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It's a Fan Club: These Cool Party Favors Are Hot


It's been a long, hot summer, so it's no wonder paper fans have become the promotional party favors of choice lately.

LA Weekly advertised its daily convention coverage on donkey-shaped fans mailed to clients and the media. And guests lucky enough to get into Maxim magazine's party at the Friendly Farmer's Daughter's Motor Inn earlier this month cooled their jets with freebie fans depicting the magazine's fictional presidential candidate, Andrij Witiuk.

Fashioned from cardboard cutouts stapled to tongue-depressor-like wooden sticks, fans can simmer down hotheads waiting at the club door, or willowy wannabes in line for the ladies' room.

Most fan fans agree that eyeglass boutique l.a. Eyeworks was the founding member of the club. Co-owner Gai Gherardi came up with the idea for promotional fans when she visited First AME Church in South-Central Los Angeles for the first time in 1993 and found paper fans on each pew. "It was such a sweet gesture," she said. So she contacted the manufacturer and her first fan, emblazoned with the face of drag queen RuPaul, was born later that year. Since then, l.a. Eyeworks has made fans out of actress Jennifer Tilly, New York drag queen Kiki, Italian performance artist Ennio Marchetto and many others.

First AME Church has since banned its freebie fans. "There was a time, especially in black churches, when there were fans everywhere. But now with air-conditioning you don't see them as much," said the Rev. Leonard Jackson, associate pastor at First AME. His church stopped distributing fans when too many businesses wanted to advertise on them, and it became difficult to determine which ones were appropriate, he said.

For years, fans were a staple of party planner extraordinaire Jeffrey Best, but now he's "over them." He prefers to be more creative. For the opening of W Hotel in Westwood, Best filled goody bags with tabletop-sized wooden tick-tack-toe boards, complete with silver-plated Xs and O's. "People are trying to be different now," he said. "On the bad side, I recently got a pair of boxer shorts with the name of a dot-com across the buttocks, which I thought was interesting advertising considering only a couple people were going to see it."

Party bags are also being loaded with more expensive items, such as cell phones. "Companies are really paying attention to the demographics of these parties," Best said. But, unfortunately, most are heavy on hair products and makeup geared toward women. "Someone should think about what they can do for the guys."

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