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Living Large in the 'Bimbo Vortex'

How Nerdy Norm Zadeh Became Popular With the Gold-Digging Set and Found His Tortured Version of Paradise. An Excerpt From a New Book About Beverly Hills.

March 16, 2003|David Weddle | This article is excerpted from David Weddle's book "Among the Mansions of Eden: Tales of Love, Lust and Land in Beverly Hills," to be published March 18 by William Morrow. He last wrote for the magazine about "The Lost Boys of Sudan."

Seven o'clock on a Wednesday evening, in the cocktail lounge of the Four Seasons Hotel on South Doheny Drive. Tonight, and every night, the lounge is packed with the entertainment industry's elite. The high-visibility personality of the moment is Robert Duvall, at a table near the rear of the room. Who's he with? I don't know, a couple of guys. God, he looks old, like Redford. Why doesn't he have some work done?

Another demographic glides among the elite. Their bodies are tanned and toned; sprayed-on ensembles cling to their curves. Thin chains of gold and silver dangle provocatively around their hips, below bared expanses of hardened bellies; tattoos adorn their ankles and shoulder blades. Their rich manes glisten with supernatural highlights; glowing cheeks sparkle with body glitter. An equally impressive number of them can be found in the cocktail lounges of the Peninsula, the Regent Beverly Wilshire, the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Beverly Hilton and Raffles L'Ermitage. For Beverly Hills is, quite simply, the most powerful bimbo vortex on the planet.

They come here by the thousands from all over the world, each making the pilgrimage with dreams of winning fame and fortune, not through their own accomplishments or talents but through those of the men to which they will attach themselves. Their role model is Darcy LaPier, the Bill Gates of bimbodom, a former Miss Hawaiian Tropic who merged with one millionaire husband after another until she was able to retire--upon the death of her last conquest, Herbalife mogul Mark Hughes--as one of the wealthiest widows in the United States at age 35. For these women, the man becomes the career goal. The ultimate achievement is to stand on an altar with a rock star or movie star, an A-list director or a studio executive. For in that moment, when his strong jaw parts to reveal a sparkling Colgate smile and he slips a Harry Winston 12-carat diamond on her finger, all of his power, charm, fame and wealth will be conferred upon her.

Precious few manage to make it into a Beverly Hills mansion for more than a night or two--the field is fiercely competitive. After a year or two in cramped studio apartments, saving every penny from jobs as waitresses at Nic's Restaurant & Martini Lounge or sales clerks at Fred Segal so they can afford a few hot outfits and the $10 drinks at the Four Seasons, some begin to consider going after the short-end money until their Mark Hughes comes along.

For the men, particularly those who touch down in Beverly Hills with tens of millions of dollars, as Norm Zadeh did, the bimbo vortex can be a marvelous thing. After striking the mother lode as a hedge-fund manager in the go-go '90s, Norm came to the hills of Beverly to live out the Bachelor in Paradise dream--a fantasy, however brief, of every American male who's leafed through Playboy to see Hugh Hefner frolicking at the Playboy Mansion. Norm made his dream a reality by founding Perfect 10, a skin magazine with a twist: all of its models are 100% natural--no silicone implants.

The venture hasn't made Norm rich. Perfect 10 has thousands of readers, compared to Playboy's millions. But Norm already was rich; he isn't in it for the money, he's in it for the lifestyle. Perfect 10 has turned this unassuming, short, thin, bald, self-described former "nerd" into a nationally recognized sex symbol. He has been featured in national magazines, newspapers and on the "Howard Stern Show," where he inevitably appears with Perfect 10 girls draped on his arms.

Of course, an essential element to the Bachelor in Paradise lifestyle is the mansion--a vast playpen within which the bachelor, like Hef, can frolic. So Norm erected the Perfect 10 Mansion, where, as shown in the magazine, nymphets play Frisbee inside the 16,000-square-foot palace or volleyball in the pool, or wash Norm's car.

Always among the girls is diminutive Norm, beaming a wouldn't-you-give-your-right-arm-to-be-standing-where-I-am-right-now grin.

Norm's public relations woman, Eileen Koch, arrives at the Four Seasons cocktail lounge a little after 7. She is in her mid-50s. Her bleached-blond hair is long, with bangs dangling over her lined forehead. Her thin aerobicized body has been shoehorned into a pair of expensive stone-washed jeans and her white blouse is open at the neck to expose her freckled cleavage. She's got large, twinkling eyes, animated hands and a coquettishness that must have been quite bewitching.

She explains why "Normie"--who's running late but will be here any moment--is her all-time favorite client. Normie is just the most fantastic, marvelous, warm, sensitive, caring and generous client you could ask for.

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