Hollywood HIGH

Our intrepid reporter goes undercover to learn where the town's hottest deals--drug deals, that is--are going down, and finds that heroin, cocaine, and ecstacy are not that much more difficult to buy than a cup of coffee.

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"Take off your shoes," commands Dr. "X." That request may strike you as odd, but hey, this doc will barely squeeze you into his appointment book even after two longtime patients refer you. Besides, the doctor is way hip. This season, drug informants attach their "wires" to the soles of their feet or inside the heels of their shoes, and run them up their legs. So, off come your shoes or you're ushered, pronto, out of his suite of offices.

If you're a woman, he'll say, "Hand me your bag," then check out the contents thoroughly. From guys, he demands, "Take off your shirt," then examines the bare flesh: Who knows, you could be wearing one of last season's electronic bugging devices, taped to your back. "Are you a narc?" he asks. Only if you clear all these checkpoints will you hear at last the phrase that has made Dr. "X" an underground legend among Hollywood's young, famous and well-connected: "WHAT would you like today, and how much of it?"

To the million-dollar-a-movie stars and struggling supporting players who make up the celebrity practice of Dr. "X," the choices may be dizzying. Depressed over all the rejection that goes with the territory--the roles you lose, the reviews you get when you do work? Dr. "X" can dole out a cache of Hollywood's current antidepressant of choice, Sinequan--the replacement for Prozac that druggies love because you can take it when you're doing other drugs. Frantic for steroids to quickly bulk you up to Schwarzenegger size for your next audition? No problema, with your friendly doc on the case. If your shopping list includes amphetamines or quaaludes, would you care to buy just a few weeks' supply or the giant economy size? Got a taste for "H," as those too nodded out to pronounce "heroin" refer to it? Dr. "X" thoughtfully supplies the syringes too. Or, are you smoothing the ragged edges of withdrawal from "H"? Let Dr. "X" fix you up with methadone.

Other doctors before Dr. "X" have catered to Hollywood's drug needs. No one before has provided one-stop shopping for you and your pals. He will, in fact, supply any drug you order, so long as you pay him directly. In cash. If you become a patient of this physician, who is becoming to young Hollywood what the infamous "Dr. Feelgood" was to Manhattan's well-heeled addicts of the '70s, be prepared to drop no less than a grand per visit. Why so costly? You see, you can shop not only for yourself, but also for your friends. Your drug needs met, just stash your stuff and proceed to the cheery receptionist in the outer room who collects the fee for your office visit--she'll even bill your health insurance company.

All this may sound like a tragic, surrealistic fantasy sequence cut from Postcards from the Edge or Less Than Zero. I wish it were. Here's the awful truth. Despite a decade of poignant, hair-raising accounts of young stars' recoveries from drugs and alcohol--Christian Slater, Ally Sheedy, Robert Downey Jr., Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, plus such older guard types as Robin Williams, Carrie Fisher, Dennis Hopper, Richard Dreyfuss, Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli, James Caan, Richard Pryor and Don Johnson--Hollywood isn't a town that just says no. It just says it just says no. Check this out. On a recent story assignment, I posed the question: How do young Hollywood stars spend their cash? Dozens of film industry people refused to comment, even off the record; others did respond, but sounded unusually guarded. "The money gets spent on L.A. houses and getaway places in Montana or Colorado," explained a woman formerly employed as a personal assistant by a well-known, turbulent heartbreaker. "What's left over from that," she added, "goes to agents, publicists, business managers, and on cars, bikes, clothes, music, smokes, eating out, acting classes, personal trainers, political causes." Because her ex-boss is widely known as one of this town's major hellraisers, I pressed her: What else? "Oh, just stuff," she said, dismissively. Stuff like drugs? "Very passe," she said, reproachfully. "Haven't you heard that everybody's into cleanup?"

As a matter of fact, I have heard. And though I wish it were so, I know better. These days, the media glut of post-rehab testimonials has slowed to a trickle. Remember Melanie Griffith's candid confession that, while under the influence, she collided with a car manned by a drunk driver in front of Le Dome on Sunset? Or Christian Slater's remorseful reflections on the night he plowed his car into a telephone pole during a high-speed police chase? Instead, we're being fed uplift: "Beverly Hills, 90210"'s Jason Priestley and Jeff the Dog entertaining hospitalized kids, a volunteer effort sponsored by Sandoz Pharmaceuticals. Interviews from some young actors suggest a new Hollywood brimful of gifted, positive-minded kids living only to guzzle Evian, pump up at the gym, write checks to save the rainforest, attend A Course in Miracles lectures, and do "quality work" for directors who respect their artistic "choices." Has Sodom been transformed into Spiel-bergland? I don't think so.

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