There were two book parties in Washington last night, both about movie stars who entered the political world. One work was unauthorized, the other wasn't. One party offered gimmicks like Virginia Woolfburgers and an Elizabeth Taylor look-alike; the second provided somber talk about interest rates and other doomsday chatter.
Working in chronological order, Party No. 1 was for Kitty Kelley's book, "Elizabeth Taylor, the Last Star." Kelley became rich and notorious from her previous book, the best-selling "Jackie Oh!" that purported to detail a laundry hamper full of Onassis' unmentionables -- money, sex, underwear, etc. Party No. 2 was for "The Reagan Revolution," a political-science study by columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak. Going to both might seem peculiar or unsettling. But look at it from an anthropological perspective. It's another night out watching the natives.
Party No. 1:
"I think she's sensational!" Kitty Kelley said of Elizabeth Taylor.
"Why?" asked several reporters.
"She's helping me to pay the mortgage, why do you think?"
"Well, how rich are you?"
"Not as rich as Elizabeth Taylor."
"Are you a millionairess several times over?"
"Probably. Oh, here's my accountant. Ask him."
The party was inside and outside the West End Circle Theatre, creating a gapers' slow-down as cars crept along 23rd Street. What motorists saw were balloons, cameras, placards and, if they'd stopped to listen, tapes of Eddie Fisher singing "Wish You Were Here" and Richard Burton in his starring role in "Camelot." Then there was Kelley herself. Her outfit was particularly special: black stiletto heels, black velvet skirt, hot purple blouse.
"Your blouse is insane," said a friend, Theodora Hausman.
"Oh, everyone's spilling all over me," replied Kelley.
One party feature was the Elizabeth Taylor look-alike, attracting just as much attention as another party feature, a Jackie Onassis look-alike. Both women did bear some resemblance to the authentic versions. And both do this for a living.
"I'd like to be her for a few days," said Barbara Reynolds, the Onassis look-alike who works full time as appointments secretary to Rep. Carlos Moorhead (R-Calif.). "I admire her."
"I spoke to her on the telephone," Jackie Frank, the Taylor look-alike, said of her inspiration. "And she said, 'If it gets too horrendous, put on a blond wig.' "
There were several hundred people dropping in and out at the party. Needless to say, Taylor was not there. But author and former Jimmy Carter speech-writer Pat Anderson was, as were socialites Allison LaLand and Tandy Dickinson. Kelley, meanwhile, was signing books and answering more questions. One that kept popping up was: "What is the most shocking thing in the book?"
"I've crossed the line between biographer and voyeur," Kelley replied. "I've done this for two years. Nothing shocks me."
Party No. 2:
Here's what Rowland Evans, not usually known for acid attacks on the Reagan administration, had to say about recent doings at the White House:
"Oh, I think they're in real trouble right now, although I've never seen an administration go through a full year without getting into trouble. The question is, can he get out of it? It's not going to be easy. They need to get interest rates down."
Here's what Robert Novak said: "I think they will be in a lot of trouble if he abandons the principles and becomes the facsimile of the Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford administrations. There are very few people in the whole administration who really seem committed to Reaganism."
This party was decidedly low-key, gelling in the seventh-floor tea room of Woodward & Lothrop's downtown store. There was mood lighting, vegetable dip, interesting cheese and a small number of people who dropped by to have their books signed. Presidential counselor Edwin Meese, one of two White House senior staffers who were on the guest list, sent an aide.
"This was put on by Woodies," said Evans, breaking away from a discussion of interest rates. "We didn't do anything. We didn't ask any friends. We didn't ask anybody."
Among the crowd of about 50, here's who came: Socialites Ina Ginsburg, Steve Martindale, Evelyn Zlotnick, Esther Coopersmith and Ed and Sheila Weidenfeld.
"The point about the old boy," said Evans, referring to the president, "is that he's an ideologue."
"Do you equate the Reagan revolution with the American Revolution?" asked Walter Innis, a retired Navy admiral.
"No," replied Evans. "The American Revolution was a revolution of independence for 13 colonies. This is a revolution, as Reagan sees it, to shed 35 years of big government."
"I spent 32 years in the military, fighting for this country," said Innis, "and I wouldn't fight for it now."
"Oh, that's bull----," said Evans.
Pretty soon he signed another book. Across town, Kelley was still signing hers.