If there's one defining difference between the celebrities and the little people at Cannes (you know, besides having won the genetic lottery), it's the ability to get one's self on a yacht. Sure, there are some yacht owners who dock near the Palais and welcome anyone friendly and daring enough to climb onboard, offering them a glass of Champagne no matter how mid-priced their wardrobe. But we're talking about the elites-only megayachts — the ones so big that they don't fit in no stinkin' harbor; the ones whose flashing lights and cheery revelers you watch from the beach each night, anchored just far enough out to sea to make it clear that you will never be able to board one. Like Roberto Cavalli's or — the mother lode — Paul Allen's yacht, on which he threw his annual special-people-only party on Tuesday, and where, special people tell us, a spontaneous band formed with Allen on guitar, Jeremy Irons on harmonica, and Cyndi Lauper on vocals. (Allen's guest list is, however, extremely respectful of the film festival, and he invites every director in competition to come ... the lucky, talented bastards).
Over the past week, these impenetrable yachts have become an obsession for this reporter. How do you get on one? What happens once you're onboard? Are the life jackets plated with gold leaf? So, in the event that I (or you, dear readers!) ever actually get onboard a yacht, I grilled those who were lucky enough to do so to compile a list of dos and don'ts.
DO wear shoes you don't like.
As Grey's Anatomy veteran Melissa George told us at the IFP/Euphoria Calvin Klein/Calvin Klein Collection party honoring women in film, held at a private villa in the hills (okay, okay, world's smallest violin), the first thing one does when getting on a yacht, is take off one's shoes. This is particularly important for women in heels, which yacht owners or renters don't want scratching their floor. "It’s weird to see everyone, you know, their real height and their feet out," she says. "It’s a great equalizer, a yacht. It makes everyone as they are." A word of caution, though: "You lose your shoes a lot of the time. You don’t have your shoes when you get off the boat." So what's a girl to do? "Take somebody else’s, which has happened." Is she usually the victim or the perpetrator? "Can't remember. It's a good thing."
DO be prepared to make your own fun.
What about you, Joshua Jackson? Any complaints? "The company, occasionally," he told us at the IFP party. "Thing is, once you’re on a boat, you’re stuck. And it’s never my boat. So you’re just stuck. But I’ve actually never had a bad experience here. Other than the fact that it never stops and there’s no way to get out, it’s always been pretty lovely."
DO remember whose yacht you were on, because those of us who will never get to be on it will forever resent you for not appreciating it.
Jackson, who had been on Paul Allen's yacht with his girlfriend, juror Diane Kruger, followed this rule well: "It's quite impressive," he says. "Turns out, when you rule the world, you have a really nice boat." Kruger, on the other hand, failed. "I've only been on one yacht here and that was the guy, the one with the submarine. That was fun."
Jackson interrupted, laughing, "Did you just say, 'What's that guy?'"
Joshua: You know, the dude that invented that thing ...
Diane: Guess I’m not being invited back to that guy’s yacht any time soon.
Joshua: You blew our cover, hon.
Diane: Shit, man. I was so cool for a second, but that was that. Thanks for throwing me under the bus!
If you rent a yacht, DON'T make your crew hate you.
We met some random New Yorkers who'd decided that renting a yacht at the festival would be easier than dealing with a hotel. (Why didn't we think of that?) They did something on the very first day on the boat that somehow made the crew hate them. They're still not sure what it was — just being American? — and they actually seemed like nice, generous people despite a complete lack of awareness of other people's incomes (let's just say the words Chanel and fur came up quite casually in conversation). By day two, the crew's active hatred of their passengers had become such that, said one woman, "Every time they pass by us, it's so tense we've actually just stopped making eye contact. And we've still got the boat for another five days."
DO realize that having a yacht is a free pass to anywhere.
Privilege begets more privilege: Our wealthy New York friends told us that if you show up anywhere on a yacht, they just let you in. Last year, they drove their yacht up to the back of Red Granite Picture's ultra-exclusive Kanye West concert and the party masters welcomed them with a big ol' triple-cheek kiss. In contrast, this reporter had been on land, begging for over an hour to get inside before a kindly exiting partygoer gave me her wristband halfway through the concert. Je suis vraiment désolé, madame. J'ai quitté mon yacht à la maison!
By the end of the week, my pining, hoping, and wishing paid off, and I was welcomed on a yacht … though, to be fair, it was a docked one, which hardly counts (you're only on a real yacht if you have to take another boat to get to it). It was for a party hosted by Art of Elysium, and thanks to all my research, I was prepared! There was a shoe check, which diminished the chance of ending the evening in someone else's Louboutins (which was a shame, since I came in Steve Maddens and would have welcomed the upgrade). The company was, as I had been warned (thanks, Joshua Jackson!), not of a kind I was used to, but rich people are people, too, and I had some fine conversations. Plus there was food and good Champagne. I'll leave it to Jada Pinkett Smith, who we saw at the IFP/Calvin Klein event, to tell it like it really is. Is there anything bad about partying on a yacht in Cannes? "No," she answered, laughing. "I can’t say that there is. Just make sure that you can always see the shore." Let's make that another "DO" on this list of rules that I will never have a chance to utilize.