Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Pair of parties celebrate the city

By Jim Knippenberg, jknippenberg@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Whew, two stabs and two successes. Can't beat that track record.

        Referring here to events last week aimed at getting more people downtown to whoop it up a bit while pumping some bucks into the economy.

        To wit ...

        Celebrate Cincinnati: That would be the do Thursday at the Phoenix, where a wonderfully lively crowd of people stayed downtown after work — or drove in — for cocktails, munchies and lots of music.

        No telling how many were there — it was more of an open house where people came and went in waves — but manager Kent Vandersall, looking way more casual than usual in his Celebrate Cincinnati T-shirt, says close to 700 tickets were sold at $15 and $20 a pop.

        So in the second floor ballroom you had Nevada Wilkens and her trio making jazz and getting lots of people up and dancing. In the third floor ballroom, it was the Rusty Griswolds and even more people dancing. Whole lots of abandon going on here.

        The cool thing was the diversity: All ages, all colors, all neighborhoods, dressed in everything from grown-up clothes to jeans and baggy shirts. All getting along right nicely.

        Nicely enough that Phoenix marketing director Jen Morgan says they'll probably do it again.

        Celebrate swimsuits: Same night, around the corner and with still more abandon, Hamburger Mary's packed its bar area — more than 100 people, owner Peter Lafoon guessed — for a fashion show full of DonRod's summer line. A plenty skimpy and brilliantly colorful line at that.

        DonRod, for the record, is Cincinnati designers John Fowler and Michael Morganti, sort of new to the business but making a plenty big splash because, as one of the guests pointed out, “They're the kind of swimsuits that say "Let's do lunch and you're paying.' ”

        Here's how you know it was hot: Mary's fire alarm went off right at the start of the show, bringing four firefighters in full regalia charging through the door. False alarm, so they left.

        Happy fakes: Well for heaven's sakes, look who just popped up in the April 22 People Magazine. It's Covington designing woman Donna Salyers in a two-page spread with lots of pictures. “Minky Business,” they call it.

        It's kind of a bio thing, but there's also lots about her celebrity customers, including Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown, Passions star Kim Johnson Ulrich, Providence star Melina Kanakaredes and hotel owner Ian Schrager.

        The story was a longtime coming, Salyers says, with the People reporter originally due right after Thanksgiving but not getting here until late January. Breaking news and emergency cancellations, don't you see.

        Once the story was written, it was bumped four or five times for something more pressing. Now, nearly five months after the initial contact, the story's on the street.


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