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County Has Cachet and Dem Some

August 13, 2000|STEVE CHAWKINS

If Loretta Sanchez had taken my advice, she would have made history.

Now, she won't. She'll be hosting just another party in a week packed with instantly forgettable parties, another nonevent swirling in a sea of margaritas and shrimp cocktail with all the rest.

Oh, Loretta, the party that could have been . . .

I admired Sanchez for sticking to her plan all these weeks. A Democratic congresswoman from Orange County, she intended to hold a big fund-raiser at the Playboy Mansion.

What could be more apt than to treat big donors to the tackiest tinsel in Tinsel Town?

What could be more quintessentially Californian?

What could more easily draw the wrath of the suddenly and vengefully pious, absolutely convinced that Sanchez was ushering the innocent kiddies of Democratic politics into Satan's own pajama party?

Last week, Sanchez finally backed down. She announced that maybe she would move the party from the bunny farm--but only if she could find a spot with equivalent "cachet."

I tried to reach her Friday, but I couldn't.

Loretta, I would have said: Up here in Ventura County, we've got so much cachet we have to lock our car doors in cachet season, so the neighbors don't leave piles of it for us, along with all that zucchini.

Other places--particularly places in L.A., I must say--import cachet, or contrive cachet, or buy it like so many sow bellies. But up here--well, all I have to say is, we were cachet before cachet was cool.

However, Sanchez announced she'd move her bash to CityWalk, the strip of shops and clubs at Universal Studios.

That's a pity.

Every movie studio churns out junk at least as harmful to delicate sensibilities as Playboy, but there's not a peep of protest over the many convention-related events set for studios.

More tragically, Sanchez missed the perfect opportunity to reestablish the Democrats as the people's party.

For $1,000 and change--the equivalent of an appetizer at her $5,000-a-plate dinner--she could have staged her event at the Ventura County Fairgrounds' Commercial Building, where hawkers pitch fudge, mops, salsa makers and funny license-plate holders during the fair.

Even better, the Commercial Building--a Quonset hut that easily could accommodate the 600 revelers expected at Sanchez's party--happens to be available Tuesday night, the very time she needs it.

After a pleasant bus ride up the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, donors to a political action committee called Hispanic Unity would have disembarked at ground zero for the just-closed Ventura County Fair. They would have taken mighty draughts of the cool sea air, inhaled the lingering aromas of corn-dog grease and livestock, and thanked their lucky stars they weren't anywhere near Ms. January through December, not to mention some rich old guy given to chronic bathrobe-wearing.

And, as for cachet, the Commercial Building has buckets of it. How could a place where you can buy a thousand kinds of mop--the Super Mop, the Ultra Mop, the Dyna-Mop, the All-Powerful Mop, the Moppo Ultimo--not have cachet? "It's the perfect facility," said Teri Raley, a spokeswoman for the fair. "Especially for a party that wants to show that it's more about substance than style."

To be honest, there wouldn't have been much else available up here on short notice.

Much of the cachet in Ventura County is Republican cachet. Somehow it just wouldn't do to throw a big Democratic bash at the Reagan Library. And even the nonpartisan places are tough to book right now.

The American Legion post in downtown Ventura would have welcomed Sanchez and her group, but the timing was all wrong.

"Tuesday night is impossible," said Glenda Dunn, the facility's manager, pointing out that her room is booked by a gun club on Tuesday nights.

In any event, Sanchez and her friends will miss out. They'll absorb the artificial cachet of CityWalk when, for an easy hour's drive, they would have enjoyed the real thing.

Raley said that the booths and rides at the fairgrounds won't be totally disassembled by Tuesday. For a special party, some could be left standing.

"For the Democrats," said Raley, "maybe we could keep the Zipper open."


Steve Chawkins can be reached at 653-7561 or at

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