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Model Citizens, Dressed to Shill

April 22, 2002|MICHAEL QUINTANILLA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The WWF, the World Wrestling Federation, may have the Rock, but the LAWF, the Los Angeles Women's Foundation, had the Rocky--as in City Atty. Delgadillo. Women swooned over the handsome, hulking lawyer as he strutted the catwalk Thursday night. The "Walk the Talk" fashion show raised more than $250,000 for the women's and girls' charities supported by the group.

Delgadillo and 39 prominent Angelenos--including Sheriff Lee Baca, Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and Antonio Villaraigosa, speaker emeritus of the California State Assembly--traded in their uniforms, robes and corporate suits for designer looks provided by Saks Fifth Avenue.

After chowing down dinner, the men headed backstage at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown L.A. A few dressed in the open--revealing tattoo-free bodies, no body piercing and a love handle or two--claiming a corner spot or by the racks where Saks' employees eagerly assisted.

Baca was one who casually stripped down to his briefs, revealing a hairy chest on his fat-free, 154-pound, 6-foot-1 physique--clearly a fit man. Some didn't even mind a powder puff of makeup or a glob of hair gel, courtesy of makeup artist James Higgins. Among them, a trio of formers: Mayor Richard Riordan, Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner and Councilman Michael Woo. "But mostly, they all want Altoids," Higgins said.

Others chatted about "the walk" on the runway, mostly seeking tips. Christopher Hammond, a housing developer, said his wife, Ayahlushim, gave him a mantra: "Do not fall. Do not become fashion road kill." Rob Maguire III, founder and managing partner of a property investment firm, confessed to practicing "my twirls and swirls all week." Bertram Fields, a Hollywood attorney said, "I've had a glass of wine to work the nerves."

But once the show took off, humorously emceed by state Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), the men emerged like a confident army from the pages of GQ. They strutted and sashayed, posed and pivoted. Many flung jackets over shoulders, revealing Pillsbury Doughboy paunches--and a price tag here and there--and then sauntered off, trying to ooze sex appeal.

But it was the high jinks on the runway that captivated the 550 guests.

The majority of women--including California's first lady, Sharon Davis, and Kathleen Brown, former state treasurer--hooted wildly ("Over here, baby!") and applauded loudly for their favorites, even tossing roses at some.

Reiner hopped and wiggled off the stage. Jack Shakely, the California Community Foundation's president, showed why he is affectionately known as the "silver fox of philanthropy" by tossing dollar bills to women. Leland Wong, community-relations director for Kaiser Permanente, gyrated like a Chippendale dancer. Geoffrey Cowan, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication, threw candy. And Walter Hill Jr., president of Icon Blue Inc., was coaxed by Kuehl into doing his happy dance, a bump, grind and shimmy routine he executes whenever he hears good news.

Delgadillo hammed it up like James Bond in dark shades and cut such a striking silhouette in a finely tailored suit that Kuehl commented: "Ladies, look at that body." The openly gay legislator quickly noted, "And I don't even know what I'm talking about here."

Villaraigosa, dapper in an Armani tuxedo, closed the show, as Kuehl announced: "Here's a real candidate for 'The Full Monty.'" With that, a few women tossed back their dollar bills.

Maybe next year, ladies. Maybe, next year.

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