"I can't help wondering who is entertaining the King and Queen of Spain," kidded Los Angeles City Cultural Affairs Commissioner Rodri Rodriguez, looking out over the crowded supper party following the opening of the Joffrey Ballet Wednesday night.
That might sound like cultural chauvinism, but the black-tie gala at the Music Center--starting off the second annual series of six Patron Nights--certainly turned out a media mix of major donors and domos.
Indeed, if King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia were being given the royal treatment at the Museum of Contemporary Art two blocks away, the revolution that stalwart Joffrey supporters started last year still rolled merrily along.
Or maybe danced. The fire marshal's fears about using the second-floor Grand Hall at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion as a partying place had been cooled down, and a Ballets Russe-style set was reflective of the U. S. premiere that night of the reconstruction of "Le Sacre du Printemps."
The four "lovely ladies" who put together the event--Marjorie Lord Volk, Joan Burns, Marilyn Lynch and Noelle Siart--took their bows as did artistic director Robert Joffrey and his associate Gerald Arpino. In fact, if kudos were kites, the entire event would be still flying high above Grand Avenue and First Street.
"You helped us to do what we want to do--which is dance," Joffrey told the crowd. The Patron Night series of parties, put together last year by board members Felisa Vanoff and Patti Skouras, did more than raise money--the series helped turn around the popular perception of the Joffrey, broadened its support base, thematically tied the festivities to the ballets they followed--and generally made this society-conscious city see the Joffrey as more than an occasional pas de deux.
"We are joined at the hip, the Bobbsey Twins," the elegant Vanoff told the 450-plus party, thanking underwriters Fred Hayman, his Giorgio's, and Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. From all around came special praise for Skouras, who is also vice chairman of the Joffrey board.
Vanoff and Skouras seemed determined that ballet attendees would not pass out of The Music Center without increasing or enriching their knowledge of the art. Although last year they couldn't pull it off, this year's party included a display of some of the extraordinary costumes used by the Joffrey--including those designed by Pablo Picasso.
Urging the party to applaud the dancers seated around the room (yet another ploy to plop the company into the city's social heart), Vanoff was echoed by Alexander Godunov, who, to the delight of his constant companion Jackie Bisset, got Vanoff's husband, the charming Nick, to stand along with the company.
Table chat was as varied as the steps executed when the rock 'n' rollers took over the bandstand (and who knew that super lawyer Ron Olson could dance, but that was indeed him twisting away with a sparkly Marilyn Lynch).
Jeff Wald, as new bride Candy Clark listened, explained to Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner about his early support for former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Joseph R. Biden of Delaware, and how he had also once backed former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart.
"Please never endorse my husband," Reiner's wife, Judge Diane Wayne, kiddingly warned.
Former Sen. John Tunney of California was explaining the intricacies of the Bork confirmation hearings to screenwriters Laurence Starkman and Carla Malden (she's the daughter of actor Karl, and the two of them are getting ready to do their "coming of age" ballroom dancing movie with Vanoff).
Tunney had some great senatorial anecdotes--but perhaps none better than one involving Judge G. Harrold Carswell, turned down for a Supreme Court position in the early 1970s. In the small world category, Tunney said Carswell had been a judge of the moot court competition at the University of Virginia Law School, and that the student winners way back then were Tunney and his partner, the now Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass).
More good news--Herb Hutner, chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Arts, had details of the first West Coast event that will feature the Kennedy Center honorees. The annual lavish December Washington event--in which it looks like L.A. is transplanted to D.C.--will get actual West Coast exposure when a big spring party at the Beverly Hilton brings together many of the past years' brand-name honorees.
It was past midnight but the stalwarts were still on the dance floor. Choreographer Marc Beaux (he did "The Sound of Music," "Mary Poppins" etc.) swung Cloris Leachman around, the Vanoffs tangoed past, Nick breaking away to swing around Patti Skouras. Patti and Tommy Skouras said their goodnights, and still a dozen young Joffrey dancers continued to shake their things.
BUYING OUT OF BORK--It's not Barbra Streisand's singing, but the Hollywood Women's Political Committee Sunday puts on a major political push. Their fund raiser last September, featuring Streisand, set a probably never-to-be-equalled money-raising level--more than $1 million brought in for Democratic senatorial candidates and for issue campaigns from the "Voices for Change" concert.
The committee--Streisand still an active member--has approached the members of that audience, this time asking help in purchasing TV and radio time for commercials opposing the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Robert Bork. Set for Sunday at a private home, the closed-to-the-press event is expected to draw more than 100 brand-name supporters--and those RSVPing are expected to write big checks. In fact, in an interesting fund-raising gambit, those attending will be able to buy specific ad time in specific markets for set prices.