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RSVP / INTO THE NIGHT

One Thing Was Clear--the Pecking Order

September 24, 1998|MICHAEL QUINTANILLA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Scene: Tuesday night's premiere of Fine Line's "Pecker"--the latest comedy (which opens Friday) from director John Waters. Disco music, drag queens, dancers in jock straps and delicious dishes followed at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica. Waters, best known for his cult classic "Pink Flamingos," schmoozed and smooched (pecked, actually) well-wishers, accepting congrats for his film, a sendup of the contrast between the New York art world and the nether world of his hometown, Baltimore.

Seen at the Scene: Cast members Edward Furlong, Christina Ricci, Lili Taylor, Bess Armstrong, Mary Kay Place, Greg Gorman and Mink Stole, who stole everyone's thunder by receiving the loudest applause at the screening. Also at the party: Quentin Tarantino, Traci Lords, Michael Stipe, Chad Allen, Andy Dick, Barbara Hershey, Naveen Andrews and Fine Line execs Mark Ordesky, Brian Caldwell, Bob Shaye, Steven Friedlander and Paul Federbush. And did we say drag queens?

Seen and Heard:

* Waters (complete with his trademark pencil-thin mustache): "The whole movie has some autobiographical stuff in it--certainly, some of the things that happened with the early success I had, and how it affected some of the people I worked with. But I was in on it. When I was 12, I knew then that I wanted New Yorkers to notice my movies. And L.A. was one of the first places where that happened, like the Underground Cinema 16 on the Sunset Strip, which showed 'Mondo Trasho' and my really early movies."

* Ricci (looking vixen-like while dragging on a cigarette): "I have a little beef: I hate watching movies where, like, New Yorkers--so-called artists--make fun of small-town, impoverished people, make fun of middle America and go, 'Look how stupid they are.' This film makes fun of the pretentious New York art class, and that's what I love."

* Furlong (who plays Pecker, a photographer so named for his childhood habit of pecking at his food): "I'm not good with a camera. I take pictures when I go camping or to Disneyland."

* Stole (who lives in Los Feliz and whose real name is Nancy Stoll): "I've been in 11 of John's films. Since I was 19 years old, I've been working with him. If only it was one a year, I'd only be 30 years old today."

* Tarantino: "I've loved all of John Waters' movies. But I think this one's my favorite. Next comes 'Hairspray' and 'Desperate Living' and 'Female Trouble.' But I feel guilty for not saying the others too."

Pecking--as in Food: A smorgasbord of appetizers from DC3, Oasis, Bravo Cucina, Maui Beach Cafe and Indochine; endless alcohol from Remy Martin and Skyy Vodka.

Flaming Fashion: A drag queen called Flame was an attention-grabber in her Twister (as in the game) ensemble she stitched up, ala Chanel, using the vinyl game pad for her jacket and skirt and the game board as a purse (autographed by Waters). "This outfit is being retired tonight, honey," she said, batting shiny, plastic eyelashes the size of rakes and fluffing her 3-foot high, ready-for-battle helmet hairdo.

Pecker Politics: Steve Martin, mayor of West Hollywood (not to be confused with the actor), presented Waters with the key to the city and proclaimed "Pecker Day" in WeHo. "This does not get you into the Sky Bar," he said, handing over the key, "but it will get you a 30% discount on anything you want at the Pleasure Chest."

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