This was only the second time a Playmate of the Year has been crowned outside of the Playboy Mansion and the first time it has ever been open to the public. Good news and bad news. The good news is that any Playboy party is exciting just because of the mere fact that it’s PLAYBOY! There is always a media frenzy around Hef wherever he goes which, in and of itself, creates an energy all of its own. His bevy of beauties never disappoints and they are always dressed to the nines and gorgeous. So it’s no wonder that the Playboy Playmate of the Year Party at the Palms in Las Vegas was a paparazzo’s dream! Fifty Playmates from around the country and even the world converged on the Palms for the weekend. The rooms were comped for us and I shared a room with Janis Schmitt. Janis and I were bunnies together in St. Louis and she was Miss February 1978. It was a lot of fun to share bunny tales with my old friend again! Dasha Astafieva, the 55th Anniversary Playmate, flew in from the Ukraine for the party. She is a budding pop star there and did a sultry performance Saturday night with the other half of her gorgeous duo Nikita, Julia Kavtaradze. I flew in on Friday and met up with Janis later in the day. We went to see the rehearsal for the show Friday evening and it was fun to see the girls rehearsing their lines nervously with the help of a teleprompter. They have a group of Playmates called the “Playmate Dancers” who also performed and they were rehearsing their program too. When I first caught a glimpse of Playmate of the Year, Hope Dworaczyk, I knew instantly why she was chosen: She is a 5’11” stunner with legs that don’t quit, a mane of hair that rivals Sarah Jessica Parker’s and a gorgeous face. She was a catwalk queen in Europe and had many prestigious designers already onboard the “Hope Love Train.” In her ripped jeans and short white T-shirt, she was a showstopper in every sense of the word. Her mom and dad were there and it was cute to see how nervous her mom was for her when she first took to the stage. The pre-party excitement was something to see too! They had a true red carpet about 30 feet long with a bank of photogs and reporters hanging off of the ropes ready and waiting. When Janis and I were asked to “walk” the red carpet, they didn’t need to ask us twice! It was thrilling to get a taste of what the stars are so used to. Everyone was cordial, “Candace, this way…Candace look at this camera…” I felt like a movie star and Janis and I giggled about it afterwards. The Palms itself is definitely geared towards the 20-year-old male crowd. The pool plays heart pounding music from dawn until dusk and they needed signs posted everywhere stating “NO NUDITY OR DRUGS ALLOWED.” I thought this was pretty funny. (I wonder how the Wynn gets away with their topless pool area?) Anyway, we laid by the Palms pool on Saturday afternoon and watched the parade, the body builders trying to attract the beach babes and vice versa. It was very cute to see everyone having such fun. I heard that Hef had flown in this day on a chartered plane so the stars were coming into alignment for the party that night. Janis and I decided to go down early since it was open to the public. We expected a mob scene and we were right. Luckily, the press girl watched for us and led us into Rain Nightclub after we walked the red carpet so we were able to get settled before the rush began. There were Playmates there from every era so it was fun taking pics and trying to figure out who was who. The reserved tables held giant bottles of Stoli (a sponsor of course!) and red lighted crystal vases on black tablecloths. The effect was stark but matched the dark nightclub perfectly. The event was a sellout with about 500 people in attendance. The first person to enter Hef’s reserved area was his brother Keith. Keith escorted Dasha and her singing partner Julia who were dressed in long flowing gowns cinched at their tiny little waists. George Maloof, the owner of the Palms, was already seated and waiting for Hef. You always know where Hef is by watching for the flashbulbs. I don’t know how he sees to get to his seat with constant flashes in his face (mine being one of them…). Mary O’Connor was there, his longtime right hand helpmate and friend. She looked lovely in a champagne colored gown with crystal beading. It was great to see her looking so well and so happy. After what seemed like hours, it was announced that everyone take their seats for the show to begin. Host and emcee for the evening was Kevin Klein, who is also a host on Playboy’s Sirius Radio channel. One of his jokes was about a postage stamp that Hef was going to receive with his image on it. The stamp licked you, he joked. Kinda funny, I guess…anyway, he then introduced Playmates Kara Monaco and Jayde Nicole who in turn introduced videos of all of the Playmates from the past year. It was a clever idea and the audience loved it. Every time one of the girl’s images appeared onscreen, her fellow tablemates whooped and cheered. There was a great group from Chicago who performed, The White Tie Affair, who had the crowd on their feet dancing with pyrotechnics provided for an exciting effect. Then the high energy Playmate Dancers strutted their stuff onstage too. Last year’s Playmate of the Year, Ida Ljungqvist, was introduced and she looked stunning in a full length black gown with black crystal beading. Palms owner, George Maloof, introduced Hef and thanked him for the privilege of hosting this party. Hef spoke a few words and then introduced Hope. Her short (really short), ruffled strapless nude colored dress was perfect on her and showed off her legs to perfection. I couldn’t take my eyes off her evening clutch though. It was one of the most beautiful ones I’d ever seen…this girl has some serious style! She spoke sweetly about how her grandmother inspired her and encouraged her in all of her endeavors and thanked her mom too. There was a couple of hanky dabs but she got through it beautifully especially when the $100,000 check was presented to her and the keys to a new BMW. Next up was Robin Thicke, the son of game show host and actor Alan Thicke, who is quite a singing star with three Grammys under his belt. Sadly, I had never heard of him but the younger audience members were up on their feet again cheering him on so what do I know? At the end of the show, everyone headed up to the Playboy Club on the 52nd floor of the Fantasy Tower (of course). It was a true mob scene there and we didn’t stay in the casino long. Instead, we went back to the VIP section of the club which had more of a lounge feel. I was surprised and delighted to see that my cover was still on the wall! Another surprise was running into Playboy’s chief content officer and fellow Chicagoan, Jimmy Jellinek. He said Hef was very proud to see two Playboy peeps in Chicago magazine on the same month…cute :) I also ran into another Chicagoan, Michael Kornick, who runs the beautiful Italian restaurant Nove in the hotel and is with the Nine Group. Other Red Carpet VIPs included Hef’s ex, Holly Madison (who is appearing in “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino) and current girlfriend Crystal Harris, “Iron Chef” winner Kerry Simon, Playmates Deanna Brooks, Hiromi Oshima, Summer Altice, Sandra Greenberg, Nancy Harwood, Peggy McIntaggart, Crystal McCahill, Barbara Moore, DeDe Lind, Janet Quist, Toni Ann Thomas and Reagan Wilson to name a few. It was a wonderful Playboy weekend and I was glad to reconnect with old friends. (BTW, Janis and I will be going to Glamourcon this year. We’re urging Patti Connors to come too so we can truly have a St. Louis Bunny/Playmate Reunion. Glamourcon will be held at Crowne Plaza O’Hare on July 31st and August 1st. Hope to see you all there!) Congrats Hope! I hope you have a wonderful year! :) Click here for more pics!
The PAWS Beach Party Kick-Off party was held recently at the newly renovated Ritz-Carlton to celebrate the launch of PAWS 8th Annual Beach Party which will be held on Thursday, July 22nd. I hadn't been to the Ritz after its renovation so besides supporting PAWS and my friends, I was anxious to see the redo. And it didn’t disappoint…it was so gorgeous! The fountain, the flowers and décor were lovely before but now it’s sensational! The Beach party co-chairs, Bonnie Krueger Spurlock and Christine Mallul, had lots of surprises in store for their guests on this evening starting with the gorgeous models dressed in beach wear waiting to direct you to the party. As you entered the reserved area, one of the models “lei-d” you – pun intended – so everyone was wearing something festive. They had two adorable pooches waiting for their forever homes who were already so well trained it was unbelievable! Bonnie, Christine, Paula Fasseas (the founder of PAWS) and the manager of the Ritz all greeted the crowd and announced the Beach Party plans. Lisa Dent from US99.5 will be the Beach Party emcee and we are expecting 500 people and 100 beach-wearing doggies at the North Avenue beach house! You will be able to lounge by the beach drinking cool summer cocktails from an open bar with a beachy dinner buffet while you enjoy live music by The Underwater People. And, as always, we will have an exciting live and silent auction which will include tickets to “Dancing with the Stars” and a Zamboni ride at a Chicago Blackhawks game among others exciting offerings. Congrats to Bonnie and Christine for knocking this year’s party out of the ballpark! Can’t wait to see what surprises you have in store on the 22nd! For more info, visit http://beachparty.pawschicago.org. View more photos here!
The “Rally for Kids with Cancer Scavenger Cup” will be held on June 25th and 26th and will benefit the Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago. Actress Eva Longoria Parker is the national spokeswoman for the rally and the event co-chairs are Jill and John Svoboda and committee members here are Juanita Jordan, Les Coney, Lori Ovitz and Laura Van Peenan. To ride with a celeb in the rally you must agree to raise a minimum of $25,000. On June 25th, there will be a cocktail reception to determine who rides with whom and on the following day, there will be a “Start Your Engines Brunch” and “The Winner’s Circle” Gala, “Jeans & Jewels.” Stars expected to attend include Adam Rodriguez (“CSI:Miami”), Tichina Arnold (“Everybody Hates Chris”), Eva LaRue (“CSI:Miami”), Gilles Marini (“Sex & the City”) and reality stars Giuliana and Bill Rancic. This is the first time this event has been held in Chicago. Previous rallies took place in LA, Miami and Toronto. For more info, please visit www.rallyforkids.com.
Don’t forget the 2010 Zoo Ball, “Rock & Roar,” on July 9th at the Lincoln Park Zoo starting at 6:30 p.m. This is the zoo’s largest fundraiser and draws over 1,000 civic and social leaders from Chicago and surrounding suburbs. This black tie evening, co-chaired by Kim Theiss and Peggy White, will be set against the backdrop of the lion house. The grounds will be transformed with a contemporary music vibe with al fresco gourmet dining, entertainment, raffle, and fabulous silent auction items. The Lincoln Park Zoo is one of only three free zoos remaining in the US and the last free major cultural institution in Chicago. Three million visitors, including more than 1 million children, enjoy our zoo annually. It is also home to over 1,300 animals, many of which are endangered in the wild. So don your best leopard print gown and come out and support our fabulous Lincoln Park Zoo!
My friend, Michael Perry Ladin, is hosting an event called “Havana Day Dreaming” on Sunday, June 6th, at the Peninsula Hotel. All net proceeds benefit prostate cancer research and other men’s health issues. Steve Stone, Cy Young Award-winning pitcher and celebrated baseball announcer, will be Mikey’s co-chair. This unique event, started six years ago, now attracts over 200 people and has raised over $160,000 for prostrate cancer research. We have all, unfortunately, been touched in some way by cancer. I hope you can come out to support this worthwhile event and have some fun too! Tickets are $200.
I was so thrilled to be one of only 50 bloggers invited to Oprah’s for tea! It was for “local social media influencers by invitation only.” There were so many fantastic bloggers there! I met Meredith Sinclair, a 30-something mom who writes a very amusing account of her life with her three boys: www.Hoo-dee-Hoo.com and www.meredithsinclair.blogspot.com. Chef Art Smith was there too signing copies of his latest book, “Back to the Table: The Reunion of Food & Family.” (Not many chefs can say they have First Family photos in their cookbook pages!) I also met Duong Sheahan who writes a great blog (www.healthierandhappier.com) about living healthier and happier. Nancy Loo (who writes about parenting) and Beth Rosen (who writes about midlife and all that entails), Brandy Middleton (Mrs. Windy City) and Dionne Williams (who writes about society doings in N’Digo magazine), were there too. Thanks to GM Darcy Rogers and Elizabeth Abrams for inviting me and health guru Karyn Calabrese for supplying the best banana bread I’ve ever eaten! I was so honored to be included…:) (I’ve asked Chuck to call me “Influencer” around the house…it’s not working.) Click here for more pics!
Lots of birthdays recently with lots of glam girls! Three at the top of this list were Kristina McGrath and Korinna Isselhardt and Lynn McMahan. Kristina and Korinna’s 40th was a big bash in Boca that half of Chi-town attended and Lynn’s was here in Chicago at multiple restaurants. She has so many girlfriends that she had to have her celebrations in shifts! All three of these fab women are as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside! Congrats girlfriends!!! More pics here!
Hope you’ve enjoyed Candid Candace! Can’t wait to begin our backyard grilling and watch the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup…it’s going to be a great summer here, I just know it!