1: of, relating to, or characteristic of legend or a legend
2: well-known, famous
How does this relate to my cake world, you ask? I believe definition 2 above applies in this case. I had my most recent brush with fame this past Tuesday! With whom? None other than Walter Cole, better known to the City of Roses as Darcelle XV. A native of the area, he's been a pivotal figure in the gay and lesbian community here for 43 years. His cabaret club, Darcelle XV Showplace, has been a destination event location for birthday parties, bachelorette parties, anniversaries, and nightly drag shows. Darcelle herself performs 4 nights a week, with a wonderful cast to entertain the masses.
Wait a minute! You said 43 years??? Just how old IS Darcelle? Well...she just turned 80!! And doesn't look it a bit! This grande dame of the Rose City deserved a birthday bash that was to be one of THE social events of the year (with 400 or so of her family, friends, and adoring public, I was to find out the night of the party!)
Luckily for me, I am friends with Darcelle's "heir apparent", Kevin Cook aka Poison Waters. A powerhouse in her own right, she's very well-known, respected, and much-loved in many circles of Portland. I was chatting with her one day, and found out about the birthday plans. Kevin told me about the idea of the evening...10-top tables all round the room, each with a dessert as the centerpiece. GREAT idea, I thought! Kevin and accomplices were looking for bakeries and others to donate the desserts, and I jumped at the opportunity!
Now, the party was not only a celebration of the legendary lady herself, but a benefit fundraiser for Camp Starlight, which helps children whose lives have been affected in any number of ways by HIV. The week-long camp on the Oregon coast is full of activities, cameraderie, laughter, and more for these children. An AMAZING thing, to be sure. So what was I to DO for this event?
I'm not a close personal friend of Darcelle's, nor have I had any involvement in Camp Starlight. So I had to do some research. What does she like? What does she LOVE? And what things are important to include with a design to honor the work of Camp?
I have friends who have visited Darcelle's home, where she has a special kitchen table. This table is hand-painted with the landmarks of places all over the world that she and her partner Roxy have visited over the years. BINGO! I got pictures of the table, and was determined to re-create her artwork as part of the cake. Red roses also play a big role in so much of Portland's culture, and are dear to her heart, so that was a given, too. GREAT! Design ideas came into being...
But what about Camp? How does that work into her birthday? Only indirectly, as best I could figure, so I had to design a second cake! Children playing, being creative, and the Camp logo...check!
One huge event, two cakes...one lowly home baker...WHAT WAS I THINKING???
Paying it forward, a birthday gift from the heart, that's the ticket!
Seeing ideas come to life is one of the best parts of creating cakes for special occasions, in my humble opinion.