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Into the Night

Is Party Icon Madonna Becoming Immaterial Girl?

September 21, 2000|STEVE HOCHMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The queen leaves the sanctuary of her inner chamber, surrounded by a retinue of attendants, and enters the hive's main room. Barely acknowledging the drones who have gathered around, she solemnly performs what appears to be a ritual dance for about 10 minutes before disappearing back into her sanctum, her entourage again moving en masse around her . . . .

*

No, it's not a scene from a Discovery Channel bee expose, but the key moment of Madonna's party celebrating the release Tuesday of her new album, "Music," at the Pico-Crenshaw area dance club Catch One. It was as close as she came to mingling with the guests. She spent most of the evening in another room, receiving well-wishers while reposing in a corner on a round bed with her squeeze and father of her new baby, director Guy Ritchie, Maverick Records partner Guy Oseary and longtime friend actress Debi Mazar, according to reports from those granted an audience.

And her emergence into the disco room was nothing short of bizarre, what with the half-dozen burly security men surrounding her, they themselves insulated by a thick layer of party-goers, including Macy Gray (in orange coat, pants and boa), David Spade, Sheryl Crow and Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson (in red knit cap and shades) with recent bride Kristin Willits.

Meanwhile, the scantily clad exotic dancers hired for the event (females in stars-and-stripes bikinis, males in Swarovski crystal-studded codpieces) struggled to get a look at their hostess. Somber beneath her long, straight blond tresses as she danced calmly with Ritchie and manager Caresse Norman, the singer looked as if she were carrying out a royal duty rather than actually enjoying a chance to shake her booty on a floor she frequented back in the '80s.

One thing that made this vastly different from a beehive was that beehives are marked by efficiency of organization. A lack of same was what first greeted invitees, in the form of

a massive traffic tie-up on Pico caused by delays with the valet parking, exacerbated by the brusque, rude security personnel.

Inside, the main topic of conversation among those who made it through the valet gantlet was how they made it through the valet gantlet--some waited it out for half an hour or more, others broke ranks and found street parking and then had to breach the "no walk-ups" policy by scaling or sneaking around barriers and talking their way in. (Gray and funkster George Clinton dealt with the crush in style, arriving in a horse-drawn carriage.)

That conversational theme continued in the club, where guests in the disco room often found themselves essentially held prisoner, as security men wouldn't allow them into the two adjoining rooms--or even to the building's exit--citing fire marshal edicts.

The second topic of conversation was the rumored seven-figure price tag on the party, thrown jointly by Us magazine and Warner Bros. Records.

"If this cost $2 million, then those must be the best-paid dancers in the world," mused one attendee, pointing toward the women gyrating on poles and engaging in elaborate simulated sex scenes.

Not according to the dancers, who reported that they were actually making about half of what they would expect on a normal night at a club and that they were told that if they wanted to make more they should offer men lap dances for tips--and indeed several did just that.

At least their talents were appreciated.

"It's f-reak-y," commented Backstreeter Richardson, striking a flag-salute pose with hand over heart at the image of the star-spangled dancers. "I pledge allegiance!"

Frankly, the party was fine. The dance floors in the disco upstairs and downstairs in a hell-themed red room were hopping. Drag queens of all shapes and sizes (mostly statuesque) mingled. Hugh Hefner sat at a table with his blond bunny trifecta, as required by Hollywood Party Ordinance No. 438-6, Paragraph XII.

But there was little evidence of the supposed lavish spending. Food was mostly of the finger variety, brought around by wait-people and available at a buffet downstairs. The onion-olive-mushroom mini quiches and the curry sweet potato mini pancakes with a dollop of mango chutney were particularly tasty. But it was hardly the stuff of extravagant party legend.

Topic No. 3? Whither Madonna as a fashion leader. The cowgirl-hooker style affected on her "Music" photos and video was in little evidence other than token western wear on some of the servers and guests. Madonna herself eschewed the look in favor of simple black pants and T-shirt emblazoned with a vulgarity for female anatomy that was the original title of Ritchie's upcoming film. (No, not that one. The six-letter one.) (No, the one-syllable one.) (Oh, never mind.)

Maybe after living through years of Madonna wannabes, Madonna doesn't wanna any more.

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