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Gals Behind the Curtain

Lots and lots of young, eligible Republican men showed up at the Roseland Ballroom Sunday night for the Bush twins’ much ballyhooed “R Party.” They were sorely disappointed.

Many a young chap on Capitol Hill had dreamed of coming to New York to dance with Jenna or L’il Babs. Instead, they found themselves looking at each other looking for the twins. The boys, and more than a

smattering of women, too, were kept downstairs on the dance floor — with a cash bar, no less — hoping for a little face time with the twins. But the Bush girls, unbeknown to most at the party, were cloistered behind curtains on the V.I.P. balcony. So even upstairs — where heartthrob George P. Bush, the eldest son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), charmed the crowd — the Grand Old Party’s biggest celebrities remained out of sight.

And they continued to elude their guests as they slipped out of the club, unnoticed. Some guests became indignant and demanded to see the twins. HOH witnessed one dashing, daring young preppie try to wrangle his way behind the curtain, explaining to the security detail that he attended Yale with Barbara and was a friend. One security officer, who clearly was not a Secret Service agent, peeled back the curtain to reveal a few weary and bored-looking partyers sitting at small tables sans Barbara or Jenna.

“Ah, no! I missed them!” the man lamented to his friend and HOH. Turns out, he was working. He’s an editorial assistant to a New York gossip columnist. And no. He did not go to Yale. You gotta give him credit for trying.

Stroke Me. The “Dreier Big Apple Martinis” and bowling party at Bowlmor Lanes and the Pressure Lounge in the Village Sunday night was packed wall-to-wall and floor-to-floor with Republican revelers doing just what you’d imagine — bowling and drinking martinis and dancing between strikes to ’70s disco tunes. And if you didn’t happen to be on the same floor at any given time as host Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) you could keep track of him virtually throughout the party! A camera followed him around as he chatted and laughed with guests so everyone could enjoy each Dreier moment on the giant video screens lining the walls of the club.

So there they were bowling and dancing and occasionally looking up at the video screens to see who the photogenic Rules chairman was talking to next, when all of a sudden, the showstopper on screen caught everyone’s eye. It was a scantily clad woman, dangling from two long drape-like ropes, doing mid-air splits and other contortions that looked like something out of Cirque du Soleil.

Partygoers were doing double takes to see if what they were watching on screen was actually happening somewhere inside the party. Word spread quickly that it was — up on the top floor. Apparently, this was the “surprise entertainment” that Dreier had promised on his invitation.

One partygoer joked that the performance was “Cinemax’s version of Cirque du Soleil.” Except that the music accompanying the high-rope split-tease at Dreier’s party was decidedly American: The performer opened her act to “Stroke Me” by Billy Squier. (And HOH apologizes if that tune is stuck in your head all day.)

Funny Side of Bloomberg. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg elicited a hearty chuckle from gay Republicans who crowded the Bryant Park Grill Sunday for a “Big Tent” event sponsored by the Log Cabin Republicans. Bloomberg opened by telling the audience that the last time he had addressed the group, “I used the opportunity to come out.” After a brief pause, he quickly added, “As a Republican.”

In late 2000, Bloomberg switched his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican in preparation for his inaugural mayoral bid.

He’s Chevy Chase, and You’re Not. Saturday night’s Imagine Festival opening — an unofficial “Welcome to New York” party at the Crobar — felt more like a rave than a political event, as hundreds of Generation Yers grooved late into the night. This was the first of at least 125 events mixing “artistic and educational activities through a series of concerts, performances, screenings, forums, town meetings and other extraordinary cultural happenings,” according to the group’s Web site.

It was hard to spot anyone among the assembled leftists who wasn’t born in the ’80s or who might have had even an inkling of what the ’70s were like — which made the appearance of comedy dinosaur Chevy Chase all the more jarring.

Chase took the stage, extolling the youngsters to toss Bush and his GOP allies out on their ears. But he saved his sharpest criticism for the Democrats’ lest favorite skunk-at-the Garden-party, Ralph Nader.

Before leaving the stage, the former “Saturday Night Live” fake anchorman/”Caddyshack” star/ talk show host said, as for Nader, he hoped he would “be drowned.”

The Imagine Festival’s founder, Chris Wangro, said the group has implemented a “citywide free speech zone” and that Chase “knows and respects Ralph Nader and anyone with a sense of humor knows that he was joking.”

Big Apple Boos. This year’s Republican National Convention is, of course, the target of numerous protesters, as evidenced by Sunday’s big march. But for gatherings off the beaten track, HOH had some of our own faves, courtesy of the “Unofficial Media Guide” published by the group

The Anti-Convention Cloud-busting Project: Based on the work of the late Dr. Wilhelm Reich, the Brooklyn Orgastic Politics Collective will attempt to redirect the energy flow above Madison Square Garden on Thursday night as President Bush makes his acceptance speech for the GOP’s nomination to a second term in the Oval Office. Reich’s followers believe they can “suck the fascism” out of the convention center by tapping into “orgone energy,” which apparently was discovered by Reich. As near as HOH can figure, orgone is life energy. Being a conservative, especially a conservative Republican, is apparently bad for orgone.

Reich disciples, though, also seem to have some pretty controversial ideas about children and sex, based upon a review of their Web site, so HOH advises caution before attending BOPC events.

Panty Performance Protest: A feminist group called “Axis of Eve” plans a “mass flash” Wednesday as part of its mission to “expose and depose” President Bush. Wielding their “weapons of mass seduction,” more than 100 Eves and Adams will get down to their unmentionables at a Battery Park protest. “Convinced that effective political action can be irreverent and exciting, we have launched a titillating campaign of TRUTH-FLASHING coordinated around our provocative line of protest panties,” reads their Web site.

Take Back the Media March: Also on Wednesday, protesters will rally and march against the mainstream corporate media for being “in lockstep with the Bush administration,” especially over the invasion of Iraq last year. The fun begins at CBS headquarters on 52nd Street, known as “Black Rock,” with stops at various other guilty media outlets.

Operation Liberty Rising: And finally, there’s at least one group on the right, other than the Republican Party, that likes Bush and will make an appearance in New York this week. Protest Warrior’s motto is “fighting the left, doing it right.” The group has defended Bush’s policy in Iraq, said nice things about Halliburton, and protected America from other “freedom haters” like those who are coming to New York to disparage Bush.

New York Gov. George Pataki trusts that his Republican delegates and their families enjoyed themselves at their Broadway matinees Sunday. And he hopes they — and other Broadway devotees — will remember who to thank for the revitalization of Times Square.

Where once Times Square was a den of iniquity, the Theater District is now the world’s biggest outdoor shopping mall, a Disney-fied streetscape — and, by all accounts, very safe.

“Ten years ago, on a weekday, at 12 o’clock, I would have been afraid to walk down 42nd Street,” Pataki confessed at the New York state delegation breakfast Monday.

But it was Republican policies — tough on crime, easy on free enterprise — that saved Times Square, the governor boasted.

“It’s again a place where people from all across America look up and marvel,” he said.

Personally, at least one New York-bred HOH contributor kind of misses Show World on Eighth Avenue.

John Bresnahan, Josh Kurtz, Louis Jacobson contributed to this report.

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