Lorraine Whittlesey still remembers her parents’ stories about their glorious nights out at the iconic Stork Club and El Morocco in 1930s New York City. Last November, she and her husband, Markell, decided to re-create that Jazz Age, post-Prohibition experience in their Canton loft for a fund-raising party for the Creative Alliance.
Each guest was greeted at the door by none other than Bogie (a cutout provided by Tom Kiefaber, owner of the Senator Theatre), and a cigarette girl in short-shorts, fishnets and poppy-red lipstick made the rounds with candy smokes and sugar cigars. A combination of candlelight and theatrical “gobo” lighting set a nightclub mood.
Behind the bar, Creative Alliance volunteers served up the classics: manhattans, martinis and glasses of “bubbly, natch!” says Lorraine. Attendees nibbled traditional cocktail party hors d’oeuvres, including shrimp cocktail, olives and cheese and crackers. And for the music, Lorraine and Joyce Scott, who’ve worked together for a decade as the duet “Ebony and Irony,” performed old-time romantic dance tunes by Jerome Kern and Cole Porter, as well as ‘30s-style songs composed by the hostess herself.
Many guests dressed the part, the women in fashion that involved “lots of beading, lots of black, lots of Art Deco jewelry,” says Lorraine, who wore a “slinky black dress,” period jewelry and a tousled, curly ‘do popular in the ‘30s. “It was easy for the men,” she says. “Everyone still wears tuxedoes!” But two of the male guests nixed the easy-way-out of a tuxedo. Maryland Institute College of Art administrator George Maris and local artist Al Zaruba “made their own fashion statement,” says Lorraine. They wore kimonos, a style that was indeed popular in the 1930s— though mainly for women.
Maria Broom, a Baltimore native who plays Marla Daniels on HBO’s “The Wire,” was in attendance, as was Terry Danuser, talent contractor for The Discovery Channel. Many guests traveled from D.C., New York and all over the East Coast. “The people make the party,” says Lorraine. “We had some new faces there, but at the end of the night, everyone knew each other.”
Anne Howard is a Style intern.