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By this point, everybody and their former lingerie model mother knows that Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring" is based on a true story. What they may not know, however, is that the truer true story, told in journalist Nancy Jo Sales' reportorial book "The Bling Ring" (expanded from her original Vanity Fair article "The Suspects Wore Louboutins") is even wilder than the drug-fueled, celebrity-obsessed months depicted in Coppola's film.
You know how they say you can't make this s**t up? Yeah, that. Like alleged Bling Ring leading lady Rachel Lee leaving a stinky something in Rachel Bilson's house, or the self-obsessed monologues alleged accomplice-turned-reality TV star Alexis Neiers (oh yeah: She got a reality TV show, not that you'll see that hubbub on the big screen) delivered: All real.
Ahead, 16 crazy but realer-than-botox things you may not have known about the real story behind "The Bling Ring."
1. "Like Angelina Jolie but even stronger"
Remember way back when, in late April when the second trailer for "The Bling Ring" went live, and Emma Watson, playing Nicki, gave that LOLarious "I'm a firm believer in karma" speech outside the courthouse? (She wants to lead a country one day, for all she knows!)
Yep, super real.
Alexis Neiers (and her lawyers, who tried to shut her up but couldn't) sat down with Sales in Neiers' home, where she insisted that she had a "good statement to say." In the book, Sales recounted that she delivered the following monologue in her "baby voice":
"I'm a firm believer in Karma and I think that this situation was attracted in my life because it was supposed to be a huge learning lesson for me to grow and expand as a human being. I don't think the universe could have really chosen a better person than me because for this — it's not just affecting me, it's affecting the media, it's affecting everyone — and I think that I'm meant to bring truth to all this.
"I think that my journey on this planet is to be a leader. I see myself being like Angelina Jolie but even stronger, pushing even harder for the universe and for peace and for the health of our planet.
"God didn't give me these talents and what I look like to be sitting around and just being a model or be famous or whatever path I want. I want to do something that people notice, so that's why I'm studying business because eventually I want to be a leader. I want to lead a huge charity organization. I want to lead a country, for all I know. I don't know where I'm going just yet, but eventually I can see myself taking a stand for people."
Holy wow. Ten points for Gryffindor.
2. The keys to Paris
The Bling Ring didn't just allegedly rob their targets, they hit some of them over and over again. Between October and December of 2008, according to Sales' reporting, Nick Prugo (fictionalized in the film as "Marc" and played by Israel Broussard) and Rachel Lee ("Rebecca," played by Katie Chang) robbed Paris Hilton's home four times, using a key they found under the mat. Eventually, Rachel allegedly put the key to Hilton's house on her keychain, and Paris simply replaced the key under the mat.
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3. Whose coke is it anyway?
In Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring," Marc and Rebecca find a baggie of cocaine while pursuing their hobby of checking cars — a.k.a. wandering around rich neighborhoods to see what wonders may have been left in unlocked fancy vehicles.
Nick and Rachel, the real Marc and Rebecca, allegedly found that baggie somewhere decidedly more rhinestone-encrusted, namely Paris Hilton's house.
"We found about, like, five grams of coke in Paris' house, or Rachel did," Nick Prugo told Sales. After snorting it in her house, he said, "we drove around Mulholland having the best time of our lives."
Due to legal reasons (such as Hilton's rep blowing off the allegations made by Prugo and, uh, possibly Coppola's friendship with Hilton, who allowed the crew to film in her home), the film's leads find the drugs elsewhere.
4. Take a dress, leave a deuce
According to Nick Prugo, the dastardly duo didn't just take things during their housecalls — Rachel Lee left a little something of her own in Rachel Bilson's house, before she allegedly walked out with perfume, jewelry, underwear, makeup, handbags and more belonging to the "The O.C." star.
"We were in Rachel [Bilson's] bathroom and Rachel just had to go, so she just ...yeah. I remember the incident so well," Prugo told Sales, as she recounted in her book. "I can recall the smell, which is really nasty, disgusting. I know I would never, like ... while you're in there [robbing a house] you have to rush, like I've had to pee when I've been in there, but I would never use their bathroom, just in fear of that maybe some type of evidence would be left there. I think that's weird, personally. But yeah, she did."
5. Life is but a (parody) song
Real-life alleged Bling Ringer Courtney Ames is the basis "The Bling Ring" character Chloe (Claire Julien), mostly memorable for her terrifyingly husky party girl voice, mad rap skillz and love of leopard print. Ames, whose style transformed from tomboy-baggy to tight and sexy after the burglaries began, had a laughable penchant for prints, according to Sales' book. Once, she was photographed out wearing both leopard and zebra prints at the same time. The horror. Her habit of trying too hard led to her so-called friends making up a song about her to the tune of Ray Jay's "Sexy Can I," whose lyrics describe a man desperate to sleep with a hot chick, Prugo told Sales.
"Basically me, Alexis and Tess made it into a song about Courtney ... It was like, 'Courtney, can I?'... and she would get upset about it," Prugo said.
6. Keep it classy
Amid all the coke-snorting and crack-smoking (mhmm) present in the film, the kids actually come off looking kind of cool and composed, like cigarette ads before the Surgeon General's warning was the law. The reality, according to Johnny Ajar, a bouncer and older Bling Ring suspect who allegedly acted as a middleman to sell the goods the kids stole from the celebs, wasn't quite so suave.
"I didn't want to be involved," he told Sales. "They were spending all their money from the crimes on bottle service at the clubs. It wasn't just my club; it was every hot club in the city. And they drink horribly. Courtney, I tried to tell her, 'You can't act like that.' Nick would blow chunks all over the place."
7. Too hot for TV
It may seem an unbelievable coincidence, but filming on Alexis Neiers' reality show, which eventually aired as "Pretty Wild," actually began the very morning that she was arrested in connection with the Bling Ring's antics.
"It was supposed to be a show about two party girls on the Hollywood scene, but then Alexis got arrested the first morning of filming, and we were like, okay," a producer told Sales.
The show, a sort of Kardashian-lite family saga, ended up as a nine-episode chronicle of Alexis and her "sister" (not her sister legally or biologically) Tess Taylor trying to stay out of jail for their crimes. The show doesn't appear in Coppola's movie but did affect many facets of the real-life situation: Nick Prugo reportedly angled to be a character on the show, and Sales suspects in her book that Alexis' speedy trial was on account of the cameras following her into the court. If Alexis was tried alongside the others, not only would she be in danger of having the spotlight taken off of her, but if her fellow suspects didn't sign releases, the footage could have been unusable.
Even Alexis' lawyer, Jeffrey Rubenstein, had a stake in the show working out: Sales writes that he at one point asked if he needed makeup, then confided that, "The only way I'll get paid is if the reality show gets picked up."
8. High-speed drama
Though Coppola's movie alleges that the burglaries and backstabbing stopped when Rachel skipped town to her father's house in Las Vegas, taking Orlando Bloom's rug with her (yep, that's real), it didn't. Sometime after Rachel decamped to Sin City, Nick and Courtney allegedly went on a post-bender joyride, ending in a dramatic accident.
"She makes a left-hand turn into a car, crashes into this van," Nick told Sales. "Airbags go off ...There were four people in the backseat of her car. Courtney got taken to the hospital." She broke her collarbone and was charged with a DUI.
9. Actually mine
When the police came to Nick Prugo's house, guns drawn, to search for stolen property and arrest him, a darkly hilarious moment: They seized a few items, not finding much suspect since Nick, on a hunch, had moved most of the stolen goods to his grandmother's basement. One thing they did take from Nick's room was a pair of sunglasses that they thought were Orlando Bloom's. Not so, said Nick: "I may have bought them with stolen money, but I didn't steal them," he told Sales.
10. Something fishy
Here's a stinker: Courtney Ames didn't have a sense of smell, a fact that her bratty cohorts took advantage of after the arrests started and things turned ugly between the former friends. A cop on the LAPD told Sales as much: "[Courtney] said that [one of the other girls in the burglary crew] knew about this and took a can of tuna and put it in her car so it would rot so everything would end up smelling like rotten fish." Everything, in this case, including the car's driver, Courtney.
11. Showered with love
Nick, who described his feelings for Rachel as loving her "like a sister," was apparently even closer with her than a brother would be: One of the suspects' lawyers told Sales that his client claimed that Nick and Rachel used to shower together.
12. Textual harassment
Though Alexis Neiers' infamous voicemail message to Sales after the publication of the Vanity Fair article didn't make it into Coppola's film, there's still a little more to the story: Sales reveals that not only did she receive four separate messages -- one for each time Alexis "stopped recording" to scream at her mother ("Twenty-nine dollars!") — she also got a text from Alexis' mother's phone: "What r u u r not even human."
13. Too dumb to heist
Despite Prugo's claims that Rachel Lee was the (bling) ringleader of the group's alleged hesists, prison coach (real thing!) Wendy Feldman, who counseled Lee prior to her incarceration, said that Lee is simply not capable. Feldman revealed on Fox News online:
"To be honest, Rachel has a learning disability. She doesn't have a particularly high I.Q. and I find it hard to think she could have been the one to instigate the whole thing."
14. Alexis the addict
On Nik Richie Radio after her incarceration (and subsequent probation violation for possession of black tar heroin), Alexis Neiers admitted that she had had a substance abuse problem for years, admitting to "drinking, drinking, drinking," "I.V. heroin, I.V. cocaine, major Valium, major Adderall," and Oxycontin.
15. Tess the playmate
Not only were Alexis Neiers and her BFF Tess Taylor "Pretty Wild," having appeared in a topless makeout scene together in the straight-to-DVD flick "Frat Party," Tess apparently fully embraced the pantsless-for-pay lifestyle, appearing as a Playboy Cybergirl in July 2009. The week of the Orlando Bloom robbery, Tess was named "Cybergirl of the Week." She also won "Cybergirl of the Year" for 2010. An honor, to be sure.
16. Good cop, movie cop
Perhaps the most surreal behind-the-scenes fact related to the whole mess has to do with Brett Goodkin, the lead LAPD investigator on the Bling Ring case. He signed on as a consultant for Coppola's version of the story, to keep it real. The day that Coppola filmed the scene where the Alexis Neiers character, Nicki, is arrested, it occurred to the director that she had an actual cop present, so why not use him? Goodkin is the one who gets to pull the signature cop move on Emma Watson, shoving her into the backseat of a squad car with his hand on top of her head.
In retrospect, appearing in the film adaptation of the in-progress case he was leading was not the smartest thing Goodkin could have done.
Though a request that all charges be dropped due to Goodkin's involvement in the screen version was dropped, the misstep did result in lighter punishments from the District Attorney's office.
"You got a break because of what's happened with this case," Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler, told one defendant at sentencing.