In “The Truth About Diamonds,” Nicole Richie tells the story of Chloe Parker, the princess daughter of rock royalty and a card-carrying member of Hollywood's inner circle. Readers are given a no-holds-barred look at Hollywood's new elite, behind the velvet ropes, inside star-studded premieres and parties. Richie visited “Today” to discuss her new book. Here's an excerpt:
Chloe Parker would be a terrible role model if she were famous. Trouble is that she was about to be.
It started innocently enough, or as innocent as you can get on the dance floor of one of the hottest clubs in L.A.
The nightclubs of L.A. are like soap operas, except they're not Days of Our Lives; they're more like Passions — crazy stuff happens, and no one bats a fake eyelash. There's always some bizarre drama that plays out every night, and everyone in the cast — I mean, everyone — is great looking, stoned, and/or drunk. It's like a traveling freak show that stars the youngest and hottest in Hollywood. It's about fun, and sex, and pseudo-danger.
Chloe Parker was practically born in a club. It's like she spontaneously generated one night in 1981 during a fourteen-minute remix. As a child, she could dance before she could walk and sing before she could talk. Dressed in a tie-dyed onesie and a tutu, her head a tangle of golden curls, Chloe was destined to haunt the clubs of her adoptive city as soon as humanly possible.
Chloe had been going to the hottest clubs in Hollywood since she was this many, wearing L.A. Gear sneakers everywhere she went. Like me, Chloe has always been tiny, which meant we could both sneak into The Viper Room under the noses of the bouncers when we were thirteen. She was a kid partying with adults who treated her like a peer. Every important marker of her life had to do with clubbing. She wore her first bra to a club. She went out without a bra for the first time to a club. Her first kiss, her first crush on a gay guy, the first time she saw Jimmy Choo sandals, the first time someone passed her a joint — all happened in a club.
As a kid, Chloe would stand behind the DJ booth and dance, and the DJ could tell if he had the vibe right just by monitoring her movements. Like Holly Golightly in Madonna-wannabe rags, Chloe had the ability to not only be in the moment, but to create it.
It helped that she always gave herself little jobs to do to make everyone happier. She'd hand out Dixie cups of water if people were looking overheated, or she would fan them with the sleeve of one of the 12-inch records the DJ was playing. She was the Disco Granny reincarnated.
In those days, Chloe was like that — so pure, all heart and soul. To see her smile would have the same effect on a roomful of sweaty strangers as the DJ playing a classic, crowd-pleasing track. She could be like a little sliver of the sun — her glow lit them up.
Chloe's mailing address might have been her mom Peggy's place in Bel Air, but the place to find her — and more importantly the place where she was finding herself — was whatever party was hottest at the moment.
That night, it was Mode, a converted church on Cahuenga just north of Hollywood. Unfortunately, all of us were discovering a new side to Chloe — a scary one.
Chloe didn't need drugs to have fun. I mean, drugs would be double-bad for an addictive personality like hers, and I think she knew it. But she was drawn to them for the same reasons any young person may be — drugs seemed glam, and exciting, and reckless. Being high was intriguing; it made her feel alive. Drugs were everywhere in every club. And drugs took the place of love.
But along with whatever her other drugs du jour were, Chloe was as addicted to the club scene as she was a part of it.
To get to our booth, Chloe aggressively stomped up the staircase of Mode, a multi-tiered architectural maze with flashing lights and music so loud it felt like it invaded you, like a virus. Just as everyone in L.A. had to climb the social ladder, Chloe and all the rest of us had to climb three flights of stairs to get to the VIP level at Mode. Sometimes, scaling the social ladder was easier and faster than making it up those stairs, which were usually choked with hangers-on, wasted fans, and undercover tabloid reporters. Chloe wasn't nationally famous yet, but she was a glittering part of the youth party scene, and reporters were smart enough to know that where there's smoke, there's fire.
On her way up the stairs, Chloe started to pass two Asian girls, one tall and the other short and squat, who were bobbing their heads to the end of Kanye West's Golddigger. They both wore hip-huggers and expensive-looking belly shirts. They were not holding drinks, and their pupils were not dilated. Even in her chemically altered state, Chloe pegged them immediately: They were definitely magazine reporters.
At Mode, people acted up, hooked up, and threw up, and the paparazzi stood outside to shoot the stars as they went in looking fabulous and staggered out totally gone. Guess which kinds of photos got published? You're right! Both kinds got published. From what I heard, an exclusive shot of a new couple could earn up to fifty grand from a celebrity weekly. The price would triple if the photogs could shoot inside, but the iron-clad rule was no cameras and no reporters in the clubs. That was part of what stoked the glamour and mystery. No one really knew what went on inside. The doormen played, too. They were judge and jury when it came to letting people in and keeping people out. That meant the warm-up act for the freak show usually started outside.
Guys with money? Yup. But the doormen tried to keep the ratio of guys to girls at about ten to one. They wanted all the Brad Pitt wannabes to open their wallets while competing for the handful of Angelinas.
Excerpted from “The Truth About Diamonds” by Nicole Richie. Copyright © 2005, Nicole Richie. All rights reserved. Published by HarperCollins Publishers. No part of this excerpt can be used without permission of the publisher.