Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Playing a Little Heidi-and-Go-Seek : Lifestyles: An exhaustive search for the illustrious Ms. Fleiss took us into the chic, the underground, the too-cool (yawn) night spots.

September 06, 1993|JEANNINE STEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

For someone who has been bestowed the hyphenate Alleged Hollywood Madam-Party Girl, Heidi Fleiss is keeping a pretty low profile.

Except for a brief surfacing last week at the paparazzi- heavy American Comedy Awards, where she showed up in her trademark oversize sunglasses, Fleiss hasn't been quite the party girl of late.

You can't really blame her. Who wants to wear sunglasses every night? And who can relax with everyone staring and pointing?

Even Fleiss' close friend, celebrity progeny Victoria Sellers, says she has had trouble getting Fleiss to venture out of her Benedict Canyon house.

Not that Sellers has it much better. "I don't even like going to clubs anymore, except for the real underground clubs," she recently confessed. "Everywhere I go people stare at me. They think I'm a prostitute or a party girl."

It's no secret that, pre-scandal, 27-year-old Fleiss was a regular at some of the city's most exclusive restaurants and nightclubs, some of them fronted by burly doormen who decide who stays and who goes. From Ava's to Roxbury, from Monkey Bar to Tatou, from Bar One to On the Roxx, she and her pack of attractive young friends were no strangers to the circuit.

But police and some veteran clubbies allege that Fleiss mixed a little business with pleasure while out and about, scouting for new recruits and attracting clients.

That begs the question: What's the draw in this night life? Is it truly fun and glamorous, or just a lot of hard work?

I set off to find out--and maybe to find Heidi.

*

Our first stop on a Saturday night is Maxx, a small, dark, minimalistic nightclub in an infamously bad and smelly part of Hollywood--Yucca and Cahuenga--where Sellers is the hostess.

She used to host regularly at On the Roxx, a Sunset Strip club that she describes as "like someone's living room. It was really fun." Hosting a club involves hiring deejays and developing a following--usually friends who then bring their friends who bring their friends, and so on. Keep it up long enough and you earn a kind of hip respect in the club community.

While there's seldom any big bucks in these ventures, other club hosts--like Babylon's Brent Bolthouse and Swingers' Sean MacPherson--have parlayed their connections into other, more lucrative projects, like producing concerts and opening restaurants.

Tonight, Sellers is pretty much starting from scratch.

At 11:30 p.m. she leans her petite frame against the bar and talks with a friend. Her white stretch hot pants, the whites of her eyes and her teeth glow preternaturally under a black light.

She leads me past the small dance floor, occupied by a lone couple moving to an ear-splitting rap number, into a back patio ringed with benches.

"This is my first night doing this club," she says, revealing a mild anxiety. I handed out flyers myself--human contact is important. But I don't really know anyone here, except for my deejays."

She chats amiably about her reluctance to go to mainstream clubs these days, about the good old days of hosting at On the Roxx, where she knew everyone , and about her two pet female pit bulls.

By 12:30 the crowd has grown and Sellers seems less anxious. Girls in bell-bottoms and big Wynonna Judd-style hair and guys in baggy jeans, T-shirts and baseball caps on backward cram the dance floor. Every bar stool is taken, one by a man wearing nothing but a leather G-string and tattoos. His hair is shaved into a mohawk. Sellers says he's a mailman.

Still, there is no sign of Heidi.

*

Monday night is usually a slow one for restaurants, and at Tryst, on La Cienega Boulevard near the Beverly Center, things are moving at an escargot's pace.

Chandeliers resembling huge, exotic flowers cast a low red light over the quiet main room, where only a few tables are occupied by well-dressed older couples eating roast chicken, pasta and grilled fish. It's 9:30, and even the bar is empty. The chef ventures out of the kitchen and saunters over to talk to the bartender and hostess.

Then, a possible sighting: At a table of four is a woman with shoulder-length brown hair and small bones. We can't see her face, but she looks waif-like. Could this be Heidi with her gal pals?

Nah.

*

The Monkey Bar was and is one of Fleiss' regular haunts. The cozy, windowless, upscale restaurant and bar on Beverly Boulevard near Fairfax is co-owned by Jack Nicholson and has a reputation for expensive good food and big-time celebs.

"She's a regular customer, a good friend, a great person and the staff likes her," assistant manager Ron Hardy tells me over the phone. "She comes in here with no particular frequency, she shows up like everyone else. She was always welcome here and always will be."

The affable Hardy is taking the publicity overdrive in stride. He tolerates camera crews and looky-loos. The attention, he says, "is good, I guess, as long as they spell the name right."

And as for Ms. Fleiss?

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|