Los Angeles is a city made up of micro-cities, each of which have personalities and habits that help forge their own, unique identity: Santa Monica is all bronzed beach babes and too many sunburnt tourists; Downtown, on the other hand, is defined by it’s art scene, whereas Koreatown is the only 24-hour neighbourhood. Then, there’s West Hollywood –‘WeHo’, to those in the know – the most progressive place in America.
Now, I wouldn’t call myself as hardcore as Kate Moss. However, my partying credentials do stray slightly to the wilder side. Once or twice, I may have turned up at 3pm the next day, clutching nothing but an empty chicken nugget box and with very little reconciliation of the night before. With a strong five tequilas being my average tap-out limit, I thought I could handle West Hollywood’s nightlife. When I was told I’d be trying some of the weirdest and wackiest wellness remedies to come out of the West Coast in recent years, I was more than confident I’d breeze through.
Los Angeles may be known as the City of Angels, but it has its fair share of devils knocking around. Despite 2am bar curfews and a revolving door of beautiful people that elegantly sip – not slurp – Patron shots, there’s a notorious undercurrent of on-it-til-sunrise partiers. After being warned, scolded and threatened not to be hungover before our Shape House sweat session, we rolled in at 5am from a Hollywood Hills house party, reeking of vodka.
Bleary-eyed and still a bit boozy, we bundled into an Uber to pick up our Alchemy Café super juices. Juicing isn’t a new concept in LA, but it’s still one that I can’t quite get on board with. The ‘Mermaid’ juice I ended up with belonged back at the bottom of the ocean and tasted like I’d just swallowed an entire tube of toothpaste. Whatever flavour the mint was trying to mask, it succeeded – and I succeeded by throwing it in the bin. Crawling across the road and hiding behind huge aviator glasses (when in LA, darling) we were met by a larger than life character at the entrance of Shape House.
With the promise of losing up to 800 calories and banishing all the toxins bashing around my body without lifting a single weight, I offered zero resistance when instructed to take of all of my clothes – including underwear. Handed to me was a regulation charcoal coloured tracksuit. I toyed with how hygienic this all must be and decided that I’d be keeping my underwear firmly on. However, the tracksuit was clean, if entirely unflattering, but smelt fairly fresh, so all concerns of an ageing playboy’s sweaty groins promptly left my mind.
After being wrapped in a plastic sheet, bundled into my sleeping bag and taught how to use the T.V remote beside me, I was told that in the first 40 minutes my body would sweat and I would feel mildly uncomfortable, and that the 15 minutes would be very intense and I should remain mentality strong, grit my teeth and get through it. I snuggled down and let the opening credits to the Sex in the City play.
If the steamy Samantha sex sessions weren’t enough to get me hot under the collar, the far-infrared radiation that was currently heating my body from the inside out at 75C was. Sweat seeped into my eyes and my body clung to both the foil interior of the sleeping bag and the grey, now black, sweat suit. I could barely focus on Carrie, because I just wanted to rid myself of this burning coffin. I’d literally been transported to the gates of hell. Seconds before I was convinced I was going to pass out, the sleeping bag was unzipped and I was free to go.
I walked out entirely gross, hair slicked back and wearing a grey t-shirt (you could tell it was my first rodeo) complete with huge sweat patches, but, I was hangover free and surprisingly alert. I may not have transformed into Selena Gomez – she’s a huge fan – during that in 55 minutes, but I also hadn’t yet reached for the Berocca. Promptly undoing all the morning’s hard work I embarked on Gracias Madre’s Vegan Margarita train and once again saw the sun rise over downtown LA. This was quickly becoming a habit.
While the rest of us are still kidding ourselves with new year’s resolutions and corresponding gym memberships, this time of year means awards season across the pond. A blur of red carpets, camera flashes and glittering couture gowns pass by as celebs stretch their social calendars beyond the best of any PA’s abilities. Our own Christmas parties and festive social calendars pale in comparison. We might as well be a Sunday afternoon jelly and ice cream affair. Feeling like I’d been kicked to the curb and rejected from one to many castings I headed to Rehab Wellness to get ‘hooked up’.
If I’d have sent my group chat or my Mum a photo of me hooked up to an IV, they’d presume the worst and pray I had adequate medical insurance. Not in West Hollywood. This was as regular as picking up a double espresso or a pack of paracetamol because you felt slightly under the weather. At this point, I felt more than under the weather – I was drowning in a mammoth hangover. I’d exceeded my five-tequila tap out limit. When a bronze Hercules opened the door to Rehab Wellness’s tiny store front above a 7/11 parking lot, I had a feeling I’d come to the right place.
Unlike a visit to British A&E where a splinter can turn into a full day trip, in WeHo, I filled in a short medical form, signed a waiver and was led into a treatment room. Like any good one, whale music was playing in the background and sickly incense caused me to sneeze. Garrett (Hercules) told me I’d feel a slight prick and that I was to enjoy my facial – he’d be back in half hour to check on me. Slightly aware of the drip hanging out of my arm pumping me a cocktail of vitamins, I sat back to tried to relax. Despite the calming music and light fingertips freeing my pores from the smog, I kept peering through my eyelids at my drip. Throughout the whole thing, I just couldn’t relax. I was completely aware that something was being driven into my body. It didn’t matter that the IV infusion of clear liquid contained glutathione, engystol, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, D, some B’s thrown in there and zinc. Eventually, Garrett returned, unhooked me from the IV and left so I could thank my therapist. At first I felt nothing. My migraine was gone and my skin looked oily, but I didn’t feel elated or overcome with energy.
Five minutes later, I felt euphoric and was completely converted. Everything looked saturated, glowed brighter and for the first time in twenty years I didn’t feel tired. I hadn’t even left and I was frantically googling where I can get the same treatment in London. I’d even considered asking Garrett to move in with me, because I was searching for a new housemate. How did I feel this good when I’d fallen down the EP & LP stairs a mere twelve hours before? I was convinced I’d been pumped with more than just a cocktail of vitamins and uttered not a single complaint. I even chose to walk – blasphemy in WeHo – up the one and only hill to the top of Sunset Boulevard and briefly contemplated deleting my Uber account.
I’d partied like Miley Cyrus and left looking like Hannah Montana. A bouncy, shiny blow dry and radiant post-facial skin masked what I felt on the inside. My body was dehydrated, sleep deprived and recovering from a yo-yo diet of avocado, vitamin overdoses and cheeseburgers. Still, I walked into a round of applause from my housemates for surviving and to a barrage of compliments on how refreshed I look. For someone that calls four coffees in one day cutting back, fresh face is the holy grail of compliments and a certified rarity. I wonder if Garrett can give me a quick IV before my Christmas party? This ego massaging is kind of addictive.