I've always been interested in the mid-century era. I was the kid who'd walk to the Balboa Theatre, on the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, CA, to sit by myself in a darkened theater on Saturdays and watch Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers or Marilyn Monroe triple features. I'd bury my head in books about movies and theater and watched pretty much any technicolor musical or screwball comedy I could on TV. And classic TV: I could spend HOURS lost in "Bewitched," "Family Affair," "Gilligan's Island" and many, many more. When I was cast in a community theater production of "Grease" my grandfather, who played the coach, drove me around to thrift stores to costume shop. An entire world opened up to me. The stores were filled with fabulous '50s and '60s clothing, furniture and knick knacks. If only I could go back in time and shop at those stores, with the same stock, now!
I also grew up very much middle class, but surrounded by wealthy ladies who planned and attended parties, brunches, balls, excursions on their yachts and all manner of entertainment. I was fascinated by the glamour of it all. I later discovered vintage cookbooks, which gave me another window to the world of entertaining. Everything from a midmorning coffee break to a Christmas cookie swap to a birthday party seemed to be an opportunity to exercise one's creativity. I always knew that one day I'd throw fabulous parties.
While all of this was happening, I was beginning my life as an actor (I'd later add writer to my title). As a youth I was all about the theater, which was very respectable, though deep down I longed to do TV. I tried the "legitimate" route and even attended a full-time, two year conservatory for Shakespeare and classical theater training. But while my classmates were rhapsodizing about the latest Shakespeare production that had aired on PBS the previous weekend, I was nodding and smiling and trying to conceal the fact that I'd been watching "Mystery Science Theater 3000." I would still love to hang out with Shakespeare sometime, drinking mead and cracking jokes, but I just couldn't sustain the fiction that I had any interest in being a dour theater snob. I finally admitted that comedy is my forte.
In the 1990s I discovered Atomic Magazine, which jibed exactly with my retro sensibilities, and the beginnings of the craft cocktail revival dovetailed with acquiring my first home bar (which is where we still shoot the cocktail sequences of our episodes!). I'd just begun dating Paul and picked up the Sardi's Bar Guide, the first of many we'd collect over the years. That was the real start of our interest in cocktail culture.
However, as we met like-minded folks and began attending events, I noticed a disturbing trend. What had begun as a real effort to bring back quality cocktails and encourage experimentation and creativity on that front had left some people feeling inadequate. They picked up the best liquor and ingredients that they could afford, but felt their efforts would never be up to snuff, at least not to the cocktail elite - the ones who set the standards. This felt like such a shame. It was like acting school all over again, where if it was fun and easy you clearly were doing something wrong. This was serious business. We met more and more people who were afraid to throw parties because they felt they'd never be good enough. We were flabbergasted. Parties and entertaining should be fun! If they're not, what's the point?
The "Velveteen Lounge Kitsch-en" came to be as a result of all of these influences, along with some coaxing from friends. We deeply believe that parties, holidays and special occasions both large and small should be opportunities to enjoy friends and loved ones, indulge your creativity and have a good time! Whether it's a cocktail after work or Thanksgiving dinner for 20, the point is to have fun. Throw that party! Host that poker night or brunch and do not worry about whether or not it's "good enough!" There is enough to fret about in this world. Indulge in the aspects of hosting that appeal to you and outsource the rest. If you enjoy making cocktails, but not cooking, provide the beverages and get a few catering trays or have a potluck. If you love to cook or bake, but cocktails aren't your thing, make a punch or serve wine or beer. All anyone will remember is that you invited them into your home, offered your hospitality and showed them a wonderful time. And, in the unlikely event someone makes you feel badly about your efforts, scratch them from your invite list! As you get more comfortable hosting you'll soon find that your gatherings are tremendous fun for all, you included!
We're so grateful to all who watch the show and support our efforts! If you have any hosting or cocktail issues you'd like us to address, please let us know, whether here or on Facebook, Twitter or our website! We're happy to help!
|My early hostessing days...|
|I've always enjoyed a small gathering!|