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Wednesday, September 14, 2005 | It was the “bee’s knees” fun with plenty of prohibition “giggle juice” to fuel the Flapper gals and the wide-lapelled gangster swells, as they flowed into the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego at La Jolla Saturday night. It was all for fundraising as MCASD’s traditional annual gala, “Monte Carlo,” whisked guests back to the era of the Roaring ’20s at Harlem’s famed Cotton Club.

It was the era called Prohibition. In 1919, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified making it illegal to distribute and manufacture distilled spirits in the United States. The ’20s defied that and more. Hemlines went up, girls bobbed their hair, and “The Mob” ruled illicit drinking joints. They owned the politicians and the police, too.

And guests came in that spirit to MCASD’s Cotton Club. “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and beautifully organizing this swell evening were Chairpersons Tiffany Archer and Gary Koerper along with MCASD President Mary Berglund and her husband Jim. Also there imbibing in fun were Barbara Bloom, Geri Warnke and Dr. Joe Kennedy, Gilda and Victor Vilaplana, Judy and Jack White, Barbara and Karl ZoBell, Collette Stefanko with her thinly mustachioed husband Bob Stefanko and Lisa Casey in pretty blue with her attorney husband and nice guy, David Casey. Funnily enough, attorneys were called “mouth pieces” back then. More ready to celebrate the ’20s for a good cause were Cooley Carley and Brian Claxon, Anne Farrell, Karen and Donald Cohn of DataQuick, Brigette and Alex de la Vega, Kathryn Colachis and Kathy and Nick Conner.

Guests were greeted by knicker trousered newsboys, “coppers” and Al Capone aka Hugh Davies, the MCASD’s David C. Copley Director. There were “tommyguns” carried by Mob boys, flapper flirts and jazzy tunes played. The cocktail hour was Fitzgerald’s “This Side of Paradise” worthy with bubbly, booze, oysters on the half shell, caviar and lots of lookers.

Among the sounds of Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith and George Gershwin mingled Pauline Foster, Susan and Bill Evans of The Lodge at Torrey Pines, Nina and Bob Doede, Joy and Ed Frieman and Diane York-Goldman in a Murad sequined gown with her man, Dr. Mitch Goldman. Also there were Victoria Hamilton in ’20s sequined allure with Paul Hobson, sharply dressed Andrew Shelton, Stacy and Paul Jacobs, Charmaine Kaplan and Jeff Dunnigan, Sofia and Leon Kassel, Sharon and Sami Ladeki of the superb Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza’s, Fresh, Roppongi and Blackhorse Grille restaurant empire, Marilyn and Greg Noonan, Liz and Chris McCullah, Burl Stiff, Valerie Cooper in a British designed Alice Temperley gown with her husband Harry Cooper, Ingrid Hibben, Petra and Georg Hochfilzer of the Westgate Hotel, Robin and Gerry Parsky, Viviana and Charles Polinsky and Lyndy Roda of Neiman Marcus.

Dining was art deco themed under the stars with jazzy tunes by the Bill Elliot Orchestra. The menu featured “swelligant” wines from the Chalk Hill Winery to match a Mama Capone worthy dinner. Beefsteak tomatoes and Buffalo Mozzarella drizzled with olive oil, balsalmic vinegar and basil was the starter. Grilled filet and scampi with garlic potato pancake and peeled asparagus followed, “capped off” with strawberry and peach shortcake topped with crème fraiche. The Hyatt Regency La Jolla did the catering, and they did it well.

Among those dining in style were Karen and Kit Sickels, Judith Harris elegant in a white Carolina Herrara suit and South Sea “marbles” (pearls), Jane and Frank Rice, Hirotka and Seiko Oribe, Joyce and Ted Strauss, Helen and Jose Tasende of the Tasende Galleries, Betina Tasende and Mahomood Sotoodeh, Susan Gail Thomas and Ed Thomas, Gilda and Victor Vilaplana, Ellen and Tim Zinn, modern art collectors Melissa and Michael Bartell, Kamal Asaf and Audrey Geisel with Alex Butterfield. Audrey was once again a “good egg” literally. She donated the mounds and pounds of Malassol Caviar for the cocktail reception.

More there were David C. Copley, a generous contributor to the MCASD, along with Portia Hein and Philip Martin, Debby and Wain Fishburn, Marty and David Pendarvis, Hugh Davies’, I mean “Al Capone’s” wife Lynda Forsha, Cate and Barry Bell, Adele and Bob Irwin, and La Jolla Playhouse’s award-winning Artistic Director Des McAnuff. Des was there with his daughter, Julia. Julia’s dream? Not to be a flapper, but a singer in a rock band.

But jazz was the theme that evening not to be “high hat” about it. And so the “hotsy totsy” dined and later gambled and danced the night away until the 1 a.m. curfew. It was that or get “bracelets” by the “coppers.” And so the party folk “scrammed out” home.

This evening and the preceding 28 Monte Carlo fundraisers, have helped to raise more than $4.5 million for the MCASD. That’s not a “grift” or “graft” (a con), but “grands” ($100’s), “lettuce” (folding money), larges ($1,000’s) and 20 larges ($20,000’s), raised for the MCASD.

With continued loyal patron support, and sponsors like this year’s Motorola, David C. Copley, Carolyn P. Farris, Laila essences of Norway, Qualcomm, Sycuan Casino & Resort, Imperial Capital Bank, Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery, Sue K. and R. Charles C. Edwards, Hoist, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, met-the met team, Steve Norton Perspectives, Neiman Marcus and more, the MCASD continues to be able to dedicate itself to the collection, exhibition and interpretation of contemporary art. To learn more about the museum and its upcoming exhibits at the La Jolla and downtown San Diego locations, please visit www.mcasd.org.

And please take note of the museum’s upcoming exhibit, “Southern Exposure,” which will showcase a diverse group of works from artists John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Robert Irwin, Daniel J. Martinez, Eleanor Antin, Ruben Ortiz Torres, Chris Burden, Alexis Smith and more.

Please visit www.margomargo.com for photo coverage of Monte Carlo Meets the Roaring ’20s.

Margo Schwab, an alumna of the University of San Diego’s graduate business school, reports on social/charity events, celebrities, restaurants and from time to time breaking scoops.

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