Daryl Hannah: Activist, Helen Thomas Fan
Sure, sure, the capital's chattering classes are well aware that the fabulously leggy blonde Daryl Hannah was in town this week to attend the annual congressional dinner -- one of several annual events where reporters and politicians gather in the same room and pretend to love each other for a few hours.
But who knew that Hannah is a huge Helen Thomas fan? "I totally worship her!" Hannah told The Sleuth.
And we imagine few, if any, in Washington knew that Hannah, 46, has been going undercover to brothels and seedy joints in countries around the world, mainly in Southeast Asia, to document the burgeoning problem of sexual slavery and human trafficking.
"It's an incredible crime, it's the fastest growing crime industry in the world," she said.
After she learned about the human trafficking problem from one of her good friends in the band Jane's Addiction, Hannah said a light bulb went on in her head. She realized she once had been the victim of a kidnapping attempt by a possible sex ring in Las Vegas, where she was lured with the promise of money to model for an album cover.
A teenager at the time, she lied to her mother about where she was going, left Los Angeles and went with six other girls to Sin City. Once she got there, she got a creepy vibe, especially after one of the girls at the hotel where they were staying -- under the watchful eye of several "sleazy guys," as Hannah put it --- said she'd been kept there for a year, but had no money to leave.
So Hannah, who was 17, tried to leave by telling the guys she was only 15, thinking they'd find her too young. But that made them want her even more, she told us. Long story short, Hannah said, she called her mom and fessed up that she was in Vegas. Her mom booked her a ticket back to L.A. while Hannah and another girl escaped out a bathroom window.
"I can't tell you for sure 100 percent that it was a trafficking ring. But it had all the earmarks for sure," she said.
Hannah is making a documentary on human trafficking, which she said she hopes will be completed by next summer.
But what Hannah really wanted to talk to The Sleuth about when she called us on the phone Wednesday night was ... her idol, Thomas.
Hannah grew up watching the dean of the White House press corps badger Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush (41), Clinton and Bush (43). "I just love her," Hannah said. "She's not only like our moral conscience, she's also like everyone's mom -- even the presidents are afraid of her."
The actress (and activist) sounded breathless as she went on about how "Helen is so sharp" and "persistent" and how "she's such an inspiration."
Hannah said the "single biggest highlight" of her trip to Washington to attend the Washington Press Club Foundation's congressional dinner was meeting the legendary journalist, who received a lifetime achievement award Tuesday night. She was thrilled to be able to watch Thomas's speech and meet her in person.
She also got to see her late ex-boyfriend's uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), play the funny man at the dinner. As soon as the dinner ended, she said, "I was going to go over there and give him a hug but he had bolted."
She'll give him that hug next time she's in town, by which time she may have finished her documentary on human trafficking.
(Full disclosure: The Sleuth is on the board of the WPCF.)
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