I hope you had a Happy Valentine's Day my extended ChicagoPride.com family! Cupid has hit me hard this year and I'm in love…in love with this great city we all call home. And he never disappoints!
I celebrated my 26th birthday party at the M Lounge, 1520 S. Wabash, with friends and family. I can't believe I'm twenty-six already! It really seemed like only yesterday I was that shy 14-year-old starting freshman year at my high school Brother Rice…but that was over ten years ago! But I still get carded, so I don't feel too old…yet. Maryann Marsh, co-owner of the M Lounge was so gracious enough to host my guests. Guests enjoyed light apps courtesy of Chi Tung, 9560 S. Kedzie (also by my old high school), music, and the evening's signature drink, the PYG-tini. M Lounge's top mixologist created a savory rum-based drink infused with raspberry liqueur with a splash of pineapple juice and decorated with a lime slice. Twenty percent from the drink sales from that evening went to benefit my nonprofit Professional Young Gays. I feel so very lucky and blessed to have such a great group of friends and family. Thank you to all who came out and made my birthday extra special.
It's no secret that I'm a big girl and love to eat. So, when I attended the Chefs and the City event to benefit Vital Bridges at Primitive Art Gallery, 130 N. Jefferson, in the West Loop yours truly was in big girl Heaven! The evening featured five different chefs from some of Chicago's top dining destinations preparing some of their best and most delish dishes. Sorry for the redundant alliteration, but my taste buds are doing the writing on this one. Chefs included Chris Pandel of the Bristol, Ryan Poli of Perennial, David Posey of Blackbird, Andrew Zimmerman of Sepia, and Randy Zweiban of Province. Guests could also sip on Effen martinis prepared by RL Restaurant bartenders. Although I did enjoy every dish, my personal favorite one was a duck mini taco prepared by chef Randy Zweiban of Province. I'm determined to find out the recipe for his special sauce and will be making a stop at his restaurant very soon! Aside from the food, the venue, Primitive, was another star of the event. Primitive art gallery boosts some impressive art and served as a great backdrop to an already fun and might I add tasty event. All proceeds went to help provide nourishing food to low-income people affected by HIV and AIDS.
Speaking of Vital Bridges, I have to give a shout out and a huge congrats to my friend and fellow One Man Chicago contestant James Goeke for the success of his event. James sits on the junior networking committee for Vital Bridges and recently hosted Vital Nights at Nacional 27. I was so mad that I couldn't make this event due to a schedule conflict, but I heard it was great times! For $25 guests could nosh on tapas provided by Nacional 27, Barcardi cocktails, and Victoria beer. For entertainment, violinist Katrina Visnevska performed over instrumental hip-hop and house beats spun by DJ Luv Jones. Raffle prizes included gifts from MAC Cosmetics, RL Restaurant, and Tavern on Rush. And for those that needed a little extra glow for these winter months, Golden Girl Chicago provided customized spray tans. With about 150 guests, the night raised around $3,500 for Vital Bridges.
When I got the invite to this next event, I chuckled to myself a bit. Not because I was making fun of it, but because the idea was cute and funny! My friend choreographer and entrepreneur Jason Laws and another One Man Chicago contestant as well invited me to his event, DIVO Series: Honoring Successful Men where he and several other men were being honored for their success in the foundation room of the House of Blues. I've heard of a diva, but never a divo, which I assumed was the male version of a diva, YIKES! However, I learned that a divo is an Italian word that is used to describe male superstars. Jason was in good company I must say. My other friends photographer Steve Starr, who actually took the picture of me and Jason, clothing designer Nicholas Joseph, blogger Lenox Magee, and runway director Ryan Beshel were also being honored. What a great group of guys, or should I say divos, that were picked and congrats to each and every one of them.
I was so excited that J Bar, 610 N. Rush St, asked me to host its pre-Valentine's day party, Love Drugged. J Bar is one of my most fav places in the city, and I always have a great time! The evening included specialty Grey Goose cocktails, chocolate delights for all your chocolate lovers, and DJ Kevin Taek spinned live music throughout the night. Per usual, my friends and I put on a show with our dancing…or lack of dancing on my part. The table next to us was taking a ton of pictures and I swear I saw one patron shooting a video. So, if you see a random video on the net of me attempting…and I mean attempting how to dougie, please don't laugh. And please teach me how to dougie! A huge thank you to J Bar's GM Andy Demetriou for laying out the red carpet for my friends and I. Be sure to check J Bar out if you haven't been already, always good times!
Until next update, I hope you enjoyed your Valentine's Day, someone please teach me how to dougie, and if anyone knows any good groupon deals, especially about food…send them my way!
Hope you can make it this Thursday, Feb. 17 for PYG's premiere shopping event at Entourage Man, 1355 S. Michigan Ave. from 7pm to 9pm. The evening will feature a special guest speaker, gift bags, complimentary light apps courtesy of Dish Function, complimentary cocktails courtesy of Conjure Cognac, complimentary styling consultations courtesy of FRD IMAGE CONSULTING, and of course shopping deals only available to PYG guests. 15% from the evening's proceeds will go to benefit Affinity Community Services. RSVP to email@example.com. Hope you can make it!