Lively Model, Vivid Jackets Brighten Benefit

Forget the fuss over the lambada, the shocking dance craze that has staid folk abandoning local dance floors.

"Vogue-ing," the passion of New York's female impersonators, came to South Coast Plaza on Saturday night and blew the usually wide-open minds of Newport Harbor Art Museum supporters.

Now, mind you, few in this stunned social herd knew anything about vogue-ing when Lypsinka--the New York female impersonator whose following includes Elton John and Joan Rivers--swept off a rolling escalator and began to strut his sinewy stuff.

But, before they could say "the smelling salts, please!" he taught them all about it. Bounding before them in a fringed, black lace corset, he stopped here, there, and everywhere, striking haute and arty poses right out of Vogue magazine.

The Big Apple action occurred thanks to Barneys New York, the store that regularly gives its customers doses of "the unexpected, the interesting," said Simon Doonan, Barneys vice president and creative director.

It was Doonan who got Lypsinka, a.k.a. John Epperson, to model some of the 45 decorated denim jackets that, upon auction, brought $26,000 to museum coffers. Epperson is the rehearsal pianist for American Ballet Theatre, which on Sunday ended its run at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. "When I learned ABT was going to be in town, I asked my old friend, John, to model for us," said Doonan, who returned to New York on Wednesday. "He has a Los Angeles show under negotiation at the moment."

To set the stage for the action-auction, Doonan took an unfinished wing of the new Barneys and crammed it with gilt-drenched chairs. Sparkling crystals and hot spotlights danced over guests' heads.

"I guess when the crowd saw they were going to sit on gold chairs in a construction site, they knew they were in for an unorthodox evening," Doonan said. Indeed.

Among guests were participating artists and designers (decorators of the denim jackets) who included Peter Cohen, Margaret Coy, Janice Lowry, Brian Gray, Greg Miller, Marc Pally, Aubrey Robin and Meryl Waitz. Also on the arty scene: Henry and Renee Segerstrom (looking ultravogue in black leather shot with gold studs) and Holly and Robert Pressman of the Pressman family, owners of Barneys. Members of the benefit committee included Kathy Bryant, Mary Carrington, Beverly Diamond, Roberta Dauderman, Linda Giannini, Barbara Glabman, Deborah Polonsky, Susan Porter, Lorie Dewhirst Porter, Judy Slutzky, Elizabeth Tierney, Helen Zeughauser and Madeline Zuckerman.

Top o' the Mornin': They did it again. Bob and Cleva Howard staged Orange County's most popular St. Patrick's Day Irish coffee and brunch last week when they welcomed supporters of the Discovery Museum into their waterfront home in Newport Beach. Guests gathered for fresh strawberries, spinach quiche, Irish soda bread and steaming hot Irish coffee brimming with dollops of whipped cream. Proceeds will be used to benefit the museum's educational tour programs for local schoolchildren. The hands-on tours of the museum's restored 1898 Kellogg House enhance the social curriculum of third- and fourth-graders. During the 1989-90 school year, more than 20,000 children visited the museum. Among guests were Junie Chong, Nora Jorgensen, Mary Lou Hornsby, Sandie and Dr. Gerald Brodie and Ann and Russ Pange. Honorary committee members included Betty Hutton Williams, Ann Mound, Emma Jane Riley, Lois Aldrin, Dot Clock and Catherine Thyen.

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