The Playboy mystique still thrives and flourishes especially if you were an attendee at Glamourcon 48 recently held in LA. Over 40 Playmates, dozens of calendar pinups and plenty of cyber models gathered together in the Hilton Ballroom for Glamourcon 48 which is the largest pin-up art and glamour convention in the country. Going strong now for 14 years, Bob Schultz is the mastermind behind this unique concept. The first Glamourcon had only one Playboy Playmate in attendance, Susie Owens (February 1988), and boy has it come a long way baby! There were row upon row of gorgeous women signing autographs and taking photos with fans. Many of the Playmates even brought their daughters—Future Playmates in Training perhaps?! Karen Velez (Playmate of the Year 1985) brought her daughter, Nikki Majors. You might recall she was married to the Six Million Dollar Man, Lee Majors. Patti McGuire Connors (Playmate of the Year 1977) brought her gorgeous daughter Aubree and Lorrie Menconi (February 1969) brought her daughter Ashlee Ricci, who is a PB Cyber Girl. Kathy Shower (Playmate of the Year 1986) brought her daughter and Hef’s former girlfriend, Sondra Theodore (1977) even brought her Chihuahua Charlie! It was so much fun to see all of the girls again…..and I must admit some looked better than others but once a Playmate, always a Playmate. Dolores DelMonte (March 1954) and Arline Hunter (August 1954) evoked memories from the early years of Playboy while up at the Mansion we met Hef’s latest girlfriend, Crystal Harris, who will be the December Playmate. Six of us were invited up to the Mansion for Friday’s movie night. The lucky group included Patti McGuire Connors, Debra Jensen (January 1978), Sondra Theodore (1977), Dolores DelMonte, Alison Reynolds Berlinger, Denise Michelle (April 1976), Mary Lou Hamill (who is married to Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill) and Leann Moen. Patti got a glimpse of the Brown Book which is the mock-up for issues before they go to the publisher and was informed that starting in January, there will be double issues of the magazines….even though there will only be 11 issues, we were told there will still be 12 Playmates. I’m not sure how this will work but I guess we’ll soon see. Anyway, the movie for this night was “Basic Instinct” with Sharon Stone in Blu-Ray. Robert Culp, from “I Spy” fame, was there looking older but still sharp and famous band leader “All the Way Ray” Anthony was there for the fun too. The Rifleman’s “Mark McCain” Johnny Crawford also stayed for the film. My friend Patti and I talked to the girls and took some pics with Hef and then took a tour of his photo gallery on the second floor. I saw the iconic images of the first centerfold of Marilyn Monroe as well as pics of all of his past and present girlfriends including every celeb who has ever stepped foot inside the Mansion doors. There was even a photo of Hef and me roller skating during the 25th Playmate Reunion Party! A lot of the girls had brought items for Hef to sign and he was a real dear to all of us. Patti gave him one of her early St. Louis bunny photos that I had found for her from my own collection of pics while my good friend Larry Armstrong got Hef’s signature on the original Baumgarth Chromolithograph salesman’s sampler that had the photos of the first 14 Playmate’s photos that he had purchased to start the magazine. It was great to see Hef and Mary O’Connor, his right hand lady, again. We didn’t stay for the movie – Patti and I had too much to catch up on. We went to her favorite restaurant, Toscano’s, in Brentwood.Glamourcon began on Saturday morning and we all met many fans and friends who showed up — some came from as far away as England, such as Simon Thorpe, the great portraitist. Playmate Julie Woodson (April 1973) took a 30-hour train trip from Hutchinson, Kan., just to be there. Patti, Sylvie Garant and I were interviewed on Sirius Radio about what it was like during the Golden Age of Playmates: the 1970’s. We had lots of stories to tell and it was a fun show. It was also nice to see the friendly, familiar faces of long time fans like Wilmer Rivers (he has been to 47 of the 48 Glamourcons), Tom Shimada, Dan Stiffler and Peggy Wilkins. Even the Director of Playmate Promotions, handsome James Gonis, showed up and presented us with new promo photos to sign. That evening, we rounded up the usual suspects for dinner in Beverly Hills at STK (755 N. La Cienega) that included Sylvie Garant (November 1979), Patti Connors, Debra Jensen, Dolores DelMonte, Joe DiCarlo (former owner of the famous Pip’s Nightclub in LA), Jonathan Ryan (floral designer extraordinaire) and Larry Armstrong (Playmate friend and poet). We had a blast with many toasts and then Sunday was the final day of Glamourcon. Some fans had brought box loads of magazines and photos to be signed so it was a busy day for everyone. That evening, Patti, Aubree (her daughter), Sylvie and I went back into Beverly Hills for dinner at Mr. Chow’s. What a wonderful weekend with old friends. It wasn’t easy travelling without Chuck so I am very glad to be back in OZ with the Wizard and the two Totos, Mickey and Rooney. There really is no place like home! For more photos from Glamourcon 48 (many MANY more photos, to be precise) click here!
Latino Fashion Week was a great success in large part due to the efforts by managing producer Arabel Rosales and her wonderful team of supporters. The week was packed with events beginning with the Hair and Make-Up Wars on Monday where the winner was Salon Salome who put an edge to their talents by incorporating body paint into the mix. Tuesday was the student designer competition where they were all winners but, in the end, Arianna Magana pulled ahead to claim first place. Wednesday was retail day at the Dana Hotel where everyone got a chance to shop their favorite designers and Thursday – Millenial-Gen Y Day – put the focus on families. Friday’s Green Day showcased fashionable and ecologically fabulous clothes and jewelry designs. Saturday’s event welcomed designers from Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Argentina and Sunday was the finale, “El Fin.” This event featured Chicago designers such as Elda de la Rosa and James Production de Colon to name a few. All of the shows were beautifully staged by Tracey Tarantino of ZZazz Productions. Saturday and Sunday brought out enthusiastic crowds of over 2,500 people. Thanks to Latino Fashion Week for adding even more glamour and excitement to Chicago’s fashion community and to their premier sponsor, AztecAmerica Bank, for their support! And now I will let the photos (most by Steve Starr) speak for themselves! Just click here to see what I'm talking about!
I had the best time Saturday afternoon! Principal Joffrey dancer Fabrice Calmels and I were interviewed on the new Chicago Now Show on WGN radio. The new show (it's only two weeks old) was brilliantly hosted by radio veteran Bill Leff. The show airs on WGN 720 AM usually beginning at 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. but times can vary depending on sporting events. The show will feature various Chicago Now bloggers talking about what they know best and topics range from sports to etiquette to what to expect on the CTA! Chicago Now’s editorial director Tracy Schmidt appeared too---I think she needs her OWN show! Fabrice’s blog is called “Come Dance with Fabrice Calmels” and gives an insider’s look at the world of dance. Here are podcasts from our interview on Saturday with Bill Leff. Hope you enjoy it! Part 1 Part 2
There are a lot of terrific events on the horizon so let’s get right to it! On Wednesday, I will be hosting a cookbook launch party with the “Small Threads” from Common Threads at the Omni Chicago Hotel (they have graciously underwritten this event). The cookbook, entitled Eat the World: Good-for-You Food for Families, will be available for sale for only $20--just in time for Christmas! There will also be aprons for sale AND, the best part is, the “Small Threads” will be there signing their little books! The book features recipes that the students cook together in class and the party will feature one of these recipes as well as fabulous food created by Chef Daven Wardynski for their 676 Restaurant. Space is limited to 80 people so if you can’t attend the party but would still like to purchase a cookbook, please call 312-329-2501 ext. 200. The “Small Threads” will really appreciate your support! :) Please RSVP by December 15th to email@example.com. (BTW, Chef Daven will also be participating in World Festival on March 1st.)
And speaking of World Festival, this year’s event (on Monday, March 1st from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Soldier Field) will be even more special than years past since this will be Art Smith’s 50th birthday celebration too! I’ve been privy to some of the planning and I will just tell you that this year will be over the top with surprises! Over 60 chefs from across the globe will be flying in to make Chef’s birthday and World Festival one we won’t soon forget! There will also be a Sunday supper birthday party the evening before by invitation only. General admission tickets are $250 and VIP tickets are $500 (which will include access to Art’s swanky Southern-style lounge and an invitation to the exclusive after-party at the James Hotel). For more info and tickets, please visit www.commonthreads.org.
The World of Chocolate returns to the Hilton Chicago on Thursday, December 3rd. This event benefits the Aids Foundation of Chicago and features chocolate creations from dozens of Chicagoland’s finest restaurants, caterers and chocolatiers. There will also be a light buffet, open bar, chocolate martinis (of course!) and entertainment! I am honored to be a judge this year…I just hope my tummy can take it! I also hope to see all of you there for this fun and worthy event! Tickets start at $75. For more info and to purchase tickets, visit www.aidschicago.org/events or call 312-922-2322. I’m already starting to feel like Willy Wonka!
Don’t forget The Joffrey Ballet’s Nutcracker begins on Friday, December 11th through 27th. This is Robert Joffrey’s production and it’s a wonderfully traditional way to start off the season! For tickets and more info, please visit www.Joffrey.org. And for an added bonus, use the promotional code "CANDID" to receive a 10-percent discount on Nutcracker tickets!
And last but not least, the Service Club of Chicago’s annual Christmas luncheon (perfectly organized by Chicago’s own Hazel Barr) will be at the Elysian this year on Tuesday, December 1st. There will be lots of shopping opportunities as well as entertainment by the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus. The event begins at 10:30 a.m. and the luncheon will begin at 12:15 p.m. Tickets are $60 and guests are asked to bring gift items such as men’s and women’s toiletries, undergarments, warm weather clothing or cash in any increments that will be distributed to the National Alliance for Mental Illness. For tickets and more info, please contact Julie Elmore at 630-730-1780.
I never like to end my blog on a sad note, but I want to express my deepest and heartfelt sympathy to the family of Michael Scott. I adored him and his beautiful wife Diana and was proud to call them friends. I ran into them at many charity events around town and they always had electrical sparks above their heads with all of the love they had for each other. I first met Michael when he introduced the “Having a Ball” ballroom dance program to Chicago area schools and I was on the host committee (thanks to Dori Wilson). I also brought him to a recent Common Threads luncheon where he offered the Executive Director Linda O’Keefe his card and promised to try to help. He was one of the kindest and gentlest men I’ve ever met. I can’t believe he would choose to end his life…he loved his family too much. I don’t care how much evidence they have to the contrary, I will never believe it.
Hold your family and loved ones close and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I missed you all.
P.S.Congrats to Jim Smith for not only completing his Willis Tower climb for the Rehab Institute but for also being one of the top money makers!