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Not Just Another “Pretty Face”

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Mary Jane Wilkerson as Ms. Senior California 2017

Mary Jane Wilkerson as Ms. Senior California 2017

Age Has Nothing To Do With Beauty!

Why does our society push the theory that when women age they aren’t beautiful any longer? There are a group of amazing women who are proving that theory to be completely wrong! Mary Jane Wilkerson is one of those women.

When you first meet Mary Jane Wilkerson you will be greeted by a slender, attractive and poised 63 year old blonde, with a genuine smile that lights up a room. If you were told that  MJ has held the title of “beauty queen” more than once, you probably wouldn’t be too terribly surprised.

The part of the story that might surprise you a bit, is that her titles in the pageants  came in 2016 and 2017!  MJ was Ms. Senior San Diego 2016, Ms. Senior Palm Springs 2017, and Ms. Senior California of America 2017. As the title holder for Ms. Senior California, Mary Jane also competed in the National Ms. Senior America competition held in New Jersey, October 2017.

Meeting Another “Queen”

Our paths first crossed when we somehow connected through facebook a few short months ago. One of those “friend” connections that sometimes happen, because you have mutual friends, and a particular post catches your eye.  The one that caught my eye was MJ holding a coffee cup, which said “It’s Good to be Queen.” Well, needless to say, as The Queen of Damn Near Everything I NOTICE when there is other “royalty” present!

MJ definitely falls into the category of “royalty.”

This is the picture I saw on Facebook that drew my attention to MJ! I have the same cup in pink! I had to see what this "Queen" was all about!

This is the picture I saw on Facebook that drew my attention to MJ! I have the same cup in pink! I had to see what this “Queen” was all about! ( A girl has to know who else is rockin’ a tiara like MJ does!)

I wasn’t really very aware that “Ms. Senior” competitions existed until a few years ago. When I did hear about them, I told my cohort in crime……. Stella that she should compete! I’m of the personal opinion that there are few- if any- other 73 year olds who could begin to hold a candle to Stella.  That was about as far as my knowledge of the competitions went!

Then MJ crossed my path, and I wanted to know more.  I noticed on Mary Jane’s page that there was going to be the pageant for Ms. Senior California 2018. That would be MJ’s last event a reigning “queen,” so I asked when and where it was being held, and off I went.

All “Beauty Queens” Are Not Barbie Dolls!

Contestants in the “Ms. Senior” competitions must be 60 years or older.. The competition is FAR more than a “beauty contest”- as the contestants are judged on talent, an intensive interview with the judges and their poise on the stage. I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the competition to see that the 2018 contestants weren’t all skinny-minny, perfect Barbie Doll types who had had numerous plastic surgery and botox procedures to form them into the perfect woman.  In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to see women of different sizes, shapes, ethnic groups and styles! Gray hair wasn’t forbidden, nor were a few well earned laugh lines and “wisdom wrinkles!”

I was very impressed with the level of talent the women showed, although not really surprised.  When I arrived, I noticed a number of familiar faces, both on stage and in the crowd.  I had seen many of them perform over the past few years in CCT (Christian Community Theater) at the San Diego Senior Follies. Singing, dancing, performing and being on stage isn’t new to any of those women!

I must say, I am envious of their talents, because I can’t carry a tune if I had 6 buckets lined up to do so!

Those of you who know me, know I absolutely LOVE long gowns, sparkle and bling! There was no shortage of any of that at the Ms. Senior California pageant in San Diego!

Finding the venue was quite a challenge, let me tell you.  It was at The University of San Diego in one of the theaters, but finding that, once you were on campus just about took a group of Eagle Scouts or world explorers! There were no signs or anything to direct you to the right building.  Lucky for us, we had left plenty of time to figure out the details, so we were in our seats long before the event kicked off!

After the festivities of the pageant, I asked Mary Jane if we could meet one day soon for lunch, and if she would share some of her experiences with being a senior beauty pageant winner.  She was more than willing, so we decided to meet for a delicious lunch at Red O in the UTC area.

This is the day I met MJ. Unfortunately, it wasn't the best photo. MJ was back in the shadows and it looks like I"m with a cardboard cutout!

This is the day I met MJ. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best photo. MJ was back in the shadows and it looks like I”m with a cardboard cutout!

MJ Took Charge of Her Life & Health

Mary Jane, who is a health and wellness coach with OPTAVIA, shared with me her story of having lost almost 60 pounds a few years ago. Her husband, Allen, lost 40 at the same time.  MJ’s story wasn’t that different from many of ours.  After being very physically active for most of her life, MJ took a job in the mortgage industry.  Long work days sitting in front of a computer, along with the “grab and eat” lifestyle that goes along with those long work days resulted in a few pounds here, a few pounds there, until WHAM, suddenly that body doesn’t quite look like you want it too.  When MJ’s daughter was going to get married, she wanted to lose weight in the 6 months she had, but she didn’t seem able to trim down. So, she attended her daughter’s wedding an unhappy size 16.  MJ’s stepdaughter had suggested (many times) she get on the “Take Shape for Life” program (OPTAVIA’s  former name), but it was a while before she jumped on board, and found it to be the perfect solution to not only lose weight, but to get in the best shape she’d been in in years.  That is how Mary Jane became a Health and Wellness coach, wanting to share with others the success she had found in her journey.

So, now slim, trim and in fighting shape, MJ was one of the talented women in Christian Community Theater, entertaining audiences every year at the SD Senior follies.  Many of the women involved in CCT had also been contestants (and winners) of previous Ms. Senior competitions, and encouraged Mary Jane to compete, so finally she decided to give it a try. After all, as she said to me “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”

MJ at one of the pageants. (I'm so jealous of all the sparkley gowns!)

MJ at one of the pageants. (I’m so jealous of all the gorgeous gowns!)

Her first competition was Ms. Senior San Diego 2016. She competed in the State pageant that year and took First Runner-up. Then she competed again, this time in  in Ms. Senior Palm Springs 2017, where she won. And once more competed in the State pageant, where she was crowned, Ms. Senior California of America 2017.

When I asked MJ if there was any of the horrible cattiness and back-biting that you hear about in beauty pageants, she said no.  In fact, she described the all the pageant ladies as “Lovely”, especially at the National Senior America pageant as one of her favorite experiences ever.  She said that the women she met on the national level are what she would consider, “friends for life.”  Accomplished, friendly, beautiful and amazingly talented women. True “Women of Elegance” in her words.

This is a picture that was taken at the National Competition, where MJ met so many wonderful and amazing women!

This is a picture that was taken at the National Competition, where MJ met so many wonderful and amazing women!

MJ did say there was more work to all of it than you might imagine.  Needing to come up with new ideas for the opportunities to perform, and the pageant activities take time. When you win the pageants, there are appearances which have to be made at area events, TV interviews and travel. There is also a performing group the pageant contestants in California  become a part of called the Classic Divas, and they put on performances throughout the year.

Of course for me, the BIG attraction to becoming “Ms. Senior Anything”  would be the wearing of tiaras. I am all about wearing a nice tiara!  I truly believe that “every woman deserves a tiara” and I happen to be the proud owner of a number of them! And then there is yet another excuse for wearing a long gown.  Hell, I’d wear a tiara and evening gown to the grocery store and car wash if they wouldn’t bring the guys in funny white jackets to take me away! (The voluntary wearing of Tee-shirts and jeans by any woman is beyond my comprehension! Give me heels, dresses, bling and I’m happy!)

Mary Jane did share with me that her business suffered due to her time away during 2016 and 2017, so she is now rebuilding it back up to “pre-pageant” numbers she previously had. You can’t take on coaching clients if you aren’t around to do the coaching! I have no doubt that MJ will be right back up to speed in no time. I love one of her quotes, “The Power to Choose is the Power to CHANGE, so Choose to be Extraordinary!”

I truly believe that we can choose to change our lives for the better, one step at a time, until we are leading what I call “a royal life.”  I was pleased to find that Mary Jane and I held the same views on what women can accomplish.

Family Values Are Top Priority

Mary Jane and her handsome husband of 15 years! Don't they make a handsome couple?

Mary Jane and her handsome husband Allen. Married 15 years! Don’t they make a handsome couple?    ( I’m loving the sequin dress!)

Often, people look at a woman who have held a position like those MJ just had, and think they are shallow, conceited or unapproachable.  Mary Jane is just the opposite of all those things.  Besides her warmth and compassion, which is obvious from the moment you meet her, MJ is a person of strong Christian beliefs and values.  Her husband, her family and her friends are her top priorities, followed by her strong ties to the community. MJ is one of the people who makes San Diego a better place by her presence here. Who would make a better “face of San Diego” than a woman like Mary Jane?

Besides building her business back up, and speaking at numerous events in the area,  Mary Jane has recently started a new endeavor, along with two other former Ms. Senior California winners. They have a group called the “California Girls” and are performing throughout San Diego county at events. They love going into senior retirement communities, women’s functions and anywhere their talents might be needed.

The California Girls at one of their recent performances.

The California Girls at one of their recent performances.

You can find more information about the California Girls at www.BollesArtsInternational.com or call 619-807-3280. Find MJ and the “California Girls- Singing and Dancing on Facebook and “Like” their page! (https://www.facebook.com/California-Girls-Singing-Dancing-Entertainment-311668412734634/)

The Comedy Queen – LIVE!

Cocktail Time, Comedy, Entertaining, Events, Productions & Concerts

I have a show coming up, and it is sure to be sold out, so don’t wait!  Get your tickets now!  Only a few tickets left!

Contact me NOW to join the fun!

I give a 100% money back guarantee that I will make you laugh!  (And by the way – if you DON’T laugh, get yourself checked out, you just may be DEAD and they forgot to bury you!

Don’t miss out on the fun! This great new restaurant will be a fantastic venue for fun!

What’s the “Deal” Wayne Brady?

Productions & Concerts, Raves & Rotten Reviews, Royal Ramblings!, Uncategorized, You Can't Make This Shit Up!

Really Wayne Brady?

Really Wayne?  Is this the best you’ve got for those people who have been your fans for years? Where is the funny guy, the friendly guy, the personable guy we all think of when we see Wayne Brady? I just have to ask!

Last weekend, my daughter Alyse, her friend Liza and myself took the hike up to LA to be on Let’s Make a Deal.

Now, if you know me, I’m ALL about putting together costumes!  I have, literally, dozens and dozens of costumes in totes in the top of my closet.  If you can think it up, I probably have a costume for it.

Your’s truly, my daughter Alyse, and her friend Liza. We are pretty damned glamorous, you have to admit! 🙂

We decided to go as the Three Blind Mice.  When I do a costume, I do it up to the last detail. We had mouse tummies, mouse ears, mouse bow-ties, mouse tails, mouse “canes”, sunglasses.  Sayings printed on the back of our costumes, and great 2 sided signs, with oh-so-clever sayings……..  If that doesn’t get you chosen for Let’s Make a Deal, what would, right?

The Wait Begins………

So, if you’ve never been to one of the TV game shows, let me tell you, this is a LONG and drawn out affair!  It starts with the reservation to go up there, then when you get there, you stand in line to prove you are supposed to be in the audience.  You have to show your reservation and your ID.  Then you go through a security check and metal detector…….. after that the wait starts.

Waiting in the line that seemed to take forever. But we kept the “perfect contestant” smiles plastered on our little mouse faces!

You are handed a clipboard, with about 8 pages of small print.  You fill that in and wait. And wait. And wait.  There are various people you connect with to get your ID scanned, paperwork checked out, nametags, numbers, blah, blah, blah…….

We were aware that they are checking you out the whole time to see if you are “fun material” for TV, so we kept the fun-a-coming….. the happy attitudes in check and the cuteness factor just oozing from our bodies for every damned minute…… hour (and seemingly day and week).

The thing that amazed me was the amount of people who come into this process WITH NO COSTUME!  Yep!  You can rent them there.  Now, silly me….. the way I would do this thing would be to look at who really made an effort at a costume, made it fun, made it creative — and they would be at the top of the “people to choose” list.  Evidently, not so, as you will soon see!

Don’t get too excited about this picture. This is just a “fakey” they do in front of a blue screen! Your phone is confiscated AGES before you get to the studio. We were actually sitting behind where my left ear was when we were in the audience.

At the end of the long and tedious line, you are pulled off into a little section at the end of the room with about 20 people, where one of the producers goes around, asks your name, what you do, etc…….. then into the holding tank you go, with all of those who are going to be on the show that day.

You’d think they might give you a clue, such as, “The bus to the studio will be boarding approximately “blah-blah” time, or “15 minutes after the last contestants get through their interview” or “when hell freezes over” or “when you die of old age” or “once Bettie White is no longer the most popular female in the US.”   Uh, no.  No hint.  You are a bit scared to go off to the potty, because it’s out the door, down and around the building, and up on a trailer full of porta’ potties. (Seriously?  They can’t even give you a REAL bathroom here at the Let’s Make a Deal holding pen? Let me tell you, on a day that hovered in the 80’s with more damn humidity than is legal in Cali’- this was not a pleasant experience.)  So, you don’t know if they might call everyone while you are porta’ pottying it, and you might miss the whole damn show!  And, when you are one of the 3 Blind Mice, you miss it, and the rest of the gang is also kinda’ shit outta’ luck for their costume ensemble…..

A little information for the masses would be nice you execs in charge of Let’s Make a Deal.  Just sayin!

Me and Liza. (BTW- might know that out of hundreds of people, I’d get assigned contestant number 69! Just sayin’!)

So, it’s once you are put into the “holding pen” that those who need to can rent a costume.  These aren’t great costumes.  Not by any stretch.  A lot of “Hawaiian Shirt and plastic lei” type of stuff. Santa and Santa’s helper. With “Santa” consisting of the Santa top & hat, no beard, no Santa pants or boots…… Very basic, not-a-real-costume type of costume…

And the wait goes on…..and on….. and on……

We kept up our happy-as-fuck little effervescent attitudes, however, because we KNEW we were being judged each and every moment.  Once 3 separate people gave us our marching orders (all 3 speeches were basically the same, BTW!) We were told that, indeed, we were being watched moment by moment, both now and throughout the show, until the very last moment, and we needed to keep our enthusiasm til the end, act excited if we won a prize, even if we hated it more than our mother-in-law, don’t touch Wayne Brady in any way, unless he gave explicit consent, and don’t chew gum…… we finally were herded into buses to go to the studio.

Upon getting to the studio, we were then herded into a sort of hallway to sit until further notice. Again, a bit of information would be nice.  Information such as how long we might be there, if/when and where we could go to the bathroom, etc.  Of course, the moment my daughter wandered off to the bathroom they started us moving inside, giving the other 2 members of the “blind mice” ensemble a moment of panic.

It might be nice before they DO herd you into the studio to tell you you WON’T be able to get a drink of water, or go to the bathroom for the next 2 hours or more……… HOLY GOD, is that too much to ask?  Heads up here people, do what you have to do, and you have this much time to do it in……… NOPE!

Then the fun, and the disappointment begins.

Once they seat us in the studio, there is yet another speech (#4 for those of you who have stopped counting).  This speech reiterates the same content which was gone over repeatedly before boarding the bus.  I DO fully understand, that some of the people in said audience are not rocket scientist….. but SERIOUSLY?  This isn’t LIVE TV, and if someone really F’s up, they CAN edit it out……

“His Royal Highness” Arrives!

Then “his highness” arrives on the set.  We are all prepared for the moment.  When Wayne Brady enters, the first person he calls up is a gal who isn’t even IN a costume.  SERIOUSLY?  WTF?  She was cute, and did win a motorcycle, so we were all pleased for her.  When it’s time for a commercial break, Wayne strolls out, no interaction in ANY WAY with the audience.  Not a wave, not a smile, not a joke, nothing! We, however, stand up and, as Liza put it, “dance like monkeys” the whole commercial break, because that’s how they told us they choose people for the segments. It was like rinse, and repeat for the rest of the taping of the show.  Almost everyone chosen for the show was- are you ready?…… wearing one of the IDIOTIC RENTAL COSTUMES!

Closeup of Alyse and Liza. Once you are on the show, your contestant number comes off.

There was one costume that was UBER popular in the audience.  This was a hat type device which looked like a milk carton, and your face became the face on the milk carton.  There were at least 7 people in the audience with that clever $5.00 costume.  There were 3 “rainbow unicorns.”  90% of the costumes were easy-peasy purchased costumes We had the only hand held signs in the whole audience.  No notice of that!  We had accessories! We had cuteness!  We had creativity!  All that, on top of our sparkling personalities the whole frickin’ day!  And none of us were called!

There was one gal in our “group” who did get called up front.  We were so happy for her! She was a kind of Sandra Bullock look-alike, and very friendly.  Her costume was a slot machine, and she had personalized it with Wayne Brady phrases on it.  Alyse called it early on that she would get chosen, and we were excited to see her do well.

Wayne Brady……. Not So Much……

But the worst part of the experience? Wayne Brady. Wayne Brady and his lack of interaction with anyone in the audience.  He didn’t actually even ACKNOWLEDGE us in any way shape or form!  Other than 2 funny bits he did while the camera was rolling with guys on stage and in the audience, none of us existed.  We were simple “props”, and not worthwhile human beings.

Like mother, like daughter. Even as blind mice we look similar! Turns out, Wayne Brady is kind of a dirty rat. At least, not a very friendly one, as it turns out!

Wayne, Wayne, Wayne……. I’ve loved you since I saw the first Who’s Line is it Anyway…. but I’ll never feel the same about you.  Bummer! I don’t think a bit of kindness to the people in the audience would have been too much to ask from you. Wayne actually came right in front of us in the audience, to get to the woman they were choosing for “the big deal”.  No eye contact, not a hello, not a hi five…… in fact, I don’t think he knew we were humans he raced in front of.

Wayne, you pompous little ass! You hadn’t been standing in line all day. You hadn’t been in the holding pen for hours. I’m pretty damned sure YOU hadn’t missed lunch.  You weren’t dying of thirst and needing a bathroom.  Would a little hand wave, a few hugs, maybe a little joke or two have killed you? What’s the deal, Wayne?  Did you forget the people who put in in front making the big bucks? Our relationship is officially over now you chump!  I’m embarrassed for you and your lack of simple kindness and compassion to the people who came to see you.  Nice suit, by the way.

“Having our Say”… Don’t Miss It!

My Humble Opinion, Plays, Productions & Concerts, Raves & Rotten Reviews, Uncategorized

The play has been extended by a week! You can see here how authentic the 2 performers look as the Delany Sisters, in Having Our Say, The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years! Don’t miss it! Get there by June 18th!

“Having Our Say, The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years”

I had the pleasure of seeing “Having Our Say, The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years”, at the New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad just a few days ago.  It is toward the end of the run, but you still have time to get there and see it. Luckily, they just extended the close by a week, and it is now playing through June 18th. I encourage you to RUN…don’t walk to get yourself to this inspiring production.  You will be happy that you did!

You may remember when the Delany Sisters’ book came out a number a years ago.  Their book came out in 1993,(although, if you had asked me, I would have guessed it being published about 5 years ago.  THAT is how out of touch I am with the passage of time!) It told about their life as daughters of a former slave, and the changes they had seen throughout their 100 years.  When the book came out it was on the best seller’s list for over 100 weeks, and was quite a sensation. It’s no wonder that it was, if the play is any indication of what made the book so interesting and well received. That book has had over 93 editions of it published, since it first came out.

New Village Arts Theater

If you have not had the pleasure of attending a performance at this charming, small, local theater, this is your opportunity.  The venue is small enough (under 250 seats) that there literally is not a bad seat in the house.  With only 6 rows, and as wide as the stage, you feel a part of each production there.

For “The Delany Sisters'” the set is perfect and well thought out.  You feel as though you have entered Sadie and Bessie’s home, and are sitting down “for a visit.”  Every detail of the set is done to perfection, right down to the floor, which appears to be hardwood, but on closer inspection looks like it was handpainted, line by line, right down to the knots in the wood, by a talented set artist.

The whole play is done in the same set, by only 2 actresses, Silvia M’Lafi Thompson, playing “Bessie” Delany, and Milena (Sellers) Phillips, playing “Sadie” Delany.  Although they have donned gray wigs, and clothing appropriate for ladies of a VERY mature age, they didn’t go with lines and makeup to pull off the part.  Instead, the two use the skill of moving their bodies, and facial expressions in a way that portrays the 2 older ladies, and they do it to perfection!

Listening to a conversation between 2 people on stage for over 2 hours could be monotonus and might be likely to put you to sleep, but not when the discussion is a lesson steeped in our country’s history, and executed by such skilled performers. There is just enough humor and spicy conversation added in to keep you alert and waiting for the next story to develop.

Both sisters definitely have different personalities, which are obvious from the start.  As Bessie, herself puts it so aptly, “Sadie is sugar and I’m the spice.”

In one of the scenes, the two women are carrying on their discussion while preparing their deceased father’s favorite meal, in honor of his birthday. They are cooking up macaroni and cheese and ambrosia, all of which looked so delicious we had to go out after the play and grab a bite to eat! The set kitchen reminded me ever so much of my own grandmother’s kitchen that I had a pang, remembering wistfully the times back in Illinois when, as a child, I would watch her cook, as she told me stories about her own life.

Program front, from the play

The front of the program from Having Our Say, The Delany Sisters First 100 Years. Lucky for YOU, the run has been extended!

Reliving History, Spicy Stories and All!

One of the more interesting – and spicy stories, was that their grandmother and grandfather were never able to marry, due to the fact that their grandmother was 1/4 black, and their grandfather was white.  Because of her having a bit of black blood, they were unable to marry, so their grandfather built a home right next to his, with a path they could go back and forth on to be together.  The church wanted to kick their grandmother out, but the pastor stuck up for her saying that in her heart they were a committed couple, it was only the law that prohibited them from marriage.

Jim Crow laws, prejudice, strength, humor and courage are all portrayed in this story of two women, both over 100 years old, who had lived together their whole lives.  When discussing the fact that neither had ever married,  they chuckle that this is possibly the reason for their longevity! They stated that they never married, so they never had husbands to worry them to death!

After seeing this intriguing play, I am inspired to get the book and read each and every detail of the stories shared.  I’m sure there is a depth to the history and stories  which is skimmed over in the play.

Again, I encourage you to Run… don’t Walk, and get yourself to this provocative production, while there is still time.  While you are there, you may want to purchase season tickets, because I have found  the quality of plays at this theater are always top notch.  You will want to come back, and soon!

Ticket info

New Village Arts is located at 2787 State Street, Carlsbad CA 92008