ON THE GRAPEVINE WITH . . .

Gladys Knight

Everybody needs love, as the Gladys Knight song says, and the thrice-divorced Knight is no exception. Not to put too fine a point on it, she's in the market.

"I know the Heavenly Father has a special mate in store for me," the R&B legend, who just turned 55, said yesterday from Hawaii, where she phoned us from her limo on the way to the airport. "I've had so many things to learn really about what a relationship is all about. ... Hopefully, I'm working toward being worthy enough for Him to send that special person."

Knight, who split up with motivational speaker Les Brown two years ago, headlines tonight's American Diabetes Association gala at the National Building Museum. The event benefits the Elizabeth Knight Fund, named for the singer's mother, who died of the disease in 1997.

Accepting our offer to use The Source for her very own personals ad, Knight specified: "The first thing I want him to be is spiritual. I would like to have a man in the church, for him to be able to lead our family" -- that is, the Mormon Church, which Knight joined two years ago. Good looks and a fat bank account are not priorities. Not that she would object. "If that comes with the package and that's what He has in store for me, so be it," she declared. But even if a suitor is poor and plug-ugly, "he may not look like that to me," she added with a giggle.

Keanu Reeves, Playing Rock Star

* Patrons at Perry's Restaurant in Adams-Morgan late Sunday night, including The Post's Katherine Shaver, were surprised to find Keanu Reeves dining and drinking in their midst. The hunkable movie star, looking fabulously scruffy in tight black jeans after performing with his band Dogstar at the 9:30 club, cheerfully signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans before picking up the check for his party of 20. Restaurant owner Saied Azali successfully averted disaster when he stopped one of Keanu's female admirers from stealing his signed credit card slip. And, by the way, he left a 20 percent tip.

Why Is This Man Laughing?

* If it was so darned funny, Strobe, maybe you'd like to share it with the class. Our people are still waiting to hear from your people.

THIS JUST IN . . .

* The 2-year-old son of pop star Michael Jackson is sick, Reuters reports. Luciano Pavarotti claims he "may be dying." Prince, born in 1996 to the Gloved One's nurse-wife, Debbie Row Jackson, "suffered a serious seizure early Saturday due to a high temperature," Sony Records announced, preventing Jackson from participating in a benefit concert with Pavarotti in Modena, Italy.

* President Clinton came to lunch yesterday at the Woodley Park home of Democratic media consultant Robert Shrum and his activist-wife, Marylouise Oates, schmoozing with 50 of the Democratic National Committee's top fund-raisers between bites of fried chicken and cole slaw. During a bull session about Kosovo, China and domestic political races hither and yon, Clinton led some raucous applause for Shrum's consulting victory in the campaign of Israel's freshly minted Labor prime minister, Ehud Barak.

* The number of reporters who've signed up for presidential contender George W. Bush's first full-dress campaign outing -- starting June 12 in Iowa -- has swelled to a formidable and terrifying 99. Good luck, Junior!

* On the Hill, that hotbed of yearning hearts, Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tenn.) recently went down on one knee on the Capitol steps to propose to music industry lawyer Jennifer Baltimore -- who accepted. Meanwhile, Rep. Joanne Emerson (R-Mo.), the widow of Rep. Bill Emerson, has announced her engagement to St. Louis lawyer Ron Gladney.

"If you're talking about the fact that the man is somewhat reserved, yeah he is. That's part of his personality. That's the way he was when he was 17 when I met him. That's something I liked in him -- handsome, sexy, a little reserved. Watch out, America!"

CAPTION: Tipper Gore talking about her husband the vice president on NBC's "Today" show yesterday.

CAPTION: Love S.O.S.: Gladys Knight says she's on the prowl for a spiritual man.

CAPTION: Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, busting a gut during talks on Kosovo last week in Moscow.