SAFE SONGS: During his recent concert in New York's Madison Square Garden, Bruce Springsteen told the crowd that his saxophonist, Clarence demons, used to share his love problems with him. "Who does he think I am? Dr. Ruth or something?" said Bruce, who was unaware that the perky sex therapist was sitting in the audience squealing with delight at the mention of her name. When she went backstage after the show, Bruce said, "Dr. Ruth, I'm so happy to meet you. I love your show." She thanked him and admitted she loved his enthusiasm onstage. Then she got bossy herself. "I like what you say about love and sex," said Dr. Ruth, "but there's one more thing you need to include in your songs—contraception. You need to work that in somehow." Replied Bruce: "Gee, it's going to be tough to get the word contraception into a song."

CLOWNING ACHIEVEMENT: Unlike Ronald Reagan, beleaguered by Donald Regan's tattletale disclosures about astrology, France's Charles de Gaulle is no longer around to be embarrassed by accounts of his stranger consultations. In the mid-'60s, when he was President, de Gaulle invited Bozo the Clown to his Paris quarters to discuss world affairs. "I got this call out of the blue from Charles de Gaulle one day; I thought someone was playing a joke on me," says Bozo, also known as Larry Harmon, 63, who has played Bozo since 1949. "He wanted to meet with me about world affairs and the children of France, but we also discussed politics, Adolf Hitler and World War II. There was one condition: that I come in costume and remain in character the whole time. When I told him I wanted to come in regular clothes, he said, 'No. Monsieur Bozo, I must see you as Bozo the Clown first.' I think he wanted to be a child again," says Harmon. "I had two meetings with him after that out of character, but even then he would say, 'Please, laugh once like Bozo.' "

YOU BETTE IT'S PIA: Pia Zadora has surprised many by becoming a reputable song stylist, but years ago she surprised Bette Midler, and it wasn't with her singing. The two became acquainted when they appeared together in Broadway's Fiddler on the Roof in the late '60s. "Bette came into the show just as I was leaving. I was a little girl, and she was young but no longer little," says Pia. "I saw her about 10 years after that when I was about 19 and she was around 30 and had become a major star. My husband [business mogul Meshulam Riklis] and I had just started dating. I was all dressed up with blond hair and a tight dress in the company of an older man. Bette barely recognized me. She came over, took me aside and asked, 'Pia, is that you? Have you become a high-class prostitute?' Well, I almost died. 'Bette,' I told her, 'this is my fiancé "

WHITE HOUSE OF CARDS: Ever since he quipped after an assassin's attempt on his life in 1981, "I forgot to duck," President Ronald Reagan has been on a roll. At the recent White House News Photographers Association dinner, Reagan dexterously handed out one-liners. During a slide show, Reagan pointed to a picture of wife Nancy with her hands over her ears and himself with his hand over his mouth and said: "Here, we're listening to one of George Bush's speeches." On a photo of a small boy screaming, he said, "He's just had a vision of [Mike] Dukakis in the Oval Office." On Reagan in a hospital room, laughing: "So you're going to write a book, Donald [Regan]." Reagan with Mikhail Gorbachev, where the Soviet ruler is signing a book: "I made him write a hundred times, 'I will not cheat.' "

MOCKIN' ROBIN: Johnny Carson was among those honoring Robin Williams at a recent party in Los Angeles. "You have to admit that Good Morning, Vietnam came along at just the right time, career-wise. One more Club Paradise," said Johnny to Robin, "and you'd be running for Mayor of Palm Springs." Paging Sonny Bono.