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Ann Conway

Gypsies Wander Into $60,000 for Arts Center

April 30, 1987|ANN CONWAY

Hold on to your tambourine: The Sound of Music chapter of the Performing Arts Center Guilds cleared $60,000--the largest amount netted by a chapter for a single event this year--at its Gypsy Rhapsody benefit at the Newporter Resort Saturday night.

Last year the chapter's Atlantis benefit netted $70,000, the largest amount generated by a chapter at one event.

The secret? The gypsy in their souls. Enough dancing-eyed gypsy to get 26 people to donate $27,000, more than enough to meet the event's $18,000 underwriting cost. Enough cunning to get Nora and Charles Hester and Gerry and Walter Schroeder to underwrite the Underwriters' Dinner at the Newporter earlier this month. The couples each donated $1,716 to pay for the tribute to the underwriters.

And enough coin-pinching to make their own table decorations--so cleverly created, they fooled even the most sophisticated eye: silver tambourines made from embroidery hoops; begonia-filled gypsy carts, gold-leafed and jewel-encrusted, that had once been homely, brown baskets, and crystal balls made from clear light fixtures stuffed with iridescent Easter grass. Gleaming gold coins and rainbows of glitter had been scattered around a twinkling mini-ficus benjamina tree, the centerpiece of each table display.

Mary Raymond, co-chairman of the affair, dreamed up the decor. "We wanted everything to feel romantic," she said during the outdoor reception, where 300 guests, who paid $300 per couple to attend, dined while serenaded by strolling violinists. "But we didn't want to spend a lot of money on the decorations. We'd rather see the money go to the Center."

Arriving guests were given shiny play coins to pay for their drinks. "These sure beat those drink tickets (the common barter for benefit drinks) that end up in your clothes dryer when the party's over," said underwriter Barry Faber, plunking down a gold coin to order a cool one.

If guests weren't dining on hefty appetizers--a ground-veal-in-filo creation was the favorite--they were bidding on jewelry, enough to fill even the most wandered gypsy's trunk. Golden earrings, diamond necklaces, gold watches, pearls, pendants, gold coins all were available for the highest bid. And if they weren't nibbling, tippling or bidding, guests were mugging for the camera in front of a fortune teller's wagon, where souvenir pictures were being taken.

Raffle tickets were sold by young girls dressed in gypsy-wear created by decor chairman Raymond: black, lacy shawls hugging their hips and full, gauzy skirts and blouses dyed a flirty pink in her washing machine.

The only thing missing was the organ grinder, lamented event chairman Sue Perewozki from the stage during a sit-down feast of salade a la tambourine, veal rhapsody and almond cookie filled with frozen white chocolate mousse. "We had hoped to have one for you tonight," she said, "but the grinder's monkey got sick, so he couldn't come."

While many of the women draped themselves in gobs of chains and crystals to get their gypsy look, Beverly Thompson Coil would have won the Jewel of the Night award if there had been one: A fist-size, 506-carat topaz swung from a gold wire chain around her neck. "When I'm not wearing it, I use it as a paperweight," she deadpanned.

Catherine Thyen, president of Sound of Music, attended with her husband, Dr. Delane Thyen. Jim Roberts donated his time to be master of ceremonies and conduct the live auction. Also attending were Jose Perewozki and Carl Raymond, husbands of the chairmen. Underwriters in attendance included Florence and Edward Barnes, Shari and Harry Esayian, Ellie Faber (underwriting co-chairman with Suzanne Frederick), Kit and Stephen Toth, the Thyens, Terri and Harold Newman, Margaret Callaway and Jean Sullivan.

Barbara Glabman, attending with her husband, Jim, is vice president in charge of public relations.

Gavin and Ninetta Herbert were hosts for about 300 supporters of the Spirit of Troy, a USC support group that raises money for music scholarships, at their Casa Pacfica home in San Clemente on Sunday. Herbert, a USC alumnus, said he was always proud to open his home, once the western White House of President Nixon, to people with good causes. "As an alum and trustee of USC, it is fun to participate in these events that bring people together," he said.

Herbert is chief executive of Allergan Pharmaceuticals in Irvine and owner of Roger's Gardens nursery in Newport Beach. Among those wandering about the sprawling grounds by the sea, enjoying Pops at Pacifica--a concert by various USC musical ensembles--was John P. Davis of South Laguna, president of the USC Alumni Assn. "The support group calls itself the Spirit of Troy because the band is the spirit of USC," Davis said. "We have 18,500 alumni living in Orange County, and it seems to me, every time we have 100 or more alums gathered together here, we have the Trojan Marching Band."

Two previous pops concerts had been held at Pickfair, the Beverly Hills manse once occupied by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. But Lakers owner Jerry Buss, a USC alum who owned the mansion, sold it recently, explained Laurie Hoagland, a director of development for the university. "And the Herberts said we could have it here. Isn't this simply gorgeous?" Also on the guest list were Lillian Fluor, Diana Peters, Lois Collins, Margie and Tom Gephart, Alice Davis, J. D. and Mary MacLeith and Richard Voit. Guests paid $40 to attend.

USC's Town and Gown Junior Auxiliary of Orange County will hold its annual spring benefit, Masquerade Black and White, on Saturday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach. Ex-football star Mike Garrett, USC's first Heisman Trophy winner, will be emcee. Proceeds will be used for USC scholarships for Orange County students. For information, phone 752-8522.

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