RED CARPETS AND OTHER BANANA SKINS by Rupert Everett (Warner), 406 pages, $33.99, cloth. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
Although he's written two thinly veiled comic novels - Hello Darling, Are You Working? and the Hairdressers Of St. Tropez - Red Carpets is actor Rupert Everett's first stab at memoir.
In 52 short chapters, Everett looks back on his life with a melancholy eye, a journey that takes him from privileged British schooldays to a rocky career on the stage and screen.
By book's end, he's a has-been. And proud of it.
His deftly worded reminiscences - particularly those of his childhood in the English countryside - often display a Proustian precision of detail and cutting choice of phrase.
But once Dame Fame rears her fickle head and thrusts him into the limelight, Everett becomes an unapologetic star-fucker.
At 17, he's dancing in a Parisian discotheque with Rudolph Nureyev. By 20, he's shagging a pre-knighted Ian McKellen and doing lines with Steve Rubell and Bianca Jagger in the basement of Studio 54.
Despite being stoned for two decades, whether the subject is Andy Warhol, whose lashless eyes, according to Everett, are surprised raisins behind dirty glasses, or being dismissed by Madonna - like sunbathing on a cold day and suddenly a cloud comes - Rupert's uncanny eye rarely falters.
Anna Nicole Smith stumbles through a hotel lobby naked, Bryan Ferry causes a scene on Mustique and Donnatella Versace snubs J. Lo, while Warren Beatty and Twiggy share cookies and confidences.
It's all revealing and fascinating celebrity gossip, but good luck finding the juicy bits easily ; Red Carpets lacks an index.
Toronto readers will notice that Everett loses the plot during a chapter about the filming of Hearts Of Fire in Toronto with unlikely co-star Bob Dylan. Everett contends that the rock-star-on-the-skids pic culminates with a scene shot in Maple Leaf Stadium in front of 60,000 fans.
Still, this is good pre-Oscar reading.
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