Admiral Hyman Rickover, 79, slightly stooped, with pure white hair and a nose like the beak of an eagle, walked into the Internationl Platform Association press room at 9:45 a.m., 15 minutes before he was due to speak.
"I'd be willing to go on early," he said. "I've got lots of work to do."
"But the audience hasn't arrived yet," said Dan T. Moore, director general of the IPA.
"Their loss, my gain," said the admiral.
Adroitly changing the subject, Moore told Rickover that he had read his revised speech and "I think it's the most important one given so far at this conference."
Rickover agreed, but said, "The newspapers won't print what I say."
When he mounted the podium to deliver his copyright speech -- 26 pages on, among other things, radiation and the media -- Rickover asked the people at the back if they could hear him. No, they yelled back.
"Can you hear me now?" he screamed into the mike. Everyone was wide awake for the admiral's speech
After his speech, which Malcolm Forbes called "lengthy and sulphuric," an old Navy man stood up and streched his arms, "We call him the KOG -- kind old gentleman."
A younger member of the audience chose different letters. "SOB," he said with a chuckle.
Rickover, other big names and not a few unknowns spoke in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency as IPA's 147th convention continued this past week. Most of the big names had come to pick up awards conferred by the IPA in the form of silver bowls. And most of the unknowns came to hustle up speaking engagements at this gathering of lecture circuit riders and talent scouts.
Wednesday afternoon, Jeane Dixon was introduced by Edna Sinclair, an IPA vice president, who would undoubtedly win any Laureen Bacal; look-alike contest she entered. "Jeane Dixon," said Sinclair, "has a place in all our hearts. She's a human being, a wife, a woman, a lecturer, a businessperson and an astrologer. But what you don't know is her humanism -- she helps the crippled children and all those with defects."
Dixon, who gives up to three speeches a month for as much as $7,000 each, said she gives all her speech fees "to prenatal research for defective children. I believe the Holy Lord wants all human beings to have a normal body."
Here were some predictions:
"Will Jerry Brown ever marry Linda Ronstadt? His ambition will outrange her patience and her songs will outrange him, but he will break her heart."
"The Ayatollah -- the days of his power are numbered, I can hear it already in the mountain winds."
The American voters will have a chance to do their own firing and I predict they will do a lot of it."
A blustery, lecherous-acting Isaac Asimov prepared to mount a red platform, sit in a red chair and turn his distinctive profile to Rita Solaway, who had been commissioned to paint a portrait of him in watercolor by the IPA. A photographer snapped pictures of him with fans and convension officials.
"Can I have a quickie with him?" a blond in a green dress asked the photographer.
"Where can we go?" asked Asimov. "Janet, he called out to his wife, "this girl say's she going to attach me."
He climbed onto the platform and his wife came forward to straighten his tie. She walked to the back of the room and watch the spectacle with the rest of the audience.
"My wife wants me to shave my sideburns off," said Asimov. "Never. Girls came from thousands of miles around for these sideburns."
Asimov's wife, asked if she minded his way with women, said, "Oh no, that's just the way he is."
In the quiet of his hotel room, a beige shag carpet muffling the talk, an unexpected Asimov emerged. The man who mock-propositions young women in front of crowds is shy and uncomfortable. And the author of 45 science fiction novels is scared to fly from his home in New York City to Topeka.
"We all have our irrational fears and flying is mine. I'm not an adventurous person. I get all the adventure I want in the stories I Write."
Asimov, who gives about 30 speeches a year for up to $10,000 each, says he drives his agent Harry Walker half crazy. "He knows if I would be willing to travel he could double or triple my fees."
He offered only one lascivious limerick, like Exhibit A in a trial, to prove he really is a dirty old man:
There was once a bold knight named Lancelot Who kept Guinevere in a trance a lot But what bothered the king Was he managed the thing By calmly removing his pants alot.
"Are you expensive?" asked a lady in a pink pantsuit.
"Compared to Henry Kissinger, no. My fee is $1,000 to $5,000 depending on what part of the country you're from. Pick up some of my propaganda." So said George Welliotes, an actor and impersonator know as Mr. Put On.
With the spectacles of an intellectual azd the headress of Yasser Aragat, Velliotes acted the part of "Sheikh Salaam, Arab oil magnate. His speech, "Your Energy Crisis," paints a picture of an Arab takeover of the United States.
"We can buy both CBS and NBC. The NBC peacock would be replaced by a turkey and the CBS seeing-eye by the rear end of a camel -- after all both are apertures."
"For chest pains, you need Ben-Gay and an Arab -- Ben-Gay for you chest, an Arab to rub it in."
"Do you have an Exxon, credit card?" he asked himself. "No," he answered, "but Exxon has an Arab credit card."
"Is henry Kissinger charming or a pain in the a--?" he asked himself. "He's a charming pain in the a--," he answered.
And the audience hooted and thronged up to him after he finished and went to the hallway, to ask him if he would speak for their clubs and corporations.
"Exxon is a client of mine," said one lady, "and I'm interested in talking to you about speaking for us."
"Give me your card and I'll love to expand two markets -- the east coast and the colleges. I've spoken for Shell Oil Company at a conference on oil spills already," said Velloites.
A man from the Buffalo Convention Center, another from the Lousiana Dental Association and someone else from an organization of student councils were among the others who approached him.
"Have you ever thought of going into politics?" asked one admiring man.
"Yes, people have tried to convince me to," he said. "But if I go into politics, I'll stay poor."
Howard Ruff, editor of Ruff Times, a financial newsletter with over 80,000 subscribers; host of Ruff House, a syndicated TV talk show, and author of the best seller "How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years," spoke about how to hit it big while everyone else -- i.e. everyone who doesn't take the advice of Howard Ruff -- goes without.
"We're all lemmings in the ocean of inflation," said Ruff. And so, he advised the audience to follow Will Rogers dictum, "Invest in inflation, it's the only thing going up."
And investing in inflation means spending all your money. Ergo, to Ruff, inflation is a moral issue. "I was brought up believing that it is immoral to go into debt. But I know that that formula is a sure road to financial ruin. So what do I teach my kids?"