Last night, a woman was standing innocently at a reception when a stranger approached her and asked, "Do you mind if I look at your Mole?"
The woman blanched, thought for a moment, then chuckled, realizing that under her arm she had secured a copy of Mole, the pilot issue of Washington's new humor magazine. She handed it over to the stranger.
There was a less awkward way to get a look at Mole last night at the coming-out party for the new magazine, and that was to simply go over to the box containing 200 Moles and pick one up. But they went fast, because well over 200 showed up at the courtyard outside the restaurant Maison Blanche to celebrate the magazine's arrival on newsstands and in stores. In fact, they were celebrating so well they weren't paying much attention to the speeches.
"This is a commercial message," boomed the voice of Gary Wasserman, editor, publisher and guiding force of Mole, and former visiting fellow at the Institute of International Studies at Berkeley. "You think this wine costs nothing?"
"Thank you all for coming," associate editor Bill Thomas, a Baltimore Sun writer and a stand-up comic, told the group. "I really think this is some of the best cheese I've ever eaten."
Mole bills itself as "a magazine of satire and gossip" and pledges to be "militantly ultramoderate." The pilot issue, which cost about $30,000, features an article called "Sandra's Day" and an ad to "Save the Congressmen's Fun" that shows a sober faced business-suited man and the warning, "UNLESS YOU HELP . . . This Congressman will sleep alone tonight."
Former Washington lobbyist Paula Parkinson's generous cleavage is displayed on the cover of the first issue. "It was designed for newsstands," said business manager Ed Confino, who, like the other magazine editors, sported a red carnation. "When you have 5,000 covers on a newsstand, part of the trick is to get noticed."
Parkinson, who is now unemployed and living in Dallas, came to the party last night in high-necked white lace. She plans to write a column in future issues of Mole. "On advice to the lovelorn congressmen," she said, sipping white wine. "I think that's very apropos, don't you?"
Many of Wasserman's friends came to cheer him on. "This is the first time I've been out of the office before 8 p.m.," said Bob Becker, campaign manager for Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale. "It's because Gary Wasserman is one of my oldest friends. And thank God it's nothing political."
If the pilot issue does well and if the magazine raises $320,000 (they say it can be done), there are to be issues every other month starting in the fall.
"I'm in their special Hanukah edition," said Dan Brenner, an FCC lawyer and stand-up comic who can be seen this weekend in Baltimore. "I'm doing something on whether the Hanukah bush was a true ancestor of George Bush."