Billionaire Richard Lugner—Austria's prince of nouveau riche—pays an estimated $150K each year for a celebrity escort to the Vienna Opera Ball. Lindsay Lohan landed this year's gig—but apparently bungled the details so badly, Lugner said das fuggedaboudit.
Every year, four-time divorcé Lugner horrifies Viennese high society anew by paying for the most inappropriate date possible, then basking in the light of a thousand flashbulbs. He's had some triumphs (Sophia Loren in 1995) but in general, standing next to Lugner means you are either over the hill (Ivana Trump in 1994, Carmen Electra in 2005, and Dita von Teese in 2008 was arguably a turning point to overexposure) or never had much dignity to begin with (Paris Hilton in 2007, Pam Anderson and Kid Rock in 2003).
LiLo had reservations about Lugner from the beginning. First she reportedly asked Lugner if he could reschedule the ball. (Um, no.) She needed the hotel minibar destroyed in advance. She refused to vet her gown. The final straw: She missed her flight to Vienna, and "her card's credit limit was not high enough" to pay the private jet to wait, Lugner said, backhandedly acknowledging that the ordeal was mostly transactional. She rejected a second, shared aircraft because "she would not be able to get any sleep while traveling in it." Also, Lindsay had to wash her hair that night, and had a headache, and felt a cold coming on.
Which is too bad, because high-end escorting would be a good way for Lindsay to earn her nut.
The painful truth is that, at the tender age of 23, Lindsay—like so many of Lugner's beauties—is past her prime. She was a child and teen star, and she is neither child nor teen anymore. Her dignity dissipated somewhere around the fourth time forgetting panties, her acting career buckled, and so did her forays into fashion and music. Lindsay does, however, have one great talent: Looking fabulously dramatic and gloriously skanky amid luxury. (She's still landing tragically hip magazine covers, and remember St. Bart's? The girl was born to cavort in bikinis on yachts.) Which is why being a high-end party-for-pay girl is not a bad choice—in fact, she would excel at it. This is not the same, mind you, as being a prostitute. It's more like being a Hooters shooter girl to the global elite. Think Tara Reid hosting NYE parties at European mega-clubs and attending shindigs in Dubai. Since Lindsay was legitimately A-list once, she'd be the most high-priced jewel in the international starlet-collecting jetset's crown.
High-end escorting is no less dignified than what Lindsay's doing stateside (tabloid confessionals about hoarding?) and if she actually sticks with this "saving the children of the world" thing, she'll have plenty of time for that, too. She might even meet (male) foreign dignitaries who can help her.
But the best thing about international pay-for-partying is that she will get out of the U.S. press for a while. When she returns, we'll hate her less (look how nice everyone was about Tara Reid's engagement) and she'll be able to afford the things she wants, that Americans won't give her anymore. (Champagne no longer runs freely for little LiLo.) If the young girl goes west, west, and still further west she'll traverse the wider world, where she is still a spring chicken. In Austria, they call Lindsay "Disney's fallen princess." Here, she's just "fallen."