Orange County society won't be crying in their Dom Perignon when they say "see ya" to the '80s. It's been a vintage decade for the glitz-set.
For starters, the Orange County Performing Arts Center opened in 1986, giving the glitterati a stylish new way to spend an evening: First, they dress to kill. Then, they dine at an A-list bistro near the Center (usually Antonello), watch a performance at Segerstrom Hall and then party till the wee hours at a nearby hot spot (usually the posh and private Center Club.).
We're still shaking our heads in disbelief. Clothing vendor Amen Wardy installed a ballroom, complete with crystal chandeliers, in his maze-like boutique in Newport Center Fashion Island. Its opening-night bash in 1984 saw sexy Joan Collins, dripping in spangles, and then-husband Peter Holm ogling designer wear while party guests ogled them. In recent years, Wardy's showplace has been the site of Orange County's most-talked-about luncheon-fashion show, the one annually sponsored by Angelitos de Oro, a support group of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Orange County. Regularly on the guest list: members of the international society set such as fashion superstars Oscar de la Renta and Bob Mackie.
Something we loved to see disappear in the '80s: the canopy of blue smoke that used to hang like a rain cloud over a ballroom while a party was in progress. Now, smoking cigarettes during a bash precipitates "who let you in?" stares. Polite guests puff outdoors. Ashtrays are rarely found on party tables.
Something we hated to see appear in the '80s: "The valet stomp," the itchy-twitchy dance step party-goers execute post-party time, while they wait for their Jags, Rollses, Ferraris and Mercedeses. Some hotels have valet parking only (tsk tsk). And some hotels need to hire more valets.
Now that you're primed for looking back, grab that Mont Blanc pen. It's time to take the 1989 Society Trivia Quiz, the end-of-the-season game that tests your social IQ. Now don't go kicking your secretary in the shins if you miss a few. You were probably so busy kicking up your heels, you didn't have time to read this column. But if you get them all right, something is dreadfully wrong. You've got to get out more, stop being the voyeur. (Answers below.)
1. What still-rakish-after-all-these-years Watergate figure hobnobbed with locals at the Four Seasons Hotel when the Orange County Trauma Society staged a book-signing for Barry Goldwater, author of "Goldwater"? a) Richard Nixon b) Bob Woodard c) John Dean d) Mo Dean.
2. What bugle-bead-loving socialite eschewed glitz for the Inaugural Ball in Washington and attended wearing unadorned black velvet? a) JoAnne Mix b) Kit Toth c) Kathryn Thompson Owen d) Dori deKruif.
3. What New York social swan left a sick bed to attend a fashion-show benefit at Le Meridien for the Guilds of the Orange County Performing Arts Center? a) Carolyn Roehm b) Ivana Trump c) Anne Bass d) Jackie O.
4. What flowing-haired musical star said: "Sarah was lovely tonight. I'd never seen her before" at a party at Birraporetti's for Sarah Brightman after the nightingale wife of Andrew Lloyd Webber appeared at the Center in "The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber"? a) Dale Kristien, star of the Los Angeles Music Center production of "The Phantom of the Opera" b) Stevie Nicks c) Cher d) Grace Slick.
5. Who said: "Donald O' Connor and I were saying that it's downright embarrassing to remember all of the lyrics so well" after he watched good friend Mitzi Gaynor star in "Anything Goes" at the Center? a) George Burns b) Mickey Rooney c) Rod Stewart d) Jess Marlow.
6. Who said: "This is tall cotton isn't it?" as his eyes drunk in the sight of superstars such as Danny Thomas, Milton Berle, Steve Allen, Buddy Ebsen and Bea Arthur as they arrived to honor him when he was named Man of the Year by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles? a) Fortune 500 businessman John Crean b) the Rev. Robert H. Schuller c) former California Democratic Party Chairman Dick O'Neill d) Orange County Supervisor Gaddi Vasquez.
7. What annual gala was suddenly canceled due to lack of leadership? a) "The Fifth Annual Fork and Cork" b) "The Gourmet Gala" c) "The Glitz 'n' Grub" d) "The Art of Dining."
8. Nancy Reagan spoke in August at what Anaheim-based conference? a) The Conference on Political Etiquette b) The Conference on Women c) The Conference on Men d) The Conference on Astrology.
9. What is the weight of the P'zazz, the $10-million yacht owned by Robert and Beverly Cohen of Newport Beach? a) one ton b) 10 tons c) 100 tons d) 200 tons.
10. What '50s sex symbol attended the wedding of Marisa Wayne, youngest daughter of John Wayne, at the Crystal Cathedral? a) Terri Moore b) Mamie Van Doren c) Kim Novak d) Tippi Hedren?
11. What two socialite-philanthropists showed up at the Opera Pacific gala wearing, heaven forbid, identical ballgowns? a) Floss Schumacher and Gayle Anderson b) Floss Schumacher and Donna Bunce c) Floss Schumacher and Gerry Schroeder d) Floss Schumacher and Gaye Birtcher.
12. What platinum-haired local hobnobbed with Ivana Trump and Malcolm Forbes in the same week? a) Lois Aldrin, wife of former astronaut Buzz Aldrin b) Renee Segerstrom, wife of arts leader Henry Segerstrom c) Marion Shea, wife of modern art booster John Shea d) Betty Moss, director of Business in the Arts of Orange County.
13. At whose Newport Beach home was the Dalai Lama staying when he learned that he had won the Nobel Prize for Peace? a) Judie and George Argyros b) Elaine and Clifford Heinz c) Charlene and Hans Prager d) Dick and Marilyn Hausman.
14. Who was the gorgeous guest of honor when Amen Wardy staged a very chic dinner party at the Four Seasons Hotel following her performance at the Center? a) Diahann Carroll b) Rosemary Clooney c) Madonna d) Dolly Parton.
15. Who said: "You base your priorities on what you're doing. Dyeing your hair is very time-consuming. You can become a slave to that time requirement," when asked why she keeps her hair gray, a la Barbara Bush, while so many of her sisters dye, dye, away? a) Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach) b) Suzanne Peltason, wife of UCI Chancellor Jack Peltason c) Marilyn Nielsen, wife of Irvine Co. executive Tom Nielsen d) Betty Kemp, sister-in-law of Jack Kemp, secretary of HUD.
Answers: 1) c., 2) c., 3) a., 4) a., 5) d., 6) a., 7) b., 8) b., 9) d., 10) a., 11) c., 12) a., 13) b., 14) a., 15) a.