"Plus one" is a given when you invite D.L. Long out for the evening. An extra chair is not required, the dinner bill will not be adversely affected, and the waiter will be very attentive.

Long has a kept woman, and her name is Fresca Vinyl. She fits in a tissue box, wears only couture clothing, has zero body-fat and only speaks when spoken through. Fresca is Hollywood's girl of the moment, turning up anywhere from the Playboy Mansion to the International House of Pancakes. (Loves the syrup carousel!)

Fresca is all-plastic and a mere 15 inches tall, but possessed of that ineffable thing called "It." The hostess with the mostest entertains a panoply of guests on a weekly cable-access gabfest, The Fresca Vinyl Show. Not since Virginia Graham signed off on Girl Talk has television had such an effervescent half hour.

Whether counseling parents of gay and lesbian children, moshing with rockers Extra Fancy or hosting a leather fashion show, the pair promotes a sunny demeanor that puts Captain Kangaroo to shame. Only in Los Angeles will you find an openly gay member of the LAPD being interviewed by a man and his plastic doll.

Long was born and reared in Cortez, Colorado, a small town that featured postcard vistas, a single radio station and antenna television. After having his fill of country music, Dialing for Dollars and chicken-fried steak, Long tucked his still-unused communications degree in his coat pocket and hopped a Trailways bound for Hollywood.

The woman of his dreams was waiting for him in a Melrose Avenue thrift shop, encased in plastic, apparently "born" in Hong Kong sometime in the 1950s, and named with the singular appellation "Doll."

Dubbed "Fresca Vinyl" by her rescuer, the plastic princess became the center of Long's life after he learned his serostatus. "I found out I was positive on November 22, 1991," Long says. "It was the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. I'd been living the typical LA existence of penthouse to pavement and back again. At that moment I was closer to pavement than to penthouse, so my first thought was, 'If I'm gonna die, I'm not gonna die in this dump!'" So Long and Fresca took to the waves, and the blue-eyed bombshell soon found herself the newest media darling of cable's fringe.

But fame proved fleeting for Fresca, in a turn of events as heartbreaking as the Lindbergh kidnapping case. Following a public appearance at a march on the nation's Capitol for gay and lesbian civil rights in 1993, Fresca Vinyl motored with her manager to Philadelphia for some post-rally sightseeing.

While Long checked out the Liberty Bell's crack, Fresca waited in the car, grabbing some beauty sleep. But sweet dreams turned to nightmares when somebody snatched Fresca. Long returned to find his car window shattered, along with his illusions, and Fresca nowhere to be found. But like all classic Hollywood sagas, this one had a happy ending. Articles in several national doll magazines yielded an outpouring of love, three new Frescas, and the unexpected bounty of "community," which meant more to her owner than a warehouse full of Barbies.

As a gay man living with HIV, Long has learned that every cloud has a silver lining. "Fresca is the best medicine," he laughs, joking about the new "cocktail" of pharmaceuticals he currently ingests, "and three Frescas are better than one.

"She's not very talkative," he adds, "but she's a great icebreaker." With new adherents every day, The Fresca Vinyl Show is now also carried in New York and San Francisco. Long and his plastic princess are proof that living well is the best revenge, and a doll is undoubtedly this man's best friend.