March 02, 2000 09:00am
Porn Stars, Others Opt to Skip Vienna Event
by: Sue Masterman
(VIENNA) -— When it comes to Austria, even porn stars are wary of scandal. Vienna’s social event of the year, The Opera Ball, kicks off today with plenty of haute couture and frolicking. But it won’t include the nine pornographic film stars represented by Hollywood impresario David Greenspan who had been invited to the event by their German agent, Thomas Janisch.
Greenspan has nixed the plan. He wants them to have nothing to do with Austria right now. Janisch’s guest list included John Wayne Bobbitt, who suffered the ultimate revenge at the hands of a humiliated spouse, transvestite star ChiChi La Rue and the lesbian team Janine and Julia Ann.
The intention was to shoot part of a porn film in one of the Opera boxes during the ball.
No Sex, Please — We’re Austrian
Dolly Buster, the diva of German porn stars, has also canceled, in spite of a $70,000 fee for her presence that she intended to give to charities for AIDS victims, the homeless and animal-rescue activities.
She says the small print in her contract included opportunities for sex. Her lawyer warned her that might make her liable for prosecution.
Other prominent guests — including film icons Catherine Deneuve and Claudia Cardinale, and Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio, with an entourage of 100 — have canceled already in protest of Austria’s new coalition government.
For that government includes the right-wing Freedom Party, which until Tuesday was headed by nationalist Joerg Haider. Haider’s pronouncements praising Nazi policy and criticizing immigrants have isolated the country internationally.
U.S. opera star tenor Neil Shicoff announced in an open letter to Vienna Opera House manager Ioan Holender that he would not attend, saying that he,as an American and a Jew, has moral objections to mixing socially with Austria’s Freedom Party ministers who “sympathize with neo-Nazi ideas.”
Many Austrian stars of sport, screen, opera and theater are also giving the ball a miss this year.
The ball will, however, be attended by 4,200 guests paying $200 minimum for a ticket. With gentlemen in white tie and tails, ladies in full-length evening gowns, the guests will dance the night away after the entry of several hundred debutantes in white gowns and a performance by the Vienna Opera Ballet.
Many of the guests will be barons of German industry and banking Magnates — as interested in networking, no doubt, as they are in any of the festivities.
Those festivities start with the famous left-handed Viennese Waltz — in which everyone goes counterclockwise, as compared with the normal clockwise waltz direction. The event coincides with Mardi Gras and Carnival celebrations observed in other cities around the world before the start of Lent.
No Haider, Either
Haider says he will not be there. Most of the Freedom Party government ministers say they will.
Some 1,000 police plan to guard the guests from a predicted massive anti-ball demonstration and to protect them inside the Opera House.
Vienna’s spy masters have provided facilities to discreetly check the identity of those who book the $12,000 Opera boxes. The cost of securing the ball is astronomic and comes out of the taxpayer’s pocket, not the proceeds of the ball, which are for Opera House employees, who are civil servants who have “fallen on hard times.”
Anti-government factions have called on demonstrators to hold a masked carnival “Hip-Hop-Anti-Ball Ball” in the streets outside the Opera building. They have promised a deafening sound installation that could drown out all the waltzing inside. They expect at least 10,000 will follow their appeal.
You Must Bring Your Wife
The ball season in Austria stretches from before Christmas to the beginning of Lent, culminating in the Opera Ball, which is always held on the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday. It is part of the Carnival celebrations in this mainly Roman Catholic country.
The balls are charity events, meant to raise funds for the needy.
There’s a Sugar-Baker’s Ball, a Fireman’s Ball, a Vienna Philharmonic Ball, a Ball for the Homeless, and a Bad Taste Ball — which was canceled this year because the organizers said the Opera Ball itself was bad taste enough for one season.
The Opera Ball is the only event on the social calendar to which a man must take his wife — not his mistress.
Austrian President Thomas Klestil, the Opera Ball’s patron, tried to break that rule several years ago, just after he had been re-elected on a “family values” ticket.
It cost him his marriage, his savings, and nearly his job. This year he will be there with his former mistress at his side. She is now his wife. Scandal is no stranger to the Opera Ball.