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CONVENTION 2000 / THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION | EXTRA-CURRICULARS
/ A Party Roundup

Political Partying Going Full Blast, at Hef's House Too

August 13, 2000

So Hugh Hefner threw a bash of his own.

On Saturday night, Hefner filled his Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills with friends, entertainers, politicians and media types in yet another chapter of the ongoing melodrama about who would use his house for a party.

Certainly not Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), who wanted to use it for a fund-raiser but succumbed to intense arm-twisting by Democratic Party higher-ups who thought it would be unseemly. The much-publicized flap upset Hefner, a longtime Democratic supporter, who decided it would be party time after all. Only he would be the one throwing it.

"It's a way of allowing the national and international media to take a look at the Playboy Mansion to see what it's like," said Playboy spokesman Bill Farley. "We were answering so many questions about it, and in talking to Hefner, we said, 'Let's open the doors and lay out the shrimp cocktail.' "

The first of the guests at the Hefner party, the majority of them from the media, were greeted by Playboy bunnies dressed in the traditional low-cut satin outfit, spiked high heels and white, fluffy tail.

A large tent was set up on the mansion grounds, with bars set up on the back lawn of the six-acre estate. One of those at the party was Max Paul, a Los Angeles-based NBC producer who said he had covered several events that took place at the Hefner mansion.

"I've realized it's basically a rental hall," he said. "If you have a couple of dollars you can have a wedding or a bar mitzvah there."

Another attendee was Charlotte Spiegelman, a West Los Angeles family therapist who said she thought Hefner was "being treated like a criminal."

"He's such a heavy hitter for the [Democratic] Party," she said. "It's just an insult."

While they partied at the mansion, so too did they in downtown Los Angeles.

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More than 15,000 revelers crowded into the downtown Performing Arts Center on Saturday night to kick off the Democratic National Convention with California cuisine and a diverse array of entertainment, from gospel singers to Latino drummers to a rousing performance by singer Patti LaBelle.

But while the food, drink and entertainment kept the crowd in good spirits, the guests were the attention-grabbers at the mega-party sponsored by L.A. Convention 2000.

Take David Martinez, 51, a New Mexico delegate from Albuquerque's 1st Congressional District.

The hair on his head spelled out "Al Gore 2000," among other things.

"This is my way of doing campaign finance reform. Bush said, 'Read my lips.' I say, 'Read my head,' " said Martinez. He had his hair styled similarly last month "to get elected a delegate. But I worked real hard too," said the father of eight kids "who know that I'm a fun, crazy guy."

Martinez said he felt like a Hollywood celebrity as women pleaded to take a photograph with his billboard head. "I didn't think my head would get this much attention. But I like it."

On the other side of the plaza, friends Bill Barrett, 78, of Fairfield, Conn., and John Quinn, 51, of Hebron, Conn., were quite the political fashion plates wearing neckties adorned with donkeys, stars and stripes.

"Joe Lieberman lives about 25 miles from where I live, and I think he would be proud of my fashion statement," Barrett, who will make a trip to Disneyland on Sunday, said of Al Gore's running mate. Added Quinn, "Lieberman completes the ticket. They're a package like we are."

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At the African American 2000 & Beyond gala, dubbed "A Taste of Soul," revelers were treated to three floors of food prepared by local black-owned restaurants. The black-tie event, organized by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), featured singer Harry Belafonte. "They want to show off the best of the community," Waters said.

At another event, Gov. Gray Davis and his wife, Sharon, hosted a VIP media reception at the home of Mary and Norman Pattiz in Beverly Hills.

Pattiz is the chairman of radio syndicator Westwood One. On hand for the occasion were a number of media luminaries, including ABC's Peter Jennings and CNN's Jeff Greenfield. Hollywood also was represented, including actor Richard Dreyfuss.

The Los Angeles Times also threw a party Saturday night. The theme: media insiders and actors who have played members of the media.

Some parties were cloaked in secrecy in an attempt to shield the high rollers and the famous from the limelight.

"A lot of these VIP types just don't want the publicity," said Hal Dash, president of Cerrell Associates, a campaign consulting firm. "They don't want the paparazzi, they don't want their guests to get hassled--especially with 15,000 media people looking for something to do."

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Times staff writers Booth Moore, Michael Quintanilla and Marian Liu contributed to this story.

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