Bra Ball: real support for a good cause



August 06, 2006|By SLOANE BROWN

If it's a party at the American Visionary Art Museum, you know it's going to be, uh ... visionary. And, if the name and theme of the shindig is the "Bra Ball," you know you're going to see some sights. The 300 or so guests were invited to come costumed in creative versions of the undergarment. And, goodness gracious, did they, all in the name of a good cause. A portion of the night's proceeds went to the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute.

Baltimore artist David Hess arrived with a helmet made of a bra, and twin wicker cornucopias sprouting from his chest. Meanwhile, his wife, psychiatric nurse Sally Hess, appeared in a shelf bra. Literally, a shelf on which she could rest her drink if need be.

"No, you don't have goldfish in your dress!" exclaimed another local artist, Loring Cornish, as he looked at AVAM staffer Katie Adams' bra creation. It featured plastic bags, filled with water and, yes, live goldfish.

FOR THE RECORD - The party story in some editions of today's Modern Life section misspells the name of Bra Ball guest Tunde Kulina.
The Sun regrets the error.

Cornish himself was quite a sight, in a robe covered with shards of broken mirror that he said weighed 120 pounds. "I wanted something flashy," he explained, as a half-dozen roller-skate-wearing women zipped by, doing their impression of roller derby participants.

Pam Nixon winced as her husband, Snow Hill mechanic Mark Nixon, adjusted the bra she was wearing, made of car pistons.

"She's operating on two cylinders," he said with a laugh.

"Did you see the 'boob tubes?'" asked Dr. George Shepley, as his wife, office manager Ellen Shepley, pointed out graphic designer Jamie Barnett, who sported lighted replicas of television sets on her chest.

But the queen of the evening -- bar none -- was AVAM founder and director Rebecca Hoffberger. She was virtually unrecognizable as herself, but completely perfect in her impression of the late cult movie star (and Baltimorean) Divine.


Enjoying the sweet life at Charm City Cakes

Duff Goldman, 31, is the founder and owner of Charm City Cakes. A former graffiti artist, he attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, then studied at the Culinary Institute of America (or CIA) in Napa Valley, Calif. While there, he worked at the famed restaurant French Laundry. In 2000, Goldman came back to Baltimore to open Charm City Cakes. He and his cakes have gotten recognition in several local and national publications and on television. A Food Network production crew spent about two months this past spring with Goldman at his workplace in Baltimore's Remington neighborhood, filming a new reality TV series. The series, Ace of Cakes, premieres at 10:30 p.m. Aug. 17. Goldman is single and lives in Remington.

How did you go from a graffiti artist to a high-end cake designer?

I started sculpting in metal. It's great because there's heat, sparks, metal, danger. You're working in 3-D. Solving problems in 3-D. In addition, I've been cooking since I was 13. I worked at a lot of fast-food joints and as a short-order cook. ... I went to work for chef Cindy Wolf at [her first restaurant] Savannah. Remember the cornbread? I made that. That's when I decided I wanted to become a pastry chef. So, I went to the CIA. [When I learned cake decorating] my teacher said "This is what you should be the rest of your life." I said, "Cake decorating is for housewives." ... I was really into snowboarding, so I got a job as a pastry chef in Vail [Colo.]. When I first decorated a cake there, it was like that scene in the first Harry Potter movie. The light was shining, angels were singing.

What's your favorite of all the cakes you've ever done?

It was my very first cake competition in [Vail]. The theme was nature, so I'm thinking, OK, [the judges are] going to get flowers all over the place. So, I'm going to do something totally outside the box. So, I made a rolled-steel, very contemporary tree. And I made nine cakes and decorated them all like peaches. Big, crazy, cartoon Willy Wonka peaches. I took these huge stainless-steel screweye [bolts] and shoved them through the cakes, and hung each one with fishing line off the tree. It was awesome.

You must have won.

I did abysmally. I came in four out of five. And that's only because the fifth contestant was disqualified for yelling at her assistant. But I was smiling all the time because I knew they couldn't judge it. They didn't get it. I knew I had won.

With the various TV appearances you've made, and the new Food Network series about to premiere, do you consider yourself a celebrity chef?

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