Back in my days of running the switchboard for a floor of penthouse offices in Beverly Hills, I worked for a man whose ego was about the size of California. But like the Golden
State, there were fault lines in this man’s core essence. It just took awhile for the earth to shake beneath his fine Italian loafers.
The man was Paul Fegen, and so great was his ego, that he actually threw a party well-attended by the media, so that the 1400+ attendees could see him get his haircut by the stylist Warren Beatty’s character in SHAMPOO was based upon.
He had a collection of exotic cars, foremost among them an Excalibut. The vehicle had speakers in it that allowed him to hail pretty women he passed, while his German Shepherd rode shotgun.
He also threw weekly parties that were meccas for young women who came to Hollywood with aspirations…many of these girls called his private “Fig Lines” so labeled on my switchboard–and Fegen himself answered these. They were off-limits to those of us working in the office.
Paul Fegen became a wealthy man by coming up with the idea of Attorney’s Office Management, Incorporated, whereby he rented out floors of office suites at prestigious addresses, and then sublet small offices to clients. Most were lawyers, and so he provided his clients with the amenities of working in a large firm–a law library, receptionists and switchboard operators as well as mail service among other things.
I recall Playboy actually used the law library of our Beverly HIlls location for a photo shoot one day. One of the young lawyers who rented a suite on our floor went into the library under false pretenses, hoping to get an eyeful. He just got in trouble with the model, who had imbibed a considerable amount of wine by ten o’clock in the morning.
Anyway, one payday came and went in November and no one got paid. Rumors were getting passed like the cocaine at a a FIg party.
Finally, the Los Angeles Times broke the story that Paul Fegen declared bankruptcy. There would be no paychecks for his employees.
Being the young, brash, ballsy woman I was back then, I stormed back to his private little domain to give him a piece of my mind.
This was sacred ground I was walking on, and I remember a man named Bill from Human Resources trying to stop me, but that was impossible. I was roaring in like Hurricane Susan.
And when I walked smack into the office of the great Oz, he wasn’t scrambling to figure out his next move to financial solvency.
Nope. He was doing magic tricks for the people in his inner office.
I blew a gasket. “You’re playing games while the rest of us who work around here aren’t getting our paychecks?” I asked with righteous indignation.
I don’t remember exactly what else I said, but knowing that I come from a long line of female cussers, I’m sure there was some colorful language leveled at Fig.
My father was flying in from the East Coast to spend Thanksgiving with me, so the Bank of Daddy helped me get by until I got back on my feet. It didn’t take long.
I received a phone call from Bill from Human Resources–the man who tried to stop me from bitch-slapping his boss.
Bill told me his buddy–an old college roommate–managed a company that provided peer group security for concerts, sporting events, etc. He was looking for a secretary who was intelligent enough to learn the new computers that his company would be installing in the new year. Was I interested in getting in on the ground floor?
You bet I was. And then life went on…
Now, thirty-plus years later and with the help of Google, I have learned that Fig’s life didn’t exactly go as he probably planned–at least not from a financial standpoint.
Sure, he got back on his feet. But he went on to make and then lose millions over and over again, all while lying, cheating and stealing from everybody and then some.
And now, life isn’t so good for Fig anymore. He was disbarred as of 2009. He is in his late
seventies making a living by doing magic tricks under the name, The Fantastic Fig.
Once, when I was lamenting the state of my life back in the day, my dad told me, “Everybody gets a bag of shit. Some people get it at the beginning of their life. Some people get it as adults. And some people get it later in life.”
I guess Paul Fegen finally got his brown bag. Special delivery.
Thanks for reading,
Susan J. Anderson, Foxy Writer Chick