3 min

Celeb spotting made easy

And you don't even have to see a film

WHEN THE STARS COME OUT. You can be there.

The world’s major media outlets are descending upon Toronto this week for the 24th annual Toronto International Film Festival. Because of the growing media exposure every year, more and more celebrities actually want to come to Toronto to be seen.

Yes, you read it right – mega-celebs want to hang out on Yonge St (at the theatres and, possibly, Sneakers) as well as near King St (certainly not for the Mirvish restaurants, but possibly, for The Barracks or Roy Thomson Hall).

For those of us stalkers who wait all year long for the opportunity to get thrown out of the most fabulous parties of the year – the time has come.

Get ready to spot the likes of Kevin Spacey, Claudia Schiffer, Maggie Smith, Anne Heche (will her hubby also show?), Bruce Willis, Robin Williams, Brooke Shields, Helena Bonham Carter, Sigourney Weaver and Elton John (who has already booked a private party at Remington’s).

But if you’re like a dyke I know who is Sigourney’s number one fan, you’ll want to know all the possible stalker locations to increase your chances of a bodyguard kicking your ass.

I talked to some of the city’s top celeb stalkers and scenesters about where to casually hang out to get a glimpse of a celebrity. Here’s the scoop.

Now magazine’s Rosie Levine, who has been covering the festival for 24 years, has narrowed it down to a handfull of spots where you are guaranteed to spot a celebrity’s stylist – or even the celeb themselves.

“There are only three places in the city licensed to 4am during the festival, ” says Levine. I guess celebs are boozers, just like you and me. “Bistro 990 (990 Bay St), Rosewater Supper Club (19 Toronto St) and the mezzanine lounge of the host hotel, the Park Hyatt (4 Avenue Rd).”

Rosie’s initial years at the festival were spent being a crasher, which then led to running the fest’s guest office and then, of course, she’s been covering the festival for the last 10 years for Now. “All the stars show up on the opening nights of their films. Hanging out at Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe St), the Elgin (189 Yonge St), or the Uptown (??? Yonge St) prior to the screenings is a sure fire way of spotting them,” she advises.

Of course, I really wanted to get some dirt on celebs – Rosie didn’t disappoint. The best bit was how Demi Moore, a couple of years back when she was briefly bald, entered a party with her personal hair stylist.

The best thing about covering the festival? “Discovering, without their handlers, that stars can be very accessible and down to earth when you run into them,” says Levine. “The bigger the celeb, the nicer they are. It’s the ones that are on their way up that have all the attitude.”

Her least favourite thing is that the festival has become more Hollywood and less home grown.

David Graham, fashion editor of the Toronto Star, says that there are many stores that celebs definitely shop at that are perfect places to spy. “Toronto is known around the world as a place where the public does not gush over celebrities. It’s easier for them to shop here at stores like San Remo (23 St Thomas St, across from the Windsor Arms Hotel) because the sales clerks will also not fawn.”

But Graham warns that many of the stars don’t actually shop themselves. When Lauryn Hill went shopping recently in town, she took her entourage, which included a stylist, and was driven around in a van. They would stop in front of a store, the stylist would run out and grab some outfits and take them outside to the van where Hill would give them the once-over without even leaving the van.

This wouldn’t be very surprising for the likes of Cher, but Lauryn Hill? How shockingly delicious.

Alexandra Gill of The Globe And Mail suggests some pretty basic places within Yorkville because this is where the highest concentration of celebs will be. She says Starbucks and Movenpick on Yorkville St are favourite early-morning haunts. “One of the best places year-round is a colourful little jam-packed store called Ice (163 Cumberland St). Where else can a person buy an Elton John ginger-mango candle or the Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon board game?” When Demi Moore last visited she brought along five bodyguards.

Gill also suggests not to forget the public washroom stalls around Yorkville. As if I would forget those!

Other hot spots in Yorkville include Hoax Couture (114 Cumberland St), Dubuc For Men (126 Cumberland St) and Amber (119 Yorkville Ave), the hot new restaurant opening this week by a sister known as Toufik Sarwa.

Most of the parties are in the hottest restaurants, like Joso’s (202 Davenport Ave) and Prego (150 Bloor St W). CityTV (299 Queen St W) always throws one of the best parties of the festival (it’s on Fri, Sep 10) that will showcase all the incredible Canadian talent.

But the best way to get into any party – and believe me, I have researched this one – is to crash in drag and simply say you are the entertainment. It’s the most fun.

Turn it around and let yourself be photographed. Fuck the celebs! It’s all about your press clippings!