A record 1,600 guests, dressed in their chicest spring outfits, showed up to the Hilton Anatole on April 12 for the 13th annual Chick Lit Luncheon. While Dallasites love to support Community Partners' mission to help children, it's possible that more than a few were there for the celebrity star, Bravo TV's Andy Cohen — and a few glimpses of the cast of The Real Housewives of Dallas.
Co-chairs Leigh Anne Haugh and Amy Hegi, alongside honorary chair Amy Prestidge, greeted attendees at a cocktail reception in the Trinity Ballroom foyer, while in the nearby Wedgewood Room, top sponsors got a chat and photo opp with Cohen.
When the ballroom doors opened, guests sat down to a multicourse lunch capped off by blueberry cheesecake for dessert. Paige McDaniel, president and CEO of Community Partners of Dallas, took the stage to recognize Linda Perryman Evans, the 2019 recipient of the Partners for Children Award.
An emotional video presentation highlighted the important work that Community Partners does in partnership with Child Protective Services for abused and neglected children. McDaniel said that 20,000 kids would be served this year with the help of all in attendance, which moved many in the room to give generously.
Then it was time for the main event. Best-selling author Jen Lancaster — featured speaker at the fourth Chick Lit luncheon — took the stage as the moderator of the conversation with Cohen. Cohen, of course, is an Emmy Award-winning host, producer, author, and host and executive producer of Watch What Happens Live! with Andy Cohen. But in Dallas, his biggest claim to fame is as executive producer and #bossbitch of The Real Housewives of Dallas.
“Wow, this is low-key,” he joked as he took the stage in front of the full room.
Cohen dished on personal topics including his upbringing in St. Louis, which he said was like “Mayberry and The Andy Griffith Show,” and what he was like in college, which he said was “exactly as I am now, except a little less gay.”
Some highlights of the entertaining chat included:
- On being famous, he quipped, “Anderson Cooper always says, ‘Nobody likes being famous more than Andy,’ but I will never get over being able to get into a restaurant that I would otherwise have to wait 45 minutes to get into. It’s great, I’m not going to lie.”
- Per a game on Cohen's show — Marry, Shag or Kill — he was asked to "categorize" Mark Consuelos, Matthew Broderick, and John Legend. He responded, “Gosh, I love them all…. shag John, marry Mark, and kill Matthew because he’ll forgive me.”
- Regarding the Real Housewives franchise, he explained, “It is the modern soap opera. It replaced what used to be soap operas that we all watched; you can watch them, and love people or love to hate people, you can root against them, and it's funny.”
- On how the reality of fatherhood to newborn son Benjamin differs from the dream, he said, “It’s just great, it’s just great — it is just filling up my heart that I guess I knew on paper would happen, but it’s just great that every day is a different moment, and I just fall in love with him in a different way.”
A highlight came when Lancaster asked Cohen what his “Mazel of the Week,” was. He immediately said, “My Mazel is Paige, who I’ve just met.” As the crowd burst into applause, he looked out at McDaniel and added, “And I just have say that I think this organization is incredible, and you really inspired me with your words; I just made a donation, and I hope you all will, too. There are just some people you just meet and you can tell ‘wow they are incredible’ — and I just love your spirit.”
The conversation then covered what’s on Cohen's bucket list — “jumping out of an airplane;” who he still gets starstruck about — “Madonna;” and advice he would give kids graduating from college today — “Be careful what you put out on social media, because one tweet can ruin your life. And whatever you do, follow your passion.”
In closing, Lancaster informed Cohen that he was only the second man who had ever been featured at Chick Lit (the first was Project Runway's Tim Gunn) and asked if he had any recommendations for another male speaker. Without skipping a beat, he recommended bestie Anderson Cooper, much to the audience’s delight.
Before leaving, guests grabbed their goodie bags full of swag from local retailers and checked their raffle tickets — the most coveted prize was a trip to New York for a taping of Watch What Happens Live!.
Some of the many patrons and fans in attendance were Maie Shea, Stinelli Castaneda, Krysta Mentzer, Suzi LeBeau, Stephanie Kruse, Rachel Haefliger, Rachel Trowbridge, Lindsay Jacaman, Elizabeth Etier, Emily Hoad, Leigh Danley, Tandra Allen, Lauren Combest, Sara Champagne, Dawn Slobacek, Angela Seaman, Mary Parker, Jennifer Morris, Greg Neiberding, Jennifer Tobin, Heather Cosmano, Kevin Hopper, Shelby Shah, Holly Vogel, Amber Wax, Renee Gately, Bess Grant, Mandy Bain, Kelly Little, Lacy Bain, Stephanie Dolan, Skylar Champion, Beth Price, Raquel Wilson, Alethia Vitale, Megan Bennet, Liz Painkin, Kristen Dickie, Sarah Riester, Trista Jones, Debra Nockels, Jenifer Baker, Carey Barnes, and Rondia Graves.
Community Partners of Dallas has ensured safety, restored dignity, and hope to abused and neglected children since its founding in 1989. The proceeds from the Chick Lit Luncheon help to provide crucial resources and support to the caseworkers of Dallas County Child Protective Services.