First Hairdresser Julius Bengsston stomped out of Second Hairdresser Robin Weir's VIP Room the other day. And he took with him his personalized, celebrity photos that had been hanging on the wall -- an indication that this was no momentary flare of temper.
The Beverly Hills-based Bengsston, who headquarters at Weir's P Street NW salon when he's in town to do Nancy Reagan's hair, is known to be unhappy about some aspects of Weir's operation, including the housekeeping. Now, he's telling friends that he's thinking about "making a change."
Weir was on a trip the day Bengsston stormed out and says he has no idea what might have provoked it. Bengsston's equipment is still at the shop and so are a couple of photos showing him with Ava Gardner and Zsa Zsa Gabor.
Weir and Bengsston won't be splitting just any hairs if they do split up. Bengsston has been doing Nancy Reagan's hair for more than 20 years. They are good friends, and like her husband, she is loyal to her friends. Weir says nothing will happen to his association with her because they get along just fine. He is equally optimistic about his dealings with Bengsston. "I get along fine with him," Weir said. "I think he was just having a bad day."
Nancy Reagan's East Wing staff, which numbered 16 under former chief of staff James Rosebush, still numbers 16 under his successor, Lee Verstandig.
Elaine Crispen, Mrs. Reagan's press secretary, said yesterday that Verstandig did not create a new staff position for Theresa Elmore Behrendt, his deputy at HUD, but brought her with him "temporarily, to help him settle in."
The word was out last week that Behrendt was coming back to the White House, where she worked in the first Reagan administration for John F.W. Rogers, then-deputy presidential assistant for management. Crispen confirmed that, saying that as Verstandig's deputy Behrendt would be staff administrator and office manager.
Also coming over from HUD with Verstandig, though as a permanent staffer, was Patricia Dellonte. She fills a vacancy left by Jane Erkenbeck, Rosebush's secretary, who moved upstairs as Mrs. Reagan's special assistant. Crispen moved out of that job to become press secretary.
So far, President Reagan hasn't nominated one woman to the federal government's only official think tank created by Congress to do scholarly research on peace.
Reagan, who never wanted the United States Institute of Peace in the first place, has named 13 of the required 15 board members. Four members are ex-officio, designated by statute to represent specific governmental agencies, and include Richard Perle, assistant defense secretary for international security policy, Kenneth L. Adelman, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency director, and Max Kampelman, head of the U.S. arms control negotiating team.
Reagan signed the bill setting up the institute in October 1984. By December 1985, when it became apparent that women appointees were what Barbara Levin of the Center for Defense Information called "an egregious omission," she and director Gene R. La Rocque wrote Reagan a letter saying that naming women to the board would "alleviate the embarrassment caused your administration by Mr. Regan's unfortunate aspersion of women's interest in military and national security issues at the summit in Geneva." The letter also said:
"There is fertile ground for arguing that if more women held positions of power in the military and national security establishments, humanity might not be on the edge of nuclear extinction as we are today," went their letter, with copies sent to Nancy Reagan and Maureen Reagan.
CDI has yet to receive a reply.
There's never anything subtle about stuffing your pockets at a White House dinner. Compliments of the management, every guest gets a menu card, a place card and a supply of White House matches. As the late John Ficklin, maitre d'hotel, used to tell uninitiated social secretaries who complained about the plethora of matchbooks on the painstakingly decorated tables, "If we put enough out, they won't take the silverware."
Since fewer guests smoke these days, a matchbook may not have the same appeal it once did. There were matchbooks on the tables at Nancy Reagan's luncheon last week kicking off "Chemical People II" but, appropriately, no cigarettes. There were matchbooks and also cigarettes at the Reagans' dinner for Ecuador's President Leon Febres-Cordero. Some souvenir hunters kept their distance.
"Having had a lung operation, I don't smoke," said former actress Anita Colby that night.
Colby liked the menu and place cards but wondered if they would satisfy a young friend's request to bring him back something for his kindergarten show-and-tell. In the Blue Room after dinner, Nancy Reagan pondered the problem, but it was the president who solved it. He reached into his pocket for his after-dinner remarks, autographed them, then handed them to her.
That's when Colby decided she would keep the original -- and give her young friend a limited edition Xerox copy.