I’m standing at the epicentre of the celebrity world. A-List stars surround me. Somehow I’m inside the party on the showbiz calendar – the Vanity Fair Oscars party. It’s small and exclusive – Jeff Bridges is on the dancefloor, Cameron Diaz whizzes by and Kathryn Bigelow holds court with The Hurt Locker colleagues on a luxurious white leather seat.
Magnums of Moët et Chandon champagne are being poured by waiters dressed in the finest uniforms ever made. Real trees and bushes have been shipped in to transform the venue into a forest, and lit with flickering candles it’s like being in a glitzy Garden of Eden.
Clipboard Nazis are at every inch of the entrance scanning the crowd for interlopers, cameras flash at the arrival of each big name and hundreds of movie fans line the streets of Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles trying to get a glimpse of their heroes.
The combined wealth in the room is probably close to £20billion as every big name in Hollywood stops by.
I can’t believe I’m here. Never in a million years when I touched down in Tinseltown seven days earlier to cover the 82nd Academy Awards did I imagine I’d be mingling with the big winners on the night at the Vanity Fair bash.
You’ll be stunned to find out how I did it.
Admittedly I’ve always prided myself on being able to blag my way into any event. I’ve partied with Mariah Carey at her private Halloween bash, climbed aboard P Diddy’s yacht on more than one occasion and danced till dawn with Paris Hilton following the Brit Awards.
But the Vanity Fair party is in a whole different league. It’s the crown jewels of the celebrity party circuit – something every showbiz journalist aspires to be invited to.
So I decide right there and then that – by hook or by crook – I’m going to crash that bash.
“You goooo for it, you only live once,” yells Spice Girl Mel B as I leave her at another party, leap into a cab and head for the Sunset Tower Hotel.
My first mistake is pulling up to the door in a yellow taxi. Nobody gets a yellow cab to the Vanity Fair bash. Nobody.
There are screams as I get out of the car and look up at the entrance. They’re not for me…they’re for Alec Baldwin who is immediately in front of me nattering to Hilary Swank. This is my big chance – and I seize it with both hands.
“Hi Alec,” I say, offering a handshake to the actor, who had been master of ceremonies at the Oscars. “You did such a great job this evening. Funny, to the point and you reeked of old Hollywood up there. You’re a great host.”
He looks at me as if I’m a deranged stalker – but I don’t stop there.
“You know, I’m from London. You ought to come over there more. People like you over there and you should visit.”
He replies: “Well thank you so much – are you going in?”
“Yes, of course,” I say nervously. “Well, you enjoy it.”
And that is it, my golden opportunity. My chance liaison with Hollywood royalty has been witnessed by a clipboard Nazi and a gorilla-sized security guard.
I walk in with my head held high – saying hello in a hugely obnoxious way to radio reporters and GMTV’s Carla Romano as I trot along. Four more steps and I’m in. I’ve just bypassed two lines of security and name checkers.
It’s easy to see why this party is THE bash to get into. It isn’t crowded – it’s exclusive.
So exclusive that everywhere I look there are Oscars standing on the side.
I spot Sandy Powell, the winner of costume design for The Young Victoria, congratulate her and politely ask if she would mind me holding her trophy.
And wow – those bad boys are heavy – like a brick!
I quickly move on to nattering to The Hurt Locker star Guy Pearce, who was congratulating the woman of the evening – Best Director and Best Picture winner Kathryn Bigelow.
I wait patiently before moving forward to congratulate her myself.
She tells me: “I’m still in shock to be honest – but a few drinks is helping me settle.”
Kathryn is low key at the party compared to some.
Best Actor winner Jeff Bridges nearly drops his Oscar twice – and I steady him on his feet as he twirls Crazy Heart co-star Maggie Gyllenhaal around the dancefloor.
Unusually humble for the hottest star of the moment, he tells me that his Oscars evening has been “out of this world”.
It’s certainly one of those parties that I want to be in – but, for once, I don’t really want to be noticed.
So I just take in the sights…Peaches Geldof curled up with Inglourious Basterds star Eli Roth, Rachel McAdams looking bored as she mingles with studio execs, Cameron Diaz with a glass of champers in her hand and ready to party.
And then there’s Russell Brand cuddling his bride-to-be Katy Perry.
The party fare doesn’t quite live up to the star quality – mini Krispy Kreme doughnuts are offered stacked high on trays.
But the luxurious red velvet cupcakes make up for them – each of the teeny weeny cakes has a nominee’s first name emblazoned on top.
I gobble down a Jeff, a Sandra and a Carey and realise I’ve certainly had my cake and eaten it.
I’d started my Oscars night partying by swanning down the red carpet at Elton John’s fabulous Academy Award Viewing Party, which is put on to raise awareness and funds for his AIDS Foundation.
I’ve been to Uncle Elt’s bash four times now and each time it gets better.
I quickly realise it’s going to be a night to remember when Victoria Beckham tells me: “You make sure you go out tonight and party hard – get wasted.” She giggles and adds: “I can’t – so you will have to do it for me.”
After my Posh encounter I say “hello” to Simon Cowell, camped out in the smoking area with his fiancée Mezhgan Hussainy and pals Amanda Holden and Paul McKenna.
Then, as Grey Goose vodka and champers flow into guests’ glasses, the crowd parts to catch the star performer – legendary singer Grace Jones.
Earlier in the week at my hotel, Le Montrose in West Hollywood, I’d come to the rescue of milliner to the stars Philip Treacy.
I spotted him struggling to check in to the hotel with four huge boxes of hats for Grace to wear during her performance.
He was tired, jetlagged and fretting because he’d run out of dollars to tip the driver who’s whisked him there from the airport.
“Would you like to borrow $10, Philip?” I asked. “Oh my God, that would be amazing – I promise I’ll pay you back,” he replied.
And after Grace’s electrifying set I’m thrilled to find out Philip is a man of his word – he takes me and my pals Kelly Osbourne and Louis Walsh backstage.
“I’m so excited to meet her,” whispers Kelly nervously, “I hope we can get a picture with her.”
The star sweeps us into a huge dressing room with various friends and family where we watch her apply enough make-up to get into drag queen school.
“I won’t be ready for photos for some time,” she booms as she applies her blusher and lipstick.
When she finally deigns to pose with us, Kelly is in groupie hysterics and the picture – us laughing, the superstar singer barely looking into the lens – is caught perfectly by Louis.
And it’s then I realise the amazing Miss Jones perfectly sums up my Oscars experience: big, scary… and I needed the kind of balls she’s famous for to make it a totally unforgettable night.