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A Chronicle Of The Passing Scene

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September 11, 1992|SUE REILLY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Sterling Idea for Safe Sex

About a year ago, Sherman Oaks' Steve Cohen had one of those light-bulb-goes-on-over-the-head experiences. He came up with an idea whose time has probably come.

The once-starving actor is the designer and manufacturer of what could be lifesaving jewelry. Each silver-plated piece in his Rendez-vous line has a compartment designed to carry a condom.

There are bracelets and key chains for men and women, ID bracelets and necklaces with lockets.

"Jewelry is usually the last thing you take off before you go to bed," Cohen says. "Jewelry specifically designed to carry a condom is a better place to keep one than inside your wallet, where it can get damaged."

After the brainstorm, Cohen had to find people to help him design and manufacture the items, which retail for $25 to $30.

"Finding people who could make beautiful jewelry and still hold the price down was a challenge. Marketing it is another one."

So far, only a few stores, including Aah's in Sherman Oaks, have placed orders.

"The department stores are waiting to see if there is buyer acceptance," Cohen says.

According to Babaloo Sawhney, who does the buying for six Aah's stores in Southern California: "We expect these pieces to be really hot items. They are classy but not too conservative, so people of all ages will buy them."

Cohen says, "I figure my potential market is anyone who has sex."

That's One Way to Deal With Writer's Block

Betsy Otter Thompson, 56, of Burbank, is an administrative assistant at Castle Rock, the production company that has produced such movie hits as "When Harry Met Sally " and its current release, "Honeymoon in Vegas."

When Thompson, a Philadelphia native and mother of four, is not being the right-hand woman to Castle Rock executives Allan Horn and Rob Reiner, she's at home working on her own creative endeavors, writing personalized self-help books with the help of a Ouija board.

Her books are self-published but are getting national distribution, she says. They include "LoveParent" and "LoveHuman," just coming off the presses.

Although Thompson has no formal psychological training, she says raising four children and being in touch with the Almighty have empowered her. She receives her inspiration through a voice that comes from the letters on the board.

The Ouija board thing started a little over four years ago.

Thompson's son, Trace de Haven, now 32, gave her a board as a Christmas present. They studied the directions, which basically said that their energy would make the pointer point to words that would answer questions.

"After about four hours trying to get a complete sentence, my son said, 'That's it for me, I'm out of here,' " Thompson says.

But she stuck with it, learning to use the pointer solo to make it move to letters, then words, then general ideas, she says.

She's willing to explain how she receives inspiration and guidance from the board letters, but for most of us not of a parapsychological predisposition, it takes a rather large leap of faith.

Thompson, who says faith is not a concept she has trouble with, explains that the letters from the Ouija board actually tell her what she should say.

"It's like I have thoughts and feelings I would like to put down on paper, and the Higher Power that comes to me through the Ouija board letters keeps me on the right path."

Pretty wild and crazy business.

"Not any crazier than a musician using a keyboard to express the music he hears in his head," Thompson says.

Ultimate Care Bear

We all know that there are folks who go ape over bears named Teddy.

There are bear-specific events that attract so many people that folks can barely remain civil. Some of these gatherings are nothing short of a zoo.

Bearaholics grant Teddys special properties, such as the ability to comfort, cheer up, even elate. Now Patricia Wood of Westlake Village has taken Teddys from the fun to the functional.

She thinks they have the power to heal.

Her creations, Worry Bears, have been on the market for less than six months. They are the direct result of the grief Wood suffered when she lost her 57-year-old sister to cancer two years ago.

Wood, who has been a health care administrator for 20 years, says she gave her sister the bear as a "constant companion" and healing presence, something to talk to about her fears and troubles.

"I gave my sister the bear to hang onto in her worst moments. After she died, I was the one who needed the bear."

The original bear was a 15-inch cuddly, shaggy gray bear that came with a collection of inspirational poetry. There is now a 10-inch version called the Baby Worry Bear for children, which comes with a book titled "You Are Loved Just the Way You Are."

"The nicest part of the Worry Bear is that you don't have to be afraid to complain or be afraid or angry. He just listens non-judgmentally," Wood says.

The bears, which sell for $21 to $40, are available through various retail outlets.

And They Said It Wouldn't Last

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