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Labelle of the Ball

Patti LaBelle turns 50 today.<BR><BR>"Ah, yes, 50 years...young! Or old, I don't mind either way," said LaBelle late last week. "Because I'll be 50 and I woke up this morning and I will wake up, hopefully, Tuesday morning. And that's a blessing...

Patti LaBelle turns 50 today.

“Ah, yes, 50 years…young! Or old, I don’t mind either way,” said LaBelle late last week. “Because I’ll be 50 and I woke up this morning and I will wake up, hopefully, Tuesday morning. And that’s a blessing because all three of my sisters died in their 40s of cancer. So I’m going to celebrate for myself and for my three sisters,” she says proudly.

LaBelle will be celebrating at the House of Blues club in L.A., at what was supposed to be a surprise party.

“It’s a party for my birthday, but also a listening party for my album [“Gems,” which will be released in June],” LaBelle said. “I don’t know who all is going to show up, but the world has been invited. All my good friends — Oprah, Gladys, Aretha, Donna Karan, Franco Moschino…”

LaBelle doesn’t just think of Karan and Moschino as friends; she’s a hardcore fan.

“Their clothes are just to die for and I wear them all the time. And Karl Lagerfeld pumps — I love these shoes,” she said, pulling up her Donna Karan pants to show them off. “I love them because he makes the highest heel — it’s like five inches. I think I’m the only fool in the world who will keep them on all day long!”

She loves Moschino just as much, and actually hangs out with the Italian designer whenever he’s Stateside. Besides their admiration for each other’s work, LaBelle and Moschino have something else in common: food. The first time she met him was when he flew her over to Italy to see his show a few years ago. “When I got to the hotel, he had a room full of gifts for me wrapped in beautiful boxes, it was like Christmas. I was like Alice in Wonderland,” she recalled. “Then I went to his house and cooked for him and a bunch of his friends. They could have sworn that I had somebody Italian in the kitchen with me,” she says. “Now, whenever he comes to New York he rides down to Philadelphia and I cook for him,” she said.

If Moschino does show up at her party tonight, he’ll get a preview of “Gems,” which LaBelle said “wasn’t a thought-out album.”

“I didn’t think about a concept or anything,” she says. “I just ended up doing a bunch of love songs — no ‘he done me wrong’ songs, because I don’t care to do those.” Among the titles is “Right Kind of Lover,” which is on the “Beverly Hills Cop III” soundtrack. It was the first “Beverly Hills Cop” movie that put LaBelle back at number one with the song “New Attitude.”

LaBelle will start a nationwide tour for the album in September, but will be home in Philadelphia on Oct. 5 for the opening of her new cabaret, Chez LaBelle.

“I want it to be a place where people get a chance because so many people have talent but they have nowhere to showcase,” LaBelle explained. “And once it gets going I’d like to add a restaurant.”

LaBelle has a little more free time to work on her club now that the sitcom “A Different World” — where she had a recurring role — has ended, and her own show, “Out All Night,” was canceled by NBC and picked up in syndication on Black Entertainment Television. But LaBelle says she’s still looking for acting jobs.

“I’m interested — maybe in another sitcom or a motion picture. I didn’t think I would ever do this — I said no to the sitcom for a long time, but then I finally gave in. Once we started, I got hooked,” she explained. “So there I was with a condominium in L.A. and a big ol’ car — that I can’t drive anyway. I sort of moved out there thinking I would be doing that for awhile. So now I have to find a sitcom to go with that condo and that car!”

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