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When it comes to Los Angeles, Sharon Stone

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Thumbs up When it comes to Los Angeles, Sharon Stone

by Mark Seal

When it comes to Los Angeles, Basic Instinct 2 star Sharon Stone knows a thing or two about a thing or two, from which hotel pool has the best setting for a lazy lunch to the best spot for babies to take a nap.

ďWhen I first came to L.A., I took an apartment based on pictures that a real estate agent sent me,Ē says Sharon Stone of her arrival from New York to Los Angeles in the early 1980s, ďbecause she told me that the apartment was going to be Ďon the water.í And it had a terrace and a big bedroom and a living room with a fireplace. You could see boats in the picture! You could see out of the windows to boats! And when I got there, it was, like, a bachelor community in Marina del Rey, and the fireplace turned on with an electric switch. It was like a bad Mary Tyler Moore set. It was a nightmare! I was horrified. I was afraid to go out on my fake redwood deck where, of course, I was sunbathing in January, because I didnít understand that that was not de rigueur. But for me, coming from New York, I thought it was plenty warm.Ē

The second of four children born to a Meadville, Pennsylvania, factory worker and a housewife*/Avon rep, whip-smart Sharon went to college with the help of money she won on the beauty-*pageant circuit (she was named Miss Crawford County). She then modeled in New York and finally made her screen debut as a beauty on a train in Woody Allenís 1980 film, Stardust Memories. After moving to L.A., Stone began starring in films like Deadly Blessing, King Solomonís Mines, and Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol while moonlighting on many of the eraís television series, including T.J. Hooker, Magnum P.I., and Remington Steele. But other than starring alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall, she was not a household name. Then, in 1992, she lit up the screen in Basic Instinct, seducing Michael Douglas and audiences worldwide as the icy, murderous temptress Catherine Tramell. An Oscar nomination (for her starring role in Casino as a Vegas bossís moll, opposite Robert De Niro) followed. Since then, sheís spent more time as a mother; she adopted
her son Roan in 2000 and his brother Laird in 2005.

Last month, she returned in Basic Instinct 2, a hard-wrought sequel that she shepherded as both producer and star. Hereís Sharon Stone on Los Angeles, the one constant in her roller-coaster career.

Letís start with your days in the tiny apartment. Is there a place you went back then that you go now? Well, I made friends with Mimi Craven, who is, you know, my best friend. Her ex-husband, Wes [director of Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street], introduced us, because I had done a movie with him, and I was the only person her age that he knew. So he took us out to dinner to a restaurant we ended up returning to often, until it no longer existed. But we still go to places like Aunt Kizzyís Back Porch, which is a great place for soul food, and we love to go to Roscoeís Chicken and Waffles. Thatís a big stop for us. And we still bowl at Pico Bowl, which used to be better because they had a restaurant that served beignets, and weíre very big on Southern food.

Where would you launch a perfect Los *Angeles day? I still think the counter downstairs at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Fountain Coffee Shop, is a charming place to have breakfast or lunch. Iíve been going there for 20 years. You go there and you can see anyone from wonderful rock-and-roll stars to people in the business, strangers passing through, to a mom with her kids. And you can get anything from the McCarthy Salad, which has been their special forever, to really great pancakes, and read any newspaper, because itís a cosmopolitan hotel. So you have everything from the International Herald Tribune to the New York Times to, if you must, the Los Angeles Times.

Then do you go straight to work? Or to the pool? Of course you can sit by the pool, if you like that. But I prefer to go to the Peninsula if I want to sit by the pool and eat lunch, because they have cabana dining. Itís really great. They have great cabanas that are in the old style, a little enclave, and if you want to have a semisexy lunch, they pull the curtain and bring white wine in a bucket and make you feel like youíre really sophisticated. And itís really cute. Thereís always someone in the pool whoís actually swimming around with their sunglasses still on. Itís really funny and very L.A.

Do you have a favorite hotel? It just depends on the season. You donít want to send people to certain hotels during certain awards or seasons. People go to different hotels for different things. The Bel-Air is a very elegant hotel. The Peninsula can be great when itís not full of people going to an awards show. The LíErmitage is very nice. I lived in the Sunset Tower Hotel when I moved out of my old house and before I moved into the one I live in now. God, what was it called before it was the Sunset Tower? The Argyle, and it was so nice too.

What are some of your favorite personal landmarks in Los Angeles? Well, I love the ocean, and Iím a person who loves to fly kites. I think thatís very beautiful. For many years, I carried a kite in the trunk of my car. Just down on the beach in Santa Monica, or sometimes out in Malibu. Or if I would go more south, down by Manhattan Beach, which I think is very beautiful. I would just keep it in the trunk of my car, and that would be a big thing for me to do. Just drive down at the end of the day, if my day ended early or if I had appointments down in that direction.

Which beaches can we find you at? It depends on what I want to do. Iíve always liked all of the fun things on Muscle Beach and Venice Beach, and thereís a place on Muscle Beach that still has rings and balance beams. And thatís a lot of fun. Just recently, I was down there playing around in the rings and seeing if I could still get up and stand in the rings, which is just fantastic. Thereís a parking lot just off Rose. You can drive straight down and park right on the beach. When Roan was little and now with Laird, I like to go down there, and they fall asleep in their car seats. I like to drive down in that parking lot and put all of the windows down in the car and sit and look at the ocean. Babies love that. They love that ocean air. Thatís their favorite place to take a nap in the car. You can walk on the beach there, and there are swing sets, and thereís a health-food restaurant right across from the sand, and thereís a good place you can sit and have a salad and a cappuccino. And you can always pick up funny scarves and T-shirts.

Okay, where do you go for the municipal meal of Los Angeles: lunch? I like a restaurant called Lucques, named after the Lucques olive. Very cool, and they have women chefs who are quite talented. That restaurant, too, has a fireplace, which is always a big draw for me. They have both garden dining and indoor dining, again, with big booths that can seat six people. Itís very intimate, and they have ó which is something thatís very important to me ó waiters who have chosen to be waiters, who find it to be an elegant and worthy profession. And I think thatís wonderful, in that European fashion that makes dining so rewarding.

The cityís known for its major league shops ó and shoppers. Where do you like to shop? I love HermŤs. And then, of course, I love furniture. Iím a complete furniture fanatic. Right now, Iím redoing the bathroom and kitchen, so you canít get me out of Waterworks or Fergusonís. [Mimi and I] like to go to secondhand-clothing stores, and sheís big on the flea market scene. We float around looking for things for her to photograph. We have a photography book that just came out, called Something to Hold. So weíre always looking for photographs for Mimi. We come to a skidding halt when we find some marvelous thing to photograph. We look for the picturesque view, the poetic moment. I think because my schedule is so hectic, and L.A. is so beautiful, Iím not a big shopper. Iím more a person who likes to go to the museums.

Which museums? I love to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art. I love to go to little exhibitions, like Bergamot Station off Santa Monica. I really love that. They show really interesting artists. I just went down there because I collect [the work of] an artist named Hunts Boneham, and he had a show down there that was just great. We love to go to the Getty Museum, which is just amazing, both inside and out. And it has two restaurants in it, and itís just fantastic. The food is fabulous up there, and the view is amazing. And the shows. Because there are always like four different shows going on, and there is always a photographic show that is just mind-blowing. We love to go there.

Whatís your favorite spot for a romantic dinner? I really love the place I went to the other night, the Tower Bar in the Sunset Tower Hotel. We went there just after we saw the screening of Basic. The m‚itre dí, Dimitri [Dimitrov], was so lovely. We had a marvelous meal, and the atmosphere is so nice, and the booths are so comfortable because theyíre beige suede. And the whole restaurant is kind of beige and gentle with a spectacular view and great ambience. Itís beautiful, and the restaurant has a fireplace. Six nights a week, the Tower Bar has a piano player.

Is there a nightlife place that epitomizes L.A. for you? Whatís that place that has the bar on the roof? The Sky Bar. People go there and have drinks at night and walk around with really high heels by the pool and wear a lot of makeup and tight dresses* and pretend that they really donít want anyone to look at them but would kill themselves and fall in the pool to make sure that someone did. Itís really funny and great, and people often go there for parties after movie premieres.

Would Basic Instinctís Catherine Tramell go to the Sky Bar? Oh, my God, donít you think Catherine Tramell would go there? I would think she would definitely go there.

Whatís the greatest Los Angeles spa? I love this place called Beverly Hot Springs. I love to go with a girlfriend for the day, because itís a real hot spring. You go into the bowels of this building, and itís really bubbling out of the ground. You get a locker, you take off your clothes, you sit in the hot springs, and itís as hot as the temperature of the spring that day. They have a cold plunge pool, which can be a heck of a shock. And you go in and out between the two until itís time for you to go in for, well, I sign up for a full scrub. And they scrub you like youíre a farm animal. They donít scrub you like, ďThis is a lovely day at a Beverly Hills spa.Ē They throw you on a table, they use a brush, and they scrub you head to toe. They flop you over on the table, and they just use bowls out of a big bucket of the hot spring water and they throw the bowls of hot water over you, which I think is marvelous. Then, they scrub you with cucumbers that they grate right there and actual milk. They just throw the cucumbers on you, and the milk, and they do you head to toe. They wash your hair. They scrub your face. And then they stand you up and hose you down with the hot spring, and you are so clean. One layer of skin just ripped right off. And then you go back into the hot spring and soak. I get a massage on the table, too, a major pounding, and then I sit in the spa. I also get an acupressure massage from the Asian men downstairs, who actually get up on the table and walk on you. I mean, you have to be into it. Itís not for sissies. But when you leave, youíre completely done. Youíre loo*fahed head to toe, youíre as clean as you can possibly be, and you are relaxed. Iím mad about it.

Then youíre ready for some exercise, right? I love to golf. It depends on where I get invited. My favorite is the Bel-Air Country Club. Itís just beyond belief. But also, depending on whether I have a very short day, I might go over to Whitsitt, which is the street that itís on, to the par three. Itís a public course, and itís just lovely. So charming. But another* favorite thing for me, because sports are my big thing, I love to hit baseballs. I go out to the Castle on Sepulveda Boulevard to the batting cages. I like to hit hardballs. I think it starts at 40 miles an hour, but it goes up to 70-mile-an-hour baseballs. Thatís my thing. I hit 70 miles an hour.

Are people shocked to see Sharon Stone in a batting cage, swinging away at a 70 mph pitch? When I take off my hat and turn around, theyíre really shocked to see a gal my age, and when I walk out theyíre like, Oh, my God, itís her! And then theyíre very shocked that Iím hitting the burners.

She Said Ö
Sharon Stoneís
L.A. story

The Beverly Hills Hotel, very expensive, (310) 276-2251
Hotel Bel-Air, very expensive, (310) 472-1211
LíErmitage, very expensive, (310) 278-3344
The Peninsula, very expensive, (310) 551-2888
Sunset Tower Hotel, very expensive, (323) 654-7100

Aunt Kizzyís Back Porch, inexpensive, (310) 578-1005
The Fountain Coffee Shop at the Beverly Hills Hotel, inexpensive, (310) 276-2251
Lucqueís, expensive, (323) 655-6277
The Restaurant at the Getty Center, expensive, (310) 440-6810
Roscoeís House of Chicken and Waffles, inexpensive,
(323) 934-4405
The Tower Bar, expensive, (323) 654-7100

Ferguson Enterprises, (310) 657-1750
HermŤs, (310) 278-6440
Waterworks Collection, (310) 246-9766

Bay Shore Lanes, (310) 399-7731
Bel-Air Country Club, (310) 472-9563
Bergamot Station, (310) 453-7535
Beverly Hot Springs, (323) 734-7000
The Getty Center, (310) 440-7300
The Museum of Contemporary Art, (213) 626-6222
Sherman Oaks & Castle Park Batting Cages, (310) 643-9585
Studio City Golf Course, (818) 761-3250

The Sky Bar at the Mondrian Hotel, (323) 848-6025

We Said...Our L.A. story

Cadillac Hotel, moderate to expensive, (310) 399-8876. If youíre like Ms. Stone and love the ocean, why not stay there on your next visit? At this Venice Beach inn, every room features a view of the Pacific, so you can slip out of your stuffy suit and play surfer dude or chick living a basics-only existence in order to save up for a new stick. But donít get us wrong: While the Cadillac isnít the Four Seasons, it is clean, comfy, and does have some character. In fact, it was once Charlie Chaplinís summer home.

Shade, expensive to very expensive, (310) 546-4995. For a more movie-star-style stay, complete with poolside massages and in-room espresso machines and martini shakers, consider yourself made in the Shade, Manhattan Beachís first luxury boutique hotel.

Jade Cafť, moderate, (323) 667-1551. We thought ó or maybe secretly hoped ó the raw-food fad would have shriveled up and died by now, but this is Los Angeles, and the trend lives on at places like this seven-month-old spot in happening Silver Lake. A tiny room fit for only 30 or so diners, Jade boasts a menu of all-natural, unprocessed ingredients with subtle Italian, Thai, and Mexican influences that might just make converts of us yet.

Memphis, moderate, (323) 465-8600. We share Sharon Stoneís affinity for Southern food and find all our favorites in Memphis. No, not the city, but the restaurant. A Victorian schoolhouse turned deluxe dining room, Memphis has devotees lining up for down-home delights like fried chicken, blackened catfish, ribs, gumbo, mac and cheese, coleslaw, and banana-bread pudding.

Whole Foods Lifestyle, (323) 848-4200. This Whole Foods Market outpost on Santa Monica Boulevard isnít the only store in the vast U.S. chain with a new lifestyle concept store; it was just the first. Eco-friendly is the obvious mantra here, where beyond the brandís normal organic foods, you can snatch up everything from hemp blue jeans to recycled glass dinnerware.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery, (323) 469-1181. If you came to L.A. to see the stars, you probably wonít find more in any one place than you will at this noted resting place for celebs like Cecil B. DeMille and Johnny* Ramone. But beyond that, the site offers awesome views of the Hollywood sign, and in summer months, screenings of films starring Rudolph Valentino and other famous residents.

San Antonio Winery, (323) 223-1401. A winery designated as a Cultural Historical Landmark? In Napa, yes, or maybe Paso Robles. But in downtown L.A.? Yet thatís the case at this 89-year-old family-owned cellar, the last of more than 100 wineries that once lined the Los Angeles River basin. In addition to tours and tastings, thereís a lovely on-site wine shop and Italian restaurant.


What donít people realize about L.A.? That you can have true and loyal friends and that the people who are from L.A., the families that are real Los Angelenos, are wonderful, civilized, decent people. And that expression, ďOh, those people from L.A.,Ē is not really correct; the people who are interlopers to L.A. have come here and behaved inappropriately. But the people who are from L.A. are marvelous, elegant, sophisticated, good people who have been incredibly patient with the interlopers who have come here and acted up. L.A. has been caricaturized in films so much, but the real L.A. is such a lovely place, and the people are so kind, the real people. But you have to be here a while, and you have to become part of the real community and give of yourself to be in it, to be of it. I donít know if thatís revealed so much to the outside world. People think of it as cheap and glittery, and it just isnít like that.

What do you love most about L.A.? I have wonderful friends and family here. The climate is marvelous. Every day is a pretty day. And I really like that we have had for so many years the freedom to be looking forward in things like spiritual investigation and self-realization, which has become an accepted thing. If you would have said, 15 years ago, somewhere else, that you were using your intuition or felt that you were supposed to do something, people would have thought you were just a nut. But in California, these are things people have been exploring for a very long time.





Photograph by Bettina Rheims/H&K/Art + Commerce.

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