Social scenes from New York City as it moves deep into the gridlock of the Democratic convention. Cool Bunnies

One of the more bizarre scenes of the weekeend: 20 Playboy Bunnies eating pizza in the Bronx. They'd been sandwiched thigh to slender thigh in a cool office of the New York Bontanical Gardens, having a snack and hiding out from the heat.

"We can't have them wilt," a woman explained.

And so they were fresh when 500 delegates and their families arrived late Saturday afternnon for wine and cheese among the ferns. The girls were clearly a hit.

"Hey, are these Democratic bunnies?" somebody from the press asked.

"You don't have to answer," New York Playboy Club general manager Peter Arevalo counseled several of his girls. And they didn't.

"Whether they're Republicans or Democrats is insignificant," Arevalo decreed. "They're Playboy Bunnies."

More than a few delegates, before heading off to a Yankee-Orioles game, posed for pictures with them. Karil was one of the more popular photo partners.

After one session, she scampered back toward the mainstream of the party, rubbing her tail. "Checking to see if it's still there," she said. The Gay Place

Bella Abzug was screaming, 22 floors above the East River.

"All of you come out of the closet!" she cried. "We want this convention to come out of the closet!"

The lesbians and gays cheered.

"Love you Bella!"


"Bella for President!"

From Bella again:

"Whether it's Carter or Kennedy, we wanna make them both sweat a little. And I'm sweating a hell of a lot right here," she said, not inaccurately.

Abzug was planted firmly in the croweded U.N. Plaza apartment of Edward Lowman, a ruddy-faced and retired psychiatrist. Normally his place is a cool oasis of books and fine oils. "Wonderful apartment," a voice from the crowd said.

"I hope it stays wonderful after this party," he sighed.

Ted Kennedy showed up at Lowman's apartment, too, and addressed the convention's 42 gay delegates for half an hour Saturday, reiterating his promise to issue an executive order eliminating discrimination on the basis of sexual preference. Thirty of the 42 gay delegates support him.

"Kennedy's campaign has made an outreach to the gay community," said Tom Bastow, co-director of Gay Vote 1980. "He's addressed gay audiences all across the country, but at the same time he hasn't run away from the gay issue when he's addressed other groups."

In the library near a gold Buddha, two gay activists were talking committee quotas. "We've got one Hispanic, one black and two lesbians," the first one said to the second. Sizing Her Up

Five young Democratic National Committee volunteers had spied Phyllis George, former Miss America and wife of Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown, at a Metropolitan opera house reception.

Staffer No. 1: "She's put on a few pounds."

Staffer No. 2: "You see her legs?"

Staffer No. 1: "She's just had a baby, give her time."

Staffer No. 3: "Very cute."

Down the balcony a ways, three even younger Carter/Mondale volunteers were surveying the pitiful tourists below. New York, for a flash, was their oyster.

"I'm thinking that I'm glad I'm here and that I've worked hard and that I hope Jimme Carter gets reelected," said one.

Yeah, so what was he really thinking?

"I'm thinking that the champagne tastes really good and that I'm getting a good buzz." Coping at the Copa

Across town a couple hours later, Ted Kennedy put in an appearance at a National Women's Political Caucus fund-raiser at the Copacabana. Earlier, he put in appearance number umptiump at the Shubert Theater with Lauren Bacall.

Anyway, at the Copa; Kennedy wailed about women's rights. Most everybody applauded, although feminist author Betty Friedan looked forlorn.

So, does the 1980 presidential race depress you?

"Profoundly," she replied.

She's uncommitted, she explained, saying that Carter's appointments of women don't mean much to her. "Honey, I mean it's better to appoint women than not appoint women, but that's a substantial way of ripping us off."

Women's issues weren't the only issues flying in the Copa last night.

"I live on East 70th Street," a young woman was telling a young man.

"How far is that?" said the young man.

"Fifteen minutes from here," said the young woman.

And off they went, holding hands. Who Was That Masked Man?

Maybe-this-means-something department: A skinny runner wearing a rubbery Jimmy Carter mask won a 2 1/2-mile delegate race in Central Park yesterday.

"I whupped 'em! I whupped 'em!" cried the runner, sweating like a candidate under hot television lights. "Coming into this race, only 22 percent of the people were in favor of the way I ran, but I beat 'em! I can beat 'em with peanuts tied around my ankles!"

This runner number 421, or Paul Fetscher, a real estate broker from West Hempstead, N.Y., who knew how to handle a microphone when he saw seven.

"We were going to bring in a whole load of Billy Beer," he announced to reporters, "but last I heard, it was being shipped to Liberia."

"Libya," someone corrected.

Before the race, which wound up with breakfast at Tavern on the Green, the 240 runners made idle chatter.

Number 178: "I'm wondering if I'm going to be socially acceptable when I get there."

Number 394: "I've got a clean T-shirt waiting for me."

Number 381: "I hope they've got something to drink there."

Number 64: "There's no alcohol in New York until after 2 p.m. on Sunday." The 21 Club Salute

The main excitement at a 21 Club Sunday brunch for Democratic Party chairman John White and Carter campaign manager Bob Strauss occurred outside in the street. There sometimes less than a swizzle stick's distance from the arriving Mercedeses and Rolls Royces, a demonstration blossomed.

"Carter, Kennedy you can't hide! We know you're on the Klan's side!"

This came from the Communist Workers' Party, represented by a group of 20 or so who chanted outside the Bombay Palace restaurant and bar across the street from 21. Just a little further down, more than 500 demonstrators form a group called ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) screamed and chanted and waved placards as Strauss arrived.

We're here to protest him having lunch here," one of the communist demonstrators explained. "We're mad at all Democratic presdiential candidates, and we're mad at all the Republican presidential candidates."

Inside, about 500 friends of Strauss and White took over the three floors of the restaurant, clinking glasses beneath the horse pictures and catching up on people they hadn't seen since vaction started. Everybody looked tan and rich; the women wore silk and frosted hair, the men dark business suits.

From the White House came the vice president and John Mondale, Anne Wexler, and Hamilton Jordan with Dorothy Henry, a young woman in a green silky dress he introduced as "just a friend of mine."

A lot of the crowd were political and social mavens you can find at Washington parites throughout the year: Democratic fund-raiser Esther Coopersmith, socialities Ina Ginsburg and Jayne Ikard, Secretary of Education Shirley Hufstedler, Vicki Bagley, John and June Hechinger. This was billed as purely a private party, at $100 a head to cover expenses.

White came early. "I don't think anybody says that Carter's not going to win it," he said. "I don't think the argument is 'whether' -- it's just 'by how much.'"

Liz Carpenter, an assistant secretary of education, arrived a little later. She carried a giant ERA sign. "Our plank is still intact," she said. "The other one's sawdust." State of the Art

At a Greenwich Village loft at 126 E. 13th St. John Oppido, a designer who wears red sneakers and one seven-inch horsehair earring, is explaining why he adores artist Frank Stella.

"I fell in love with this," he says, gesturing toward a colorful wall sculpture, "all his shapes and lines. It's where we are today, you know. It's like a church, you know. And I just think it's real, you know. Spiritual." He brushed his shaved head, fondling the small tuft at the nape of his neck. Downstairs, in this loft,the scene was decidedly less religious. oPolitical, actually. Joan Mondale was holding court at a party for artist Stella, designer of the 1980 Democratic National Convention poster. It was unveiled at his loft with a lot of flashbulbs and fanfare. Washington political types came to see the crazy artist, and the artist came to see those crazy people from Washington.

"It's so exciting to have successful son," Joan Mondale told Stella's mother Constance. "Now did you think,back in those days, that your son would be a big star?"

No, no, no, said Constance Stella. Around her, waiters in Carter-Mondale aprons passed exotic foods on trays entirely covered with kale and cabbage. They looked like awfully strange plants.

Pretty soon, former NYC mayor Robert Wagner came up to Joan Mondale: "You gonna get the vice president here, or is he busy?" he asked.

Well he was busy, but his wife told astory about him in his absence:

There they all were at a Sunday press conference, everybody asking the vice president all these serious questions and stuff, and finally some reporter asked, "What do you really need for the office of vice president for the next four years?"

"And Fritz said," said his wife, "What I really need is a bathroom." The Pastry Plethora

"There's nothing worse than campaining on your stomach," said Bella Abzug, gobbling pastries at a fundraiser for Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D-N.Y.), the congresswoman who's seeking a Senate seat. "I'm beat. This has been going on night after night."

Holtzman's brother, Robert, was alsograzing on pastries in the Fifth Avenue apartment of Citzens CommitteeChair Cissie Aidnoff. When he isn't campaigning for his sister, he's performing neurosurgery. Campaigning, he said, is a lot harder.

In the operating room, he explained, "It's quiet." Penning Tales on the Donkey

Author George Plimpton had arranged himself in his study, the head of an impala on his left, the head of a doe-eyed gazelle on his right and a zebra rug under his feet. Around him rumbleda party.

"I just got back from the Soviet Union and I found this going on," he said cheerfully. "I'm sure it's honorable. I see a friend here and there." Among the friends at the East Side appartment were National Lampoon editor P.J. O'Rourke, Kerry Kennedy, columnist Ellen Goodman, comedian Dick Tuck, Kennedy organizer Dudley Dudley, and Edmund G. Brown, former California governor and father of Jerry. "I just have no stomach for Jimmy Carter," Dudley was telling Brown. Brown, on the other hand, was waxing eloquent on his son the former candidate. "We're no concerned about Jerry," Brown said, "He'll be youngerthan Ronald Reagan in the year 2004." j There's Life in the Party

Three floors of purple neon, pulsating disco, bartenders in silver boxer shorts and nothing else, this in New York New York, scene of the "Baby Boom Bash" thrown by NYC Council President Carol Bellamy. God knows how many Democrats swarmed all over theplace and out into the streets, but by midnight last night, actually nobody was counting.The title of the party, incidentally, has nothing to do with the50's. "It just means that there's life in the Democratic Party." Bellemy explained. "There's a new generation in the party."

Among the generation was Betty Cruz, a housewife from Fulton, Miss., (pop. 3,100), who was absorbing atmosphere last night along the sidelines. It was midnight, but the night was a pup.

"Quite a few more hours left," she said, "there's just too much to do." She sipped her margarita.

At the bar, the crowd was four-deep. "I feel like sitting up there," a lady said. "My feet hurt."

And in the bathroom, the pace was brisk. Women combed hair, put on blush, readjusted tank-tops. At the phone, a lady with long blond hair made her final plans for the evening.

"So," she said. "How do you want to work things? Well, if you want to spend the night at your place . . . okay, I'll beat you there."