goes place.

Here I spotted Miranda Kerr, Bar Refaeli, Giselle Bundchen. I suspect they were not old man shopping, but seeing them dispelled this rumur top models are actually not that beautiful in real life. Not true. I found them shockingly gorgeous.

I had to be told who there were, all the men knew. This was a kind of game, because there are so many celebrities there, and I have zero celebrity radar, more amusement during the long meals. I was sitting next to Leonardo DeCaprio and had no idea.

Byblos ^ ^ ^   Later, at one of the endless lunches, a long table seated with a dozen people, buckets of Cristal, caviar, and cheese platters, I decided to ask (okay interview) one of these guys.

Club 55 ^^^^   I picked a younger man, 40ish, an heir to a huge British corporation, because he had been staring at me all through lunch. I was clearly not an obsequious girl draping myself over a man, but further I really enjoyed  provoking the geriatric set, like "So where's the wifey? How many grand kids do you have?"

I could tell he was intrigued by me, probably wanted to sleep with me, see what it was like, to be with someone his own age. We had talked the day before, more of a sparring, about life, politics, his work (which consisted of checking in by phone to make sure all of  his employees were on top of the empire) and he enjoyed our repertoire.

"You call that a job? You inherited millions, and act the playboy? You are a serious bore."

"I have to say I do love American women. They are so bold."

That statement was bold?  The British are so odd.

I strutted over in my sun dress to the British heir, his nails nicely manicured, and sat next to him.

As a side note, these people drink all day and all night. Nonstop. "Garçon, keep it flowing."

It was surprising they could walk, but then someone told me "off to the loo," was code for a cocaine break.  How late 80s!  The longer I stayed, the more I grew to dislike St. Tropez.

"So, you do this every year.  Pick a girl, or a few, sleep with them, pretend they are the one, then move on and never speak to them again? You realize they are building your combined future during the sex, right?"

He smiled in that subtle British way, as to suggest, we don't say these things out loud.

"Oh come on, you will never see me again. I'm just an American pest."

"Okay, these girls know what they are getting into. They come here year after year hoping to land a wealthy guy before their looks are gone.  We all know this, we take advantage, but we treat the girls right.  Sometimes I buy them a car, jewels, you know?"

"Not really. I wouldn't sleep with any of these creeps or you. So, they are prostitutes?"
"Pretty much, but by choice. What do you mean you wouldn't sleep with me? My feelings are crushed."
"I'm sure they are."
"No, I find you so alluring. Attractive. I thought of  you all night."
"You're drunk."

Then he started to get all flirty. He looked like a young Simon Cowell. Teeth and such.

"Why don't you want to come hang with me. I have a jet.  A yacht. We can go to Morocco for the day."
"I'd rather hang myself but I'm flattered."
"I don't meet a lot of pretty girls who are intelligent. I have to say it's refreshing. And I love American girls. They are so bold."
"Why do you keep saying that?  Anyway I find that really hard to believe. I mean maybe here okay but what about back in London. I even know some great British women."

"Oh, I hate British girls. Too proper. Self-restrained. No sense of humor. Lousy sex, so what is the point? Plus,  I like American girls."
"Yeah, I get that. So where to next?"
"The party never stops?"
"Why should it? eh?  He pointed around the table to his cohorts. Some were Spanish, some were American, some were Italian. The American guy I detested. Total blow hard constantly yacking about his 145 shopping centers back in the States. That is how all the Americans referred to the US. "Back in the States."

I shouted at him.  "So you're the asshole who built all those mini malls, destroying parks and killing animals!"

He pretended he didn't hear me. I had it in for this guy with his dyed black hair and fake tan. Every time he would touch a leg or pull a girl onto his lap my bad table tourettes would unleash.

"What are you, like 65? I bet you also have stock in Viagra."

Then to the girls, "You an do better, Jesus."

This conduct for whatever reason turned my British friend on.

"Come on, let's just take off. The helicopter is 10 minutes away!"

My friend meanwhile, found this all terribly amusing, but was also horrified by my conduct so she would drink herself into the spins, then we would go back to our chateau at three a.m. where she would cry, me holding her hand until she fell asleep. Grief doesn't care about time zones.

We had an amazing place and would often just hang out there and talk before heading into town, or the beach.

The next night, at another long table in a another dark restaurant, a basement, really, where everyone spoke French, I was sitting next to a girl so beautiful I actually touched her to see if she was real. She looked vaguely familiar like I had seen her on the cover of Italian Vogue or something. Her skin glistened; she had sensuous, long blond hair; was six feet tall. She wore a black, leather mini skit, tiny lingerie top, spike heels.  Her smokey eye make-up, camera ready.

"Can I ask you question?"
"Do you speak English?" My French is for shit.
"Oui." I mean yes."
"Are you French?"
"American. Born in Iowa. But I moved to  Paris when I was 16 after being discovered in New York by a  photographer. The rest is history."
"So you work a lot?"
"Do you like modeling?"
"Sometimes. It's a bit boring. I want to go into fashion, but I don't have enough money yet to start a business.  Plus I need to get some schooling. I love this top, it's Chloe. I want to be like Stella."
"Yeah, the whole Paul McCartney thing is just a fluke I guess."
"Nothing.  Doesn't modeling pay well?"
"Not what you think. The top models, yes, lots of money, but then there are so many of us making little and the top spots disappear very quickly. The look and mood changes and it can pass you by. Now I'm 25, done. They won't want me in a year."
"Is that why you come here?'

I don't know why this girl trusted me with this information, but maybe she needed to tell someone.

"Yes. Everyone does. We come, hoping to meet Paul Allen, or Jack White or someone like that. They fall in love with us, we get married and not have to worry anymore."
"But wouldn't giving up your freedom be a huge price to pay?"

She laughed.

"They treat you like a whore in the business anyway. We are used to it. Now we want to be compensated for it."

She leaned in and whispered.

"Nothing could be worse than disappearing and being poor or returning to Iowa. I would kill myself.  I am 25, I have one year left, and the rule is after 26, don't bother coming. Most of the girls here are 20 or younger."
"You have so much to live for. You are young. Gorgeous. Bright. You don't think you could go out on your own?"
"It's not that. It's more, why should I have to? These guys want beautiful girls because they can finally afford to marry one. Very few girls are as pretty as me."
"True."  She didn't seem to lack confidence.

She never ate a thing, I thought I should mention. Her incredibly expensive plate of food sat in front of her like a just another handful of hundred dollar bills.  Before we left, out of curiosity, I looked at the bill. It was $8500.00. Most of course on Cristal. At one lunch, just for kicks and giggles, some men were hitting each other over the head with $100,000 bottles of booze.

"Some of us want to get lucky, marry a really old fucker, or cool guy. Richard Branson is on top of that list. Believe me, we talk about it constantly. There is a whole strategy in place before we get  here, though these men think it's all random."   Hmmm.

"What about the prostitution factor? Some guy was telling me he buys girls cars, apartments, mostly out of guilt."

"Yes, we do that. We lay on the guilt, cry, say, things like, but I am so heartbroken, you have to stay with me or I will die!  Take me to Spain with you. They all go to Spain at the end of August. And many of us get new cars and so on. One of my friends got a clothing store in Pairs. Not bad. She loves it."

"How can you stand sleeping with them."
"Oh, we're stoned. It's nothing."

Then she was done, and began chatting up the man to her right, who chomped on a fat cigar while discussing all of his business ventures in China. Maybe he was 65. For all I know it was Paul Allen.

My friend and I took one last stroll on the famous beach, which really is extraordinarily beautiful when not packed with vacationers.

Then we continued on to Paris, for some grief shopping, before heading home. But I think about this stunning girl from time to time, what happened to her, did she marry some creepy old guy, did she kill herself? I never saw her on the cover of Italian Vogue again.

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