Between Georgette Klinger facials and the low-tide sushi buffets, holiday shopping in Beverly Hills is a holly-decked study in conspicuous consumption.
The five-square-mile city is served by 15 limousine firms that shuttle shoppers from Wilshire Boulevard jewelry stores--there are 88 in Beverly Hills--to the trendy Rodeo Drive fashion stores.
Shoppers on their own, daring to vie for the few curb-side parking spots, step out of Porsche whale-tails, a Rolls or Mercedes, listen for the activation-chirp of the car alarm and slip into glittering stores.
While the Christmas "gotta-haves" for the middle-class range from compact disc players to cellular car phones, the filthy rich splurge on exotic non-necessities as frivolous as mink car-seat covers and leg jewelry.
Rather than department store catalogues, the unabashedly rich have already browsed through the Robb Report Christmas catalogue, Tova Borgnine's annual gift booklet and the Nieman-Marcus catalogue for extravagant ideas.
For $1.2 million, Tova Borgnine offers a two-week cruise for 100 people.
"Wouldn't it be great to give?" she asked.
Tova Borgnine, wife of actor Ernest Borgnine, recalled the joy of presenting her 75-year-old grandmother in Norway with cruise tickets.
"I had the tickets delivered by Christmas carolers in Oslo," she said, adding that she would like to come back to this world someday as Mrs. Santa Claus.
Borgnine surprised his wife, owner of the successful Tova 9 beauty products, with a $100,000 Rolls-Royce several Christmases ago. The local Rolls dealer sells eight cars a month, several more during the holidays.
"I went limp when I saw it there with a big bow," Tova Borgnine said. "I already had a good Mercedes."
Television producer Aaron Spelling, responsible for such shows as the "Love Boat," surprised his friends last Christmas with police cars, which are parked in front of their homes as a crime deterrent.
Marlon Brando's heart-shaped atoll north of Tahiti is listed at $4 million in the Robb Report this Christmas. Other pricey items include $400-a-gallon ice cream, a $90,000 custom bowling alley and $25,000 diamond strands that clip onto the back of seamed stockings, the ultimate stocking stuffer.
Saks Fifth Avenue has a $120,000 Russian lynx-belly coat, and Rodeo Drive specialty stores abound with such items as a $3,100 Crocodile briefcase, $350 Cartier eyeglass frames and stuffed animals ranging from a $4,000 giraffe to a $65,000 animated elephant at The Original Christmas Store.
The Beverly Hills specialty store also sells a $10,000 ceremonial dragon, a $25,000 stained glass Nativity and a $65,000 animated Alpine villa by Steiff of Germany.
Di Fiori of Beverly Hills is offering $10,000 boots hand-painted by artist Peter Max, foot art described as "fashion to the max."
Robinsons' Believe in Magic catalogue offers a $170,000 luxury tour of Leningrad, a $360,000 cache of gems and a $2,000 leather suitcase with three dozen Ralph Lauren polo shirts.
In addition to $30,000 sable seat covers, $90 automotive bras to protect front-end paint and chrome, Beverly Hills Motoring Accessories offers a $10,000 coffee table with a rare Offenhauser engine under glass.
For the stocking?
European quartz headlights for a Rolls-Royce are $800 a pair. The company also sells miniature sports cars with lawn mower engines for the little tyke at $12,500.
For their teen-age offspring, the wealthy are shelling out $1,200 to outfit the lad's raised four-wheeler with oversized tires. Add another $600 for a six-inch suspension lift needed to accommodate the chubby tires.
The biggest Christmas want for Malibu Beach surfer girls this year is the new Suzuki Samurai, a small all-terrain vehicle with an $8,600 out-the-door price tag.
The Fort Worth Gold & Silver catalogue, which touts the lowest prices for Rolex watches at $5,500, gives diamond jewelry customers a free $1,000 U.S. Treasury Bond with purchase.
Prestige Rental Cars
Krystle Carrington's blue Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit, Tom Selleck's red Ferrari 308 GTSI and Joan Collins' white Rolls Silver Spur can be rented, providing one-day thrills for $300 daily at Budget Rent-a-Car in Beverly Hills.
Aluminum chopsticks called ChopsTech at $50 a pair are popular in Southern California, where sushi bars and Thai restaurants abound.
J. Hay Enterprises in Los Angeles touts the perfect "Disk-Tinguished" gift, a framed gold record printed and engraved with an authentic corporate logo--album size $75 and 45-rpm size $55.