Carmen Electra sat at a corner table at The Grill Restaurant in Los Angeles, far from the window where the afternoon sun washed the front tables with its hot smog-tinted light. The agents and power brokers from Century City and Wilshire Boulevard sat in the conspicuous tables chatting, playing with their Blackberries and Treos, while glancing over their shoulders to see who might be watching or not watching. Carmen at this moment preferred to stay out of the light because this is what she was instructed to do. She nursed a green tea and played with a bread stick, sucking its end but not taking a bite.
At the entrance to the restaurant, Denise Richards appeared in tight jeans, a black loose blouse and distressed leather boots that were tucked under the jeans. A green canvas shoulder bag hung on her left side, and she was in sunglasses, the kind that Lance Armstrong would wear in the Tour de France. Denise walked right through the restaurant, creating a little bit of a wake of head turns from the Blackberry wielders. Denise sat down in the back, out of the glow, opposite Carmen.
“Sorry I’m late,” said Denise.
“So why did you call me? What’s this big secret meeting you wanted, which ain’t so secret here at this place,” said Carmen.
“Carmen, I have to keep up appearances. I am cresting a wave here, and I am going to surf this for as long as I can. I have to appear like we are meeting secretly but still let everyone know about it. It is good that our secret meeting is not secret” said Denise.
“Well, I am not sure anyone saw me on the way in,” said Carmen.
“It doesn’t matter. They saw me. Besides, I am the one on the front pages, not you. I am the cover story,” said Denise.
“Denise, I am in a top grossing movie. You’re on the front pages because you’re getting divorced and you’re saying nasty things about Charlie. There’s a difference between getting attention for being a bitch and getting attention for one’s work,” said Carmen.
“Yeah, right, Carmen, like you made some major artistic contribution to Scary Move 4. Give me a break,” said Denise.
“At least I am in a big movie. And I was on Leno last month. Last month, Denise. You think Leno is going to have you on to talk about Charlie Sheen?” said Carmen.
“Look, we can discuss our relative worths another time. I want to know what happened on the set of Scary Movie 4,” said Denise.
“I knew it,” said Carmen.
“Was he fucking around on the set?” asked Denise.
“Not that I know of. I was doing my work,” said Carmen.
“Would you stop it already with the work. You are not an actress, Carmen. You’re just a thing, an item, a prop with tits,” said Denise.
“I don’t have to listen to this,” said Carmen.
“It’s not your fault. You’ve been placed in this position by the business. Maybe you can act, but the way you are used, the public will never know it,” said Denise.
“So you think I can act?” asked Carmen.
“Was Charlie fucking around? Was he doing drugs? What did you see? What did you hear on the set?” asked Denise.
“Charlie and I did lines,” said Carmen.
“Coke?” asked Denise.
“We ran lines. We read our lines together, stupid. I don’t do coke anymore,” said Carmen.
“OK, OK. Did he come on to you?” asked Denise.
“Of course not. I am married, and I let everyone know it,” said Carmen.
“Like that would stop Charlie,” said Denise as she picked up a bread stick and bit the end off.
“Look, Charlie was barely there. He had a small part, it was like a cameo. And he seemed to be real buddy buddy with David,” said Carmen.
“Zucker, David Zucker?” said Denise.
“Yes. I mean Charlie’s got this nothing little part, and he and David are like hanging together, going off into David’s trailer. We were all wondering where the director was, and then bingo, David would appear with Charlie, both smiling, almost giggling,” said Carmen.
“What are you saying, like they were doing drugs in David’s trailer?” asked Denise.
“I ain’t saying nothing,” said Carmen.
“You got to give me something, Carmen. That bastard is threatening to drag me through the mud and maybe even take the kids,” said Denise, as she glanced to her right, nodded and removed her Lance Armstrong sunglasses. At that moment, a photographer moved in quickly and snapped two photographs, the flash going off twice. Denise smiled. Carmen looked confused, her face contorted. The photographer hustled out the front door of the restaurant. The Hollywood suits craned their necks to see what the hub bub was about.
“Thanks for the photo op, Carmen. I got what I came for,” said Denise, as she put on her Lance Armstrongs, got up and sauntered out the restaurant directly into a black Chevy Suburban waiting for her on the curb.
Carmen sat at the table, confused. A photo with Denise Richards smiling and Carmen Electra looking upset. How would that play? What would people think? All Carmen knew was that it plays well when your smiling and bad when your not. That bitch. But then, any publicity was good. Carmen sipped her green tea as the waitress placed a check on her table.