When the long-awaited videotape of the Jan. 18 drug arrest of D.C. Mayor Marion Barry finally appeared on television yesterday afternoon, the reaction among the mayor's partisans and detractors ranged from anger and disappointment to profound sadness.

In offices and restaurants and homes across the region, activity came to a halt shortly after 2 p.m. as the first blurry images of Barry and Hazel Diane "Rasheeda" Moore at the Vista Hotel flashed on television screens.

"I've been wanting to see this for a while," said Derrick Coleman, 19, a student at North Carolina Central University as he watched the bank of television screens at the downtown Hecht's department store.

"I heard about this at school. I thought it was kind of funny then . . . . It's not so funny now.

"She didn't really hold a gun to his head or anything. He voluntarily did it. It looked like he knew something was going on but he did it anyway. It kind of gives a black eye to the city," Coleman said.

Despite the months of talk and intense speculation about the contents of the tape, for many it was startling to finally see the tape aired. While some felt the tape provided strong evidence of the mayor's illegal drug use, others said the tape wasn't really conclusive.

"I think he did get high," said Katrina Parris, 22, a restaurant supervisor at the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, 775 12th St. NW, after watching the mayor lean back and hold something up to his lips. "But you didn't actually see him hit the pipe, and that leaves room for speculation."

At the Zebra Room restaurant on Wisconsin Avenue in upper Northwest, Joe Nagel wasn't speculating. When FBI agents were shown bursting into the hotel room and arresting Barry, Nagel declared: "I think the mayor's going up the river."

"Oh yeah, yeah, he's going to puff that sucker," Nagel exclaimed as Barry was shown holding up a pipe to smoke crack cocaine.

In the Senate Press Gallery, televisions were quickly switched from the House and Senate floor proceedings to local news stations as word spread that the Barry tape was being broadcast.

Reporters, Senate doorkeepers, Capitol police and congressional aides crowded around sets. The Senate floor was deserted. Barry's repeated exclamations after his arrest triggered laughter.

The tape was the talk of the District Building, where politicians and staff members scrambled for television sets.

At the office of D.C. Council member Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large), council aides, administration officials and reporters crowded around Kane's television, temporarily delaying the start of a meeting of Kane's Government Operations Committee.

At D.C. police headquarters, police officers stood in the hallways swapping views about the tape. One police official said to an officer, "Did you see how he hit that pipe? Did you see that?"

The appliance section of Hecht's drew a large crowd, as customers and employees stood before the cluster of television sets.

Barbara Green, a saleswoman, said she wasn't bothered by the tape.

"Who cares whether he's sleeping with all these women," said Green. "What they need to investigate is how he's doing as mayor . . . . I think Marion Barry has been a really good mayor. His private business is his own business. A lot of people in higher government are doing the same thing, they just haven't been caught."

Ned Johnson was moving swiftly past the bank of TV sets when he did a double take at the sight of what appeared to be Barry inhaling on a crack pipe.

"Why, that's old Marion Barry," drawled the 37-year-old Tennessee native. "It's pretty sickening," Johnson said as he continued on his way.

At the Sears, Roebuck and Co. store in Landover Mall, Jamal Roberts, 16, Michael Calvin, 16, and Irvin Downs, 18, all of Upper Marlboro, stopped shopping to watch the tape. On the screen, they watched as Barry asked Moore how to use the pipe.

Later, the three youths watched as the mayor appeared to draw deeply on the pipe.

"It looks like he was set up to me," Downs said as he walked away. "She enticed him. I don't want to watch it."

"It was his fault to me," said Roberts. "He put the crack into the pipe. And he smoked it. Nobody made him do it."

His friend Calvin disagreed. "The police took it too far. They didn't have to let him actually smoke it. That was dangerous."

For some, finally seeing the tape of the Jan. 18 sting of the mayor at the Vista Hotel that resulted in his arrest did not really change how they already felt.

"He's stupid, but I'd still vote for him," said Michael Moore, a customer at the Zebra Room, as he watched the mayor primping in the mirror as he waited for Moore to return with some cocaine.

"Why would I vote for him? . . . To turn around and get back all the people who set him up.

"He's done a lot for the city, like the summer youth program. I was a part of that," Moore said.

Some simply didn't want to see the videotape. At Video Concepts in Landover Mall, a woman grabbed her young son and left as Barry put the pipe to his mouth. "It's mean," she said. "It's sad. It's mean."

At the mall, Anissa Leeks, 14, found no humor in the incident. She was bothered by the laughter of those around her when, after the police and FBI entered the room, the mayor used obscene language to describe Rasheeda Moore. "He is the mayor," said Leeks. "He should have a little more respect for women."

Others laughed at the mayor's obscenities to describe Moore, after the police burst into the room and arrested him. "It's a set-up," Barry says. "The bitch set me up."

"Nobody {was} forcing him to do that," said John Bird, 62, who works as a receptionist at the Harvest House Senior Community Center on Rhode Island Avenue NE. "And I don't see her enticing him . . . he's more aggressive than she is."

While there was some laughter and a few raucous remarks, many people were transfixed as they watched the videotape.

"This is like an old Richard Pryor movie," said Patrick Queen, 27, of District Heights after the tape ended. "I didn't want to laugh. It's really sad. But some of it was funny."

Staff writers Sharon Epperson, Keith Harriston, Molly Sinclair, Michael Abramowitz and John E. Yang contributed to this report.