Drugs for many people are part of the Hollywood experience. Throughout the history of the entertainment business, drugs and alcohol have gone hand in hand. That dates back to the days of silent film. Heard of the Fatty Arbuckle scandal? Stars that lost the battle: Marilyn Monroe, Bella Legosi, Jim Belushi, River Phoneix, Heath Ledger, Whitney Houston, Phillip Seymore Hoffman, and the list goes on and on. Those are just the famous ones that died on the cross of drugs and alcohol – how many struggling unknown actors died in a similar fashion? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands?
Ashley in the novel arrives in Los Angeles, basically white as snow. No drug experiences, except for a little marijuana. She starts running with a hard drinking and pill popping group and gradually succumbs to peer pressure. She takes one pill to get her going, another to fall sleep, another to relax, etc. Chloe sells pharmaceuticals for a living and has everything available to her. She uses a variety of pills until she finally realize they are making her sloppy. She tries to quit and can’t stop on her own.
Brady sees cocaine for the first time and is scared by it. He takes his first bump and likes it, and immediately follows that with angry sex. This helps him to numb the pain of his broken heart, and the guilt for abandoning his family in Kansas. The trap is set, and Brady can’t seem to get out of it. He feels guilty for the things he is doing and the only way to escape that guilt is to keep doing them.
The predators in Hollywood use drugs to prime their prey for the “kill”. In “Palm Avenue,” Chloe use drugs consciously or unconsciously to seduce Ashley. Dr. Davis uses drugs to take advantage of Jillian. Cliff Cooper uses drugs to break down Ashley’s inhibitions. Crystal uses drugs and sex to capture Brady. Jack Wrangler knows that cocaine is a useful tool to help him get what he wants. Owen and his friend know that ecstasy is the perfect drug to give to unsuspecting Ashley.
This is what often happens in LA. People arrive in town relatively inexperienced, and they are introduced to drugs like cocaine and ecstasy. They start doing these drugs on the weekends, and then during the week. Some realize they are getting out of control and stop. Others however can’t stop and are hooked. They move on the more powerful drugs like crystal meth and heroin. Some survive it, but many don’t. They lose their minds, their freedom, and their lives. So much for the Hollywood dream.