We leave the studio and walk north. “We’re going shopping today, but don’t tell my mother,” she says. We enter Space NK Apothecary, where Paz calls the production office of Boardwalk Empire and charges $180 worth of facial products to the show. “It’s my job to look good, so why should I pay for it?” she says. Paz asks the store clerk if she can charge her BlackBerry behind the counter, opens her shopping bag, and walks in front of the mirror, applying the facial lotions. “When I was a child, my father cleaned my face with Kiehl’s facial toner every night!” The thought of her father makes her light up. Despite his absence, Paz proudly claims to have inherited his gift for acting (though he is not an actor), his looks, and most other traits. But when I ask what her father thinks of her movies, Paz deflates. “I invited him to Cannes,” she says. “I even offered to fly him there. But he heard the movies were boring.”
We make it halfway across the street before she realizes she left her BlackBerry.
We enter Jill Stuart. “How would you describe your style?” I ask her. “Like Sharon Stone in Casino,” she says, emerging from the fitting room in a suctioned neoprene jacket. The salesman runs to her side, arms flailing. “Oh. My. God. This should be illegal!” he says, approvingly. “I’m only 15,” Paz says in a virginal flirt, pointing at me. “But laws were made to be broken.” A scruffy ex-boyfriend Paz had previously lent $750, bailing him out of a precarious situation, stalks the front of the store, envelope in hand. Paz goes out and kisses him on the cheek, tells him that she loves him, and clutches the envelope full of twenties; his eyes squinting as if he’s trying not to look at the sun, he skips away. Paz skims the cash and then watches him turn the corner. Then, without hesitation: “I need a new dress!”
“Why don’t you save the money, if you’re so broke?” I ask Paz as we cross Broadway.
“Because I deserve it.”
“Do you have your phone?”
“You were definitely Marilyn Monroe in a past life,” says her astrologer.
After retrieving her phone again, this time from Jill Stuart, we head to Resurrection on Mott Street, where Paz proceeds to walk around the store in her bra and panties, attracting glares from the older women. “What do you think of this?” she says, walking out of the dressing room with a leather corset that pushes her breasts up to the throat. I say it looks too biker chick.
“I love biker chicks!” she says. After trying on several other dresses, Paz settles on a $700 Margiela Salem-witch-trial dress that closely resembles the dress she is already wearing. Paz only wears black, so as not to distract from her personality.
“Let’s go to Lovely Day,” she suggests, walking down the street in her new dress and a scarf I have let her borrow. “I’m hungry. Do you have any money?” At Lovely Day, Paz explains to the waiter that she wants her eggs “crispy on the edges, but not to the point that they become brown.” The waiter shakes his head and explains that “the chef just won’t understand that.” Paz grabs the waiter’s pen from his shirt and draws a detailed outline of a sunnyside egg, lightly shaded around the edges. “That’s how crispy,” Paz says, handing him the napkin.
We proceed to her astrologer. She is a svelte six-foot-tall woman who operates out of a musty room at the corner of Bowery and Delancey. “You were definitely Marilyn Monroe in a past life,” she tells Paz. “You have a Venus in Libra. I wish I had a Venus in Libra. The best thing is to have a Venus in Libra. Second best is Venus in Taurus.”
“What does that mean, again?” Paz asks.
“You are totally capable of creating your entire reality, but you are also capable of destroying everything. It’s a very vulnerable position, but all the greatest actors have it.”
Paz stares off. “I can feel her in my body,” Paz says, referring to Marilyn Monroe. “I just read that Norman Mailer book about her. She was a lot smarter than everyone thought.”
The day is getting exhausting, but Paz has an appointment with her psychiatrist, so I swipe my MetroCard twice and we head uptown. We pass a panhandler in the subway, and this seems to put Paz in an introspective mood. “It’s amazing that no matter how much money you have, you can make some bad decisions, and in five months you’re on the street, begging,” she says.
“If you made a lot of money, would you know what to do with it?” I ask her. The train jolts us back and forth, Paz clutching my waist for support. Seedy men shoot gazes in her direction.