Envision in your mind, if you will, the most Cannes-iest Cannes party possible. What do you see? A scrum of paparazzi in tuxedos outside chasing after pretty much anyone wearing a dress? A giant crowd of gawkers attempting to get inside, despite no real indication that inside is awesome? Several young men wearing top hats, one with a strip of black eye makeup like Batman’s mask? Is the party on the beach? Is the club called VIP Room Famous Club? Then you have just imagined last night’s launch party at the festival for (Belvedere) Red, a special edition bottle of vodka that’s sale benefits the Global Fund’s financing of HIV/AIDS programs in Africa. Vulture was there, agape, but for all those unlucky enough not to have seen this bash that met and exceeded nearly every Cannes stereotype, let us take you on a walking tour.
The first thing you see once you move past the doorman to the lawn outside VIP Room Famous Club is a male little person in an angel costume carrying a silver bow taller than him. He is not the only little person you will see that night — there is a female one in a bright blonde wig inside — but he is the one who seems to be most engaged in his job, chasing after each minor celebrity who graces the red carpet and ushering them inside with much fanfare. Also on the lawn is a giant armchair, about one story high, with a sculpture of the beheaded body of a half-naked woman casually draped across it. There are cabanas with formal dining settings, a gift shop selling fluorescent trucker hats for people with very large heads reading “VIP Room Famous Club,” and a broken-down car in front of an alley where, you suspect, people go to have sex. Or at least that’s what it looks like from the mussed hair and happy faces of the couples that keep emerging from there.
You walk into the club. The D.J. likes to play sirens in the middle of songs. The waiters are wearing red-leather kilts and S&M gear and are going table to table delivering buckets of Champagne, along with sparklers. A topless woman in pasties and a flower headdress has a casual conversation with her seeming BFF, a woman wearing head-to-toe transparent black latex, platform combat boots, and Robert Smith’s hair. In the VIP area, Jude Law sits in a corner. You are not surprised. Later, Owen Wilson (who also showed up last minute to a Calvin Klein party the night before), along with Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Foxx (who arrive together for some unknown reason), will join him. This is also not surprising.
On the third level, hot women in angel costumes dance above the stage. Hot women dressed as half-naked toy soldiers come next, complete with corsets and impossibly tall furry black hats. This is the level where you will, upon scanning the crowd, spot Ron Burkle in his trademark black polo shirt. You will want to ask him if he will be having any parties on his yacht that he surely has anchored somewhere off the Cannes shore, but you will not be sufficiently underdressed to get up to that VIP-VIP level of VIP Room Famous Club.
At some point, Duran Duran come on, putting on a great show of their hits and rather terrible new material (e.g., “All You Need Is Now”). “We’re feeling hungry like a you-know-what!” Simon Le Bon will say, then remark on the revolving dance floor just in front of the stage. “This is the first time we’ve ever played in front of a revolving audience. It’s great. We love having different faces to look at every few seconds.” This club: blowing Duran Duran’s mind. When they are done, VIP Room Famous Club will put on a green laser show and start playing techno. You will get on the revolving dance floor with much difficulty (it’s fast!), and will think it is the greatest invention ever for people watching in a club, that is until the French men nearby catch your scent and start moving in, crotch first. You’ll want to jump off, but since it’s a revolving dance floor, the exit keeps moving. A revolving dance floor is a wonderful thing, but it’s kind of like the Hotel California. You can never leave.
You’ll go out to the lawn again to cool down and crack up about all the absurdity you’ve seen. There, you’ll see another young man in a top hat (what is up with all the top hats, fellas?), this one white and covered in glitter. Quincy Jones will arrive, causing a paparazzi frenzy. (Quincy Jones?!) And while you are sitting there near the giant armchair with the headless woman, watching people coming out of the sex alley, and discussing whether any of the women nearby seem like they’re there for business reasons, a horse will walk by. From what you can tell, this very large animal has come from nowhere, walked across the lawn, and then just disappeared. You will follow the horse’s path, because this is just too strange not to investigate, but the horse will be nowhere to be found. Your friend who speaks French will inquire with the security guard about where “le cheval” had come from. He’ll be vague. He does not know. “Where did the horse go?” she will ask. “Le cheval est parti,” he’ll say, shrugging his shoulders. Later, you’ll find out from the Belvedere publicist that the horse arrived at the party unexpectedly with a crew of half-naked women drinking vodka. She didn’t know why the horse had come, but she, of course, decided to send them all down the red carpet. (The publicist’s main concern, besides the possibility of horse shit on the carpet, was making sure the half-naked women were drinking the right brand of vodka.) Having used the horse to get past security, the women then went into the club and let the horse wander off on its own. “I guess that’s how you crash a party in France,” the publicist will say, laughing. “Bring your own horse.”
As you walk home past the men in top hats, laughing about the horse, the little people a distant memory, you will come upon a group of well-dressed Frenchmen having a party on a boat they are driving down the street. Not a boat attached to a car. Just a boat on wheels. “Bonsoir!” they will say, raising their glasses. “Bon voyage!” you will yell back, waving them on their way.
This article has been edited since its original post.