Fun at The Playboy Mansion
Jocks & Stars at Playboy Party & Poker Tournament
“We’re only here for a certain amount of time, so I want to make the most of it,” said Hugh Hefner, ready for another night of fun at the Playboy Mansion.
Hef was very chatty on the red carpet in front of his Holmby Hills mansion as guests were arriving for the Sports Dream Celebrity Poker Tournament and Pool Party. It was very apparent that the Playboy icon makes the most of his life as he was flanked by his girlfriends, twins Kristina and Karissa Shannon, and Crystal Harris.
The oh-so-blonde look-alike sisters are the July and August Playmates of the month. “We call it the Julugust issue,” giggled the gals who will be featured in the new season of The Girls Next Door, E! reality series.
As always, Hef was warm and gracious as he played host for the event, which drew a crowd of fun-loving athletes and stars who were in town for the ESPY Awards. They were there to play poker, dance, and jump in the pool. Hef said he provided the key ingredients for a successful party “ambience, pretty ladies, and the grotto,” referring to the not-so-secret romantic hideaway at the mansion.
A couple of Playboy bunnies were there hopping around, blonde cutie Tiffany Selby (Miss July 2007) and lovely Japanese-born Hiromi Oshima (Miss June 2004). Tiffany told me she was into extreme sports, and Hiromi said, “I grew up with the Tokyo Giants, and now I’m a huge Dodgers fan.” So she was happy to see the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp at the party.
Tiffany Selby and Hiromi Oshima
Others from the sports world were NBA twins Jarron Collins (with the Utah Jazz) and Jason Collins (Minnesota Timberwolves), Tyson Chandler (Hornets), Chad Ochocinco (Bengals), Andre Igudala (76ers), Chester Pitts (Texans), Danny Granger (Pacers), and NFL legend Warren Moon.
Also strolling around were sports-loving celebrities including funnyman Adam Carolla, and Dancing With the Stars Mark Ballas with his girlfriend, singer Joanna Pacitti. The Crimson Marketing folks made sure the red carpet ran smoothly.
Mark Ballas and Joanna Pacitti
Entertainment was great with the Pussycat Dolls performing. DJ Samantha Ronson and ESPN’s NFL analyst Marcellus Wiley were spinning tunes all night. There was dancing, but the favorite activity was Texas-hold’em.
The star-studded poker tournament was sponsored by True Players, Inc. to benefit the Sports Dream Foundation. ESPN commentator Jesse Palmer, the ex-Giants quarterback who tried to find true love on the fifth season of The Bachelor, was hoping to have better luck at the poker table. “I’ll probably lose a lot of money, but it’s for a good cause,” he said.
Zachary Levi, star of NBC’s Chuck, was a happy fellow noting this wasn’t his first trip to the mansion, “but it’s still a thrill. It lives up to your expectations and yet surprises you at the same time. What boy didn’t grow up wanting to visit this place.”
Also headed inside was Michael Vartan, star of TNT’s Hawthorne. As I steered him in the right direction (it’s easy to get lost and distracted at the mansion), Michael told me about his passion for sports. “I love all sports. It’s my favorite thing in life. Soccer because I grew up in Normandy, France. American football, hockey, baseball, tennis, and I’m a big fan of college basketball.”
Michael Vartan with Margie Barron
Vartan, the star of Never Been Kissed, The Myth of Fingerprints and Lancelot in TNT’s Mists of Avalon, felt like Cinderella later that night when he had to request his limo before midnight. “I’ve got an early call for tomorrow,” he told me. And he mentioned that Will Smith occasionally visits his wife Jada Pinkett Smith on the set of Hawthorne. “We’re one big family.”
The party went on well after midnight, and the special GBK Productions lounge saw a lot of activity from the ESPY nominees and presenters. The top jocks got glitzy gifts from Rafaello & Co. jewelers, fashions from Astor & Black, Roar designer shirts and more. TruePlayers soft-comfy tees were very popular.
NY Jets’ Darrelle Revis was as enthusiastic as a rookie when he was presented with a Johnny Rockets gift card from Jen, a lovely Rockets rep. Hamburgers, chili dogs, Philly cheese steaks, milkshakes, root beer floats and other classic comfort foods are the hallmark of Johnny Rockets, and great treats that the sporty crowd could enjoy during their next visit to the all-American diner-chain. It’s as all-American as Revis and the Playboy party.
Darrelle Revis and Jen from Johnny Rockets
Dodger Stadium with the stars and jocks
On another day, another party prior to the ESPYs was at Dodger Stadium, site of the UPP Sports Lounge Gifting Suite. Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, die-hard Cubs fan Joe Mantegna, Ernie Hudson of Ghostbusters fame (who said there’s another sequel in the works) and Heroes stars Greg Grunberg and James Kyson Lee stopped by the corporate skybox that had a magnificent view of the baseball field.
UPP Entertainment Marketing produced the event that had athletes and celebs checking out the latest products, such as the electronics from Latte Communications, the next generation of high-tech must-haves. Latte offered high quality Bluetooth headsets and portable media players. And the stars and jocks really loved their new “toys.”
Comfy casual shoes were featured by Rider After Sport Footwear, from Grendha’s environmentally-friendly company. The Rider sandal designs for men and women were very appealing. Great for those with an active lifestyle. Helly Hansen active gear, Lacosta sunglasses, Coleman Rolling Luggage, and Pony running shoes were popular too. Really good Badass Coffee (a Hawaiian brew) was served, along with Godiva Chocolates.
In case you missed it, making a big splash at the ESPY Awards was the golden boy of the Beijing Olympics, swimmer Michael Phelps who picked up five ESPYs, including Athlete of the Year. This year’s Dancing With the Stars champion, gymnast Shawn Johnson got an ESPY for Best Female Olympic Athlete. Samuel L. Jackson hosted the ESPYs from L.A.’s Nokia Theatre, next to the Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers which took the team honors.