So it turns out that the much-hyped "Anna Does Vegas, Part 2" is actually more like a quickie epilogue, and we're heading back home from Vegas in the first five minutes. I know E! has to market the show with an eye to the ratings, so it's okay if they excessively trumpet its "Outrageous!" and "Out of control!" aspects. The other two-thirds of this episode was much more interesting to me than the Vegas trip, but I realize that "Anna Nicole auditions chefs!" doesn't make as effective a promo as wild sex and depravity.
Anna Nicole's opening comment for the episode is the first one of these bits that I have considered totally lame: "Somebody asked me what kind of men I like. I said two kinds: foreign and domestic!" Ugh. All of the introductory monologues have clearly been scripted (and are the only such part of the show), but at least they've sounded like things Anna Nicole might say. This one sounds like an old Phyllis Diller one-liner. The only saving grace of this groaner is that it bears some small relevance on this episode's storylines, as we shall see.
We pick up where things left off at the end of Episode 5, with Anna Nicole, Howard, Kim and Sugar Pie in a private room full of topless dancers at the Vegas nightclub Jaguars. Everyone has had lap dances from the staff, and now Howard returns the favor by doing some dancing himself. The dancers teach him how to do "the reacharound," which is far too unpleasant to merit discussion here. Howard also gives Anna Nicole a lap dance, which evolves into fully-clothed humping on the floor. As she later comments, "Howard was getting very, very personal."
Undoubtedly, this is an exercise of attorney-client privilege without precedent in all of jurisprudence. From all the giggling, it's easy to tell that their pseudo-coitus has more to do with getting drunk and silly than with sexual arousal from either party. Howard admits that all of them were really plastered, and the party's over when the Jaguars management informs him that their bar tab has hit $890. This hilarious scene actually sets up some themes that will be explored later in this episode: Where exactly is the line between fact and fiction in Anna Nicole and Howard's relationship? How well does he really understand her unique view of reality? And is he out to screw her, in the metaphorical sense?
Upon leaving Jaguars, Anna Nicole announces that she is hungry for a late-night buffet meal. A month before The Anna Nicole Show premiered, word got out that Anna Nicole and Howard were going to have an eating contest at the Rio hotel's all-you-can-eat buffet -- a grudge match in the wake of their Episode 3 bout, evidently -- but that event was scuttled owing to Anna Nicole's tooth problems. So instead, we just get to see this midnight snack. Too tired or too drunk to fix her own plate, Anna Nicole tasks Howard with bringing her some food. "Anna doesn't want salad," Howard remarks at the buffet line, where he loads up some shrimp and mashed potatoes for her. Then Anna Nicole simply crinkles up her nose at the plate Howard presents, despite all her hollering that she's about to starve. "You didn't get me no salad!" she whimpers.
The next day, it's time to go home. The gang buys some suitably tacky souvenirs and checks out of the Rio. As they're leaving the hotel, an unseen male bystander spots Anna Nicole and coarsely yells out, "Look how big she is!" Anna Nicole laughs and lets the jeer wash off her like water off a duck's back while they pile into the SUV limo. She gets a bit irritable on the long ride back to L.A., cursing the sun for having the audacity to shine on her regardless of which seat in the limo she moves to. Later she suffers another sudden hunger attack and demands food ASAP.
After Anna Nicole has dozed off, Linda the esthetician asks Howard about his future plans and whether he wants to get married someday. (To someone besides Anna Nicole, presumably.) Howard confides that he has no intention of getting married or making any major life changes until Anna Nicole's case is over and her money's "in the bank." How interesting that we've never heard him make this sort of declaration about his long-range personal goals until a time when Anna Nicole is unconscious.
Safely back home, Anna Nicole embarks on a new adventure: to hire a personal chef. "I wanted to, you know, lose some weight and stuff," she says, so she decided to find a chef to cook healthy meals for her. This marks the first storyline on the show revolving around Anna Nicole's desire to slim down, which she has voiced intermittently (and halfheartedly) from the first episode. Howard arranges for Private Chefs Inc. to bring over four "top Hollywood chefs" to audition at Anna Nicole's house so she can play Chairman Kaga and chose the one she likes best.
The menu for the battle of the healthy dishes: Chef Oliver prepares a tuna dish, Chef Michael offers a lobster salad with caviar, Chef Marcel cooks poached salmon, and Chef Alexander, "the strudel champion of Austria," creates a Viennese apple strudel with low-fat vanilla sauce. Right from the start, I knew this was no contest. Alexander was obviously going to win. First off, he's got the most personality, mugging for the camera and making funny remarks while the other chefs are strictly down to business. Second, he's got a cool Austrian accent, and actually used to be a body double for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Third, he was making dessert and the three other poor schmoes were not.
Oh, and one other thing. Anna Nicole doesn't like fish. Game over, man. Game over.
"I really don't like meat that much," Anna Nicole further claims. "I'm, you know, borderline vegetarian. I eat meat maybe once every six months, and it's normally liver, to get my blood [up], you know." On the basis of her sumptuously well-fed figure, one's initial reaction is to call bullshit. But considering the foods best known to be her favorites -- pickles, pizza, pasta, Godiva chocolates -- perhaps she truly isn't much of a carnivore. Then again, she also likes to say that she hardly ever drinks anymore, and the Vegas exploits showed us otherwise.
When the chefs' dishes are ready, Howard fetches Anna Nicole from upstairs. Descending barefoot in a house robe, she expresses dismay: "Oh, it don't smell good in here. Smells like fish." You've got to wonder why the hell Howard didn't warn the Private Chefs guys to go easy on the seafood. But instead of pouting or throwing a fit about the menu selections, Anna Nicole is perfectly cordial and friendly to the chefs, and gives all their dishes fair consideration.
And yes, of course, she ultimately selects the Austrian strudel stud to be her Iron Chef. Too bad the E! crew missed their golden opportunity to get Alexander to say "I'll be back."
In the final segment, Howard brings Anna Nicole some risque items from a novelty store: ice cube trays shaped like breasts, and plastic soda-can toppers in the shape of stubby penises. (As anyone who know this show could easily predict, Bobby Trendy will end up gleefully sipping from these beverage toppers before the end of the episode.) Delighted with the gifts, Anna Nicole slips two of the little breast-shaped molds under her bra like highly protuberant nipples.
After that, some deliverymen arrive with more furniture from Bobby Trendy, including a new headboard for her bed. There is no mention of what happened to the previous headboard Bobby brought her back in Episode 3. Because Bobby is not there for this delivery, Howard impersonates him and coos about how beautiful and luxurious the headboard is. You can see one of the husky deliverymen crack a grin of recognition. Howard abruptly halts his comedy routine when he spots a tear in the fabric. Anna Nicole is also disappointed because the headboard isn't as tall as she expected. So Howard calls Bobby to complain, and the decorator says he'll come right over to handle the situation.
While they're waiting, Howard comments on the ice cube nipples Anna Nicole is still sporting. Suddenly she acts highly offended. "Leave my nipples alone!" she snaps. "Why are you being such a bastard, talking about my nipples?" This may seem like an irrational outburst, but I believe Anna Nicole is just joking. She's pretending that these are her real nipples, and fakes being insulted when someone calls attention to them. I think Anna Nicole gets tired of Howard always thinking he's the only comedian of the group, and she wants to have a joke of her own without him interfering and one-upping her.
Bobby Trendy arrives and irons out Anna Nicole's dissatisfaction, but Howard keeps bitching about everything being more expensive and of less quality than Bobby promised. Bobby remarks that he and Howard got along well at first, but "Howard and I became to be at odds at each other, because I felt that Howard was a bit... odd to me."
Their conflict comes to a head over a set of pink feathery pillows. Anna Nicole loves them, but Howard complains that the feathers on these pillows are cut up, broken and cheap-looking, as compared to another Trendy pillow with fuller feathers. Bobby quite rightly cuts to the chase and says, "The most important thing is, Anna, do you like the feathers?"
"I like them," she asserts. "You just don't know foo-foo."
And that is the whole problem. Howard doesn't know foo-foo, and by now he ought to. What is foo-foo, you ask? That's Anna Nicole's variant on froufrou, a French term originally derived from the rustle of silk, which is used to signify fancy, frilly and ostentatious ornamentation. You know, girly stuff. Foo-foo is what Anna Nicole loves most in fashion and decor, and Bobby Trendy is nothing if not a world-class vendor of foo-foo. It is pointless for Howard to evaluate foo-foo by the same budgetary and aesthetic standards with which you would approach a bed and pillows from Sears. If the pink feathers are quartered and irregular, that's how they're supposed to be. "These are foo-foo pillows," Anna Nicole explains. "I wanted foo-foo." As Bobby spits in frustration, "I felt Howard was just a mother plucker of feathers!"
In the closer, after Bobby has departed, Howard admonishes Anna Nicole for what he considers her misdirected temper. "If you used just one third of your anger that you use on Kimmie and me on somebody that tries to screw you..."
Her response is revealing: "I can't, because if I let my anger out... I'd hurt somebody." Anna Nicole recognizes the dark side seething within her, but despite her reputation as a tantrum-throwing brat, she usually has the self-control to keep from inflicting her wrath on the outside world. Consider her temperance shown in this episode, when she laughed off the heckler in a crowded Vegas hotel, and when she refrained from balking at the chefs' fish dishes. But she will freely let loose her anger on Howard and Kim, only because they are her good friends and she knows she can't really hurt them. As clearly as she sees the difference between foo-foo pillows and regular pillows, Anna Nicole carefully distinguishes between her friends and ordinary people in expressing her displeasure.
She begs Howard to stop feeling cheated by an extra charge on Bobby's invoice. "It's $200," she says calmly. "If he needs the money that bad, let him have it. I just have to go out and work harder."
Anna Nicole probably didn't intend it to be, but this remark is a more effective slap in the face than any of the furious onslaughts we've seen her hurl at Howard before. Without a trace of meanness, she is reminding Howard that it's her money that he's all worked up over, and she controls the purse strings. She is going to spend her money the way she wants to, even if it's on frivolous foo-foo that Howard thinks is a ripoff. And most beautifully, she knows that if she needs more money, she can go out there and earn it, instead of being dependent on the anticipated inheritance ruling that Howard is arranging his entire life around. She is her own person, and not so helpless and victimized as people think. Bravo, Anna Nicole.
And as for Howard... I never thought I'd say this, but I'm starting to feel like Bobby Trendy. I thought Howard was pretty cool at first, but the more I get to know him from watching the show, the more suspicious I get. He chides her for being too tolerant when people try to screw her out of money, but you know, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Even if his motivation for guarding Anna Nicole's bank account is not entirely so insidious, at least he ought to learn what kinds of food she likes, and get a grip on her subtle sense of humor, and make some effort to understand the ways of foo-foo.
Howard may claim to be her best friend and know her better than anyone, but I tell you what: I could still teach him a lesson or two in the science of annanicology.