...PLUS IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SHOES FOR SERVICE CLUB AND SAKS, NATIONAL PUBLIC HOUSING MUSEUM BENEFIT CELEBRATES TOP PHILANTHROPISTS, DEFENDING HEF ON NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, WATCH312.COM VIDEO AND MORE!
The Steppenwolf Theater’s Red or White Ball began as a simple wine tasting party – hence the name “Red or White” – in 2002 but it has now mushroomed into a must-attend event for the young professional crowd. The party at Architectural Artifacts on April 13th brought out more than 500 guests for a night of music, dancing, cocktails, food tastings and a silent auction. Ensemble members and honorary co-chairs Lily Mojekwu (star of Steppenwolf’s “fml: how Carson McCullers saved my life”) and Robert Schleifer (“The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” star) mingled with guests at the VIP reception along with Kathryn Erbe, star of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” who also served as honorary chair. Steppenwolf Executive Director David Hawkanson welcomed the crowd and introduced co-chairs Kim Davis, Bryce Cooper and Dina Searle. The VIP portion of the evening included gift bags, special access to Steppenwolf artists, delectable tasting stations from Paris Club, ZED451, Fred’s, The Pump Room and drink stations from Barrelhouse Flat and Goose Island Brewery. The party continued in the main room where guests enjoyed signature red or white cocktails with more food samplings from Limelight Catering and a dessert station courtesy of Magnolia Bakery. A DJ kept the crowd moving and the photo booth provided memories from the evening. The silent auction was loaded with nearly 70 exciting packages that included a private party on a rooftop garden, a one-night stay and a round of golf at the Grand Geneva Resort plus the highlight, round-trip airfare to NY for a Broadway show plus a taping of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” that sold for $4,700! Other notable guests in attendance included Steppenwolf ensemble member Alana Arenas, Fran Guinan, Jon Michael Hill, Mariann Mayberry and James Vincent Meredith, Carrie Coon (currently appearing at Steppenwolf in “The March”), host Finnigan of KISS-FM, ABC-7 reporter Eric Horng, Ben Pritzker, Jason More, Stephanie and Edward Linn, Stephen Cole, Chef Jean Tippenhauer, Chef Tim Graham, Chef Moosah Reaume, Kady Yon and Chef Kate Milashus. Partygoers grabbed late night snacks from the Wagyu Wagon before moving on to the after-party at Lady Gregory’s. The party raised $80,000 benefitting Steppenwolf for Young Adults, the theater’s nationally recognized arts education program which annually impacts more than 15,000 students, teachers and families. The Red or White Ball is the primary fundraiser presented by Steppenwolf’s Auxiliary Council, a community of more than 150 dynamic young professionals. Since its inception in 2000, the AC has raised more than $1 million in contributions. (Photos by Kyle Flubaker and Manocam Photography...to view ALL event pics, please click here!)
The Service Club of Chicago, with hosts Laurie Davis, Susanna Negovan and Maria Smithburg, presented the U.S. premiere of “God Save My Shoes,” a documentary about women and their relationships with their shoes starring Kelly Rowland, Fergie, Dita Von Teese, Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik, among others. Producer Thierry Dahler and director Julie Benasra flew in from Paris a night early to attend a dinner and Q & A with 30 fashionable ladies at Maria Smithburg’s lovely Streeterville apartment. This event was a pre-party for the screening that occurred the following night at the AMC Theatre. The film had only been shown in Paris and Dubai before this first U.S. screening. The Service Club of Chicago’s next big event will be the Mad Hatter Luncheon chaired by member Sherry Lee Holson at the Chicago Club on Thursday, May 10th. This event will include guest speakers and a hat contest; tickets are $100. The SC, one of Chicago’s oldest charitable organizations founded in 1890, donates 100 percent of money raised to its grant program which distributes funds to numerous non-profits around town.
Saks Fifth Avenue hosted one of the best in-store events I’ve attended in a long, long time. Watch312.com was the media sponsor for the evening and I emceed the “Well-Heeled Walk-Off” contest with “DishIT” host Amanda Puck serving as a judge along with Saks’ director of marketing Julie Selakovich and Francesca Moceri from Chicago Children’s Charities. (CCC received a portion of the proceeds from the evening as the event beneficiary.) The contestants tested out all of their best moves on the runway from dancing to model poses inspired by Zoolander. It was a riot and everyone had tons of fun all competing to win a pair of coveted Jimmy Choo shoes. In the end, two dynamic women scored perfect 10s from each judge to compete in the final walk-off. Everyone in the third floor 10022-SHOE Salon had chosen their favorite pairs that included sky-high heels to sequined ballet flats but only two ladies strutted their way to perfect scores. Julia Douglas and Colleen Richardson worked the crowd into a frenzy trying to win their chosen shoes...and when I asked for a show of applause from the crowd to see who they thought was the winner, it seemed to be a tie. It was all up to the judges now as they huddled together for the final decision. And THEY BOTH WON!!! It was a wise decision that brought a huge cheer from the Choo-loving crowd. Congrats to Julie Selakovich on a wonderful event for a great cause! Check out the fun on Watch312.com below and view more fun fotos here! :)
I attended a lovely event at Salvage One recently benefitting the National Public Housing Museum. The keynote speaker was Steve Pemberton, chief diversity officer and divisional vice president for Walgreens and author of “A Chance in the World: An Orphan Boy, a Mysterious Past, and How He Found a Place Called Home.” I highly recommend this book – it’s an inspirational story that crosses generations and cultures but specifically speaks to those who have had the odds stacked against them. (Steve is a fascinating man who spent most of his young life in foster care.) Three renowned philanthropists were also honored including Ford Foundation president Luis Ubinas, president of the Ford Foundation, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter and founder of Universal Companies Kenny Gamble and MacArthur Foundation VP Julia Stasch. Chaired by Greg Cameron, Reuben Cannon, Pam Cullerton and Regina Taylor, the event was “An Afternoon of Good Times” that raised money for the National Public Housing Museum coming to the site of the Jane Addams Homes on W. Taylor Street in June. The Museum is dedicated to interpreting the American experience in public housing from across the nation. (For more info, please visit www.nphm.org.) I loved Greg Cameron’s closing remarks: He quoted Winston Churchill, saying, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” Amen to that, Greg! (Photos courtesy of Brian Powers of B. Powers Photography.)
Thanks to “Windy City Live” for having me back to discuss upcoming events! Check out the fun surprise at the end, too! (See video below.) Also, special thanks to WBEZ/National Public Radio for my recent interview with Steve Edwards, host of “The Afternoon Shift.” I shared the airwaves with Steven Watts, professor of history at the University of Missouri and author of “Mr. Playboy, Hugh Hefner and the American Dream” and DePaul professor Carolyn Bronstein, author of “Battling Pornography: The American Feminist Anti-Pornography Movement, 1976-1986.” It was a fun time talking about my Playboy days and defending Hef from the feminists...which seems to be an ongoing battle that just won’t go away...listen here and see the Windy City Live segment below!
And another thank you shout-out to Hillary Sawchuk and Kelly Kane of “Drink With Chicago” for another fun interview at RL! We discussed everything from, “Did I date Hef?” to “What’s the best way to meet the right guy?” Thanks to photographer Natalie Probst for the wonderful photos, too! Check out the article here!
That’s all for this week but I hope to see you here same time next week! In the meantime, enjoy this popular video about just how far a little creativity can go! :)
P.S. Are you following the Ronald McDonald House at Lurie Childrens’ Countdown? The world’s largest House will be opening on June 26th and, so far, has had lots of familiar faces participate in the countdown including Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook of the Blackhawks, actor Colin Egglesfield, former Chicago Bear Greg Olsen, pro golfer Chip Beck, former “Bachelorette” Jen Schefft, Lisa Dent and Ramblin’ Ray on US99.5 mornings, ABC-7 sports’ Mark Giangreco, Stefen Holt and Alicia Roman from NBC5 and Chef Art Smith, Jesus Salguiero and Linda O’Keefe of Common Threads! Check here to see who is represented today! Can’t wait to celebrate the World’s Largest Ronald McDonald House!