Special Events

Birthday Bliss

Play and fantasy, good food and music, an eclectic crew of admiring guests-this is the stuff birthday parties are made of. At least that's true for the 50th birthday bash of rock star Ozzy Osbourne, held at the Beverly Hills (Calif.) Hotel. Local wedding and event producer Randie Wilder-Pellegrini, owner of Cordially Invited, created the celebration, which became a 1999 Gala Award finalist in the category Best Event Produced for a Private Individual.

Here are just some of the themes and elements the Cordially Invited team used to rock Osbourne and his 400 guests.

Pleasing the Inner Child For Osbourne, this included:

* A staircase banister laden with candy.

* A picture of the star at age 5 with his father projected on the stage.

* TVs screening I Love Lucy episodes in the smoking area.

* Tray-passed chocolate "bats" (a favorite motif of the singer, who once bit the head off a real bat during a concert).

* An Italian food station (one of the many cuisines offered at the event) complete with overbearing "mamas" who slapped guests' hands every time they did something naughty.

Indulging the Fantasy Osbourne's taste tends toward the exotic, hence:

* Instead of a bouncer at the door, psychics "revealed" whether would-be attendees were invited (with only a little help from a security guard with a guest list).

* A drag Joan Rivers and not one but three Barbra Streisands welcomed guests into the reception area.

* The dining and dance area featured waterfalls on the tables, casino tables, a huge Ozzy ice sculpture and live swing music. "Cigarette girls" (including boys in drag) offered fine cigars and other goodies.

* An Indian "opium den" tent, outfitted with oversize beds and serving ethnic food, graced the hotel garden. A sitar player, five performers stacked on top of one another to form the multi-armed Indian goddess Shiva, and snake-handling twins performing authentic Indian dances and reading palms kept guests entertained.

Letting the Music Play Osbourne and guests rocked the night away to:

* The rock legend's own songs, reinterpreted in a classical vein by an ensemble playing oboes, harps and flutes.

* A 50-member gospel choir singing "Happy Birthday."

* The Ventura, Calif.-based 20-piece swing band Flyin' Lindy Hoppers.

* And finally, heartfelt performances by Liza Minnelli and Cher. Or were they lip-syncing drag queens? Guess. -T.M.

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