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BIZARRE: PER DIEM | SO SOCAL

Happy Trailers to You, Until We Meet Again

March 22, 1998|Mary Melton

When Lyle Waggoner talks trailers, the 6-foot-4-inch, perennially tan former regular on "The Carol Burnett Show" is talking satellite TVs, surround sound, VCRs, microwaves, bistro tables, mini-fridges, wardrobe closets, tilt-back hydraulic makeup chairs, shampoo bowls, blackout drapes, showers, three-way full-length mirrors, sofa beds, baby cribs, electric organs, StairMasters and, if requested, Perrier in the water tank.

Waggoner owns Star Waggons, the trailers dispatched to studio lots and location shoots to keep "the star" a hairsbreadth from every creature comfort. He's provided a swivel TV stand for John Travolta, switched out a Waggon that Jaclyn Smith got "bad vibes" in, covered the mirrors when Steven Spielberg didn't care to look at himself, and raised a toilet so Shaquille O'Neal's knees wouldn't hit his chin. "We've done our best to spoil the actors," Waggoner says.

Star Waggons incorporated in 1980--Waggoner abandoned acting, save the occasional cameo, when he realized "somebody could come yank the rug out at any time." The company now leases 200 trailers in 15 models, from a basic two-room ($600 a week) to the Diamond, Super Star and ultra-deluxe 40-foot Mega Star ($1,200 a week). "Heather Locklear walked into the Mega Star and said, 'This is nicer than my living room,' " Waggoner says.

In his Sylmar office, Waggoner is joined by Spencer Siemen, his droopy-eyed general manager, who reports that all six Mega Stars are currently spoken for; one is with Sandra Bullock, another with director Joel Schumacher. The stars of "ER" lounge in nine Diamond singles on the Warner lot. For space reasons, the major studios rarely admit Supers or Megas, even when stars ask for them.

"Like this lady on 'Lois & Clark,' Teri Hatcher," Siemen recalls, "she was begging and begging and almost refused to work because she wanted a fifth-wheel"--Star Waggon vernacular for the Mega Star--"so bad." Warners wouldn't budge, he says, because if she got one, "what do you think George Clooney is going to want?"

Waggoner decorates the trailers in the Southwest designs he fancies: Navajo-patterned sofa beds and variations on the howling coyote aesthetic. He learned to appreciate uniformity after an actress whose Waggon had painted hubcaps demanded chrome ones to match her co-star's.

Waggoner invites me to step inside a Mega Star. Sinking into the 14-foot sofa with its dozen fluffy pillows, feet firmly planted in plush carpet, I ask him: How do you top a Mega Star?

"You got me."

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