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SoCal Confidential

For Breakfast, One Hillary Story, Soft

March 31, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

When a call came inviting me to an "intimate breakfast" with Hillary Clinton at the Calabasas home of Sim Farar on Wednesday morning, I immediately accepted. (Farar is a Democratic Party heavyweight, appointed by President Clinton to be the U.S. representative to the General Assembly of the United Nations.)

The only catch was that the breakfast, a fund-raiser for Clinton's U.S. Senate campaign in New York, was a "closed" event--as in closed to the media. I was invited with the stipulation that the first lady could not be interviewed.

The Farar house was crawling with Secret Service agents when I arrived. Because the event was poolside, there were sharp shooters perched on the bluffs in the backyard, and one in the second-floor window of the next door neighbor's house.

The first lady arrived more than an hour late in her black SUV. (Rumor had it she was waylaid by the DreamWorks folks.) After a few bites of an omelet and some fruit (probably her third breakfast of the day), she spoke about why her election to the Senate is important to Californians.

"I think Barbara [Boxer], Diane [Feinstein] and I could cause some real trouble," she said, after pledging to work on such national issues as protecting abortion rights, providing health care for all Americans, and fighting the National Rifle Assn.

Nearly everyone there had a suggestion or a comment. The price of having the first lady's ear was $1,000. Frank Zappa's widow, Gail Zappa, was perhaps the most recognizable face in the crowd of high rollers. The high-fashion Earth Mama (in Robert Clergerie sandals and a red pashmina) is one of California's largest Democratic Party donors--having given more than $450,000 in the past few years.

Clinton is a powerful speaker, and, like her husband, is phenomenal at remembering names. I told her about volunteering as a college student for her now-defunct national health-care campaign in Washington, D.C.

"What do you do now?" she asked cheerfully.

"I'm a writer," I said, suddenly uncomfortable.

"Freelance?" she asked.

"No, for a newspaper," I offered.

"Which one?" she replied.

She kept her cool, but I heard later she was upset because she didn't know a Times reporter was there. The situation was defused when Farar explained I don't cover politics.

"Soft piece, right?" Farar whispered to me before I left. "Soft piece."

Who would have thought SoCal Confidential would be a pawn in the campaign finance game?

*

London-based costume designer Bonita Bryg got a cool $3 million to create light-up swing skirts, zoot suits and Carmen Miranda-inspired gowns for "Burn the Floor," a ballroom dance revue that runs through Saturday at Universal Amphitheatre.

Bryg, a former member of the Royal Academy of Dance, aimed for a "matador-meets-biker look."

"Because we have a set but no props, the costumes had to be very much in the fore," she said.

What did the dancers think of her over-the-top designs? "They loved it," she said. "In the world of ballroom, there are many rules [about dress], and many of them had been dying to break them for a long time but never had the chance."

Booth Moore can be reached at booth.moore@latimes.com.

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