By Anna David

The calendar says it’s Friday night, but it could be any evening. The drapes are drawn, muting out the Sunset Boulevard traffic. Inside, the air is charged and the plasma screen of the Sunset Boulevard hotel suite is tuned to MTV. Todd (not his real name), a lanky blond president of production at a film company with a studio deal, bums a cigarette from an aging party girl named Lisa (not her real name), who is happy to hang out for $500 an hour. Todd’s two buddies – one, a partner at a management company, the other a television executive – sit on a nearby couch, snorting lines of coke and trading animated stories with two of Lisa’s similarly priced girls. The three guys, all in their thirties, had dinner at Sushi Roku earlier in the night with five of their friends – agents, producers, all at the top of their game – but the trio’s night really began when the others went home to their girlfriends or scripts or Tivo’d Letterman. “People who use heavy drugs in Hollywood become very good at finding the other guys that do,” Todd will explain later. Now, as Todd and his friends realize that they’re tapped out on cocaine and a discussion ensues about which dealer to call, Lisa pulls out her own stash: crystal methamphetamine.

Meth, formerly known as the drug of choice for the dentally challenged characters onCops or gay lotharios cruising bath houses, has infiltrated a certain reckless set of Los Angelenos with nerve and money to burn. These are people who’ve long considered a few lines, a hit or a pill standard recreation but who probably never thought they’d be imbibing a mixture of fertilizer and other chemicals more commonly associated with a guy making jerk-off motions from his Mack truck. Hollywood has been in the throes of a full-blown crystal epidemic since late 2003. “When I first went to rehab [in 2000], everyone was there for coke, heroin and sometimes crystal,” says a 30-something guy who used to have a production deal with a major studio. “When I had to go again last year, every other person was there because of crystal.” He “guarantees” that meth is prevalent at every late-night Hollywood drug party. “A lot of people who say, ‘Oh, that stuff is gross, I’d never do it,’ will change their minds if they’re fucked up at two in the morning and no one has coke.”