Inspired by the plethora of cheesy scandals currently bedeviling the celeb community, I have decided to open my very own Image Rehab Clinic. I’m convinced there is a lucrative opportunity in the growing number of moneyed attention-seekers who, like Paris Hilton, have become seriously addicted to skank style and porno chic. They drop out of high school, bleach their hair, buy loads of white high heels and then embark upon a helter-skelter of downward aspiration. Their goal would appear to be to become as common as possible, as fast as possible.
Why do I care? Having myself traveled the bumpy road from common to vaguely presentable, it breaks my heart to see these Taras, Lizzies and Britneys recklessly flying past me in the opposite direction.
Disgraced hotel heiress Paris Hilton, in particular, has brought out the warm, caring Professor Higgins in me. I want to take this rangy, uneducated sapling and turn her into a swan-or, at the very least, a pet gerbil.
I have, however, no intention of being soft on Paris: She is clearly suffering from a horrible case of high self-esteem and is in dire need of a committed disciplinarian-sort of like the mom, played with Oscar-nominated verve by Piper Laurie, in the 1976 movie Carrie . Her therapeutic techniques-many of which will be fully utilized at my Image Rehab Clinic-included beating Carrie about the head with a Bible and locking her under the stairs. O.K., so Carrie went off her rocker, but it was her cheap, nasty girlfriends, not her mom, who really turned her into a demon. Now let’s get started.
Image Rehab ground rules: No boozing! And absolutely no A.D.D.-inducing Red Bull! No shaving, piercing, metallic-mauve eye shadow, fag-smoking, delicate cutting or butthole bleaching.
DAY 1: Wardrobe rehab: Paris will start with a humbling, spirit-breaking trip to Ann Taylor-a store she has probably never been to in her life because she always thought it was for nuns or cleaning women-to pick up a pastel cardigan twin set (shell $89, cardigan $149) and two knee-grazing skirts (black wool boucle $109, periwinkle wool $79).
Now Paris needs a pearly necklace-a real one, not the kind they feature in porno movies! Off to Tiffany for a 16-inch, $2,300 strand, and thence to Barneys for a pair of demure Louboutin kitten heels in black, bronze or dark blue patent leather ($460). If Ms. Hilton has been cooperating, she now gets a special treat: an Hermès Kelly watch ($1,200, paid for with the Hilton squillions), complete with padlock detail symbolizing chastity.
Now comes the important Piper Laurie dénouement: Paris, in her new demure duds, will be dragged to the basement-along with garbage bags full of her tarty halters, stretched-out thongs, butt-crack jeans and sleazy, stained Juicy Couture velour sweatsuits-where she will meet her new best friend, the incinerator.
DAY 2: Take hair back to her natural color ($250 at Frédéric Fekkai) to achieve a quietly groovy Scarlett Johansson look while undergoing aversive conditioning: Electric shocks will be administered to Paris’ knee caps while she is shown pictures of porn star Savannah and famous-for-nothing Angelyne. A soothing neck massage will then be administered while Paris contemplates pictures of posh blond ladies like Grace Kelly and C.Z. Guest. End the day with a bracing cold shower and antibacterial scrubdown with Avon Naturals: allow Paris to choose from Vanilla, Sea, Peach or Gardenia, $4.99 from Avon.com.
FINAL DAY: First outing. No , not the Ivy or the Kabbalah Centre or some other tragically trendy, paparazzi’d destination: I’m talking about lunch at Le Deli Grandeville, a public eatery located in the basement of 450 West 33rd Street. This inappropriately monikered, unglamorous canteen feeds a wide spectrum of earnest hard-working New Yorkers, including the employees of Lerners, Channel 13 and Doubleclick. Le Deli Grandeville will be Ms. Hilton’s big opportunity to find out, via supervised conversations, how the other half live.
Re boozy prosties, Piper Laurie played one fabulously-Oscar-nominated again-in the incredibly hot, must-rent 1961 Paul Newman flick, The Hustler . Ms. Laurie would be a fabulous addition to the Image Rehab staff, but I’m not optimistic: Fan Web sites claim she now only works when the spirit moves her.