Coif Up the Dough

Channel 4's morning news anchor Barbara Harrison is being sued by Ilo Day Spa in Georgetown for allegedly unpaid bills. Gary Walker, owner of the Wisconsin Avenue hair salon, claims Harrison stiffed him to the tune of $5,560.16 for services dating back to 1994.

Harrison's attorney, Carolyn Lamm, told us yesterday the tab is more like $589.30--the amount Harrison is willing to pay to settle the suit. Lamm says there's no proof--receipts and such--that she owes any more than that. "Barbara has always paid her bills in a timely fashion," Lamm said. "If there's a valid claim of any kind, then she'll pay it."

Walker has been playing rough, even threatening in a letter to Channel 4 management to go to the newspapers and accusing Harrison, according to court papers, of "using her position in the community 'in an abusive and irresponsible manner.' "

Harrison, who was on vacation yesterday and couldn't be reached, stopped visiting the salon in 1997 when Walker fired her longtime stylist Ronald Braso over an ownership dispute. Braso told us Harrison is suffering collateral damage from his war with Walker. "They're doing anything they can to get to me," he said from New York, where he's a senior stylist at upscale Frederic Fekkai. But Walker says that's piffle: "We just want the money that's owed."

Walker originally sued a year ago in small-claims court, but when Harrison hadn't paid by last March he upped the ante and moved the case to D.C. Superior Court. Harrison's attorney, Lamm, tried to get the suit dismissed by arguing that most of the bills were too old to collect and that Harrison herself received only a handful of the services: Eight other people--including her grown children and mother--were the customers, Lamm claimed, and therefore the salon should bill them. The court wasn't impressed. Now Lamm and Walker's attorney, Juan Chardiet, will meet Oct. 18 for more haggling. "The whole thing was done to embarrass her," Braso told us. Well, it worked!

From Scandal to Activism

* We'll always remember Donna Rice Hughes as the beautiful blonde in a sex scandal featuring presidential contender Gary Hart. But today this 41-year-old stepmother of two--and author of "Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace"--debates ex-porn star Gloria Leonard on the limits of censorship and free speech at the National Press Club.

"When I first went public on this issue back in 1995," the Great Falls resident told us yesterday, "the media didn't recognize me and neither did members of Congress. I guess I wasn't showing up in a red bathing suit." She said she gave a couple of hundred interviews before the New York Times outed her scandalous past.

But the Hart mess seems like child's play compared with President Clinton's monkey business. "I think in some ways we've become desensitized to what the behavior of someone in public life should be," Hughes said. The standard "has dramatically changed--and I don't think for the better."


* Exciting Celebrity Tip Challenge news: Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) and boyfriend Brian Prout snuggled together Wednesday night in McCormick & Schmick's Bill Bennett-Bob Bennett booth, using Bill's side while sharing strawberry shortcake. They left 20 percent extra.

* Leafing through the Williamsburg Catalogue this week while running for president, Elizabeth Dole ordered two $995 mahogany book tables. She and hubby Bob apparently need more furniture after knocking down walls to expand into the Watergate apartment previously occupied by Monica Lewinsky.

* Just to demonstrate our deep interest in diplomatic affairs: We hear that former White House national security adviser Tony Lake and former U.S. chief of protocol Molly Raiser are pursuing a policy of constructive engagement.

* Defense Secretary William Cohen phoned us to brag about his in-house basketball team. Team SecDef won the age 27-30 men's division of the Hoop-It-Up tournament in the Redskins Stadium parking lot--two weekends ago. Ordinarily, we'd consider this story old enough to carbon-date, not print, but we're hoping the Pentagon chief will now cancel orders for a cruise missile strike on The Washington Post building. The victors--whom Cohen, a former high school and college player, frequently joins for games at the Pentagon Officers Athletic Club--are Air Force Capt. George Irvin and Navy Petty Officers Tim Marion and Travis Lee (who suffered a head gash requiring six stitches during play) and Master Sgt. Marshall Williams.

Got a hot tip or a nagging question? Dish with Lloyd Grove today at 11 a.m. EDT at http://washingtonpost. com/liveonline.

CAPTION: Molly Raiser, said to be power- coupling with Tony Lake.

CAPTION: A brush with the legal system: Barbara Harrison, sued by a hair salon.

CAPTION: Donna Rice Hughes, speaking today on cyber-smut.