In Thursday's Style Section, Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tenn.) was incorrectly reported as a guest at a party for "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." Ford did not attend the party.
Now you would think, in an entire marble hallway just stuffed with Texans, that at least one of them would have visited that infamous Chicken Ranch otherwise known as the best little whorehouse in the whole damn state.
"Oh, no, no, no," said Rep. Charles Wilson, the Democrat from Lufkin who nonetheless admitted to driving by. Really, just driving by.
"Nooooo, m'am," said Lynn Coleman, a lawyer for the Department of Energy whom Wilson introduced as responsible for the oil crisis. "You probably couldn't find anybody in this whole crowd who would admit they were there. But I'll bet there are some. I just don't know who they are."
The crowd was an after-theater herd, squashed into an upstairs corridor of the National Archives following the Washington opening of the award-winning musical "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." Lots of cast members, a few glitteries, a congressman or two and plenty of Texans.
Didn't seem much like Texas, though, what with shrimp on ice and a band playing songs like "Country Roads," which everybody know is all about West Virginia and not Texas.
"They're just playing s - - - about moonbeams and moonglows and stuff," complained Larry King, the show's co-author and cowboy-about-Washington. "We gotta get 'em to play a little Texas music. Boy, I'd give $5 for a drink."
Had he made it through the mob to the bar, he could have put several of them in his hat. Corn-husk colored and soft as a rabbit's ear, it looked pretty close to one of those 10-gallon ones and was signed inside by Larry Mahan, who, if you didn't know, is "a seven-time all-around world champion cowboy but now a country-western star, whiskey drinker and snorter of bacon powder." That assessment is from King, who keeps track of such things.
He was also keeping track of all the Texas congressmen who didn't show for the opening. The fault of the State of the Union message, he grumbled.
"I wanted to talk to jimmy," King said, meaning Carter, "so I called Jody Powell, and I said, 'Now, can't he put it off for a night?'"
Well, guess not.
Among those who did make it was Marvin Zindler -- that is, the real, live Marvin Zindler in authentic silver toupee ("He doesn't permit his own family to view him unless he's wearing one of his many silver hairpieces," King wrote) -- who actually closed the Chicken Ranch down.
See, Zindler was the Houston television reporter/vigilante who took it upon himself to get that La Grange chicken whorehouse busted, which attracted all sorts of media attention, which attracted journalists from the East like King, which resulted in an article King sold to Playboy, which resulted in the musical, which resulted in last night's party.
Anyway, back to Zindler. "They captured me pretty well," he said. "I do scream on television." Thereupon, he was asked to demonstrate.
"Oh, no, no, no," he said.
"He has to get up for it," explained his wife.
So then he was asked what he's been asked for years, now, which is: With all the other evil, horrible stuff in the world, why'd you pick on a (in their words) "piss-ant little chicken ranch" in Texas?
And since he's been asked that question so many times, that's probably why he had an answer at the ready. "All your payoffs start at the local level," he replied, with maybe just a hint of a television pre-scream coming on, "and they end up right here in Washington."
But there was more. "If a whore wants to operate," he said, "that's her business. I'm not a moralist."
Like everybody else, Zindler couldn't figure out who among the respectable-looking guests might have dropped in at the whorehouse. "But I can tell you this," he murmured, "there's been some past presidents there." Alas, no names.
Among, the non-Texans were Carter adviser Hedley Donovan, Democratic fund-raiser Esther Coopersmith, Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tenn.) and Mayor Martion Barry with his wife Effi.
Actually, it was sort of surprising to see the mayor at the party. That's because it was hosted by Wilson, who, aside from being a Texas representative, is also chairman of the House District appropriations subcommittee and recommended last year that millions in federal money going to Washington be cut back this year. The mayor didn't like it one bit and said so. Loudly.
But last night he was more inclined to purr. "Honest disagreements," he said. "He's there, and I may as well try to get along with him."
And then, arriving in pancake makeup, was the star of the show -- Alexis Smith. She hadn't ever been to the Chicken Ranch either.
"But I was given a picture of it," she said, "and it looks like a little old motel. It's really delightful."