Annual Dueling Chefs

Ostrich Feather Hat

Being a big fan of “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Celebrity Chef”, I was definitely looking forward to our own version of a chef competition at a beautiful club in downtown Tampa. The event promised great cocktails, good food and the opportunity to support three charitible foundations – not to mention the first public showing of my new hat from Portland Oregon, featuring real ostrich feathers!

Three Patricia Anns

As my friends and I were enjoying our first cocktail, we were introduced to some ladies at an adjoining table. Against all odds, there were three of us whose names were, not just Patricia, but Patricia Ann! We could only conclude that our mothers were from the same generation. Otherwise, we would be Jennifers or Brittanys.

Shula's vs. Season's 52

As the chefs were slicing and dicing, we were introduced to our judges: Charley Belcher-Fox 13, Tim Marcum- Coach of The Tampa Bay Storm and Aaron Fodiman-Tampa Bay Magazine. I’m sure these guys have had a lot of dining experience. We had an hour before the buffet to mingle and meet new friends, so I decided to give my new hat a whirl around the room.

The Belcher Family

I was delighted to meet Charlie Belcher and his family, especially beautiful daughter, Lindsay Rose. She had an adorable personality and made sure that I understood that she too liked to wear hats! So I guess, not only are hats making a comeback, but there will be ladies enjoying hats for years to come.

Tampa Bay Storm Coach

I also snagged a picture with Tim Marcum, Head Coach of The Tampa Bay Storm. Tim is widely regarded as the greatest coach in Arena Football History. (Is there anyone but me who wishes that the Tampa Bay Bandits could have come back and been part of this league?)

No Chef Ramsey - Whew!

We finally headed to the beautiful buffet where we were rewarded with fabulous food from land and sea. I still don’t know which restaurant chef was named the winner, but if you ask me, it was all delicious. Congratulations to Shula’s Steakhouse and Season’s 52 Fresh Grille for preparing such a unique and varied menu. (I’m just glad there were no ostrich eggs!)

Camera Ready?

We moved into the ballroom where a dance band awaited us. It was a free-for-all. Everyone was dancing, although I don’t think everyone was doing the same dance! It didn’t matter. We were having fun. As Lucy was our designated driver, Shirley and I didn’t hesitate when offered yet another Martini. Our generous friend Jim just kept them coming!

Dance Partner

As we headed home, we reflected on what makes a meal unique and enjoyable; a memorable occasion. Author Alice May Brock said “Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy Sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good” – I would add that , regardless of sauces or seasonings, eating it wearing a beautiful hat makes it “an elegant dining experience”.

Posted in Entertainment & Fashion, Ladies Hats | Leave a comment

A Beautiful Day in the “Gayborhood”

She and He

I have always loved Portland, Oregon. When my friends David and Steve invited me to LaFemme Magnifique (an International Beauty Pageant for drag queens), I was excited and intrigued. In my last blog, you will see some of the photos of the beautiful, creative and talented performers. The show was fantastic!

A simple boudoir?

Show Producers, Darcelle and Roxy invited me to a barbeque at their gorgeous home the following day. Roxy gave me a tour, which allowed me to see all the exquisite furnishings, fixtures and art work which they have gathered from all over the world. It was “tastefully opulent”. Not only is their home filled with beautiful antiques, but the connection between the pieces and the lives of these wonderful and talented people is very touching.

A little blush, sir?

It has been my experience that my male gay friends are as compassionate, generous and loyal as my closest girlfriends. David and Steve were devoted to my Aunt Helen for many years. She loved them dearly, as do I. We’ve had a lot of fun together. However, never did I imagine that I would be drafted to do David’s “make-up” for our special event!

Valet, please.

Though not a Pageant contestant himself, David had his heart set on “dressing up” for the evening. We found a beautiful purple beaded dress and had a crazy desperate search for silver sandals – in size 12! With a borrowed over-the-top blond wig, David made his debut at the LaFemme event. Everyone thought he looked beautiful.

Pageant Winner

The following day, I was facinated when I met some of the Pageant contestants – as men! Some of them were unrecognizable as their transformations for the show had been so dramatic. I found them interesting and friendly and more than willing to pose for pictures with me in my beautiful purple hat.

He loves my hat!

I was so excited when I discovered that Portland has the largest “Hat Museum” in the country. There were over 1,000 hats in 5 different collections, covering 160 years of women’s hats. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures in the Museum, but I will be sharing a lot of facinating information on antique and vintage hats as well as stunning tea hats, retro creations and what’s new for today’s hat fancier!

A Hat Parade

Portland is a haven for anyone who likes tromping through numerous “vintage” stores. I brought home several fabulous hats from the 40’s and 50’s! I also met a true “milliner” whose showroom featured many tempting hand-crafted hats and I even got a peek into her workroom. Did I buy yet another hat?

Well, let’s just say that I like to keep my money where I can see it – sitting on top of my head!

Posted in Entertainment & Fashion, Ladies Hats | 3 Comments

LaFemme Magnifique International

Isn't he lovely?

Charles Aznavour is one of France’s most popular and enduring singers and song writers. He became a major success in the 70’s and has collaborated with many of music’s legendary performers including Andrea Bocelli, Placido Domingo, Liza Minnelli , Luciano Pavarotti and Josh Grobin, just to name a few!

Pretty in Pink

I mention Aznavour because I remember discovering one of his hit songs of the 70’s called “What Makes a Man a Man”. I must have played it thousands of times throughout the years. It is a beautiful and haunting song about the tragic existence of a drag queen who says “ ..each night I work at a strange bar, impersonating every star, I’m quite deceiving….”

"I enjoy being a girl!"

Many things have changed in the last forty years, and as I found myself attending the most fierce and glamorous competition of female impersonation, LaFemme Magnifique International, in Portland, Oregon, I couldn’t help but think of Aznavour’s gravelly, sexy voice singing “… tell me if you can what makes a man a man…”

Pagent Winner!

The LaFemme Magnifique Pageant features the most stunning female impersonators in the world. As I watched them work the gigantic stage and runway , I was struck by their style, beauty, talent, glamour and creativity. Their magical transformation is expressed through creative make-up, hair and costume design. (Strict rules prohibit surgical or hormonal changes to their bodies). I was “wowed” by their Vegas-style showgirl costumes and amazed by the elaborate head-dresses which I, of course, see as just another exaggerated version of a HAT. I was enthralled!

Show Girl Winner!

The Pageant producers, Darcelle XV and Roxy LeRoy are two of the most uniquely wonderful people that I have ever met. They are kind, gracious and extremely talented and you would be very fortunate to be able to call them friends. I am so grateful to my dearest friends, David and Steve, for enabling me to see such a fabulous show and to meet their wonderful friends. I will never forget it. (I will tell you more about Darcelle and Roxy in my next blog – you will be ASTONISHED at the beauty and elegance of their home. I have many pictures to share.)

Darcelle XV

Naturally, I felt compelled to wear a hat to the show. I chose my favorite cocktail hat, the same one I wore to the Sinatra Party. (And you can see it on my intro page for the web-site). It is such a beautiful and delicate black silk rose with a poof of feathers and a sweep of netting across the face. When I wear it, I feel feminine, soft and sexy. I received many compliments. This evening, however,was all about the beauty contestants and their stunning hair, make-up, gowns and jewlery. I just sat back in awe and enjoyed every moment of the show.

The Mona He's a

From the pictures on this blog, you will meet the performers as “women”. My next blog is a DON’T MISS because I have pictures of many of them as themselves – men! I’m sure that you will soon agree that their female illusionary artistry is truly impressive. Everyone was warm, friendly and welcoming and I had a wonderful time at the barbecue at Darcelle and Roxy’s home the following day. (I bought some “bling” at the party which I’ll show you next time.)

2010 LeFemme Magnifique

Congratulations to Adrienne Alexander and Lily Armani who were both crowned 2010 LaFemme Magnifique International.

As Charles Aznavour sang “…. nobody has the right to be the judge of what is right for me, tell me if you can what makes a man a man”.

Posted in Entertainment & Fashion, Ladies Hats | 4 Comments

Staying In Tune

My Hat

My friends and I have made a sincere commitment to the support of The Florida Orchestra. Ours is one of America’s most distinguished orchestras and it is thrilling to hear them live at our beautiful Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

VIVO Members

We are all members of an organization called “VIVO” (Vitally Interested Volunteers for the Florida Orchestra). We schedule events at various venues and favorite restaurants where we gather to eat, drink and generally “catch up” on friend’s activities and stories. Part of the event admission is donated to the orchestra.

Musical Maidens

There have been several of these events recently and by now you realize that, at any party, I will be wearing a hat! The first was a bright pink straw with an off-white flower arrangement, worn at a slight tilt. I wore a lime green and pink floral dress and see-through high heel sandals. I felt light and flirty.

Smooch Sandwich

You will generally find what I like to call my “Cast of Characters” in attendance at these events and I am anxious for you to get to know my unique friends, who each bring something fun and exciting to every gathering. Shirley, my “Comrade at Arms” is always ready to catch a great photo. Bill, our “Rough Rider” will usually spice up the evening one way or another. It was his Birthday, so Donna and Lucy gave him a “double-mint” kiss. His face is red, but I know he loved it.

At The Watering Hole

You can see by the picture that our first priority is a great Martini. We are lined up at the bar like cattle at a trough!! I was delighted when my friend, Maria, walked in wearing a hat! She is my first official “hat convert” and she looked beautiful. She is threatening to wear gloves next time. I’m impressed. Looking equally smart was my dance partner, Ron, who would make the “Best Dressed” list at any function.

Best Dressed

Our next event was held at a charming “Gourmet Lounge” – and they weren’t kidding about the lounge part! There were bright pillows on the floor and you could sit/sprawl/collapse? in these cozy corners. I just had to check it out!

I was wearing a simple but stunning hat. It was a wide brim light black straw with circular ribbing and a black & silver floral band with a few rhinestones and glossy black trim. I wore a simple halter style cocktail dress and black open-toe high heels. I added a black ruffled shrug. I felt cool and classic.

My Hat

My fabulous friends had saved me a place at the table and I even got pretty “bartendress”, Audrey, to go to the back to search for cherries for my Appletini! It turns out that she loves hats and wears them often. Spirits were high and “spirits” were rapidly warming up our eclectic group. Joe, our “Life on the D-List” chum was in full character.

Cause and Effect

Bill was recounting all of the “shennanigans” that occurred at his Rough Rider’s Toga Party. TOGA….TOGA…TOGA… It sounds like they gave “Animal House” a run for it’s money! I wanted to go but couldn’t locate my “custom-made” Toga. – really, I do have one – probably hiding under my zillions of hats. I know that I missed a fun evening.

Colorful Cohorts

My friends Carol and Lucy brightened up the evening with their colorful ensembles. I am going to miss everyone when I travel to Portland, Oregon this week to visit my friends, David and Steve (you met them in a previous blog). I am going to attend – believe it or not – The 29th Annual La Femme Magnifique International Beauty Pageant. I will see some of the country’s best “drag performers” strutting their stuff with Las Vegas style head-dresses. ( Do you think Donald Trump will be there ??) I will take lots of pictures. You will NOT want to miss my blogs on this event!

Now Where's My Driver?

All frivolity aside, we are proud of our contribution to The Florida Orchestra. We know that it inspires, entertains and educates a diverse audience with the unique experience of live symphonic music.

Dale Carnegie said “For bettter or worse, you must play your own little instrument in the orchestra of life”
I like to think that the instrument that sends a little gleam across the footlights in MY life’s orchestra is always a beautiful hat!

Posted in Entertainment & Fashion, Ladies Hats | 2 Comments

Uptown in Downtown

My Hat

This evening, my friends and I ventured into the heart of our city – downtown Tampa. We had found the perfect setting for a business and social event. It was the 42nd floor of the Bank of America Building. With stunning, panoramic views of beautiful Tampa Bay, we were looking forward to an evening of sumptuous surroundings and culinary delights.

Oil Free Tampa Bay

Our event was being held in a large private room. However, having been a member of this private club at one time, I decided to slip into the cocktail lounge to see if I could spot some of my old friends. I was happy to see my brother, Randy, relaxing at the bar. After he bought me a top-shelf Appletini, Randy and I caught up on family news and took a quick photo. He’s such a good sport. He didn’t even mind when I told his friends that he used to have a pet chicken.

Brother Randy

With such a beautiful setting, I decided to wear an elegant hat. It was a wide brimmed brown hat with a large checkered satin ribbon and a bird made of black feathers on one side with some feathers spiking upward. I wore a brown sateen, fitted pants suit and high heel black patent pumps. I felt “uptown chic”.

Table Squad

As tables are a premium at these events, my friends Shirley and Carol didn’t disappoint. We must be an entertaining group, as five other ladies were dragging chairs over to join us. I, of course, was up and down, hoping to elicit responses for my ensemble. I was very amused when I met my two “bookends”, Gil and Phil. I guess it’s true that “the lights are much brighter” downtown because we actually moved to seven different locations to avoid the glare in the room and get a good photo. I call that great guy cooperation!


I found myself in a prolonged conversation with five lovely ladies who admired my hat. They gave me the names of other women they knew who were known to wear hats.( I can’t wait to meet them and compare notes.) I was amazed at the diversity of people I met this evening. They included an Adjunct Professor, numerous company Presidents and CEO’s, Sales and Marketing Directors and the owner of a Dance Studio. Each and every one complimented me on my beautiful hat!

They like hats!

As the wine flowed and the appetizers disappeared I realized that this was truly a “Downtown” evening, where you could “forget all your troubles, forget all your cares…”. Before leaving, I made sure that I finally got a photograph with Bill, who organizes all these “Celebrate Tampa Bay” functions. Oh yikes, 42nd floor, we’re standing at a slant – is the building moving??

Leaning Tower of Tampa

I can now report that “My Hat Affair” is really gaining momentum. I’m still working on the website and hope to publish it soon. It’s going to be great – with a gallery of hats, lots of pictures, “how to” tips and many other things I can’t tell you about yet.

My Natural Habitat!

Many people are recognizing me by my trademark – wearing a hat! I look forward to all my outings and the possibility of encountering other fans of the hat world.

As Petula Clark sang “When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go – Downtown”. I would suggest that you do it wearing an Uptown hat!

Posted in Entertainment & Fashion, Ladies Hats | 1 Comment

A Celebration of Life

My Hat

My friends and I appreciate many beautiful and creative things, including art, poetry, architecture, music and fashion. An opportunity to join a nationally renowned Artist Icon for a Luxury Champagne Fundraiser sounded like a perfect evening. So we crossed the bridge to a charming waterfront center in downtown St. Petersburg.

Downtown St. Pete

T.W. Curtis is a versatile and passionate artist whose works have secured him a place in Who’s Who in American Art. He also generously supports many charities, and tonight’s event and silent auction will direct proceeds to the Chi Chi Rodriguez Academy Foundation.

TW and Friends

I was looking forward to meeting T.W.,who had recently been gravely ill and was celebrating his recovery and return to the art world. I was also looking forward to exhibiting my own personal expression of creativity – the wearing of a hat! It was a simple black straw with a cluster of bright but earthy-toned flowers. I wore it low and angled. My outfit was a long straight black skirt, a black sleeveless top, a black & silver belt and a flouncy short sleeved black shrug. I felt Bohemian chic.

Hat Fans

The room was lively and crowded, no doubt aided by the serving of complimentary champagne and decadent hors d’oeuvres. As I perused the paintings, I thought about what makes you an artist. I do know the shade of green the lichen on my trees is. I do understand highlights, but they are in my hair. I buy expensive brushes, but I use them for make-up. I am more concerned about the color of my car than the fuel consumption. No, I’m kidding, but I do like to think that what does make me an artist is the way I select, coordinate and wear my hats!

Go Rams!

Early on, I was introduced to Paul, a former football player for the Los Angeles Rams. I have to admit that I was flattered. when he implied that he was probably “before my time”. If he only knew – I was a Joe Namath fan! I was then pulled into a conversation with three ladies who admired my hat. They all insisted that they too wore hats, but not very often. I think I left them with the desire to re-think this behavior.

Flower Power

I am always looking for the four F’s of fashion – fabric, flowers, feathers and fur. I bumped into Barbara who wore a large, gorgeous, feathered flower pin. Ah, a kindred spirit. Next, I coveted a fabulous shrug worn by Nancy. She had designed it herself using sheer fabric, ostrich feathers and copper strings – a unique combination.

Fashion Designer

By this time, I had cornered T.W. Curtis for a picture before the silent auction results were announced. Meanwhile, the champagne had run out and the wine tastings were in teeny weeny cups. A pow-wow with my friends was in order. We formulated a plan and soon were enjoying full glasses of wine. We are very resourceful!

Artist Icon

As we prepared to leave the venue, I gathered up two male hat admirers for a final photo. I had met so many creative people this evening – designers, artists, photographers – it was exciting.

Hat Lovers

Francis Bacon said “Fashion is only the attempt to realize art in living forms and social intercourse”. By this definition, you can be a work of art – especially when wearing a hat!

Posted in Entertainment & Fashion, Ladies Hats | 2 Comments

I Did It My Way

My Hat

I have always had two favorite performers – Luciano Pavarotti and Frank Sinatra. Seemingly worlds apart in their style and genre of music, there is a great similarity in the control and range of their voices. (If you hear them singing “My Way” together, it may bring tears to your eyes). I must admit that I loved Pavarotti tossing around his handkerchief and, of course, Frank wearing his signature hat!

Dance Floor

Frank sang “Saturday Night is The Loneliest Night of the Week”. Hoping to avoid this dilemma, I attended the annual “Celebrate Sinatra” party at the Ritz in Ybor City. It was a Black Tie Optional event and featured a Big Band Orchestra in the main ballroom and a Latin Band in the Copa Room.

It promised to be a special evening, so I wore a long gown and one of my favorite cocktail hats. My dress was black and sleek with a little glitter at the shoulder. The hat was a black silk rose with a veil sweeping across the face and a short poof of soft feathers in the back. I wore it slightly tilted (one of the Rat Pack rules about hats). It was a beautiful combination and I felt elegant and sexy.

HCC President

Knowing there may be 600+ guests, I arrived early to avoid the line and headed to the bar to relax and “people watch”. Typical Rat Pack behavior is to drink Jack Daniels, always Jack Daniels! I, however, hate bourbon so I strayed from the pattern and ordered a vodka cocktail.

I then met a charming gentleman seated next to me. He had recently arrived from Arizona and introduced himself as Ken Atwater, the new President of Hillsborough Community College. As a former teacher, I was delighted to visit with such an accomplished man. And – he generously paid for my drink!

New Girlfriends

Not surprisingly, I met several young ladies who complimented me on my hat and wanted to be in a picture. I am always pleased to reaffirm my belief that women love to see hats as much as men do.
I was soon swept up for a photo-op with two men, Ron and Kevin, who were also wearing hats! For me, this was the “hat trifecta”.

It's a Hat Fest!

I took a few turns around the dance floor in the Copa Room and then moved to the Ballroom to see if I could spot the “Sinatra” style gentleman – namely, those in tuxedos and cufflinks. They were everywhere! It almost made me feel, for just a little while, that Tampa was “My Kind Of Town”.

Band Vocalist

The backdrop of the “The Sands” was beautiful, the band played many of Frank’s greatest songs and almost everyone was dancing. The singers were fabulous and I was introduced to Paul and Lexie and we traded hat compliments. As it was time for me to continue dancing, I spent some time with Ron who can do an amazing swing dance. It was truly exhilarating.

Swing Time

I met and talked with many more interesting and beautifully dressed guests and took several more pictures. As I left the party, I realized that I had thoroughly enjoyed the evening. I dressed up, I had cocktails, I danced and I did it all “My Way” – wearing a hat!

Posted in Entertainment & Fashion, Ladies Hats | 1 Comment