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Amy Scherzer's Diary

'Ebony' offers glamourous escape

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By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 8, 2002

They came to fantasize, to imagine a life of Hollywood openings and New York dance clubs. For two hours Sunday night, there were no dirty dishes in the sink, no bills to pay, no runny noses to wipe.

[Times photos: Amy Scherzer]
Lauren Dungy, left, and pal Ava Napoleon didn’t let the Super Bowl interfere with their day at Ebony Fashion Fair.
Ebony Fashion Fair took 500 women and maybe 50 men to the world of Laura Biagiotti, Jovani, Bob Mackie, Anna Sui and other haute couturiers. It's a world where a ball gown can cost as much as a year's rent.

Statuesque models, one plus-size showstopper and two muscular males shimmied and shimmered across the Ferguson Playhouse stage in fashions rarely if ever seen in Tampa. One model, Denise Parks, was from Tampa. A 2001 Ebony model,Walkiria Rodriguez, watched from the audience this year.

Richard Pride, right, who retired after 26 years as a faculty member at the University of South Florida, took in the show with granddaughter Shaylia McRae, who teaches at Plant City High.
Music director/arranger Theodis Rodgers Jr. kept the show jazzing from daisy and paisley to bikini to mink for the football widows and the men smart enough to join them. A leather ball gown drew applause, but when the matching masculine leather suit appeared, the audience hooted and hollered for more.

Joyce Latson, chief deputy clerk of Hillsborough circuit court, emceed in a stunning turquoise silk gown loaned for the occasion by Lillie Rubin. The show hit the road in September and will go to nearly 200 cities before it closes in Montreal in May. Tampa's stop is expected to raise about $10,000 for the Tampa-Hillsborough Urban League guild.

Dana and Kimberly Barbee, newlyweds who moved to Tampa from Cleveland two weeks ago, looked like real-life Valentines in matching red satin outfits. Nurse Kimberly works at University Community Hospital. Dana is general manager of Total Nutritional Therapy health products.

Newlyweds and newcomers Dana and Kimberly Barbee were stylin’ as each other’s satin Valentines at the 44th annual Ebony Fashion Fair last Sunday at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.
Zelda Johnson won a chance to enter a national drawing for a Mercedes Benz C-coupe. Allstate Instate insurance claims manager Pat Miles won a ticket to fly anywhere on American Airlines.

PLAY GASPARILLA FOR ME: Capt. Stephen Swindal and gracious Lady Jenny welcomed 1,200 pirates and their mates at Ye Mystic Krewe's Captain's Ball on Jan. 31.

As always, the men outdressed the women. Puffy pirate shirts, brocade tunics and plumed hats outdandied cocktail dresses. Beads are a given, but one bauble outdazzled others.

Pirate Randy Feldman's fiancee, Kelly Bockner of Plant City, flashed a 5.2-carat engagement ring that sparkled like the shiny wires he twists onto kids' teeth.

For years, Feldman and three pirate pals, Steve Krist, Chris Anderson and John Cook, have commandeered the First Crow's Nest on the Jose Gasparilla. Fortified by liquid courage, they climb the rigging to the highest perch and an unbeatable view of the maritime mayhem.

Herbert Carrington Sr., 103, greets Marty Traber, center, and Cira Ruggiero at the Captain’s Ball last weekend at the Tampa Yacht Club.

Of course no party at the Tampa Yacht Club is complete without Herbert Carrington Sr. at the door. Now 103, Carrington joined the wait staff in 1945 and has been a fixture ever since. We should all look as good as Herbert when we're 103.

Erika and Don Wallace let Donnie Jr. join in the fun at their party Saturday. Kids were treated to beads, hats and face painting as well as chicken fingers and cookies. Grownups feasted on pasta and shrimp, among other goodies.
For about 100 happy families roaming RV king Don and Erika Wallace's Bayshore Boulevard mansion, Gasparilla was like a day at Walt Disney World.

Purple goodie bags loaded with beads, pirate hats, face painting and balloon animals put smiles on little faces. Chicken fingers and giant cookies filled them up so they never even noticed the grown-up's pasta, shrimp and tenderloin buffet. They were probably too busy to even notice the two Ferraris in the garage.

Maureen Rorech Dunkel, owner of Marcelina women's club and M boutique, brought her boys; Karamu zoo gala chairwoman Catherine Straz had her daughter in tow. Jennifer and Ed Turanchik hollered for beads with their gang. Attorney Barry Cohen played proud papa with 10-month-old son Barry Alexander and Cohen's wife, Casasa.

Barry Alexander Cohen, right, surveyed the Wallaces’ Gasparilla party from the safety of dad Barry’s arm. Cohen saved his other arm for wife Casasa, left.

Realtor Toni Everett arrived on bike, then tooled off to the Bank of Tampa building to party with Ruth and Bill Wagner. Next stop was 345 Bayshore where she picked up a golf cart and headed to the University Club.

NEW ISLANDERS: For a couple of weeks now, Davis Islands neighbors have noticed construction under way at the northern end of W Davis Boulevard. It didn't take long for word to spread that the new residents, Monica and Brad Culpepper, are renovating the 1929 Spanish-style home. Culpepper, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle, will soon be joining the law firm of Morgan Colling & Gilbert.

The view was spectacular and the crowd was just as spectacular at John Fitzgibbons’ Gasparilla bash last weekend. Even the deck was SRO.

LONELY HEARTS CLUB: Financial and insurance adviser Lee Mezrah won't be sitting home alone next Thursday. He and buddy Mike Mitchell decided to give Cupid a hand and invite a quiver full of single arrows over for a little Valentine's Day self-help.

"We know a lot of people with no place to go because they're between relationships, not engaged or getting serious," said Mezrah. Who knows what might happen with some food, drinks and duo Dewey and Jim playing music-to-get-lucky-by.

"Otherwise, it's sit home and be depressed," said oh-so-eligible Mezrah, one of the founding members of the 13 Ugly Men club.

- To pass along tips to Amy Scherzer, reach her at 226-3332 or

City Times: The rest of the stories

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  • 'This is just like Cuba used to be'
  • Bold burglars traumatize neighborhoods
  • Datebook
  • 'Ebony' offers glamourous escape
  • A passion for vintage
  • Teacher shared talent, time
  • Star Journals
  • Fiesta cheers immigrant stew
  • MacDill may not have visited
  • Compromise brings K-8 program to Roland Park
  • Restaurant spiced with Lebanon, Guatamala
  • Dangerous crossroad soon to get stop signs
  • Uneasy street
  • Social club celebrates 100 years of history
  • New health center to continue healing ways
  • On display: Gasparilla the way it used to be
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