Thursday, August 29, 2013

FRINGE FEMME: Dishing with funny girl and Chicago Fringe Festival star, Jeanette Bonner

Cafeteria cuisine, fashion faux pas and dating dilemmas are just a few of the memorable themes of any high school experience. Mix in unrequited love, self-acceptance and a splash of life advice (pragmatically provided by a Magic 8 Ball) and you get Love. Guts. High School.

A one-woman play written by and starring Jeanette Bonner, Love. Guts. High School. follows the journey of a love-smitten young lady and her teenage obsession with the romantically unavailable boy of her dreams. A highlight of this year’s Chicago Fringe Festival, Bonner marvelously delivers a fresh perspective on what it’s really like to be young and looking for love, heartbreaks and all – proving her star is on the rise.

Luxe File Chicago caught up with the New York dramatist who weighs in on what she loves most about the Big Apple and the Windy City, from food crushes and celebrity spotting to what she looks for in Mr. Right. 

When in Chicago:

Favorite people-watching spot
Definitely the Weiner Circle after 1am.

Best boutique to snag a wardrobe must-have
There are so many things to do that I've actually never been shopping in Chicago! I’m open to suggestions.

Hottest beach to show off summer tan lines
My brother loves to take me to the North Avenue Beach. He calls it “Hollywood Beach” because of all the beautiful gay men who go there and it's just one big party.

Can't leave town without…
Catching a free concert in Millennium Park with a bottle of wine.

Chicago-style deep dish pizza or hot dog
As a New Yorker, I can't in good conscience pick deep dish pizza, so I'll go with the dog!

When in New York:

Forget the Empire State Building, most romantic spot to take a date (and hopefully get kissed)
In the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge as the sunsets over the Manhattan skyline.

Best restaurant for a magical culinary adventure
Café Mogador, a Moroccan restaurant in the East Village.

Best place to spot a celebrity
When you're not looking.

Favorite moment in your one-woman show, Love. Guts. High School.
The moment at the end, when I come to terms with the fact that having difficulty in love only makes you better understand what real love is.

What projects are you currently working on?
I just wrote and shot a web series called "Ghost Light," which is about the backstage world of community theater and the unique cast of characters who make a show run smoothly.  I'm also toying with the idea of writing another solo show down the line. 

Attribute you look for in Mr. Right?
Sense of humor.

Actor/actress you most identify with?
I'm often compared to Rachel McAdams, Jennifer Garner, and Hilary Swank but Mindy Kaling is my spirit animal. She began her career at the NYC Fringe Festival, and later went on to write and star in the NBC hit sitcoms, “The Office” and “The Mindy Project”. Kaling has made things happen for herself and she inspires the heck out of me. 

You have a creative resume: NYC tour aficionado, production company founder, playwright, actress. What's been your favorite full-time job?
I find sitting in front of a computer for nine hours to be excruciatingly boring. Aside from acting, my favorite job is being a Tour Guide. I'm in love with New York's crazy history, and enjoy meeting people from around the world, and showing them around the best city in the world. It doesn't get better than that. 

Love. Guts. High School. runs Thursday, September 5 at 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, September 7 at 8:30 p.m.; and Sunday, September 8 at 5:30 p.m. The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Avenue. Tickets cost $10 and may be purchased here.

Friday, August 16, 2013

ELLES ON WHEELS: Gilles Bensimon's Stunning Pictorial Exhibit Pulls into Sofitel Chicago

Jennifer Lopez

Face it. There’s something captivating and slightly dizzying about a fierce woman: she is beautiful, bold, strong (and occasionally roars). When you are a fashion photographer, capturing natural grace, poetry and inner beauty is not only a vogue vocation but a pixilated love letter to all women everywhere.   

Gilles Bensimon

Gilles Bensimon teeters on savant as one of the greatest French fashion photographers in the world and he worships women. As the former International Creative Director of Elle magazine, his camera has adored some extremely famous faces: Scarlett Johansson, Tina Turner, Cindy Crawford, Audrey Hepburn, and Beyoncé.

Charlize Theron

Those iconic facades and many more are currently on display at the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower as part of “Elles” By Gilles Bensimon, a touring exhibit of nearly 30 years in the making. Guests will enjoy 25 of Bensimon’s dazzling celluloids, many which have never been seen by the public, and a rare peek at the legend behind the lens.

Catherine Deneuve

“I like to take my pictures fast. Fly-on-the-wall! As if [I'm] not working,” comments Bensimon. “I am a feminist. Everything good in my life has come from women. I love them.”

Kate Winslet

“Elles” By Gilles Bensimon runs thru September 25, 2013. Free. Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, 20 East Chestnut Street, Chicago, Illinois.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Glamorama 2013: Chicago dresses up for the most decadent fashion fête of the season

Anyone living in Chicago these past fifteen years will understand this: there is a noticeable joie de vivre that casts an auspicious glow over city-dwellers in early August.

Glamorama 2013
Fashion in a New Light

This year, it might have something to do with a loveable Grammy winner (ahem…Sheryl Crow) or a spectacular Canadian circus troupe (Cirque du Soleil, yep), but the countdown to what is perhaps the single greatest stars-and-fashion-galore event of the summer can be summed up in a single word: Glamorama.

Crooner Sheryl Crow

Kerry Shorr caught up with three of the űberglam women helming what has been declared one of the most spectacular nights Chicago has ever seen.

Andrea Schwartz
Vice President, Media Relations and Cause Marketing

How many Glamorama(s) have you attended?
If you combine those I've attended in Chicago and Minneapolis (both Macy's markets), it's a grand total of 30. I've worked and attended Glamorama every year in both Chicago and Minneapolis since 1998. I remember comedian Ellen DeGeneres opened the show in Chicago in 1998 and witnessed the most outstanding fashions set against a fantastic show-stopping backdrop.

What aspect of Glamorama are most anticipating this year?
There is never just one aspect, but three: fashion, entertainment and the after-party. The show and party are pure spectacle and fun. This year Cirque du Soleil will perform segments from its "Mystere" production in Las Vegas at Treasure Island. Maison Jules, Macy's new Parisian inspired fashion line, is making its debut. I'm looking forward to the after party, getting photos taken, enjoying signature cocktails, and dancing with the beautiful crowd.

Which Sheryl Crow song do you hope she performs?
“If It Makes You Happy" is one of my favorites.

Why is Glamorama such an important event to attend?
The best part about Macy's Glamorama is that it raises money for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. Every ticket the charity sells goes directly to the House, whose focus is making families as comfortable as possible during a difficult time.

What are you planning to wear?
A sleeveless, ruffled orange Max Mara dress.

Christina Thomas
(pictured right, with Candace Jordan)
Director of Events
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana (RMHC-CNI)

What is your favorite part of Glamorama?
It’s such a high-energy show and I absolutely love the excitement when the dancers come out on stage.

Ronald McDonald House Charities inspires so many people. How can more Chicagoans get involved?
We are always looking for new friends to help donate their time, talents and treasures. Our four local Houses have a “Meals From the Heart” program where volunteers can come prepare a home-cooked meal for our families. We can always use help with day-to-day House duties, from stocking our family pantries, to replenishing the movies in our family living spaces.

Glamorama has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to RMHC-CNI. How does the organization put the monies to use?
2013 marks over a million dollars raised for our four local Ronald McDonald Houses. Monies provide a ‘home away from home’ for families of children with complex medical needs. Our Houses offer comfort, compassion and a sense of community to families going through the most difficult time of their lives. It’s critical to keep families together during this time of healing and recovery.

What are you planning to wear to Glamorama?
I am leaning towards a look that is bold, edgy, and colorful. A bright lipstick is also a must.

To learn more about RMHC-CNI and volunteer opportunities, click HERE.

Candace Jordan
Host, “Candid Candace Chicago”

Define Glamorama in 3 words.
Fashion. Stars. Music.

Each year, Glamorama helps to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Ronald McDonald House Charities. RMHC-CNI's Ken Norgan personally asked you to take part. Why is this charity so close to your heart?
It means more to me than I can put into words. When I saw the level of love and hope that Ronald McDonald House Charities instills in families, I was a goner. I also had the opportunity to get to know the Herrick family and little Max Herrick who told me how much he loved the Houses because they kept his family close and made him feel safe. I'm honored to help bring this wonderful message of hope to life for everyone.

What are you planning to wear to Glamorama?
Last year I wore fashions by Bar III, which was a new line at Macy's. I hope to repeat last year's success with my outfit this year!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Chicago Gateway Green's Green Tie Ball XXII

You don't have to be an investment banker to acquire some prime real estate at one of the hottest bashes on the city's social calendar: Chicago Gateway Green’s Green Tie Ball XXII.

On September 7th, green thumbs and party-goers bedecked in dazzling, caricatural costumes (it is a Willy Wonka-inspired celebration, after all) will enjoy a premium open bar, bites from Chicago’s finest restaurants, live entertainment, charitable gaming, and a killer silent auction. 

Ready to revel? Beginning Monday, August 12th, head online to Gilt City Chicago and score a golden ticket for a whopping $99 (originally $150). For a deal like that, you don't need the luck of the Irish. Click HERE for details.