The black invitation with the red wax seal read: "Grega Hartgering and Mary Pettus request the pleasure of your company to view WETA's "DRACULA" at midnight ...Dress: Draculean optional."
So until the light of day Sunday, some 30 guest (all in black) did the Monster Mash (to disco music), drank the blood of the vine, sank their fangs into meatballs and mouse and nuzzled up to watch Louis Jourdan as Count Dracula for three hours on a rented oversized screen.
"This is not a group of Dracula buffs," said U.S. Information Agency arts adviser Richard Boardman, wearing a black evening suit, kiddie fangs and bloodstained shirt. "I just think people like going to other people's houses to watch TV." Boardman's companion, Cooki Lutkefedder, also with the USIA, wore a black dress and feather boa with white pancake makeup and black lips.
Pointing out the black candles and rubber bats hanging from the powder room ceiling, Boardman called the party, "Inspirational. See what I mean, attention to detail."
Hargering and Pettus, two 30-year-olds who work for Muffy Bradson's Washington Corporate ARts liason organization met each other a month ago and decided to throw the party after WETA announced it would broadcast all three episodes of "Dracula" in one night during the curent PBS fundraising drive.
"We wanted to introduce our friends to each other," Hartgering said, adjusiting he black bare-shouldered Bridge of Dracula dress.
To her Arlington apartment, she invited the Capitol Hill crowd (having worked for the late Sen. Hubert Humphrey), and Pettus (former Corcoran Gallery staffer) drew the art crowd.
"We wanted to do something different than a cocktail party, people standing around making conversation," said Pettus.
Jamie Auchincloss, Jackie Kennedy Onassis' 31-year-old stepbrother and freelance photographer, who wore a red and black poncho from Buenos Aires, said he likes to invite people over to his Southwest Washington pad to watch his home video machine. "Television does connect you with the rest of the world."
"It hurts conversation a little," Auchincloss laughed,"but then most conversation at parties isn't that good to begin with." A woman asked if the gold medallion around his neck was to ward off evil spirits. Baring a perfect row of Ultra Brite teeth, he launged for her neck.
The idea of a television party isn't new. Guest Patti Tyson, who works for the Senate Rules Committee, recalled going to a real-life wedding reception for "Rhoda," the night of her televised nuptial for years ago. WIll the tube become the social director of the '70s? Shave your head for a Kojak party? Eyeshades and press passes for Lou Grant? "Well," Tyson allowed, two red fang marks pasted to her neck, "for a lot of people television has become reality."
Museum of African Art director Warren Robbins wore a ceremonial robe from Cameroon and rows of African beads. Does he believe in vampires? "We in Camerron look down upon this type of thing." he mocked. "Too decadent."
Izhar, along-haired student from the Corcoran, brought a knob of garlic,"just in case." Next to him, Mark Walderhaug looked like an ambulance driver (black uniform) from Transylvania, Dracula's home. Asked if he did, in fact, work in a hospital, he quipped, "the blood bank."
Everyone at the party agreed Dracula is sexy. "He breathes marvelously," Hartgering gushed. Another woman, in black jumpsuit and bow tie, called Bram Stoker's classic novel, "erotic." "I've just finished reading it." said Susan Pollard, "and you know, I think Dracula was an international person - going to England to gather new prey."
Bus museum consultant David Scahff, wearing a Draculean black academic gown, thinks this area is particularly ripe for victims. "One type of vampire or another seems to like Washington," he remarked.
At 3:30 a.m. coffee was served and party favors (tiny red buttons with letter "D") were handed out. The guest departed (as Dracula would have) just before the dawn.