What Andy Warhol calls "the symptoms of social disease" were everywhere: lots of celebrities, lots of gossip, lost of limousines and lots of reporters to write lots of stories about it all.
Highly contagious, too, because there was lots of kissing, even though in Washington, unlike New York, it was the one-cheek variety (perhaps because everybody's time is so precious).
As parties to -- and Andy Warhol goes to a lot -- "it was very social diseased," he decided last night. The party was in his honor, given by Fairfax Hotel owner John Bennett Coleman, socialite Ina Ginsburg and Warhol himself.
The occasion was publication of his new book, "Andy Warhol's Explosures," a $25 work that started out to be called "Social Disease."
"But everybody thought that people would think it meant veneral disease," Warhol said in that quiet voice of his, "so we changed it."
Socially diseased or not, Coleman, Ginsburg and Warhol would have been hard-pressed to keep people away. Ginsburg even reported one wearisome case of gate-crashing by the same uninvited culprit two days in a row.
There wasn't any caviar (an acceptable substitute for celebrities, according to Warhol's social disease symptoms) but there were dozens of oysters on the half shell being pried open before everybody's eyes in The Fairfax Bar of Coleman's posh hotel.
And for a pop critic like Warhol, there were celebrities galore, some from the White House, some from Capitol Hill, some from Georgetown.
Presidential counselor Lloyd N. Cutler came, which Warhol apparently regarded as something of a coup.
"Andy's a real groupie. He'll meet somebody, and be talking about it for a week," said Warhol's collaborator, Bob Colacello, who wrote the text of "Exposures."
"Andy was the chief character, and I wrote it in the first person but in his voice," said Colacello. "I know how he talks and what he thinks about these people."
While Warhol couldn't begin to count the number of parties he goes to every week ("probably as many as you do," he told one guest) he said Washington differed from New York in at least one juicy respect.
"When you go to lunch here, you really hear about everything."
Since Warhol is inclined to listen more than talk last night he seemed destined to get an earful. Some came from young guests like Kerry Kennedy. (Ethel's daughter," Bill Paly Jr. (William's son,) Michael Bartlett, (Charley's son) and Mark and Jonathan Ginsburg, (Ina's sons).
If he wanted the latest on Iran, he could have asked Cutler, who was up a 5 a.m. and conferring with Treasury Secretary G. William Miller on Carter's move to freeze Iranian assets in the United States.
"A lot of people have been working for a long time preparing these various contingencies if they happen. It isn't going to end the way a football game does," said Cutler.
If Warhol wanted the latest on the "invastion" of Capitol Hill by Russian parliamentarians, he could have asked Foreign Relations Committee members Sens. Charles Percy (R-Ill.), Jacob Javits (R-N.Y.) and Edward Zorinsky (D-Nebr.)
"We told them we were disappointed with some of their radio transmissions into Iran, and they said that like us thay had some journalists they disagreed with," said Zorinsky. "We told them we were pleased to see the increased freedom their journalists are enjoying in their country."
If exhilaration wasn't exactly bountiful (the preference for it to conversation is another Warhol social disease symptom), there was plenty of gossip (an acceptable substitute) to go around.
Some people didn't stop listening when the party ended. They, including Sens. John Heinz III, (R-Pa.), Javits, Larry Pressler, (R-S.D.), David Pryor (D-Ark.), and Zorinsky, joined Warhol upstairs to regroup for dinner.
Some, like the Gerald Rafshoons, Livingston Biddles, Huntington Blocks and Hugh Jacobsens disappeared into the night. Others, like Buffy and Bill Cafritz and Joe and Barbara Allbritton got into their chauffeur-driven cars ("not limousines," each insisted) and drove off.