They do light up a room.
Some of the county's most dashing men were showcased at the Irvine Hilton & Towers and the Irvine Marriott last Thursday.
More than 60 high-profile types paraded before hundreds of cheering women at "Gentlemen's Haberdashery," the benefit at the Hilton for the Sisters of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart.
Then 17 bachelors--"hunks all," chirped one ecstatic guest--went on the auction block at the Marriott to raise funds for the county chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Assn. High bidders got dates with the fellows of choice.
Festivities at the "Haberdashery" benefit began with a cocktail reception, continued with a sit-down luncheon and concluded with a style show moderated by Kitty Leslie, fashion coordinator at Fashion Island in Newport Center.
Master of the tongue-in-cheek, Leslie divided her models into "camps" as they took the spotlight before female judges who were to select one man as "fashion sweepstakes winner."
"Here they are, Heaven's Angels," said Leslie, as Roman Catholic priests Father Ken Schmit and Father Michael Harris boarded the ramp in leather gear a la Hells Angels.
"Meet the praiser!" she said, as public relations practitioner Tom Wilck took the stage. "Ranchers" included Richard O'Neill of Rancho Mission Viejo; John Crean, former owner of Rancho Mission San Juan Capistrano, and Thomas Nielsen of the Irvine Co.
The "restaurateurs" category featured Jim Dale, owner of the Villa Nova in Newport Beach, and Bob Peck, a co-owner of the Savannah Grill at Fashion Island.
"Those sexy Italians" saw Antonio Cagnolo, owner of Antonello's restaurant in Santa Ana, and Domenick Roppolo taking the ramp to whistles and howls from applauding onlookers.
Also modeling were developers Ralph Clock and Ron Soderling and twins Bill and Ben Harris; builders Peter Ochs and Peter Muth, plus "politicals," who included county Supervisors Don R. Roth and Gaddi H. Vasquez. Supervisor Thomas F. Riley headed the host committee.
After the show, announcer Paul Salata called for the judges--Alice O'Neill Avery, Pat Krone, Donna Crean, Helen Coffey, Jolene Fuentes, Barbara and Harriet Harris, Beverly Salata and Kathryn Thompson, among them--to tally their votes for the sweepstakes winner.
"We've got a tie," Salata announced, calling priests Harris and Schmit back to the stage. The audience roared.
"This is great," whispered Harris to table guests as he gazed at the plaque he had received. "I've never won anything like this."
Watching from the sidelines was a smiling Norman F. McFarland, bishop of Orange. "I feel very much at home here," he said of the county, where he has been stationed since February, 1987. "The people here understand cooperation.
"Orange County may be beautiful, but what makes a bishop's life is the people. There is extraordinary goodness here. I'm grateful to be part of it."
"Tony and I love this event," said Melinda Moiso, wife of Santa Margarita Co. President Tony Moiso, master of ceremonies. "It's our one from the heart. The sisters are simply wonderful."
Also on the scene: Emma Jane Riley and Sister Ida Peterfy, who founded the Sisters of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart in Hungary in 1940. Besides teaching, the sisters conduct retreat programs for youths in the Santa Ana area. Net proceeds were estimated at $80,000.
Later, at the bachelor auction: "I've never seen so many gorgeous women in one room," said the Irvine Improv Comedy Club's Mark Anderson, emcee of "Night of Your Dreams" staged by the Muscular Dystrophy Assn. "It's like an estrogen force field!"
"Charity events have changed a great deal over the years," he continued, staring down at more than 150 women gathered to bid on dates with the bachelors at the Marriott.
"Used to be they'd raffle off dinette sets. Now they actually sell men, and . . . eh . . . that's what we're here to do tonight! Are you ready?"
Screaming and applause.
"This is unusual for us," announced auctioneer Ronnie Richards, taking the ramp wearing a clingy blue dress. "(The Muscular Dystrophy Assn.) is used to doing telethons and walkathons. But, we've never peddled flesh before.
"Now, this is the best way you can spend money. When you bid, think of where the money is going, what a good deed you're doing."
"Think of how much money you've spent in singles bars trying to meet somebody ," added Anderson, laughing.
Together, Anderson and Richards fetched a net total of $18,000 for dream dates with Joe Delaney, Peter Freeman, Bruce Mallory, Chris Moyer, Jeff Paulson, Phillip Ellison, John Simpson, Michael Roland, Bill Robertson, Frank Terreri Rich Grimm, Daniel Hodes, Scott Smith, Frank Epstein, Greg Chudacoff, Ken Fischer and Donald Dix.
Committee members included Terri Campbell, Michelle Dennis, Joanne Vogelsang and Paula Neisen.
"Going Places," The Newport-Mesa Girls & Boys Club's recognition dinner on March 5 netted an estimated $10,000. Anton Segerstrom was honorary chairman.
The fashion show/luncheon sponsored by the Women's Auxiliary of the Arthritis Foundation's Orange County branch on March 8 netted an estimated $10,000. Phyllis Salyer was chairwoman.
"A Toast from the Heart," a gourmet food and wine tasting/auction sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Orange County Central/South, on March 10 netted an estimated $24,000. Sharon Paisley was chairwoman.
The "Tribute for Service to Seniors," sponsored by the San Clemente Adult Day Health Care Center honoring state Sen. Marian Bergeson on March 11 netted about $15,000 for the center's Needy Family Fund. Art Holmes was chairman.
The Children's Museum at La Habra fashion show March 12 netted $3,000. Marcia Giesler was chairwoman.
The "Sweetheart Dance," sponsored by the Eli Home on March 12 netted about $10,000. Bill Soares was chairman.