Screw the $1,000 Peasant Blouse! Cognoscenti Get $20 Caftans in L.A.

Finding fabulously enriching things to do in Los Angeles has always been a trifle taxing.

When I lived there in the late 70’s and early 80’s, the dearth of life-enhancing activities drove me to all kinds of barrel-scraping extremes. For a while, I was actually reduced to attending the weekly meetings of Jayne Mansfield’s official fan club, of which I have more than a few haunting and surreal memories. A young and genial Mariska Hargitay-the current Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star who happens to be the late star’s daughter-stopped by on Jayne’s birthday to cut the pink heart-shaped cake for us fun-seeking members. I recall that Ms. Hargitay mingled indulgently with our odd little group while she toyed with some starchy cake on a paper plate. However, the entente cordiale came screeching to a halt when one of our members-an older gentleman who had clearly downed more than his share of the available Asti Spumante-decided to disclose to the assembled flotsam the reason for his profound empathy with the late starlet. With a slight quiver of emotion in his voice, he proudly told the group that he and the lovely Jayne shared the exact same cellulite configuration on their thighs. Exit Ms. Hargitay.

On a recent trip to the West Coast, I once again found myself desperately looking for kicks in all the wrong places. Once again I got more than I bargained for, this time courtesy of Lord Krishna. The current red-hot destination for those in search of glamour and excitement is nestled in the Hare Krishna Temple compound on Venice Boulevard and Watseka Avenue. It’s a boutique called Govinda’s (310-204-3263), named after the Hindu god “who pleases the cows and senses”-a major understatement, as I saw immediately upon entering.

The current lemming-like stampede of cognoscenti and celebs to this mini-bazaar is a cultural phenomenon. Every week, hordes of notables with varying levels of wattage (and cellulite) schlep to Govinda’s to load up on forgiving dashikis, caftans, saris and Krishna paraphernalia. Actresses Chynna Phillips, Christina Applegate and Susan Sarandon have all made the pilgrimage, and Steve Tyler (Aerosmith front man and father to Liv) apparently buys his musk chez Govinda.

The prices are so amazing that even the most hard-core celeb klepto would be happy to open his or her purse. The best-selling item is the Lucknow, a transparent, embroidered, caftan-ish affair that sells for a heartwarming $19.99. The saris, which make fantastic curtains or bedspreads, start at $23. If the celeb cruising and rummaging gives you an appetite, then rama-rama downstairs to the café and re-energize yourself at the $5.50 all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet.

New Yorkers can avail themselves of Govinda’s wares by logging onto Spending thousands of dollars on Madison Avenue to look like a peasant-as per this season’s neo-hippie trend-is embarrassing and silly. So stop it! And go Vinda! Go Vinda! Go Vinda! Screw the $1,000 Peasant Blouse! Cognoscenti Get $20 Caftans in L.A.