A Norma Desmond Is Still a Star


Photo: Amina Akhtar

Species: The Norma Desmond
Etymology: Norma Desmonds are aging performers whose time and has come and gone. They’re still big; it’s the nightlife scene that got small!
Distinguishing characteristics: Normas are often surrounded by a crowd of older cougars — the comparison makes them look younger — and Viagra’d men who hang on their every word. They know how to play it up and show off their best assets — usually their legs, in a too-short dress. The hair is an unnatural hue that recalls Carrot Top. The first thing a Norma Desmond will tell you is that she’s in an upcoming film with a major star. IMDb will disagree.
Known locales: The Pen-Top bar at the Peninsula; the Stone Rose, mingling with other ladies past their prime.
Diet: Normas keep it old-school: Valium and Benzedrine.
How to approach: “Are you in movies?” is the best way. Normas love to be recognized; their lives depend on it. Without some attention, they wilt. But once you get them talking about themselves, they won’t stop. Run. Fast.
Endangerment status: Slim. You might end up face-down in the pool, but she’ll always be ready for her close-up. —Amina Akhtar