Jul 23, 2007

The Photoshop of Dorian Grey

Dorian eagerly rips the package from the messenger's hands, she'd been waiting for days to see the pictures from the Redbook photo shoot. This would mark the beginning of her comeback tour; she'd been languishing in semi-obscurity for the past 10 years since her marriage to Dale and the birth of her three children.

But her new CD, "Having It All," was scheduled for release in two weeks and she was ready to get back into the spotlight. The album told the bittersweet story of her current life. Once she'd had the world by the balls--she was beautiful, thin and talented--men wanted to bed her, women wanted to be her. Now, she was a little bit older and a little bit fatter but she had the love of a good man; three wonderful, smart and beautiful children; and her creative juices were flowing like never before. She was sure this latest venture really caught the current zeitgeist. She would become a symbol to women the world over, a sadder, but wiser gal who'd aged gracefully and was living life to the fullest--on her own terms. A MILF for the ages.

Still, she was a little nervous about the photos; it had been 10 years, after all. And even a macrobiotic diet, three hours of exercise a day and a fanatical sleep regimen couldn't totally make up for the passing of the years.

So what? I still look great. And celebrity photog Basil Hallward could make even that cow Madonna look young. Well, he couldn't disguise those cords in her neck, but hell, a woman of a certain age needs a little padding and Dorian had it. Then she remembered the sleeveless sundress that stylist Henry Wotton had chosen for the shoot. She'd been wary, but Hank kept telling her how fabulous it looked on her, how it hugged all her curves in the right places, how every woman in America over 40 35 would envy her shape. He talked her into it, now she was thinking she'd been a fool to listen to that woman-hating fag.

Dorian's hands shook as she struggled to open the package. She handed it to to her assistant, Maci. "You open it, I'm too nervous." Dorian shut her eyes. She heard the paper being ripped open, followed by a sharp intake of breath and then a great whoosh of air being expelled.

"What ... Oh My God!" Dorian stared at the photo, enraptured. "I look 10 years younger and 10 pounds thinner." Dorian puts on her reading glasses and scrutinizes the photo. She looks even better than when she first started out as the lead singer of the girl group, Girl Group. Then, she'd been the picture of virginal innocence. Now, she looks just as fresh but there's something in the eyes. A Mona Lisa vibe. She has depth. Depth and mystery.

"Dorian, it's fabulous," Maci said, turning to give her a hug. The phone rings, Basil's on the line.

"How's our cover girl this morning?"

"Basil, it's terrific, but I wonder ..."

"What, pet."

"I don't look nearly as young as this picture. I'll be on the Today Show tomorrow when the magazine hits the newsstands and everyone will see that I'm not as young--or thin--as I look here. I wish now I'd gotten that tummy tuck."

"Sweetie, no one will notice a thing. Hank's on his way with another outfit and the makeup and hair people on Today are real artists. Relax, it'll be fine."

"If only I didn't have to go through with all that. If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture's arms started to jiggle! For that—for that—I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!"

"Chill out, pumpkin," Basil soothes. "That's crazy talk."

Dorian spends the next hour looking at the photo and sighing. She tried to call Dale--he and the kids were out at the ranch in Montana while she made the rounds for the next two weeks--but there was no answer. Then Hank turns up, with a fabulous dress in tow, and her spirits start to rise. The two of them spend the day trying on clothes and experimenting with hairstyles. Then Hank convinces her to send home her pilates instructor and hit the clubs instead.

"Hank, I can't. I've got a 4 am call tomorrow for the show. I'll need my sleep."

"Dorian, precious, the only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Besides, it will help you relax."

Dorian stumbled into her hotel room at around two. She managed to get her clothes off, but she didn't bother washing her face or brushing her teeth. When the wakeup call came, Dorian groaned in pain. Jesus, what an idiot I am. I'll be lucky if I pull this one off. She took a quick shower and threw on a pair of sweats. Maci was waiting in the limo with her dress.

"Christ, I'll be lucky if I can zip that thing up," she said. "I absolutely stuffed myself with caviar--and you know how I retain water. Ah shit. Maybe the coke speeded up my metabolism. Those makeup people are really gonna earn their keep."

She lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply, blowing the smoke out her nose. I can't believe I started smoking again. Now I'll have a whiskey voice to go with my whiskey face. She took another drag. God, that felt good. A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?

At the studio, the makeup girl spends a scant 10 minutes on her face and the hairstylist even less. And when she slips on the dress that had fit her like a glove the day before, it's loose and the wardrobe girl has to pin it at the waist. What the hell was going on? Dorian turns to look in the mirror.


It was the girl in the cover photo. The slim, perfectly coiffed girl of 21 with the knowing look. Her hair shines, her skin is perfection. And that body. Her breasts had risen two inches. And her ass! Her ass had never looked so good.

The interview went great. Meredith Vieira threw her nothing but softballs. OK, it was weird the way Al Roker kept coming over to her and massaging her shoulders, but all-in-all it went well. When they got back to the hotel, Dorian runs to her bedroom and picks up the package from Redbook. There she sees last night's debauchery. Her skin is blotchy and the bags under her eyes are like steamer trunks. Somehow her hair manages to look both greasy and dull. But the expression on her face is what really gets her. The Mona Lisa smile is replaced by a disturbing leer that makes her look both horny and desperate.

What a nightmare! Dorian shoves the photo into her private makeup case and resolves to hit the gym. But Hank stops by and the two of them hit the streets.

It goes on like that for two weeks. Then Dorian spends a week with Dale and the kids at the ranch she goes on tour. She's dismissed Maci and hired Hank to take her place. On nights when the two of them aren't out in the bars, Dorian's taken to binge eating. She generally orders a pizza or two from Domino's and washes it down with a half-gallon of Haagen Dasz triple chocolate ice cream. She never gains a pound. But her picture does. It's also grown grey roots, wrinkles and adult acne. And ... are there curly hairs erupting from her now not-quite-double chin?

The tour ends with Dorian on top of the world. She's been asked to grace the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, the oldest woman ever to appear on that page. She's exchanged her music producer husband for a younger model, a Hollywood director of only 28 with a string of hits to his name. She's nominated for a grammy and performs a morning concert at Rockefeller Center at another Today Show appearance.

Man, that Al Roker is creepy, but it's all good. Until suddenly it's not. Things start falling apart. Celebrity photog Basil Hallward disappears. Dorian drops Rufus Giancarlo after his film, The Maid of Orleans, starring the 47-year-old Dorian as the teenage martyr, flopped at the box office. Then tabloids get wind of her rowdy behavior. Dorian becomes a frequent fixture on Page Six, until the following blind item appears there:
WHICH recently separated celeb has a new habit to go along with her new friends? The cutie is spending way too much time in the bathroom of the many clubs she visits, hoovering down cocaine that her pals supply her with . . .

Dorian checks into rehab for drug and alcohol addiction, sex addiction and food addiction. Upon her release she vows to turn her life around and retreats to her New Mexico ranch to work on a new CD. The work is hard. Hank, who follows her everywhere, doesn't help. He insists on going out every night to cowboy bars. The last straw occurs one morning after they wake up in bed with two hands from the Imus ranch. Dorian kicks Hank to the curb. But still the music doesn't come.

Then it happens.

Switching on the TV one morning to Access Hollywood, Dorian discovers that her estranged daughter Jemima has written a tell-all book about her.

"This has got to stop," she screams and runs up the stairs. Dorian pulls out the Redbook cover photo and tries to rip it to shreds. Her assortment of hangers on hear a huge crash and run upstairs to investigate. Lying on the floor is a morbidly obese woman clutching a photograph of Dorian, the picture from the Redbook cover restored to its former beauty. The woman, a frightful old hag wearing clothes that seemed to have been shredded, has a scissors stuck in her heart. It isn't until her stylist notices that the tattered top the loathsome old hag is wearing is, in fact, the Prada sweater Dorian had put on that morning that they realize who the dead woman is.

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