Outside, standing toward the back of a line of 500 or so fans of the MTV reality show Jersey Shore, Janessa Salas, 12, and her mother Stacey were super excited about getting VIP tickets to meet Snooki. Janessa, a seventh grader at Allen's Curtis Middle School, was dressed in Snooki-like fashion: a floral tube mini-dress, leopard-print platform heels and her long brown hair in a Snooki-like pouf at the top of her head.
"I like her because of her fashion and her attitude," said Janessa as her mom flashed an iPhone photo of her daughter done up as Snooki on Halloween.
To snag the ducat for the meet-and-greet event on Friday at the Perfumania store in the corner of the Allen Premium Outlets shopping center, Janessa and everyone else in line had to purchase a $44.99 bottle of Snooki's signature perfume. Snooki, whose real name is Nicole Polizzi, is barnstorming the country promoting the scent and signing copies of her just-published autobiography, Confessions of a Guidette. She also has a line of tanning products, which she demonstrated at another event in Lewisville before the one in Allen. She's selling the perfume, book, sunglasses and shoes on HSN.
As the line grew longer outside, with more Snooki lookalikes joining the queue, the scene inside Perfumania had employees, event planners, security guards and some visiting media prepping for the visit by reality TV royalty. For Snooki to sit on as she met her fans, an L-shaped purple suede bench was situated at the back of the store, past a rope line and near a cordon of cardboard Snookis that, at just over 5 feet tall, were a couple inches taller than the real thing.
Around 4:30 p.m., Snooki and her traveling companion, a muscular guido named Bryan Monti, arrived at the store through the back door and went into a little holding room dressed up with leather couches borrowed from a nearby furniture emporium. A spread of cheeses, nuts and cupcakes (photo-iced with images of Snooki) went untouched. Snooki, who recently announced she's dieted down to her "goal weight" (she's tiny), wasn't the least bit tempted by any of that or the jumbo dill pickles and dill pickle-flavored popcorn donated by a popcorn boutique. She was thirsty, however, and sipped from a chardonnay glass filled with a mix of Sprite and Nuvo, a pink-colored carbonated beverage made of French vodka, sparkling white wine and passion fruit nectar.
As she set about pre-signing a tall stack of the pink-covered books bearing her name and photo, the Perfumania employees and other visitors stared at her silently. No one engaged her in direct conversation. (Media had been warned: No interviews.) Everyone simply stood back and regarded her in the way museum visitors look at a piece of sculpture. There she was, in her tight little black suit, white mesh top and gold chains, her face carefully made up with thick false eyelashes and pearly pink lipstick. A tiny diamond glinted from the piercing above her left nostril. Her hair was a shiny tumble of dark tresses and magenta-tinged extensions.
Snooki is pretty in person. And polite. As the center of attention, she remained as calm and detached as a movie star who's used to being the most famous person in the room. Snooki follows direction well, moving when someone said move and posing when photographers asked for smiles. She knows how to pose, always turning her face three-quarters. She has a good side and makes sure that's the one facing toward the lens. Finally, someone asked how she liked Texas. "To be honest with you, I have no idea where I am," said Snooki in a near-whisper. "I don't even know what day it is."
At a few minutes past 5, the handlers and Mr. Monti escorted Snooki to her purple throne. There were many bottles of Snooki by Nicole Polizzi filling the glass cases to her right. It's a nice fragrance, one of the Perfumania people tells me. It's aimed at teenager girls, with its base of sweet vanilla and top-notes of kiwi, cupcake and "beach flower." Celebrity scents do well. The favorites at this store are the 10 fragrances carrying the name of Paris Hilton. Other stars with best-sellers are Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Sarah Jessica Parker and the late Elizabeth Taylor, whose scent sales earned her more money than all the films she ever made combined.
At their first sight of Snooki, the fans at the front of the rope line inside the store let out shrieks. Before settling down on the purple bench, Snooki had one more request. She wanted the DJ in the corner, J. Damany Daniel, to play Madonna's "I Want Your Love." He was happy to comply.
As the music pumped into air already redolent with the scent of Snooki the perfume and the person, the kids with the VIP tickets came one by one to give their love to Nicole Polizzi. None of them actually talked to her but they all seemed to know the drill. Sit, smile for the camera, get the autograph on the book, the tote bag or the box of perfume, and leave the way they came in.
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Janessa Salas had her moment with Snooki. "She'll never forget this day," her mom said later.