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RSVP / INTO THE NIGHT

A Time to Eat, Drink and Come as You Are

August 14, 1995|MARK EHRMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It wasn't your typical art crowd that moved west en masse Saturday night for an aural, visual and gastronomic feeding frenzy called "Forbidden Paradise." This colossal summer fund-raiser, hosted by the MOCA Contemporaries and Buzz magazine for the Museum of Contemporary Art, was held at Santa Monica's Bergamot Station, a turn-of-the-century red car depot converted to an art gallery complex. "The MOCA Contemporaries is an organization of people who tend to be younger than some of our larger supporters," explained Leslie Marcus, MOCA's director of development. "This party is their attempt to draw in their peers and a new audience of people who perhaps don't normally donate to cultural institutions."

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Who Was There: A few familiar-from-TV faces flitted through the crowd, but they were easily upstaged by the sheer diversity of the throng itself, which soared easily into four figures as the evening wore on. The party's guests served as a living palette of L.A.'s cultural diversity, mixing drag queens, the T&P (tattooed and pierced) crowd and latex and leather-wearing club types with conventional art patrons.

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Consumable Culture: L.A. restaurants hosted tables offering fare as vast and diverse as the guest list. Honorable mentions go to the Thai duck taquito from Atlas Bar and Grill and the prime rib from Arnie Morton's of Chicago. Liquid refreshment was provided by an Absolut-hosted bar and Starbuck's, which had a guy cruising the party offering frappes from a cute coffee backpack.

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Entertainment: There was plenty of art to look at. Also jazzing up the evening was a series of performances--most notably Elizabeth Streb's gymnastic woman-in-a-box piece called "Little Ease," and contortionist Nancy Luna. There was also music and dancing till the wee hours.

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What the '90s Are About: "We're here to work the party," cooed Linda Evangelipstick, half of the glamorous drag duo known as The Chanel Twins. "Because art is what the '90s are all about. And besides, the Chanel Twins don't hide in the closet. We've been to places you'd never believe."

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Quoted: "MOCA is probably the most vital thing on the West Coast," remarked artist Robert Williams, a member of the evening's host committee. "MOCA supports a lot of underground and outlaw artists like me, Raymond Pettitbon and Mike Kelley. So tonight you got a lot of the Bohemian community here that the L.A. County Museum would never cotton to. You got the lowest phyla of the art world up to the highest echelons meeting right here."

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Money Matters: VIP tickets were $95-$120 and general admission was $60-$75. About $75,000 was raised for the museum.

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