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Christine on the Slopes with Winwood (1989) USA Today < Christine McVie < Main Page

Christine on the Slopes with Winwood (1989) USA Today

HEADLINE: Life on star mountain;
The famous take R & R to a lofty peak;
In Aspen, celebs don't have to hide

BYLINE: Craig Wilson


Don Johnson is hot-dogging down Aspen Mountain, forcing fellow skiers to seek cover.

Ski novice Chris Evert catches a ride downhill on the back of her new husband, super-skier Andy Mill. And Robert Wagner massages Jill St. John's face with No. 30 sunscreen. ''I've worked on my skin all my life, and I'm not giving up now,'' she says.

It's another holiday weekend in Glamour Gulch. The mens' World Cup ski races ended Sunday - but that wasn't the only show in town, even if it did include Italy's party-boy Olympian, Alberto Tomba, who scooted around in pink baseball cap and black four-wheel-drive Lamborghini.

In Aspen, the stars are out 24 hours a day. Julianne Phillips, freshly divorced from Bruce Springsteen and seeking mountain air, checked into a suite at the Hotel Jerome, as did Rod Stewart's sidekick, model Kelly Emberg.

Steve Winwood, with Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie, surprised the apres-ski crowd at the Paradise Club by taking the stage. After a little rhythm & blues with the band and a guitar solo, his rendition of Elvis' Hound Dog had red-faced skiers standing on their chairs screaming for more.

Wasn't that a tanned, corduroyed George Hamilton at Explore Booksellers Saturday, looking over interior design books for ideas for his new Aspen home? You bet it was.

And was that baseball's underwear pinup boy Jim Palmer shooting baskets Saturday outside A Step Beyond high-tech toy store? Of course.

Ah, Aspen. Rocky Mountain Haute. After more than two decades, this former silver mining town remains celebrities' favorite snowpen. Locals still are baffled by the unending interest in celebrity-spotting. ''Kings, queens, celebrities come here because we don't try to crash their party,'' says Mike McGarry of Aspen-Snowmass Tours.

Barbara Walters, buying boxer shorts for stocking stuffers last Christmas, was just another sale to the girls at Peaches En Regalia.

And John Denver is just another friend and customer to John Wyman, the haircutter of choice. ''He no longer wears a bowl cut, thanks to me.'' Wyman hasn't been as successful in changing Aspen regular Ethel Kennedy's hairstyle. ''It's kind of a bubble page and probably always will be.'' (Denver's blond locks, by the way, are natural.)

The locals insist the glamour and glitz isn't the real Aspen. That doesn't mean they don't love to tell a celebrity story - seeing Barbra Streisand in her bathrobe at Don Johnson's hideaway, when they were an item, or getting a $ 200 tip from an Arab prince for a haircut. That kind of thing.

Aspen taxi driver Paul Mansolilli carts around the rich and often aloof. But some celebs are downright down-home.

Working Girl's Melanie Griffith, Johnson's fiancee, introduced herself the other day. ''Hi, I'm Melanie,'' she said, getting into his cab. ''Yeah, I know who you are,'' he replied.

Actor David Keith insisted Mansolilli join in all the evening's parties, never letting him wait in the cab at any stop.

Mega-publisher Rupert Murdoch, however, ferrying a $ 6,000 case of wine from Grand Junction, Colo., to a party in Aspen, seemed concerned only about the cost of the ride (it was $ 200).

Ski instructor Kirk Baker will give you an all-day private lesson for $ 260. The locals know his students, including racing-car ace Danny Sullivan, Jane Fonda and Goldie Hawn. But his lips are sealed. ''They're all just regular people. They just want to come here and have a little privacy.''

Another place stars find is the Woody Creek Tavern, a ''real-thing cowboy bar'' down the valley. A Coca-Cola sign perches on the roof and a stuffed pig sits atop the front door, changing outfits with the season.

Johnson and writer Hunter Thompson are regulars, along with ranchers who play pool and drink beer from the bottle. ''The ultimate cool is at the Woody Creek Tavern, not at the glitzy places in town,'' says Janet O'Grady, editor of Aspen Magazine.

Lauretta Bonfiglio's Aspen eatery, Lauretta's, fits the ''it's cool to be common'' bill, too. ''It's a dive for the rich and poor,'' says Harley Baldwin, owner of the Brand hotel/shopping complex downtown. ''The middle class wouldn't go there. They're not secure enough.''

At Bonfiglio's place, you get your food on paper plates. ''And people use the vacuum cleaner to hang their coats on but no one seems to mind,'' she says. Two long picnic tables seat only 25.

Eating Tex-Mex on a recent evening: the mayor of Aspen, St. John and beau ''R.J.,'' local cabbies and Texas billionaire Sid Bass. Bonfiglio also caters. Her best party? December's Kennedy New Year's Eve bash - including John F. Kennedy Jr., who tore into the food before it was set out.

Stars who prefer more city-chic settings head for Club Andiamo, Mezzaluna, Andre's and the Paradise.

For dinner, the fur-clad crowd converges on Club Andiamo, Pinons or Gordon's, where entrees begin at $ 25 and soar heavenward.

Gordon's boasts of its swordfish. Phillips, dining with a group of friends Saturday, opted for Hawaiian tuna stir-fry, with shiitake mushrooms and ginger vinaigrette ($ 28) and a $ 10.50 salad of goat cheese, sweet peppers and asparagus. In a booth nearby: L.A. Law executive producer Steven Bochco.

Hostelries of choice: the 100-year-old Hotel Jerome (rooms from $ 225-$ 600), or the Brand, where six suites go for up to $ 2,000 a night. Designer Mary McFadden is on her way there, as is entertainer Peter Allen. (Guests get aerobic classes taught by twins, Laura and Jan.)

Celebrity whims are taken in stride here. ''If they want scotch, gin and cottage cheese, we give it to them,'' says Julie Anthony, who with husband Dick Butera owns the Jerome and celebrity-ridden Aspen Club, where Aspenite Martina Navratilova plays basketball with the boys.

Butera moved a grand piano into Dudley Moore's rented Aspen Club condo and arranged for Victorian furniture to be shipped from Hollywood to fill the Jerome's ballroom for the recent Johnson-Griffith engagement party. Last year, he helped Phillips avoid paparazzi by spiriting her out of the hotel in a van. All in a day's work.

The lucky ones have their own homes here (Jack Nicholson has two). The booming real-estate market has brought traffic jams and forced shop clerks and waitresses to live 50 miles away because they can't afford Aspen anymore.

St. John has lived in Aspen almost 25 years. ''Yes, it's changed,'' she says. ''But they can't ruin it. Because they can't touch the sky, and they can't touch the snow.''

Neither could St. John over the weekend. Her back was killing her.

''I was on the most treacherous course in Aspen,'' she explains. ''I fell on my driveway.''

Date: 1989-02-20         Number of views: 3899

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