Jerry Harris has been famous for one month. Since Jan. 8 — when the Netflix docuseries “Cheer,” about a cheerleading squad from a Texan community college, premiered.
And yet on Sunday night, the 20-year-old scored an invite to one of the most exclusive bashes of the year: the Vanity Fair Oscar party.
Not only was he at the party, he was the most popular person at the party. For about 20 minutes, he was stationed within spitting distance of Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West. Within that time span, one person approached the celebrity couple to ask for a photograph. Harris obliged at least six adoring fans.
“Oh my God: JERRY!” Camila Morrone yelled, her mouth agape as she spotted the cheerleader. “I love you! I cried when you were talking about your mom!”
Harris, who revealed on “Cheer” that his mother died from lung cancer when he was 16, thanked her earnestly and offered her a hug. As the actress — who attended the event sans boyfriend Leonardo DiCaprio — skipped off, Harris discreetly asked his friend what Morrone’s name was.
This is the beauty of the Vanity Fair Oscar party. There are so many famous people in the room that it’s almost like no one is famous. Sure, maybe everyone is quietly whispering about who they’ve run into — Jeff Bezos, Monica Lewinsky, Brad Pitt — but it’s vaguely uncouth to appear outwardly starstruck. The vibe is more: Let’s all pretend we’re old friends, even if we only see each other at fancy stuff like this.
At this point, you may be asking: What are you, Los Angeles Times reporter, doing amid the likes of Billie Eilish and Martha Stewart?
Well, every year, the magazine lets a few journalists in to observe-slash-pretend to fit in. In the past, that ticket has come with some intense rules. Upon arrival — designated at a specific hour — press was to check in with a Vanity Fair representative, who would then start the clock for 60 minutes. After the allotted hour had passed, you had to return to the magazine publicist and head for the door. Inside, you were not to speak unless spoken to. No interviewing guests. And no note taking, unless done so discreetly from the side of the room.
This year, such restrictions were gone. I was told to arrive at 10:30 p.m., and then everything was game. So freeing, this was! No longer would I have to suffer the indignity of choking down In-N-Out fries while stalking Emily Ratajkowski. In 2020, I would enjoy my fried chicken box and even have time to wipe the grease off my fingers before being allowed to actually exchange words with very beautiful humans.
By the way, the setup of the party is as follows: It’s held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, right next to Beverly Hills City Hall. Much of 90210 literally shuts down to accommodate the event, with road closures set in place to streamline the arrival of black SUVs. Once you emerge from your car, an a cappella group is ready to serenade you in the entryway, and you walk down a hallway lined with huge, glossy portraits of celebrities.
Then you reach that recognizable 70-foot long-carpet — the one we all look at photos from the next day to see the outfit changes everyone made after the Oscars. While I am glad this area exists, because I deeply enjoy clicking through those image galleries, I also despise it because there is no way to avoid it. You literally have to run through the background as Hailey Baldwin and Winnie Harlow are posing for shutterbugs. Every year I pray I have not inadvertently photobombed a model.
Inside, the weirdest couplings unite.
How, you wonder, does young “Honey Boy” star Noah Jupe know Spike Lee? Unclear, but you love to see it.
What would Katie Couric do should she encounter Wiz Khalifa smoking a huge blunt, surrounded by a bevy of scantily clad women? She would exclaim “reefer madness!,” crack herself up, and make her way through the cloud of smoke.
Oh, there’s actress Zoey Deutch telling Kardashian West that she was wearing Skims undergarments, the shapewear line the reality star and beauty mogul recently launched.
Some also stick to the familiar, of course. The dance floor, in a small room off to the side, was dominated by the young crew from HBO’s “Euphoria”: Barbie Ferreira, Alexa Demie and Hunter Schafer, who all actually seem like real-life BFFs.
Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, meanwhile, was excited to run into fellow athlete Russell Wilson and his pregnant wife, Ciara. “I saw you before the season started at one of the events,” Jenner told the Seattle Seahawks quarterback. “It was a good season, not a great season.”
The only kids at the event — “Jojo Rabbit’s” Roman Griffin Davis, 12, and “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood’s” Julia Butters, 10 — stuck together. Butters was still carrying her pink purse, only now it was void of the turkey sandwich she had shown me on the Oscars red carpet earlier in the day.
“I had no idea that was going to be such a big deal,” she said of the photo, which endeared her to the Twittersphere. (She did, to be clear, eat the turkey sandwich.)
With her sustenance taken care of, Butters had bigger and better things to attend to, like asking Adam Sandler for a photo. The Sandman gamely obliged, giving the young star and Griffin Davis countless high fives. “Did you have the best time today?” he asked the child stars. “This is the best time, isn’t it?”
Anyway, back to Harris. Close to midnight, he was still fielding fan requests. He said he’s heading back to Navarro College for a final semester and then isn’t sure where his future will take him. I asked if he might move to Hollywood, considering he just signed with United Talent Agency. “Here?” he said, starting to laugh hysterically.
Speaking of midnight, that seemed to be the witching hour for most of the guests, who were heading off to even more exclusive, no-press-allowed parties held by Madonna and Jay-Z. I followed suit and headed toward the exit, where an Uber station would allow you to call only a black SUV.
Silently fuming over being forced to pay $55 for a two-mile ride, I decided to fill my bag with free doughnut holes and egg and cheese sandwiches from the departure lounge. Waiting for my car, I watched the valet pull up a Cadillac for Sandler, who had driven himself to the event. Well known for despising formal wear, the “Uncut Gems” star had already disposed of his tuxedo jacket and untucked his white shirt. He waved his hands over his head, telling brothers Benny and Josh Safdie, the directors of his latest film, to hop in his car.
“We can do it! Jam on in!” he urged them.
It took all my strength not to ask if I too could jam on in for a few blocks to avoid the exorbitant ride-share fee.