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RSVP : Stars Pool Their Talents for a Worthy Cause

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SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Scene: A churning, celebrity-rich crush of bodies was shoe-horned into the Hollywood Athletic Club on Tuesday night for Pool Aid ‘94, the third annual celebrity pool tournament to benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles. The event included the tournament (grand prize, a Suzuki RF 600 motorcycle), an auction of such items as Sting’s autographed bass and a “celebrity challenge table” where just plain folks could drop balls with their favorite stars.

Who Was There: Celebrity hosts Luke Perry, Stephen Baldwin and Jason Gedrick joined dozens of celebrities from TV, movies, music and sports, including Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley from KISS, Ben Stiller, Ellen Barkin, Judd Nelson, Catherine O’Hara, Nicole Eggert, James Wilder, Melanie Hutsel, Leonardo DiCaprio, retired football pro Eric Dickerson, plus throngs of rank-and-file Hollywood types, which pushed the head count to about 1,500.

Entertainment: As if all the celebrity shoulder-rubbing wasn’t entertaining enough, performing onstage were Linda Perry (no relation to Luke) of 4 Non Blondes, Mark Curry and Hell’s House Band, Robert Swordes, Threshing Floor and headliner Urge Overkill, who brought with it a surprise onstage visit from the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde.

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Quoted: “Stephen Baldwin and I worked on a film and we’d shoot pool when we’d do night shoots, because we’d be so tired we couldn’t sleep,” says Pool Aid mastermind Gedrick (“Sweet Justice,” “Class of ‘96”). “When it got to be competitive, I figured, ‘Hey, instead of making this an addiction and some sort of compulsion on our parts, why don’t we turn it into something good?’ And it became Pool Aid. It’s insane how huge and awesome it’s become.”

Biggest Fan: Fan Mary Lew came out from Hackensack, N.J., donating more than $200 for one reason--to play Baldwin. “I’ve never held a pool cue in my life,” Lew says. “But it’s going to benefit AIDS (projects) and that’s what it’s all about.”

Freebies: What else? Safe-sex information and condoms--including the new Reality condoms for women.

Money Matters: The event raised $50,000. “The money,” says Bill Jones, APLA’s director of development, “goes to a wide variety of different programs that help people who are living with AIDS--food banks, counseling, a dental clinic, legal services and about 25 other services like that that really help people in very practical ways.”

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