Like a good royal, Petra has the common touch: While giving nothing away, she is perfectly lovely, cordial, and gracious. “You’ll never see us falling out of the nightclub with drugs,” James says. “There will never be a scandal.” And now that she lives at the Manor, she has her own coat of arms: a large M encircled by laurels and flanked by a pair of English lions, designed by her decorator.
In Hollywood, Petra and James associate with the tabloid aristocracy: Brandon Davis, the Hilton sisters, Mel Gibson. (James assured me that the couple also has “a lot of friends you won’t have heard of, old-money people who have houses here. They’re kind of like us. They bounce back and forth. They’re the richest people in Europe, but they’re not known in America.”) They go on outings to Boa steak house on the Sunset Strip and to Beacher’s Madhouse, a nightclub at the Roosevelt Hotel. Recently, at Beacher’s Madhouse with Gibson, Petra and James spent a reported $250,000 on Cristal for other patrons, though none of their party partook. (She is “90 percent teetotal,” succumbing only on rare occasions to a glass of champagne or a Malibu and pineapple.) “I’ve been to clubs all around the world, and I kind of feel like I’ve done it and I’ve seen the majority of the clubs,” Petra told me. “Beacher’s is fun, and you see different things when you go there. They have midgets and dwarfs, and they have, like, crazy people dressed up in panda and bunny-rabbit costumes, and amazing contortionists who can bend in crazy ways. I love the fact that you’re kind of partying, but then you can sit down and watch what’s going on.”
The basement level of the house is meant to resemble a nightclub, with a bar, a bowling alley, and a pool room. There is a cinema with 20 custom theater seats, where Petra and James screen movies for their new friends. (The night I was there, Gibson came over and was subjected to a viewing of his 1996 film Ransom and nearly forced to reenact it. “I told him, ‘I’m going to pretend to be the kidnapper; you’re going to be you. Go to the other end of the house,’ ” James said. “But we didn’t end up doing that.”) At last, we came to Candy’s doll room, which Petra converted into a spa, with a massage parlor, three hair stations, and two manicure-pedicure chairs, for the making of living dolls. (The gift-wrapping room became an office for Petra’s assistant.)
The Manor’s second story contains six enormous guest bedrooms, including one known as the Prince Charles suite, where Charles and Diana stayed when the Spellings threw a party for them. But the pièce de résistance is the master suite: 7,000 square feet of living space, which includes a kitchen, a living room, his and hers closets and bathrooms, and, of course, a bedroom. The living room was strewn with bags from Saks—seven of them full of Giuseppe Zanotti shoes, and five bags stuffed with dresses. “They’re being sent back,” she said. I peeked into the bedroom. Petra’s Mickey Mouse doll, which she has had since birth, was tucked into a black duvet on the king-size bed.