The declaration from the mayor of Los Angeles came early, before 7 a.m., and set the tone for what was being proclaimed "No Panty Monday."
All of a sudden, the City of Angels became a rock 'n' roll paradise where traffic tickets could be exchanged for concert tickets, where panhandlers must be called "unaffiliated applicants for private-sector funds" and where two 911 operators got $100 raises just for saying their names on the radio.
That's what happened this April Fools' Day, when the businessman-turned-politician became the politician-turned-disc-jockey. While Richard Riordan, the guy voters elected to the city's top job in 1993, spun records and tossed out zingers at the Burbank studios of KIIS-FM (102.7), regular morning jock Rick Dees sat at City Hall, his feet planted firmly on a desk.
"I know I never will be in politics, so this is the closest I can get right here," quipped Dees, trying to look mayoral in a dark blue suit, but hopelessly hip in a yellow-submarine tie. "Once they run the background check on me, I'm history."
Riordan was similarly out of place, seeming, as Dees put it, to be reading an eye chart as he lofted one-liners on the air and struggled to introduce bands such as "Take That."
"I hope I didn't destroy your ratings," Mayor Dick told Mayor Rick at one point.
Complete with a Battle of the Sexes round between City Council members Laura Chick and Mike Hernandez (Chick won by knowing that the owner of the California Angels is Gene Autry and a fob holds a man's watch to his pants; Hernandez stumbled when he said "All About Lips" was made by Cover Girl, not Clinique), the special morning radio show was just one of many high-profile political gags around the world Monday.
Irvine-based Taco Bell spent big bucks for its yuks, placing full-page ads in major U.S. newspapers announcing that it had bought the Liberty Bell and renamed it "Taco Liberty Bell" to help offset the national debt. A German newspaper renamed Lufthansa "Lusthansa," saying the airline was now doubling as a dating service. And Russia's normally staid Itar-Tass news agency reported that new diamond-encrusted grenades would leave victims "in a sea of beautiful sparkling gems, rather than in a pool of blood." (It's possible that the laughs in that one got lost in translation.)
Back at City Hall, mayor-for-a-day Dees was all talk and little action, neither signing nor vetoing even one piece of legislation.
Truth be told, city staffers wouldn't even let him into Riordan's real office. Instead, they brought a huge marble nameplate and photos of the mayor with girlfriend Nancy Daly, President Clinton and a furry brown dog out into a conference room for the radio show.
Surrounded by sound-effects tapes such as "tobacco spit," "stiffy boing" and "body drop," Dees groaned when Riordan said his favorite musicians are Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra and "the modern ones," Frankie Avalon and Bobby Sherman. In Burbank, KIIS staff prepped Riordan during the breaks with background on singers Alanis Morrisette and Lina Santiago.
"We were very careful to choose songs that wouldn't put him in a compromising position," Dees confided before KIIS closed the Riordan hour with Salt-N-Peppa "What a Man." "There are certain songs you just wouldn't want to have the mayor play."
Clueless about pop music, Riordan still had lots of his own ideas for jokes. He wanted to spoof Hillary Rodham Clinton by saying he'd penned a book titled "It Takes a Rich, Gated Community to Raise a Child," but press secretary Noelia Rodriguez quickly nixed the notion. And the mayor's bit about three women picketing outside the station with signs saying, "Riordan Boring, Bring Back Dees" flopped both times he tried it.
Perhaps the funniest part of the show came when Rick and Dick were both silent, and a whiny woman's voice offered a remake of the show's jingle: "Mayor Riordan in the morning."
On that note, Riordan left a bit of himself at the studio, recording a prelude to the weather report: "Rick Dees in the morning. Tell us what the climate is. Do be do do waaaaaaaaaah."
"Well," Riordan sighed as he walked out, "there goes the election."
Times wire reports contributed to this story.