Hell, it was as inevitable as Bill Clinton getting caught. The VIP smoking area, that is — the velvet rope, the bouncer check ing for wrist bands. Of course, we were more concerned about hitting the hosted VIP bar at the Garden of Eden, where Playboy TV, which was celebrating its 15th anniversary, threw a babe-aliciously bodacious pajama-party benefit for AIDS Project L.A. Playboy underwrote the entire event, raising $50,000 for APLA, which runs more than 30 programs, ranging from a food bank to legal serv ices and risk-reduction workshops. We can think of a few Fortune 500 types who could take a tip from HUGH HEFNER (Playboy has raised more than $1 million for AIDS-related projects). The über-bachelor was schwinging single (wife Kimberly Conrad was nowhere to be seen; the couple an nounced their separation a few days later) in his trademark silk pajamas, designed by Rick Pallack, who had made an identical pair that were auctioned off later in the eve. Politically Incorrect BILL MAHER emceed the lusty lingerie fashion show, which featured a panoply of pulsating Playmates raising temperatures (and god knows what else) as they strutted their stuff in snazzy naughty nighties designed by Richard Tyler, Todd Oldham, Eduardo Lucero, Betsey Johnson and
Maggie Berry, among others. Getting an eyeful were Boogie Nights star MARK WAHLBERG; Titanic’s FRANCES FISHER, a recent nominee to Mr. Blackwell’s worst-dressed list (and we could see why); ANGEL BORIS and VINCE YOUNG from Beverly Hills 90210; Chicago Bears quarterback ERIK KRAMER; andEllen ’s JERRY PIVEN.


Speaking of heavenly bodies, it was “Hey, stars, stars, over here!” as one flock of fans camped out in the lobby of the Beverly Hilton shrieked to catch the attention of celebs exiting the Golden Globe awards. They didn’t seem to be particularly fussy — any old luminary would do. We couldn’t help thinking The Day of the Locust as we emerged into the lobby after a security guard had walked us through a maze of corridors (don’t know who he thought we were — perhaps some Hollywood guru) that reminded us of that long tracking shot in GoodFellas when Ray Liotta takes Lorraine Bracco to a club and they enter through the kitchen. From the back stage bustle to the Holly wood hustle: flash bulbs popping, autograph hounds waving pen and paper (we spotted a dazed JERRY SEINFELD graciously trying to sign everything thrust at him), cops eyeing the masses, the masses ogling celebs. Then there were the gaggles of giggly girlies determined to catch a glimpse of LEONARDO DiCAPRIO, and the security guards determined to outwit them. We were determined to crash all five parties that various studios hosted at the Hilton follow ing the awards, and thanks to the super-all-access pass a kind soul slipped us, we did. Sometimes ya just gotta live the high life. And if you thought the person next to you piling on the shrimp in the buffet line was FILL-IN-THE-BOLDFACE-NAME, it probably was. A girl could get whiplash checking it all out: LAUREN BACALL, JIM CARREY, JEFF GOLD BLUM, HELENA BONHAM CARTER, PETER FONDA, MADONNA, BURT REYNOLDS, HELEN HUNT and on and on and on. The highlight of the night: zipping over to Billboard Live and catching the wickedly witty TENACIOUS D, who performed a kicky cover of Heart’s “Barracuda,” with a sassy Sasquatch, who’d earlier battled Spider Man onstage, playing drums. Okay, so we’re more Weekly World News than People.

Boom-Boom Rooms

Shall We Dance?: Actress JENNIFER LOPEZ and comedian PAUL RODRIGUEZ have made a smart investment in the Conga Room, a swellegant salsa supper club scheduled to open February 20, with Celia Cruz headlining. (Tito Nieves and José Feliciano are booked in the weeks following.) We recently dropped by for a private party and chatted with owner BRAD GLUCKSTEIN, a real estate developer and fixture on the local salsa circuit, who was thrilled to be putting the finishing touches on his longtime dream, and with head booker MARTIN FLEISCHMANN, who also books the Hollywood Salsa & Latin Jazz Festival. The terrifically talented interior designer RON MEYERS has transformed the former Jack LaLanne gym on the Miracle Mile into the best-looking club in town.

Loud ’n’ Proud: Kane — at the site of the former Smalls KO and named after owner IVAN KANE, a convivial New Yawker making his first foray into the bar biz — certainly has a look, though we’re not quite sure what interior designer FRED SUTHERLAND (one of the Freds of Fred 62) is trying to say. It’s a kitsch-chic scramble of colors (blue, orange, white, black, red) and textures (concrete blocks, wrought iron, copper), and, as we discovered when we popped by one eve, a crowd cheerfully loud enough to compete with their surroundings.

See and Be Scene: Head-swivelers and those who make heads swivel are hanging out at the recently reopened hyper-hiptitudinous Les Deux Cafés, where owner MICHELE LAMY — a former clothing designer who became a restaurateuse with Café des Artistes — greets the air-kiss clique with a cigarette in one hand and a phone in the other. One of her partners, PAUL FORTUNE, a noted interior designer who way back when started the Fake Club, has turned a dilapidated Craftsman house — a former crack pad that Michele had hauled in from a block away and placed next to the garden section of the restaurant, which was then closed for months during the ren o vation — into a sumptuous swank-spot evoc ative of old-glamour Holly wood.

Kitsch a Rising

The Wurst of Times: If you’ve never been to the Löwenbräu Keller, go. It’s a Rhine land-rococo wonderland on a desolate stretch of Beverly Boulevard near downtown — just be prepared for the Iron Barmaiden. When it comes to mixing drinks, she’s as slow as Jägermeister in January. We popped by recently for an opening-night party, following the premiere at the Playwright’s Arena of Art Star, an over-the-top look at the life of a bad performance artist in L.A. (hey, is that redundant?), co-written by artist TULSA KINNEY (a Weeklyite), who also directed, and actress JADE GORDON, who gives real-life performance artists a run for their money.

What Is the Nature of Reality?: Yep, that was ROD STEWART, with wife RACHAEL HUNTER and an en tourage of 20, mouthing along to “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” at Cherry recently. But Rod, did ya think go-go dancers GURL JAMES’ and RUSSELL’s big bobbing bouncy boobies were sexy?

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