Hoarfrost is unique. A crystalline deposit of mystique. Forming amid the stark calm after a snowstorm. Typically on vegetation, fences and anything else it can get its frosty little claws on. But it had scarcely, if ever, visited the town of Los Angeles. Only a handful of times in documented history had it ever announced itself within the city limits. But today, on this most apocalyptic of days, the snowstorm had not remained within the parameters of Mount Lee and the Santa Monica Mountains, the former best known for looming over the Hollywood Sign on its southern slope. It had instead spread into the entire town of Hollywood. What was stranger still is that nowhere else in Los Angeles did any snow materialize.
The residents all the way from Selma Avenue to N. Hoover Street were effectively snowed in. Mountains of it piled along the streets in front of businesses and houses filled with many people who had moved to Southern California precisely because it was “always sunny.” Or, at the bare minimum, not at risk of getting any major snowstorms. That supposed perk had vanished one cruelly inclement day in late February, when the flurries began to come in fits and starts—then endless bursts. It descended upon the great landmarks of the neighborhood, from the Chateau Marmont to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. But it no longer felt like Hollywood would be “forever” in these conditions. When the snow ceased, however, it admittedly left a serene stillness that the town had perhaps never truly known. So accustomed was it to the hustle and bustle of “industry” wheeling and dealing. The constant ebb and flow of “making it.” In the wake of this storm, though, the town was silenced. Perhaps as it never had been before. For, usually, it was silent of its own volition (e.g., saying nothing about a roving monster named Harvey Weinstein).
The sheer shock of seeing everything frozen around them felt like an ominous metaphor for something else. As though Hollywood itself was frozen in time while the world around it moved on to other things, other “means of distribution.” As meteorologists tried to speculate about why this strange weather phenomenon was only happening within the boundaries of Hollywood, the snowplows were called in to attempt freeing the residents trapped in their homes. At the same time, they were always trapped there. Prisoners to a dream. Like Norma Desmond. Whores for Hollywood. And that’s when it struck Eve Lamont (a stage name, obviously): this was the reason for the snow—to bring the hoarfrost in its wake. Or, in Hollywood’s case, whorefrost. A grand emblem of who the town’s residents were as people. Eve certainly couldn’t deny that she was one. Pulling the Marilyn Monroe-when-she-was-still-Norma Jeane shtick of being an “unspoken” escort to any producer or other such influential bigwig that requested her as arm candy. She was always certain to accept any invitation, no matter how grotesque she had heard the man could be, how notorious his reputation. It was all “potential.” Leads. A gateway to a gig.
The escort “gig” itself had started three years ago though. And Eve was starting to wonder: would they ever see her as anything apart from a whore now? By the same token, actresses are viewed as just that. As “Joe Public” in Notting Hill says, “Do you know that in over fifty languages, the word for ‘actress’ is the same as the word for ‘prostitute’?” Eve had been thinking a lot about that line from the movie lately. Not only to try and corroborate if it was true about the fifty languages thing (from what could [not] find, it wasn’t), but to ask herself the question of whether or not a whore and an actress were as inextricably linked as patriarchal society had billed them to be for so long. After all, both “kinds” of women were paid to have a certain “look in their eye”—usually a coquettish and “up for it” one. That is, until more recently, Eve was told. Now that actresses were given the luxury of more “multifaceted” roles. In other words, she didn’t “only” have to be young or old. She could also play a character with a high-powered job, too! How thoughtful Hollywood had been to expand the portrayal of what a woman was capable of.
Eve herself had found that she was capable of so much more than she had ever thought possible. Especially when she first left her small town in Milledgeville, Georgia. The same town Vivian Ward told Edward Lewis she was from in Pretty Woman (what was it with Julia Roberts movies serving as such a talisman for Eve’s life?). It cound’t have been mere coincidence, could it? Now that Eve had turned herself into a whore like Vivian as well. And to what avail? She was no closer to becoming a star, or even a supporting actress. In the days before the snow fell, she had been continuously questioning whether or not she should stay and keep putting herself through this. Perhaps knowing somewhere deep down that she was never going to succeed. And the only reason people constantly dredged up that story about how it took Jim Carrey about a decade to land a starring role is because he was a man, and his age was irrelevant to making it. Eve’s was not. At twenty-nine, she knew the clock was about to strike midnight and turn her into a crone by Hollywood standards. She could quit while she was ahead and go crawling back to Georgia to find some safe, stable job in the administrative sector, or she could keep forging ahead with the knowledge she would become another cautionary tale that belonged in the pages of a follow-up to Hollywood Babylon.
In effect, she had reached her Joe Gillis point of no return. It was leave now or get out never. It appeared as though she might not be relegated to the fate of the latter, as Gillis was, packing her things to leave and heading toward the airport in an Uber. Except that, as the car tried to traverse the boundaries of Hollywood, the snowfall had escalated at such an alarming rate that it had blocked every road out of the city. The driver was barely able to get her back the few miles they had traveled from her apartment, where she would be holed up like everyone else for the next few days. When the hoarfrost formed. Like magic. The magic of the movies. Cinema magic. Magic is tragic.
Unable to endure the cabin fever any longer—nor the sense of how trapped she felt literally and figuratively—Eve decided to emerge from her apartment despite all the public warnings to, as usual, “Stay home, stay safe.” Marilyn had stayed home the day she died. But she didn’t stay safe. So fuck it, Eve thought, in addition to a tagline that cropped up in her head unasked: Hollywood: A Great Place to Die. Roaming the empty, snow-filled streets of the neighborhood she could no longer recognize, Eve stood entranced by one of the tree branches filled with hoarfrost. It made the whole block look like a winter wonderland, without even the need for being on a set, as it usually would have required to create such an effect in “sunny California.”
As she touched her fingertips to the frozen water vapor, something incredible happened: her body began to fuse with it—and then transform entirely into it. She had thusly rendered hoarfrost as whorefrost. Just like everyone else who had come outside before her and touched the frosty spectacle. That’s why it had been oh so quiet and oh so still. The whorefrost, through its powers of transfixion (like cinema itself), was absorbing all the Hollywood whores. And when it melted, maybe that was when the town could start all over again. As something fresher and purer.