KING OF HEARTS

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KING OF HEARTS

Words and pictures by John Grafman

Valentine's Day is known to many as the sweetest holiday of all. And who am I
to argue? From candy to cars, all tokens of affection are welcome. To really
savor the flavor one must go west. Or, maybe I should say, to West Hollywood.
This is where celebrities go to enjoy the trappings of romance, and to be
seduced by the hippest trends.

This adventure to find the sweet life in L.A. requires first class
transportation. A limo might be perfect for such a journey as one can open a
bottle of bubbly in back and enjoy the ride. But, this is Southern California,
and we enjoy the luxury of sunny skies while others have snowstorms. So, it is
fitting that we find suitable means of arriving in the form of a Bentley
Continental GTC.

The convertible version of the GT is the epitome of magnificence, from the
unparalleled beauty of the coachwork, to the stealthy smoothness of the
twin-turbo, twelve-cylinder motor that produces a staggering 550 horsepower.
Even the most persistent paparazzi would have a very tough time keeping pace
with this big Brit. Perhaps this is why Paris Hilton opted for one. However,
with a vibrant pink paint job ala' West Coast Customs, I don't think she will
escape notice of anyone.

Our search for the sweetest Valentine takes us to the 2009 Valentine Celebrity
Romance Suite' at La Boheme on Santa Monica Boulevard. The regal qualities of
the Bentley didn’t escape the notice of the valets, (whom one would think would
be jaded) , and they place the sizable two-door smack dab in front of the entry.
A price tag that closes in on a quarter million-dollars after options is an
attention getter even in this town.

While the back seat where my guest is seated is less than spacious, it is still
hard to find reason to depart these confines which are swaddled in some of the
finest of leathers in two-tone, and trimmed with exquisite premium Mulliner
veneer chestnut wood that mirrors the other virtues the car offers.

La Boheme has been a landmark on the boulevard for decades and the latest
remodel has brought this up to par with any of the other trend setting eateries
in town.

Dozens of companies have congregated inside this airy villa for one purpose, and
one purpose only, getting products into the hands of celebrities. While this
might not be as good as having Michael Jordan endorse Nike's basketball shoes or
Hanes Underwear, or Tiger Woods selling the virtues of the latest Buick, this
does allow companies to reach out and touch the stars. In turn, the actors and
actresses get to sample the latest in everything from shoes to skin care
products. How sweet is that?

This is like stalking big game cats with filet mignon. If one can't track down
Hollywood stars with treats like this, then it's time to go back to the minor
leagues. Within moments our scope is fixed on none other than Tia Carrera. She
is brimming with a warm smile as she is coddled by Mimishooz, one of the
fashionable footwear companies displaying the latest trends. The unique custom
designed high-top sneakers are very nice, but the GTC still wins out, albeit the
shoes are considerable less expensive and do offer a good means of getting from
point A to point B.

Tia Carrera

Also spotted is Menyone DeVeaux. She is starring in the biopic Notorious (the
life and death story of Notorious B.I.G). Far from the gansta rap world, Menyone
is here trying on some catchy footwear from Sheikh. Given the warm glow on her
face, a few would wonder if diamonds really are a girl's best friend. With a
smile as bright as hers, no one would notice if she actually had shoes on or
not.

Menyone DeVeaux

Menyone says that she loves L.A. because “I get to enjoy any seasonal wardrobe,
without the snow. Its the weather, Hello!” She'll tell you a favorite
Valentines’ Day gift is a nice trip to the Virgin Islands, but when the subject
turns to cars her personality comes through “Fun, well-rounded, fearless and
sexy” are what turns her on.

Having the right handbag is almost as important as having the right car for the
occasion. Sofia Milos is hard at work deciding what fits her style among the
choices on display.

Sofia Milos

A few minutes later, Hollywood heavy and bad guy, actor Robert Davi appears.
Above the masses on the interior balcony Robert has a few moments with Kama
Sutra's sensuous oils and lotions before being besieged by the camera-touting
mob. It's not easy being famous. Kama Sutra's products encourage romantic
harmony and well-being, which is more than can be said about the paparazzi.

Fashion designer ZsaZsa
Bodizs and Robert Davi

As it turns out over the course of the afternoon this affair is awash with
celebrities including Melanie Griffith, William Shatner, Eric & Eliza Roberts,
Hector Elizando, Esai Morales, Carrie Preston, Kathy Najimi, Corey Feldman, Greg
& Elizabeth Grunberg, Catherine Oxenberg & Casper Van Dien, Alice Greczyn, James
Avery, James Kyson Lee, Jeff Garlin, Jodi Lynn O'Keefe, Kathy Joosten, Keisha
Knight Pulliam, Kym Whitley, Lou & Carla Ferrigno, Christian De La Fuente, Ted
McGinley, Nadia Bjorlin, Neal McDonough, Michael Welch, Nia Long, Robert David
Hall, Rolanda Watts, Stacy Keibler, and Tony Dovoloani to name just a few.

The Bentley offers the Mulliner bespoke program for those who want a personal
touch in trim, paint, and the material that comprise the interior surfaces.
Likewise, Dougal Munro, president of Holland and Sherry, and Christian Boehm, VP
of the Tom James Company are showcasing the finest in men's clothes. The nearly
unlimited choices of fabrics for suits means no Bentley owner needs to look like
anything less than a million dollars, even when the car isn't available. Camille
Flawless Haute Couture brings her hand-sewn, Swarovski-embellished creations to
Hollywood. Normally, the only place to find these amazing gowns is at the luxury
Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Worn by such notables as Paris Hilton, Kim
Kardashian and Mrs. Kobe Bryant, these chic and sensuous gowns will be given
exclusively to the brightest stars attending the Oscars. Of course, making an
entrance is as much about how one arrives as what one is wearing.

The Continental GTC offers a jewel like shifter with hundreds of tiny facets cut
into the knurled chrome shifter knob that not only sparkle, provide a little
extra texture for holding on. Similarly, Miami's haute couture jewelry designer,
Liz Alpert of Jewelry of The Spirit, is eye-catching as well. It's hard to say
no to a nice cut stone for the holiday; heart shaped, please.

Valentine's Day can have the profound effect of turning romantic relationships
into marriage. Mon Amie — the West Coasts' most elegant & premiere bridal salon
presented its elegant top designer bridal gowns, veils & bridal accessories to
lust over. Colette Jewelry located in nearby Beverly Hills is one of Mexico's
most renowned jewelry designers, Colette is a favorite of Salma Hayek, Jessica
Alba, Sophia Loren and Raquel Welch. If the wearing of Mon Ami and Coletter
Jewelry is just too serious, the Armies Wear hand made arm bands in an array of
colors – each one adorned with crystals, bugle and seed beads, a favorite of
Madonna, should do the trick.

Ashley Van Dyke, of Emerald Sports and Events last minute gift suggestion for
Valentines' Day to the guys is, “Every girl loves a day at the spa. It’s
refreshing and good for the soul.” And when it comes to cars, the GTC “Makes for
a great getaway car if the Valentine’s date doesn’t go as planned.” But, if you
are planning on getting her one in spite of her warning remember her preference,
“Black, because it’s a super sexy color.”

While looking good in the rarefied sheet metal of the Bentley GTC is easy enough
in any color really, a little extra touch of make-up is sometimes a good idea.
This is especially true with the top down as everyone else wants to catch a
glimpse of those behind the wheel. Lip-Ink® Patented Wax Freeâ„¢ Semi-Permanent®
Cosmetics keeps the lips wet and supple even with the top down and the Santa Ana
winds howling. Another choice might be Hollywood Pin-Ups' sexy vegan cosmetics
made with pure organic products and packaged in glittering old-Hollywood-style
jars and bottles keeps one looking camera ready with a good conscience. Want
more sizzle? Original Bombshell's collection of rich moisturizers from Love at
First Light to Spoil Me can make some of the meeker out there blush.

Livin’ la Vida Loca requires those on the go to put the brakes on and shift the
brain into park in order to make it from one day to the next, at least for a few
hours. GLOtoSLEEPâ„¢ is a sleep mask that clears your mind, and quickly relaxes
you and gets you to sleep naturally. Having the “I haven't slept in weeks” look
only works for Courtney Love. Most in this town, star or not, opt for a little
better.

HAI Elite has celebrities covered with the very latest in innovation with its
new-age ceramic hair-styling tools. Looking perfect is always key to dodging the
cover of some supermarket tabloid, and it should be considered standard
equipment in a convertible. However, the GTC is an anomaly in the world of drop
tops as so little turbulence is experienced within the cabin. Perhaps just an
extra dose of styling products will suffice. Nevertheless, BLO & GO has a
revolutionary hair styling tool that frees up your hands from holding a
blow-dryer and delivers a stunning, salon blown-out hairstyle. One can't always
count on hair spray and pomade.

Putting the foot to the floor in the heavy, all-wheel drive automobile can turn
numbers like 0-60 in 4.8 seconds and top out at 195 MPH. Putting your feet in
Shiekh Shoes turns heads nearly as fast. These gorgeous shoes will drive any
woman wild with sexy stiletto styles and classic looks. The Capelta Boots by
Monique are sensational, jaw-dropping, vintage glamour at its best. Each
Brazilian, handcrafted boot blends a mix of vintage and salvageable materials,
predominately recycled appeal, detached decorative emblems and texture fabrics.
Like the Bentley these are fashionable and allow the owner a one-of-a-kind
experience.

Celebrities not having a celebration just doesn’t seem right. Imperial
Collection Super Premium Vodka is an image product, with prestige and status,
just like the stars. From the filtration process to the exquisite design in
harmony with extraordinary contents, this is literally a heart-warming drink.
Direct from Russia, where drinking vodka is an art, Aisburg Vodka has
premium vodka and exotic collection of flavored vodkas just to take the edge
off. Also, Mata Hari, Europe's most prestigious, authentic, Bohemian-style
absinthe provides a unique special treat. They say, “absinthe makes the heart
grow fonder” which holds an extra special meaning on this holiday.

Nadia Bjorlin and Brandon Beemer

More goodies are on hand from Clara Kasavina Collection, EJ Diamonds, RYN
Footwear, Green Apple, It Works!, Secret Spa, Aglow Candles, The Sedona Rouge
Hotel & Spa and The Golden Door, and Premium Natural Spring Water. Plus
attending celebs are treated to gifts from Cadillac Fragrance For Men, True
Religion Fragrance for Women, Olivier Napa Valley, Zevia Soda, Here Comes The
Guide, Sedona Rouge by Body Bliss, Indira Jewelry, Lane Bryant, Bestow Boutique,
Juan Juan, and from 'bee to you,' Honey Pacifica gourmet honey to satisfy any
romantic.

Mignon Chocolate is the epitome of the sweet life. These exquisite, European
hand-made creations, based upon a 3rd generation secret family recipe, include
such mouth-watering delights as chocolate covered orange peel strips, liquid
caramel crowns, hand-rolled truffles and other delectable confections – a
favorite of the Hollywood elite.

All the trappings of the good life are tasty, no doubt about it. But taking them
home in the Bentley is the sweetest treat of all.

For more information about Bentley automobiles, visit www.bentleymotors.com. 

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