Breaking a sweat, busting a gut with Richard Simmons in B-Hills

My kind of town, Beverly Hills. It's vectored in such a way as to guarantee you get lost, involving a circuitry of duplicate names — Santa Monica, Little Santa Monica, Mondo Santa Monica. Everybody you meet sounds like Borat, and none of them knows anything, the dimmest people ever. You can stop a man on Rodeo and ask him where Rodeo is, and he will not know.

In so many ways, this is an entertaining place, where lanky young women pal around with squat middle-aged men. Saw one the other day, walking around like she owned the joint, showing off her 55-year-old trophy boy.

So inappropriate.

Think of the financial ramifications of such a relationship, what it must cost a young beauty like this to secure the company of wise, older men with better things to do. Expensive cars come to mind, secret trusts. To all young ladies everywhere: If you're too beautiful, too tall, too thin, too everything, do not despair. There is still hope for you. In Beverly Hills, Calif.

B-Hills is also a pretty good place to shop. Got a deal on a yoga mat at my favorite boutique, the Rite Aid on North Bedford — $9, thanks to some sort of electronic coupon I was unaware I even had. Magic, right? It's easy to see why people from around the world come here to shop for bargains.

There is also a spiritual component to B-Hills that I find lacking in lesser locales. Richard Simmons runs a church here, for instance. It's around the corner from the cop station, down the block from Playboy Enterprises, a few dance steps from United Talent Agency.

Three times a week, for a mere $12, Simmons holds services. No membership required. Sure, it helps if you worship Simmons, the diva-god of physical fitness, who arrives in Elton John glasses before his 6:30 p.m. Thursday service/workout/love fest, kissing all the ladies, kissing all the men, kissing everything that moves.

"You're going to break some hearts," Simmons assures me, I guess meaning when I meet a sexy giraffe looking for a dumpy middle-aged man to pal around with.

Then class begins.

This is one of those only-in-L.A. evenings, where straight males mingle with grandma types, who mingle with gay guys, who mingle with tight-bodied Chardonnay Moms, who eat only birdseed and sip — not chug — Smartwater (that stuff can really bloat you).

In short, there is somebody for everybody here. In short, my kind of crowd.

They all dance better than I do, even the grandmas. I have never been to an organized workout before, but apparently everyone practices at home for this, with old videocassettes of Richard's "Sweatin' to the Oldies," because I am the only person out of sync.

And it is bad, really bad — drunk-white-boy-with-an-overbite bad.

At one point Simmons, who prowls the room like a mean old nun, stops to tell me how much he hates my attire.

"I hope you have money," he sneers, as if that would make everything else about me OK, which it probably would.

For 90 minutes, Simmons yells and jokes and preens and pleads for respect.

"DID I SAY TALK?!" he barks between segments.

"WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME FOR?!" he hollers at a pretty blond.

As a friend suggested, you haven't really lived a full life until you've been yelled at by Richard Simmons.

"Don't let a man put you in the frying pan," he advises, in one of his side sermons about the ramifications of love, which he insists he has never experienced himself personally.

"I have a date tonight," says the sad clown of flab. "With a MIRROR!"

So, obviously, this is a great evening at any price. Were I entertaining visitors from out of town, there are several experiences I would insist on — a sitcom taping, a Kimmel show, maybe a boob job.

For 12 buckles, I might also bring them to this worship service at the Temple of Richard Simmons, an aging icon who has turned his 15 minutes of fame into 40 years, largely because he's that rarest of things — terrifically and originally funny.

Really, you could laugh your butt off.

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