Slippery Slopes

updated 01/18/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/18/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

FOR A WHILE, IT LOOKED LIKE ROUGH SLEDDING FOR Aspen, that Rocky Mountain retreat for power skiers. Irked by Colorado's November approval of Amendment 2, banning laws protecting the rights of homosexuals, Barbra Streisand had called for what many interpreted as a boycott of the state; Whoopi Goldberg, Joan Rivers, director Jonathan Demme and others quickly voiced their support. With 12 inches of powder falling over the holidays, however, most would-be boycotters turned politically snow-blind. Regulars like Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Don Johnson, Melanie Griffith, Jimmy Buffett and Chevy Chase turned up on cue, the Ritz Carlton was packed, and the exclusive Caribou Club (where Sally Field and mogul Marvin Davis threw name-heavy bashes) was "an absolute madhouse," in the words of owner Harley Baldwin.

The only conspicuous absentees were Streisand herself (who turned up in Sun Valley, Idaho) and Ethel Kennedy and five of her kids, who broke a 35-year tradition and headed to Park City, Utah. (Ivana Trump dodged Aspen as well, but most likely it was the presence of The Donald and a raft of lovelies that kept her away.)

Ironically, Aspen had enacted antidiscrimination laws back in 1977 and voted by a 3-to-1 margin against Amendment 2. "You are lashing out at the wrong target," scolded Cher. "You're steering business away from a town that supports human rights for all." Even tennis champ Martina Navratilova, who owns a home nearby and has joined Aspen in a lawsuit challenging Amendment 2's constitutionality, was ambivalent. The call to keep away is "truly a Catch-22," she said. "It's hard to support a boycott of a community that has been so supportive of equal rights."

Among the boycott's outspoken critics was John Denver, who performed at a Dec. 27 "Undo 2" benefit that raised $25,000 to repeal the amendment. A longtime Aspenite, he had said earlier: "I resent Barbra Streisand, who only comes to Colorado at Christmastime, telling us how to do things." Indeed, even Aspen's 100-member Gay and Lesbian Community balked at the boycott, voting to continue support for its annual Gay Ski Week. Set to begin Jan. 23, the event will bring an estimated 2,500 gays and lesbians to Aspen's manicured slopes—and pump thousands into the town's coffers. Powder and politics, it seems, just don't mix.

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