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Dear Barbie: “Is there a bad Barbie?”...

Dear Barbie: “Is there a bad Barbie?” a man named Steve (no relation) wrote to Barbara Bell. Steve had a question about his roommate, too. “She’s transsexual (and) wants to know why her estrogen pills are pink,” he wrote.

Bell receives such queries because she claims to be the “inner name-twin” of Barbie, which explains why she writes the Barbie Channeling Newsletter. And answers questions for $3 a pop.

Mattel, the El Segundo-based mother of Barbie, is not happy with this service. “Your use of the Barbie name may adversely affect the wholesome, positive, family-oriented image of Barbie,” Mattel recently wrote Bell, a Bay Area resident. “We demand that you immediately discontinue.” A spokeswoman found the “occult” aspect particularly bothersome.

But Bell vows to continue the Barbie Channeling Newsletter. “People call me Barbie,” she said. “My father calls me Barbie.”

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Some concessions have been made by Bell, a 44-year-old single mother with “sort of red hair” who once held the wholesome, positive position of airline stewardess. “I no longer appear in public holding a Barbie,” she pointed out.

And now she claims only to speak through “a generic 11 1/2-inch plastic essence,” though admittedly one with a heck of a wardrobe.

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You think you do a lot of commuting: Michael Scheff of Beverly Glen has owned his car for just three years but it’s nearly ready for the traditional million-mile tuneup.

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Busiest painter in town: We hate to browbeat the poor soul in charge of updating the billboards for the First Civic Center project across the street from City Hall. It’s been in the planning stages for years, which is why the list of local elected officials on the billboards keeps changing.

Already, the sore-armed painter has had to blot out the politicos who preceded Gov. Pete Wilson, County Supervisor Gloria Molina and City Councilwoman Rita Walters. But it has been eight months since Yvonne Brathwaite-Burke was elected supervisor and Kenneth Hahn’s name is still on the billboard. Goodness knows when Richard Riordan’s name will be etched in as mayor, replacing that of . . . oh, you know.

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South Bay landmark: Edward Conklin writes: “You recently printed a photo of a Caltrans sign that was still up six months past its expiration date. We weren’t too impressed with that in Hermosa Beach. The enclosed sign recently celebrated its seventh birthday and shows every sign (pun intended) of going on forever.”

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Hey, somebody beam up the cream cheese!While shopping in the Fairfax area, Jami Warner of Sacramento had a star sighting. Or was it a terrestrial sighting? Anyway, she spotted Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), on leave from the Starship Enterprise, buying bagels.

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Barbie replies: As for the questions posed by Steve in our first item, Barbie channeled these answers: “The only bad Barbie is a bored Barbie. . . .” And it’s OK that the estrogen pills of Steve’s transsexual roommate are pink because that’s the color of “the Divine Feminine.”

Fine. But we have a question for Steve. You didn’t tell us what your roommate’s name used to be. It wasn’t Ken, was it?

miscelLAny:

After the departure of L.A.'s fifth mayor, the office was vacant from Jan. 13 to Jan. 25, 1855. There is no record of citizens taking to the streets in panic.

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