On June 12, 2005, Dr. Sandy Kapoor, a respected private care physician, accepted an invitation from his patient, reality star Anna Nicole Smith, to ride with her in the annual Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood. New to the glare of the spotlight, Kapoor became intoxicated by both his first foray into the aura of celebrity and way too much alcohol, thereby crossing a line from professionalism to familiarity that would come back to haunt him. His behavior that day and the photos that were taken to document it would, five years later, be part of the evidence against him when he was indicted for complicity in his famous patient's death. Following a lengthy and salacious trial, he was exonerated on all counts, but the damage to his professional and private life took years to rehabilitate. This is an excerpt from Kapoor's new memoir, Trust Me, I'm a Doctor: My Life Before, During and After Anna Nicole Smith.
The limo pulled out, and we were off on our adventure, excited and sipping Cristal. Troy suggested a stop at his apartment for touch-ups, and the driver complied. Troy, Sandy, and Howard exited the car, and I was starting out behind them when Anna grabbed my arm, asked me to wait, and reached over to pull the door closed. When we were alone in the back of the limo, she turned to look at me, her voice softened, and her eyes welled with tears.
"You know, I don't have any real friends. Everyone around me is someone who works for me, someone I order around and pay. No one is here as a friend. I have no one who truly cares about me. Even you. You're my doctor."
It caught me completely off guard and made me sad for her. "I'm your doctor, yes, Anna, but today I'm your friend," I told her. "And I care about you. In fact, you can always consider me one of your friends. I'll always be there for you, no matter what."
Her mouth widened into a huge smile, and her eyes twinkled. She leaned forward and planted a huge kiss on my cheek. "I want you to ride with me in the parade, Sandy. Alongside me in the car, as my friend."
She opened the limo door again, and I hopped out to extend my hand and help her exit the limo in her impossibly tight dress. My earlier excitement about the attention I was bound to get as a part of her entourage was evolving into nervousness about actually being on display with her. But she needed a real friend today, and I wasn't about to let her down.
The Project Angel Food "float" consisted of two Saab vehicles, contributed to the charity by a local dealership, along with a couple of drivers. My ex-boyfriend Kelly, a salesman at the dealership, happened to be the driver of the lead car, and Anna's and my convertible would be driven by Jeremy, the dealership's general manager.
The staging area was electric with excitement, with hordes of eager paparazzi vying for closest proximity to the biggest celebrities they could find. Paris Hilton was the grand marshall of the parade, in pole position with her mother, her sister, Nicky, right behind them. There was the usual swarm around the Hiltons until Anna Nicole Smith arrived. Suddenly Anna attracted the crush of whirring cameras like a flame attracting a cloud of moths while we centered her on the convertible's folded roof. Reveling in the tsunami of attention, blowing kisses, shaking her ample boobs, and affecting the trademark poses that were sure to secure her top billing in the tabloid rags, Anna was in her element, a magnetic force field who was fascinating to watch in action.
The Gay Pride Parade had already begun, but the Anna Nicole Smith car, in third position, was being hindered by the throng of paparazzi. Seemingly out of the blue, six motorcycle cops appeared and arranged themselves between the Saab and the cameras to break up the logjam and liberate the car. A police escort. Wow. This whole phenomenon was new to me, more than a little overwhelming, and, I hate to admit it, insidiously seductive.
The parade was about to start when Anna cued me to come sit beside her.
Despite her earlier invitation, I'd held back, not wanting to assume she'd meant it. But I leaped at the offer, partly because I was intrigued all over again by the whole idea of sharing her spotlight, and partly to keep her from sliding right off the back of the car in her slippery dress.
I settled in on her right. The other Sandy in her life was on her left, and Troy took the front passenger seat beside Jeremy in case we needed reinforcements along the way. Howard and several Project Angel Food volunteers took their positions to walk alongside our car on the Santa Monica Boulevard parade route.
Larry Birkhead had also arrived, politely keeping his distance from Anna as he finished preparing his camera equipment for the new photo shoot location. I casually watched him and noticed how rarely he took his eyes off Anna. I'm privy to the fact that they've been involved in some kind of nebulous sexual relationship, but I'm not sure how seriously to take it.
I'm glad it's none of my business.
At a few minutes past eleven the Grand Marshall's car, occupied by Paris Hilton and her mother, edged onto the parade route to the deafening delight of the tens of thousands of spectators. The roar seemed to escalate as our Saab pulled into place, with chants of "Anna, Anna, Anna!" and "We love you, Anna Nicole!" The gay community adores her, and she genuinely adores them back. Gay, straight, or bisexual, her fans are always happy to be seduced by her raw beauty and her unapologetic sexuality.
The farther we inched along the more rambunctious the throngs became, occasionally trying to rush the car that held Anna, her dog, and us "friends." The motorcycle cops had their work cut out for them to ensure that no one broke through the barricades, and if Howard and Larry had been wearing suits and ties instead of Project Angel Food T-shirts, they could easily have passed for Secret Service agents, on high alert beside the Saab as if they were in charge of security for a presidential limo.
The "June gloom" lifted and turned the day sunny and very warm. A lot of the men in the crowd began shucking their shirts--for one thing, shirts were great eye-catching props to wave at Anna, and for another thing, these guys were dying to show off what they'd accomplished thanks to all those long hours at the gym. Pretty soon it became difficult--OK, impossible--not to pretend that some of the roars and cheers and insane adoration and rock-hard bare abs might be directed at me. My ego swelled to epic proportions, and far be it from me to disappoint. So I ripped off my shirt too, to display what I like to think is my newly buffed body. Even if it's not true, some combination of Anna's aura and all that wild enthusiasm made me feel like a heavyweight body builder today. On the back of that convertible with a big-deal celebrity, surrounded by paparazzi and tens of thousands of cheering, screaming, partying fans, I was on top of the world.
Then, just like that, it was over. The motorcade came to the end of the parade route. The motorcycle cops fell away from their formation like synchronized swimmers ending a routine. My adrenaline was still pumping, and I also felt the effects of far too much Cristal champagne on an empty stomach. I said my good-byes to Anna and her entourage and watched them slip into the stretch limo and vanish. Released from my official Friend of Starlet duties and my fifteen seconds of fame, I was ordinary again, just another commoner blending into the crowd.
Excerpted from Trust Me, I'm a Doctor: My Life Before, During and After Anna Nicole Smithby Sandeep Kapoor, MD. Out September 1.