The towering, white geodesic dome outside the Rachofsky House, that appears annually, has become synonymous with the Two by Two fundraiser for the Dallas Museum of Art and amfAR. But this year it continued to stand in place for days after the big moneymaker.
There was a good reason. It was the scene for still another fundraiser, so to speak. In celebration of their meeting 10 years ago to the day, Dallas retailing impresario of good taste Brian Bolke and residential Realtor of luxurious properties Faisal Halum had more than 250 of their family and friends in for an evening for a couple of very personal reasons. The twosome were also “announcing” their August 18th marriage in Provincetown, Massachusetts. As if any announcement were needed, since everyone knew of the duo’s nuptials.
And because luxury experts Brian and Faisal were certainly in no need of kitchen appliances or linens, they requested that “in lieu of gifts, we ask that you consider a donation to Two by Two for AIDs and art.”
But don’t go thinking that it was simple cocktail affair. It was memory maker of a black-tie, seated dinner that had guests coming from as far away as Chicago, California, Singapore and Abu Dabhi. And it was strictly a family and close friends’ gathering. The Bolke clan included Brian’s father Don Bolke, uncle Ed Bolke, brother Darryl Bolke (a former Los Angeles policeman who now trains the military in the use of firearms and was at one time a security guard for Will Smith), niece Ashlynn Bolke and stepmom Nancy Bolke, who said, “You know that old saying, ‘If you work hard you can live the American dream.’? Well, Brian’s living the American dream.”
Faisal’s family also was well-represented with his sister Amna Halum and niece Nadia Halum in from New Orleans and cousin Sahar Halum in from California plus his niece Munda from Abu Dhabi. Nephew Fuad Shatara and his wife Lorena, whose fabulous wedding in Spain Brian and Faisal attended, were on hand to return the favor.
Despite the tent having been the scene of the previous Two by Two and Todd Fiscus’ way-over-the-top 10-year celebration of his company just days before, event producer Todd managed to create still another wonderland extravaganza with hundreds and hundreds of lights and white orchids. The front of the tent was for the cocktail hour, with DJ Lucy Wrubel in an OMG multi-colored, sequined blouse (“Brian picked it out!”) reading “We Will Win” holding court on half of a circular stage. Against the back wall of the tent, mammoth “windows” were projected making the scene appear to be a palace courtyard.
As guests entered the dome, they discovered their table assignments on a side table, couch seatings, oversized bars, a longer-than-forever table with flutes of champagne and a non-stop array of yummies reflecting Brian’s and Faisal’s travels (Greece — goat cheese and leek spanakopita “cigars” with dried currants; Dallas — BBQ smoked beef tenderloin, honey-glazed cornbread and celery root slaw; New Orleans — fried Gulf oyster on the half shell). The martini glasses were so chilled that Niven Morgan apologized for spilling his.
Speaking of a chill, many of the gals decided to keep their furs near and dear (Brooke Hortenstine, Elaine Agather, Missy Rogers, Jacqueline Anderson, Capera Ryan and Erin Mathews). Others took it all in stride showing bare shoulders, arms, backs and even midriffs (Vinita Schroeder, Jennifer Eagle, Shelle Sills, Piper Wyatt, Tracy Madans, Jan Showers and Nancy Rogers, who was dazzling in red and ice — diamond and ruby earrings and necklace). A couple, like Anna-Sophia van Zweden and Tina Craig, flirted with black lace insets. There was even a contingent that opted for short sparkly cocktail dresses (Muffin Lemak and Heidi Wehring). Still others came prepared for a nip in the air and were covered shoulders to stilettos, like Chicago first lady of retailing Ikram Goldman, Sue Gragg and Susan Kaminski.
The fellows, on the other hand, stayed tried and true to black tie. Brian in Tom Ford and Faisal in black sequined Saint Laurent. Okay, so a couple of the gents dressed down their formal look with sneakers, and Howard Rachofsky sported an electric blue jacket. But, hey, it’s a guy thing.
This crowd was so gorgeous that instead of selfies being snapped, it was “swell-fies”.
At 8:30 the reception area was filled to the brim with the beautiful people and the signal was given that it was dinner time. Then guests made their way to the other side of the tent, with its tables covered in silver clothes, towering glass cylinder vases filled with white orchids, and personalized books containing the menu, photos of Brian and Faisal, and thank yous for those who had been part of the evening’s behind-the-scenes efforts. On the wall, a video of clips from “Dynasty” was shown on the wall. Once seated, the glamorous guests looked even more dazzling thanks to the overhead lighting, candles on the table and crystal.
At this point the Dallas String Quartet performed on the stage facing the diners.
A few minutes later Faisal took the stage. Despite being a bit nervous, he told the guests that the evening was indeed to celebrate their marriage and to express their gratitude — “You have shaped our success as a couple.” Among those he thanked were Ray Hom and Kent Grogin, who had flown in from Singapore, and “persuaded me to fly to New Orleans” 10 years ago. It was in New Orleans to celebrate Halloween where he and Brian met. Regarding their recent marriage, he said, “It really taught us that marriage is for everyone. Same-sex marriage is now legal and recognized in 32 states and, maybe someday, Texas will be one of those states.” At that moment, a slide was shown on the dome’s wall reading, “Vote Wendy Davis for Governor.” Faisal added, “We’re not trying to tell you who to vote for.” Laughter rippled through the group. It was followed by a video of the Bolke-Halum wedding ending with Shannon Johnson saying, “I now pronounce you, husband and husband.”
Matching the beautiful surroundings, the dinner’s courses were perfection thanks to catering czarina Cassandra. Keeping with Brian’s and Faisal travel theme, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky arranged to start off the supper with small mountains of American sturgeon caviar along with crème fraiche, quail eggs, chives and butter brioche a la New York and Napa Valley wine and champagne.
This was followed by the first course, Southern California — baby Romaine Caesar salad “box” with picked red onions, oven dried tomatoes and crisp Parmesan lid. Next was the second course, Provincetown, of lobster ravioli, roasted butternut squash truffle cream, chive oil and lobster cracker. The main entrée of the Middle East was black mission fig and goat cheese, crusted lamb chops with baby squash, zucchini, marble potatoes and carrots with pomegranate demi. Sweet trays a la Turkey were gold macaroons, dried dates and baklava. The desserts finished the world tour of cuisine with Paris (salted caramel and pots de crème), Italy (tiramisu) and Mexico (tres leches cake).
Just past 10:30, Brian stood on stage as Faisal stood tableside surrounded by his relatives. In Arabic Brian welcomed the Halum family. He thanked the numerous people, who had been involved with their relationship and the celebration. One especially poignant moment came when he addressed Meredith Musselman and her fiancée and recalled that it was three and a half years ago that her mother/his Forty Five Ten partner, Shelly Musselman, had died. He then told the group that “Faisal’s and my mother were born on the same day…1939.”
Turning his eyes to Faisal, Brian said, “Faisal, I have a gift for you; not a Rolex, it’s our song.” It was the song — “Beautiful” — that 10 years ago, Brian and Faisal heard in New Orleans sung before 3,000 people by a 16-year-old girl, Gabrielle “Gabby” Porter. A shocked Faisal watched as Brian left the stage and was replaced by Gabby, who sang their song.
It was indeed a beautiful night that was 10 years in the making and shared with those who appreciated and applauded their happiness.