She plays the virginal donna on 'Beverly Hills, 90210'‑ a role, she claims, that is close to the real Tori Spelling.
Out in Hollywood, about the only thing Tori Spelling doesn't have is a boyfriend. The last time she did have one, four years ago, it was the loutish, verbally abusive Nick Savalas, son of the late lollipop‑sucking actor Telly Savalas. Finally, she got rid of that turd. But since then, she has had no one. " I date once in a while, but it just never clicks," she said over eggs Benedict at an airy Santa Monica, Calif., restaurant. "I just don't like anybody. I'm really, really picky. And then when I pick them, I usually pick the wrong ones. They're the worst ones I could pick. I ask myself, 'What was I so picky about?' I mean, I might as well have just gone out someplace and said, 'OK, who's the a‑‑hole here? OK, I'll take you!'"
She shook her head and laughed, and her big brown eyes grew ever bigger with a kind of appalled amusement.
"Lonely?" she said after a moment. "Hmm, sometimes, yeah, sure, I go through periods where I'm lonely. But at this point, right now, I really don't care. I don't. I don't even want a boyfriend!"
She pushed back several pieces of dangling henna red hair and said she has her reasons, besides the I‑only‑pick‑jerks reason. Mainly, she's just too darned busy for love! All week long, from dawn till dusk, she has her Beverly Hills, 90210 television show to tape. Plus, once a week she has a standing dinner date with her father, Aaron "Johnny Ringo‑Mod Squad‑Fantasy Island-Charlie's Angels‑ Family‑Love Boat‑Dynasty‑Vegas-90210" Spelling, the TV‑show producer, one of the entertainment industry's richest tycoons and a man who calls everyone, both men and women, babe and lover. Then, at her apartment on Wilshire Boulevard, she has her one‑eyed cat and her "retarded" dog to take care of. And in the morning, she has her naturally curly hair to iron. And she has auditions to go to. And soon she will have to be out pompomming for her new movie, Trick, a gay‑themed romantic comedy in which she proves herself a fine comedic talent, just as she did in 1997's The House of Yes. And tonight she's going where no man is welcome: to a friend's bachelorette party, for which her main, delightful contribution is a piñata ‑ a handcrafted, Tori‑made "porno piñata" filled with sex toys and trinkets, including "10 little peckers that grow in water." So, she's a little too busy for men. Who needs men when you have all that?
Men, on the other hand, are never too busy for Tori. They have lots of time for her. They show up at her apartment building and tell the doorman they are the Prince of Monaco, here for Tori Spelling. The doorman turns them away, having seen their kind before. And yet they persist. They want Tori, not even really knowing Tori. Such behavior, of course, is symptomatic of the current general decline, but the current general decline may also be symptomatic of what happens to men in a Tori‑deprived environment. For she has so much to offer, should she choose to offer it. And, as it happens, one day she might!
"I still love men," she said musingly "I still believe in the fairy tale you have when you're a kid. I still believe in ultimate happiness."
She heaved a great big sigh and looked kind of dreamy. She leaned forward, her eyes fluttering and moist.
Family Ties: “I worked really hard for 10 years to overcome being Aaron Spelling’s daughter,” says Tori. Silk cream dress by Richard Bowman.
Before this day off got started, Tori lay in bed in her T‑shirt and underwear, as is her custom. As is also her custom, the TV had been on all night ("I'd be terrified if I woke up and the television was off‑ terrified!'), and it currently displayed the heaving bow of the Titanic, with Jack saying to Rose, "You jump, I jump!" Tori stirred in her mauve pink surroundings. She had eight pillows on her bed, but only two cushioned her head. She does not move much while she sleeps. As a matter of fact, the position in which she dozes off is usually the position in which she awakens, which leads her to believe that she will be "a good person to sleep next to when I have a boyfriend." Calm sleeper though she is, however, her morning hair is always bent out of shape, flaring wildly. It needs the hot iron, and it got the hot iron. Then she changed into crisp blue supertight jeans, a white T‑shirt with flowers on it and a fuzzy black sweater. Downstairs, no Prince of Monaco waited. She got in her green Chevy Tahoe and drove toward her favorite Santa Monica breakfast spot with sandals on her feet and baby pink polish on her toes. It was a beautiful, sunny day in California. She cruised along in her great big 4x4 truck, tiny in its seat. She is 25 and made her first television appearance 20 years ago in Vegas, a TV series produced by her father. For the past decade, she has been known primarily as Donna Martin of Beverly Hills, 90210, also produced by her father. One of the main issues in her life has revolved around being the daughter of this father and growing up in a $40 million, 123‑room Holmby Hills mansion, the front lawn of which once disappeared beneath snow imported just so Tori -"Toto" to her father- could see what the white stuff was like on Christmas Day. The family's wealth embarrassed the teen‑age Tori, who sometimes refused to bring kids home from school to play. But it was under these circumstances -being raised the daughter of a loving, filthy‑rich father- that she entered the Hollywood fray, and for that there has been a price. The press in particular loves to pick on her, carping about her nose job (OK, so she had it done -she still thinks it's the ugliest part of her body), her quite ample breasts (never done, she said, no matter what the snipers say), her chin ("shovellike," wrote a heartless Time journeyman), her smile ("disconcertingly plastic," wrote an Entertainment Weekly scribe), her stormy relationship with ex‑boyfriend Savalas ('a nightmare," Tori once said, "telling me 10 times a day how ugly I was -I cried all the time") and her way of ending up on her dad's shows -the whole nepotism thing.
It's a lot to put up with, and it has caused her great pain. But in a way, it hasn't been all bad. "It sucks that people have to view her like that," says her younger brother, Randy, also an actor. "She's pretty good with it, though. She's like, 'You know what? F‑‑‑ everyone. If they're going to look at it like that, I'm going to prove them wrong!"' And that is pretty much what she has done, first in The House of Yes and now in Trick, in a supporting role as a wannabe musical‑theater actress that calls for some not-really‑great singing and dancing and basically allows her to steal the show "You gotta love her," says Trick director Jim Fall. "This is just one really funny girl. There's a lot of humor in her and a lot of untapped potential."
Untapped largely because Beverly Hills, 90210, once so cool and in the news, is now hardly noticed by mainstream Hollywood movie people, so gaga are they over the newer teen shows. And does this ever tick Tori off!
"It's funny, because our show was, like, the first teen hit show, but at that point it wasn't trendy to cast people from TV in movies," she said, once she got to the breakfast spot. "Then Party of Fíve, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson's Creek come along, and it's suddenly trendy to cast them in movies. So, at 90210, we're all like, 'Oh, cool!' But the casting people are like, 'Oh, no, you're past. We want the new one."
She frowned, bouncing her nails off the tabletop. " I mean, I worked really hard for 10 years to overcome being Aaron Spelling's daughter," she said. "And now I've got this whole 90210 thing to overcome?"
She shuddered. "By the time I get past all this," she said, "I'll be, like, 50, and then they'll be like, 'Tori Spelling? She's great! She's a movie staah! Now can she play someone's mother?'"
Someone looking at Tori from afar, someone inflamed by the orgiastic view of Hollywood that is the regular bonfire material of national politicians and The National Enquirer, would probably think that she is more than a little loose, if not an outright slattern, her famously semi‑perma‑virgin Donna TV character notwithstanding. Should the Prince of Monaco actually appear in her lobby, within minutes the two of them would no doubt be butting loins in Tori's iron four‑poster bed, the prince as yet unaware that she sleeps with the TV on; that her roommate, a fellow named Kevin, is a newly degreed dentist who can often be found in the kitchen bleaching the teeth of strangers for a little extra cash; that she doesn't drink coffee or smoke cigarettes; that her tacos are delicious; that she likes talking on the phone only if it's from inside a tanning‑salon booth; that if she even hears of someone's odd superstition, that odd superstition instantly becomes hers. For instance, she used to be able to step into an airplane with either foot. Now, thanks to some blabbermouth friend, her right foot must cross the threshold first. Similarly, a dinner plate must never be left with an odd number of peas on it, since "odd numbers suck, and even numbers are good"; no tunnel can be entered without two honks of the car horn and the lifting of feet; and a deck of cards must never be cut, lest the cutter's own life be cut in half. These are the kinds of things the prince would not yet know.
The truth is that two of Tori's most often used expressions are "Oh, gosh" and "Oh, goodness." And that she has not even slept with enough men to have a favorite brand of condom!
"I've only been with a handful of men," she said forthrightly. "Not even two handfuls. You see, to me, numbers have always been a big deal. It's a numbers thing with me. I always thought if you were with too many men, then men wouldn't respect you. So I'm very aware of the numbers and making sure I can count them on one hand."
"I'm at five now. Five." She held up one hand, five fingers spread. She looked at her fingers, and suddenly it dawned on her that with the next man, she would be facing two hands. She narrowed her eyes, breathed deeply and then, at long last, shrugged. "Maybe I'll just subtract five and start again."
The eggs Benedict arrived.
"Than‑kew," Tori said to the waitress. And when the waitress had gone: "I don't have sex, but I'm deeply sexual. Does that make sense? I'm very passionate."
She cut into eggs, ham and English muffin, pondering the future. "Some guy's going to get very lucky one day!" she proclaimed. "I always think, because I don't really date and I don't sleep around, I always say to myself, especially now since I haven't been with someone in a long time, I'm like, 'The next boyfriend I have, wow, he's in big trouble! Big trouble!' Ha‑ha. I mean, he better be aerobic!" She sat back in her chair, the food on her fork trembling. "Oh, gosh," she said after awhile. "It's been a long time."
Of course, it won't be all fun and games for her next boyfriend. It's quite likely that after a while, she will irritate him with some of her habits, such as saying "Than‑kew" instead of "Thank you." It may also begin to bother him that no matter who's at fault in any given situation, she's to blame. " I apologize for everything," she said. "'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, whatever I did, I'm sorry.' Like, if someone bumps into me and says, 'I'm sorry' I say, 'I'm sorry,' too. Friends and boyfriends are always saying, 'Stop apologizing!' And then I'm like, 'I'm sorry!' " After a while, maybe even the smallest thing will begin to make his skin crawl maybe even the fact that she doesn't like to drink water, because "it doesn't have a taste," and she doesn't like jicama, because "it tastes like water."
And yet, for the most part, how can her next boyfriend not be charmed by the nuances of her character?
Her most favorite line of dialogue ever comes from a 90210 episode and isn't so much a line of dialogue as the grunt she emits while ejecting a piece of food that turns out to be cow brains. "It's nothing spoken, but I always liked that," she said pleasantly.
She tends to panic when a credit‑card purchase is denied. Not long ago, for reasons unknown, American Express blocked her from charging $230 worth of clothes ‑ even though her face is plastered all over a current American Express billboard! Tori got on the phone to a company representative who proceeded to ask her all sorts of questions that she suddenly couldn't answer. She no longer knew her address, her Social Security number or her birthday, so befuddled was she.
Her hands can look very white. When told this, she pulled her top down a little, revealing the tops of her beetle‑brown bosoms, and held her hands up against them. The hands are very white indeed. "Oh, great," she said. " I don't know what's wrong with me now. They do look pale. Sometimes they turn gray, too. I don't know. I asked the doctor, and he's like, 'Weird!'"
She is a pack rat. She has 80 pairs of shoes, many of which she got for free and will never be worn and still they can't be thrown away! Her makeup counter is littered with lotions and face products that she can't bring herself to chuck. Her shower is crammed with half-empty bottles of hair crud.
It's all there, all this stuff, accumulating around Tori, surrounding her as if she were some kind of turtle and it's her shell.
Regrets? Oh, she has a few. She regrets hearing her parents doing it in a Palm Springs hotel bathroom when she was 14 or 15. Eww! she thinks, even today.
But primarily she regrets telling Playboy that she once had sex in a bathroom on an airplane. "Oh, gosh, I got so much flak for that, oh, my God," she recalled. "It was this long flight on one of those double-decker planes. I don't know. I'd like to sweep it under the rug. I'd like to forget all about it, including the guy"
She shut her eyes, as if it's that easily done.
Out on the Coast, Tori is trying to stay sane. It's an insane business she's in, but she's doing what she can. Maybe not having a boyfriend is part of it. Late at night, she watches infomercials and feels a different kind of attraction. It's equally undeniable. So she ends up owning Red Devil portable grills and juice makers and food dehydrators ("I can make beef jerky!') that she will never use.
"Sucker," she said about herself, laughing. "Loser!"
But the assessment is too harsh, and it's so untrue, even though things do have a way of happening to her. She went to a pet shop with a friend who was buying a pug and ended up coming home with a pug herself, which she named Mimi Larue. She took Mimi to the vet, and the vet told her that the dog was retarded.
Said Aaron Spelling upon learning this news: "Hey, Toto, babe that's bulls‑‑‑. Dogs aren't retarded. The vet just knows who you are and is trying to get extra money out of you. Did they say they needed to see the dog again?"
"No, Daddy. They just said she's retarded."
"Dogs can't be retarded."
And they left it at that, father living in a charmed world where dogs can't be retarded, Tori living in a different but equally weird place with a wall‑eyed, retarded pug that walks funny because of bad hips and can't be housebroken.
How did these things happen? Why? What's it all about?
These are questions that haunt Tori. "I'm always asking, 'What if?' and 'Why?' 'Why is this happening? Why is that happening?' And then I'm always like, 'What if?' Like, if I'm flying: 'What if it crashes? What if the pilot dies while we're flying? What if I go to the bathroom and there's turbulence and I smash my head and crack my neck? What if?'"
She leaned forward where she sat.
"There is always that with me," she continued. "'What if?'"
Erik Hedegaard wrote about Pamela Anderson for the October 1998 issue of 'US.'