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Friday, August 18, 2006


The Simple Life In West L.A.

Paris Hilton made an appearance at a Best Buy in West Los Angeles tonight to promote her new CD, so I wandered over with my cameras to document the spectacle.

I expected only to get pictures of people standing in line (the queue started at the front door, went around the corner and ran the length of the building on one side). But, surprise surprise, I just walked into the store along with dozens of others to take pictures of the hotel heiress herself. Nobody asked for credentials. Nothing. The store was still open for business, which was laughable considering the line outside and the people inside armed with pocket digital cameras. They were climbing on CD display cases and jostling for position, albeit more politely than the paparazzi. One Best Buy employee in a yellow shirt eventually played the role of cop as he shooed away those who dared step on the single riser that had been set up for the media.

And then there was Paris, back between home appliances and home theater.

I'm no expert on celebrity book/cd signings. I can only recall ever covering one book signing, and that was for an auto writer named "Landspeed Louise." Still, all the celebrity events I've ever attended were credentialed with lots of ropes and guys with wires coming out their ears. This was nothing like that. This was, to my untrained eye, a free-for-all.

The story in the LA Times, KIIS FM, and a banner on the store got the word out about the event. I was running an errand when I drove past the store at about 5 p.m., two hours before Hilton's scheduled arrival, and already the line was halfway down the side of the building (It was the Best Buy at Pico and Sawtelle). The people at the start of the line were likely there for hours. KIIS FM had a DJ in a tent out front and, for a time, there were two black Suburbans parked in the fire lane outside the front doors. At one point a guy with a lost look on his face drove up, rolled down his car window and asked me "are they open?" Poor guy was probably hoping to shop for a television and he couldn't even find a place to park.

I left an hour after the autograph signing began and the queue outside had barely moved.

I'll forever be intrigued with people who stand in line to meet celebrities. Why do they do it? Is it worth it? Do they forever look back upon it as a happy memory, and if so, why?

Were I to wait half the day to see Hilton I would have but one question upon being introduced: "Why Best Buy?"

I've put together a small photo essay. It starts here

— TJ Sullivan in LA
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