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MOCA MOCA Throws a Grand Grand Gala Gala

Times Staff Writer

With all available glitz, the Museum of Contemporary Art kicks off its inaugural year with a gala benefit bash May 16. For one time only, guests will party between the still-unadorned walls of MOCA’s new $20-million Bunker Hill building and, between courses, bid on more than $600,000 worth of art.

The vast space, which is nearing completion, is every party-giver’s dream--spacious, beautifully shaped and special, for once the art is hung, insurance requirements prohibit partying again within the walls. Automatically, the evening becomes a never-to-be-repeated event.

For a mere $250, an art patron (or someone who simply likes a good time) gets to attend Gala Gala II. The entire evening is under the direction of Douglas Cramer, a cognoscente of glamour since he’s both a well-known collector of contemporary art and an executive co-producer of such television shows as “The Love Boat,” “Dynasty,” and “Hotel.”

The Gala Gala will allow 800 guests the chance to party (that segment chaired by Jane Nathanson and Lynda Palevsky) and to part with some very large bucks for some very major art (at the auction chaired by Margo Leavin and Marcia Medavoy Ross).

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Encouraged into mildly raucous behavior by the background singing of the Stepp Sisters, guests will begin with salmon, caviar and Peking Duck--in plentiful supply to build up energy for the auction. MOCA insiders credit Leavin, owner of the Los Angeles gallery that bears her name, with using her considerable contacts to pull off a minor coup. At least 80% of the pieces to be auctioned are full donations--which means every cent paid for them goes directly to the museum, not just a standard charity percentage.

After spending their last sous, guests will enjoy a lavish sit-down feed--and the music of Peter Duchin and his orchestra. There are even rumors of a roof-top disco for those brave enough to revel early into the morning in downtown L.A.

And since they are brand-new, the MOCA folks aren’t bothering with traditional things--like black tie. Instead, they’ve opted for “dress extraordinaire,” which means, according to Nathanson, that guests should be “dressed with artistic flair.”

TO THE BOONDOCKS--It was the perfect Hollywood party at singer Don Henley’s hilltop and heavily guarded manse Thursday night. But, if all goes as planned, the next stop for the brand-name entertainers who showed up could be a local supermarket or shopping mall.

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Jack Nicholson left early (to watch the Lakers’ playoff), but Candy Clark, Daryl Hannah (just back from Australia), Morgan Fairchild, Mary Kay Place, Teri Garr, Julianne Phillips Springsteen, Shelley Duvall (in a Brooklyn Dodgers jacket), Penny Marshall, Carrie Fisher, Donna Mills and heartthrob Don Johnson hung around for very tasty food--cooked up by Roberts’ Rainbow--and very political talk.

The party was aimed at signing up celebs to head out across the country, to states with U.S. Senate seats up for grabs next November. Political activist Patricia Duff brought in two Democratic senatorial hopefuls--Kent Conrad of North Dakota and John Evans of Idaho--to tell the stars just how helpful they could be.

The election of a Democratic majority to the U.S. Senate this fall, said Henley, would allow those in the entertainment industry--now spending time on private-sector endeavors like Live Aid and Hands Across America--to get back to the business of entertaining. The entertainment industry will soon suffer from “compassion gridlock,” he predicted. Later, he kiddingly told the crowd that a Democratic-controlled Senate would mean Hollywood types could get back to “what we do best--having lunch, making phone calls and shopping.”

Several Hollywood-based organizations which have attempted to involve celebrities in campaigns were represented at the party--no small thing, Henley said, because “everybody wants top billing.” Duff’s approach with her ad-hoc Coalition for ’86, he said, was to “stop worrying about who is getting the credit and worry about getting the job done.”

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“Miami Vice’s” Johnson took on a major task at the party--hardly a beautiful woman, star or not, passed his way without receiving a big hug and kiss. He looked quite conservative in a gray suit until one noticed that, true to style, he was wearing no socks with his loafers. And the kissing? “I’m an equal opportunity kisser,” he insisted. Comedian Buck Henry, standing nearby, quickly chimed in, “I can vouch for that.”


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