The Ballad of L.A.’s Withered Flowers

This is Zipporah. She’s rich, loves life, has traveled the world — and is certain she will be famous some day. Oh, and she thinks you’re cute and wants to know all about your heritage.


Why? . . . Why are you asking? You’re in Surreal LA.


In a city so preoccupied with beauty and youth, Los Angeles is home to a small army of eccentric older ladies whose eyes still sparkle with a young starlet’s dreams of fame, fortune and love.


If you’ve spent anytime roaming the streets of Hollywood proper or Beverly Hills, you’ve seen them: older women in their sixties and seventies dressed to the nines in all kinds of theatrical assembles begging for your attention. I’ve seen eighty year-old pink-haired old punks standing in line for band auditions, a wheelchair-bound Cinderella buying Depends in a CVS — and a grandmother wearing an ornate feathered mask in a Ralph’s.


Some people call them crazy. I’d like to think of them as withered flowers.



Take Zipporah. We met her last weekend in Santa Monica. Twice, actually.


Dressed in her Beverly Hills best – a matching red and white outfit, white nails, crimson lipstick and starlet sunglasses — Zipporah is a true withered rose.


Our first encounter happened on the street, after last weekend’s topless parade in Venice Beach. The Valley Girl, A.W.O.L. and I were walking back to Santa Monica when this spritely older European woman stopped me and asked: “You’re Cute; What’s your heritage?”


She was asking everyone on the street this question, as if she was trying to give every soul in this town a new perspective on race and identity. Or maybe she was just bored and wanted to let the world know she was alive. I’m thinking the latter.


Our second encounter occurred a couple of hours later on the bus — of course — where Zipporah was back to her old tricks, questioning a handsome couple about their heritage. I think they just wanted to make out. And rightfully so. They were a pretty hot pair.


On the bus, we had the good fortune to chat with her for a few minutes about her glamor-puss life. Zipporah was as positive and rosy as her shade of lipstick. She described her life as being charmed. She claimed to live in Beverly Hills, where she was comfortably retired. Then she went on to tell us her dreams of being discovered and becoming famous, but didn’t specify what for. She was just sure that she was going to be a big star.


I didn’t have the presence of mind at the time to ask her if that’s why she was finding ways of talking to total strangers on the street or the bus. But in hindsight, it all makes some sort of twisted sense.


I have to say, Zipporah projected the sort of happiness and positivity reserved for the deluded. Not that being deluded is necessarily a bad thing. I mean, there is little difference between dreams and delusions — especially in a town that consumes dreams as quickly as Charlie Sheen goes through crack — and porn stars.


For some people, their dreams are so powerful they have the potential to become an addiction. And these withered flowers are just addicts.


I have to admit these women scare the shit out of me. Maybe that’s because I see my own lost dreamer in each of them. And maybe we all do . . .  but I’ll keep pinching myself to make sure the dreamer will awaken . . . at least in time for some bacon and eggs.







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