SAN DIEGO — Calypso. Pink flamingos. Pastels. Forty women trying to look sleazy in identical flower-print jackets that cost exactly $17 apiece. Fast cars. Beer in cans. Cops. Men, their faces darkened by two-day beards, the sleeves of their linen jackets rolled up to their elbows. Golly, it must have been a scene from . . .
Surely, you say, I must mean "Miami Vice." Don't call me ShirleyC, and Shirley, I mean " Makua Vice."
Saturday. 6:30 p.m. Marie Huff and Julie Young, prominently mentioned on the 10 Most Wanted list for felony merrymaking, get collared and carted off to the city's new cop shop (that's San Diego Police Headquarters, to you) at 14th Street and Broadway. Four hundred fifty pals, 38 of them members of the Makua Auxiliary to the Children's Home Society, show up to try to bust Huff and Young out of the tank.
Things get out of hand. At the turquoise and gray police headquarters, what started as a routine jailbreak turns into a full-scale party. People eat, drink and dance. They even engage in cocktail chatter, for Pete's sake. And just when it looks like the boys in blue might get the situation under control, Huff, Young & Co. stage a . . . Don Johnson look-alike contest !
Yes, sir, it was a hot time on Broadway on Saturday night. The Makua Auxiliary, which every summer hosts a fund-raiser with a theme based on some whimsical and often current topic (last year, they gave an Indiana Jones party that was doomed to success), this year decided to take a shot at television's steamy cop thriller, "Miami Vice." And because series star Don Johnson is hot and the new and as yet unoccupied police headquarters is hotter (with its 21st-Century angles and pastel accents, it looks like a cake created by a baker who lusted after an art degree), their choice of theme and party site were naturals.
Besides the co-chair duo of Huff and Young, the rest of the Makua membership got involved in the project, notably decor chief Laurie Ellis. Ellis had plenty to work with, other than the building itself (only the small front lobby was open for party use), and took advantage of the spacious Broadway-fronting terrace to create a pastel jungle suitable for the likes of these would-be Tubbs and Crocketts. Lots of Caribbean blue and daiquiri green were splashed about, and cocky pink flamingos (sculptured, and evidently available en masse from novelty supply houses cashing in on the "Miami Vice" craze) strutted down the dinner tables. And because Don Johnson keeps a pet alligator, a life-size plastic replica of same swam menacingly around the pond that sits under the plaza's ultra-modern and definitely different upside-down fountain (the water sprays down into it from a tangle of tubing, rather than shooting upward, as in old-fangled fountains).
Speaking of alligators--this was a costume party, in a way, but guest Sue Ogle took the challenge to a sublimely ridiculous point when she showed up in a home-stitched alligator suit that included a tail that looked to have been padded with pillows, and a snout that protruded far over her eyes. The other women guests were content to wear outfits that were slightly less original, and the Makua members, as mentioned earlier, sported matching print jackets run up specially for the occasion. The intention was to identify them as hostesses, but the unintended effect was to make them almost indistinguishable from one another. Or, as guest Elspeth Myer put it, "Under normal circumstances, they'd all go home and change."
The men, under specific invitation to become Johnson-esque peacocks for the evening, did their best. Many wore pastel Makua Vice T-shirts (designed by Don Young) under their linen jackets, and those who evidently had time on their hands used it to grow beards. Nearly all of them looked quite pleased with the figures they cut.
San Diego's night breezes, which sometimes act as if they have underworld connections, proved the evening's only difficulty. They crashed the party at regular intervals, occasionally toppling decorations, and whipping up a spray from the fountain that repeatedly caused guests to search the sky for rain clouds. The winds proved but a minor nuisance, however, and did nothing to impede the flow of a dinner of jambalaya, Peruvian pork and key lime tarts, and dancing to the Steve Aldrige band.
Making the most of the scene was a guest list that included Marlene and Ken Shook, Chris and Craig Andrews, Martha and Jay Shumaker, Mary and Patrick Rogondino, Nancy and Dan Murphy, Becky and Bill Bradbury, Lynn and Frank Silva, Tricia and Don Worley, Karen and Bob Bowden, Makua president Chris Frost and husband G.T.; Daphne Homik with John Sheffield, Roxie and Fred Link, Pam and Jim La Mantia, and Alice and Brad Saunders. Brad, who developed the building, just recently turned it over to the city and was pleased to point out its stylish details to all and sundry.