Darkness Risible

The problem: A fundraiser with no funds, which is bad.

The answer: Make it really bad, which made it great.

Thus was born Thursday's "Awesomely Bad Ball," an economically challenged benefit for the Forum, an absurdist theater and dance company. The idea was to spend as little as possible for the party, yielding the most money for the fledgling performance troupe.

"We were sort of lamenting about all these $500 dinners in D.C.," said Jayne Sandman, who hosted the party with Patti Cumming. "But we also thought if we're going to make it cheap and bad, it has to be kitschy-bad and fun."

"We're so ground-level that we thought we'd get rid of all the pretension," said Forum artistic director Michael Dove.

The 200 guests were allowed to wear anything they wanted, as long as it was suitably bad (or funny). Sandman dressed as Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz" and wore a button proclaiming she was the only girl allowed to carry a small dog in her handbag. Linda Hahn was a Runaway Bride complete with track shoes, veil and a sign on her back reading "Just NOT Married." There were assorted Goths and feather boas, the badder the better.

The Matrix Gallery in Georgetown was bare: No fancy flowers or lighting, but lots of discount party decorations on the tables. Hors d'oeuvres were served by volunteers in neon tees that read "I'm Free." Since estimates for elegant lighting ran to $3,500, Sandman and Cumming explained to the rowdy crowd that dinner would be served in the dark. For anyone who wanted to actually see the food on the buffet, waiters were armed with flashlights.

The party raised $20,000. Not bad.

Beyond Therapy: Dr. Ruth Is Back

Wednesday's "Taste of Thailand" at the Marriott Wardman Park wasn't your typical Washington affair. Imagine Dr. Ruth Westheimer screaming the word "sex" multiple times during the live auction in front an audience that included incoming Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, Thai Ambassador Kasit Piromya, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Ralph Boyce and Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta. Envision Marvin Hamlisch blushing all night while sitting next to total babe/model/tsunami survivor Petra Nemcova. Or Esther Coopersmith sweetly telling Thailand's 52-year-old crown prince to thank his mother for letting him attend.

In a strait-laced town like this one, the playful spirits made the United States-Thailand Amity for Charity benefit for tsunami orphans one for the books. Three hundred guests snickered their way through much of the evening when they weren't savoring the five-course dinner prepared by three world-class Thai chefs flown in for the occasion.

Dr. Ruth promised whoever bid the most at the auction would have great sex for the rest of their lives. We'll check in with the winners and report back.

High Society: Getting a Kick out of Cole

There were champagne toasts to Andrew Potts and Randall Kelly, hosts of Washington's annual Cole Porter party. The two lawyers teamed up Saturday at Kelly's Columbia Heights condo for a sophisticated night of white dinner jackets, potent potables and a singalong to the composer's wittiest ditties. The 75 guests celebrated Porter's June birthday -- he would have been 114 -- and began the beguine as they took turns at the grand piano. "I'm having more fun than should be allowed," said Kelly. It was De-Lovely, kids.

With Laura Thomas