Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

Around Town

With Donna Shor

No subject was off limits when Café Milano’s Franco Nuschese hosted a party for gossip columnists and society scribes at his beautiful Washington home. In addition to the usual suspects, whose bylines we all know, add Lucky Roosevelt, who was a journalist for Womens Wear Daily before her stint as chief of protocol during the Reagan administration, and arts supporter Ina Ginsburg, who wrote for Interview Magazine during the Warhol era.

The Washington Post’s new Reliable Source columnists Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argentsinger were there, of course, and the urbane Kevin Chaffee from the Washington Times, who helped Franco organize the evening. Also from the Washington Times were James Brantley, Ann Geracimos and Stephanie Mansfield, along with her husband, Tsotne Bakuria, a Georgian prince, no less. Buzz babe Karen Feld of the Examiner was there as were Annie Groer of the Washington Post, Garry Clifford of People Magazine fame; Nancy and Vicki Bagley, from Washington Life; Capitol File’s Ann Schroeder; Chuck Conconi, formerly of the Washingtonian, and his successor, Garrett Graff; talk show host Gwendolyn Russell; the Washington Ballet’s Septime Webre (after all, he uses body language as his medium); baseball guru Winston Bao Lord; Jeff and Juleanna Glover Weiss; and Bolivian ambassador Jaime Aparicio and Pamela, among the forty or so guests.

Singers dominated the gala scene last month, and in a direct change from Cindy’s rockin’ rhythm, mezzo-soprano Cecelia Bartoli captivated her audience, too, to the tune of four encores, and an audience that kept leaping to its feet. The setting was the Washington Performing Arts Society’s 40th Anniversary Gala at the Kennedy Center, and she was clearly having a good time, almost dancing to one aria, and majestically entering and exiting the stage between each song and each encore in a knockout shimmering green silk whose train swept all in its wake. Her captivating stage presence won everyone over.

Swiss Ambassador Christian Blickenstorfer and his wife Susanne served as honorary chairs, with WPAS chairman Daniel Korengold and president Neale Perl greeting the audience and recalling the founding of the group by the late, much-loved Washington impresario Patrick Hayes. The gala committee co-chairs were Mary Mochary, Patricia Stern and Susan Porter. Guests included Gerson Nordlinger, Jr; Nini Ferguson and her houseguest, New York’s Carolyn Roehm; Evelyn Stefansson Nef; Shirley and Al Small; and Carol and Climis Lascaris.

Hundreds of guests attended the Washington Life-sponsored fashion fights poverty to benefit the UN Foundation at the French Embassy on October 27. The event featured the holiday collections of Bethel Helena, Rakiyt Zakari and Thomas Pink. Revelers Paul Wharton, Howard Dean, Clinton Portis, and Redding Finney were sighted at Local 16 for the hot after-party.

Here’s help for the helpers: an unusual, important, but little publicized new tax break that can save you a bundle if you’re planning a donation to a favorite charity; but only if you hurry, it’s short-lived; here’s why: When the outpouring of support for hurricane victims shorted the expected funds for other groups, the September 15 bi-partisan tax relief bills for Katrina victims included generous savings for donors to other institutions. House bill H.R.3768 and the Senate’s S1696 will suspend certain restrictions and caps on all individual and corporate charitable donations made before this year ends (when it all stops). To further encourage charitable giving before December 31, penalties will be waived on donation-related early withdrawals from retirement accounts. Wilhelmina Holladay, the founder and president of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, brought it to our attention. Philanthropist Mary Mochary promptly took the words to heart, making a $500,000 Challenge Grant to help the museum reach its $2.5 million funding goal before its twentieth anniversary in 2007.

One more musician, but this time a man: 23-year-old pianist Gleb Ivanov. After winning almost every piano competition there is to win in Russia, he is just now coming on the world stage. Presented by the Young Concert Artists under the aegis of Gilan Tocco Corn at the Kennedy Terrace Theater, he received several standing ovations for his powerful playing and subtle shadings. His musicality as well as his showmanship made the evening special, and his guileless charm and sense of humor made him a hit at the after-party as well when hostess Judy Esfandiary welcomed a crowd to her striking penthouse at Washington Harbor. Among the guests were Debbie and Braxton Moncure, Dr. Milton Corn, and Linda (Mrs. Isaac) Stern.

at Arts for the Aging’s 17th Annual Benefit at the British ambassador’s residence, but social, political and diplomatic Washington turned out for a great evening. Chaired by Julia Hopping and Anna Maria Via, the fund-raiser was enhanced by the warm welcome from the ambassador, Sir David Manning and his wife Catherine. Elizabeth Ironside is the pen name Catherine uses for her thriller novels. Best sellers in Britain, they are now being published here in paperback. Her “Death in the Garden” will be joined by “The Accomplice,” an unexpectedly macabre tale from such a gentle and witty lady. Arts for the Aging was founded by the indomitable, Basel-born sculptor Lolo Sarnoff, and brings the enrichment of art to the lives of the area’s elderly.

When Barbara Walters was the roastee at the recent benefit for the Spina Bifida Association, it was so gently done it seemed more like a bake-off than a roast. Barbara, who arrived after interviewing Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, said that when she learned he had four wives, he asked if she would like to be Number Five. Intrigued by thoughts of the heady power this would bring her, she said “I realized that if I accepted I could perhaps end the war in Iraq, bring peace to the Middle East, and see to it that no man in Saudi Arabia would ever be allowed to drive again.”

Send advance notice of an event you think Around Town should know about to aroundtown@washingtonlife.com.


To help raise awareness for all cancers, Saks Fifth Avenue Chevy Chase and the Entertainment Industry Foundation partnered with Suburban Hospital to kick off the key to the cure shopping weekend at a reception to benefit the hospital’s diagnostic and clinical services. Laura Evans, Doreen Gentzler, Kathleen Matthews and Andrea Roane served as honorary chairs with co-chairs Mary Marinelli and Karen Natelli.


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