Even though I am a devoted New Yorker and will never live anywhere else, I have a secret crush on Los Angeles.
In fact, I love it, much to the horror of all of my East Coast friends. “Yes, I realize that LA is like a giant suburb where it takes an hour to drive six miles and women walk around with helium-balloons attached to their chest with no sense of irony,” I reply to their complaints about the West Coast. But I still can’t help being superpsyched anytime I go. Maybe it’s the weather? The roadside taco trucks? The large amounts of allotted personal space? I don’t know. Driving around in my rental car this past week, listening to the radio, I remembered how fun it is to do just that. Taxi cabs in New York have always made me nauseous with their lurching and stopping and pungent smells, but speeding along the Pacific Coast Highway with a sandy beach to my left and a row of palm trees to my right, singing at the top of my lungs to “Since U Been Gone” just feels so right. While in the car, I happened to stumble across the radio broadcast of Tom Leykis, a nationally syndicated shock jock and love guru. Leykis’ Wikipedia entry is colorful to say the least. Notably, he has been married and divorced four times, once to a prominent television reporter he caught cheating, another to a listener of his show. Yet another of his marriages ended when he was charged with felony assault, battery, and threatening to commit a crime after a particularly nasty fight with his then-wife. So it doesn’t seem surprising, given his chosen career path, that fourteen years ago he decided to turn all of his pithy insights on sex and the downfalls of married life into the brilliant but wildly offensive four-hour radio program, The Tom Leykis Show. On this particular afternoon, he announced he was doing a special edition of “Leykis 101,” one of the show’s most popular segments, in which he teaches men how to get laid while exerting the least amount of time, money, and effort. As an equal opportunity offender, this edition would be special. “I know that some of our listeners, especially here in the state of California, are all of a sudden finding themselves in deep trouble,” he began. “As you know, this week gays and lesbians finally have the right to get married in the state of Californiaâ€¦And just so you guys understand where I’m coming from, I have said for years that I have no objection to gay and lesbian marriage. None. You know, you have every bit as much right to be tortured and miserable as straight people.” “In fact I want to start a campaign to make marriage illegal for straight people. Leave it to all of the gays and lesbians who are so enthusiastic and want it so badly,” he added sarcastically.
“I’m happy to give up my right to get married today.” And with that, he took calls. Later that evening, I returned to the Sunset Tower Hotel where I had made plans to meet my cousin, a singer who recently moved to LA, and an actress friend of hers at the hotel lounge. As we walked in, we noticed two vaguely familiar-looking blondes engaged in an intimate tÃªte-Ã -tÃªte with a male friend. “Its Ellen and Portia de Rossi,” my cousin whispered pointing out the two newly engaged women to me as if we were on a celebrity home tour. “I can’t believe they would sit at the most obvious table in the room.” Later, when Ellen got up to go to the ladies room and my drinking companions made a beeline after her to get a glimpse of the talk show host up close, I thought about what Leykis had said. Despite its inherent aptitude for misery and doom, I couldn’t shake my belief that marriage in the 21st century was anything but an endorsement of love. And regardless of whether it was gender appropriate or not, more people loving each other in a town as notoriously self-centered and soulless as LA couldn’t be such a bad thing. “What did she look like?” I asked when the girls got back. “Like she had a few drinks. But she smiled at us when she washed her hands,” replied my cousin. As Cindy Adams might say, only in LA, kids, only in LA.