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Party Kudos

December 28, 1989|ANN CONWAY

Robin Leach got racy and dropped his trousers. Robert Wagner got nutty and nuzzled Mike Connors. Gene Simmons (once the bizarre lead singer of the Kiss rock group) got homey and flashed a picture of his baby boy.

Such was life in the faster-than-the-speed-of-sound lane when residents of La-La Land zipped down to the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point last June to attend the hotel's first Ritz-Carlton/Coca-Cola Classic.

For its drop-dead decor (endless orchids, gold lame panels, and gold metallic lace tablecloths) and for its menu (grilled scallops in Cassis butter, veal entrecote and a prune mouselline ) and for its entertainment (the aforementioned antics of Leach, Wagner and Connors) this divine-but-dippy do gets my vote for Party of the Year.

Yes, folks, it's that time again. The champagne bubbles have gone flat, the party invitations have been glued into my scrapbook of memories, and it's time to look back and smile.

Who will ever forget the sight of gorgeous Jill St. John perched on a pricey table at the Classic, wondering where in the world her dreamboat had gone? (If Jill St. John has that problem, ladies, is there any hope for rest of us?)

For her unflinching grace under those difficult circumstances, St. John gets my vote for the Most Poised at a Party Award. St. John just sat there, twinkling in a cloud of cobalt blue sequins, and flashed her gorgeous gams. When Wagner returned, he found a conga line of gents waiting to keep his tousle-haired beauty company.

For her rare appearance at an Orange County party, L.A. Rams owner Georgia Frontiere gets my Great to See You Again Award. Frontiere, who does most of her local partying in the two-story suite she owns at Anaheim Stadium, couldn't resist the opportunity to see Sarah Brightman perform "The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber" (Brightman's husband) last month at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

Afterward, the Rams' favorite cheerleader--demure looking in a floral print--nibbled on pizza with fellow arts lovers at Birraporetti's restaurant in Costa Mesa. Brightman and Frontiere learned they had something in common at the bash. They both sing the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. "But I sing it in the shower!" Frontiere chirped.

Oops. I need to hand out another Great to See You Again Award. Hundreds of party-goers got a rare gander at billionaire bachelor Donald Bren when he christened an addition to his Newport Center Fashion Island in October. At his "Moon Over the Mediterranean" bash that featured boats of food and oceans of drink, Bren did some predictable speech making, then disappeared into the night, leaving many a dressed-to-impress bachelorette asking, "Is that all there is?"

"Ya vas lyublyu!" The Russians tried to teach the Americans something about love when the Kirov Ballet was honored at a party at the Ritz-Carlton in August. "Yah vas loo-bloo!" Igor Stupnikov cooed, using phonetics to say "I love you" in Russian to Kathryn Thompson. "Yah vas loo-bloo!" she repeated, giggling. For that, Stupnikov gets my 1989 Partyspeak Award. What's better than shining a little lovelight? Nothing. Nothing at all.

Now we know why Henry Segerstrom donated millions to help build the Orange County Performing Arts Center. He loves to be on stage! And he proved it last month when he modeled for the Guilds of the Orange County Performing Arts Center at Le Meridien hotel in Newport Beach. Taking the ramp in a dove-gray, double-breasted suit from Saks Fifth Avenue, Segerstrom strutted with p'zazz and flare, causing the hundreds of spectators to burst into applause and his wife, Renee, to turn as pink as the mega-diamond she sometimes sports. For taking the time to help raise more than $65,000 for the Guilds, Segerstrom gets my vote for Party Sport of the Year.

Vice President Dan Quayle knocked Republican heavy-hitters dead when he arrived at Five Feet Too restaurant in Newport Beach in August for a $500-per-person dinner to benefit the Republican Party in Orange County. Quayle was relaxed and smiling as he talked with guests, telling them they were "all family." He thanked them for "giving Ronald Reagan eight good years," adding, "and we're going to have eight good years with George Bush, thanks to you." For taking the time to pop into the Big Orange, Quayle gets my vote for Dinner Guest of the Year. (Even though he didn't eat a bite.)

He confessed he was horribly sad, having lost a good friend in New York recently to AIDS. But artist David Hockney, famous for his portrayals of the California good life, proved he has what it takes to be a celeb in September when he appeared at the opening of his exhibit at the Modern Museum of Art: he knows how to fake it. He disguised his somber mood with a rainbow ensemble--blue shirt, green belt, yellow tie.

And he brought along his sidekick, Stanley, a devil-may-care dachshund who spent most of the night on his haunches begging his master for treats. For all of this, Hockney gets my I Gotta Be Me Award.

Talk about putting on the dog.

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