Society / Featured Parties

Houston’s Party of the Decade Brings Rad 1980s Back in Hilarious Ways

Crazy Costumes, a Mermaid and True ’80s Rock Stars Make This 50th Birthday Crazy Good

BY // 05.27.18
photography Steve Lee Photography

For those old enough to remember, the ’80s was a wild and crazy time. So when Jessica Rossman decided to celebrate her milestone 50th birthday, she harkened back to her formative years for a blowout bash that recalled the neon decade in all its glory.

She and longtime beau Gordon Bethune took over the Houston Event Venue in EADO and enlisted premier party planner Deborah Elias of Elias Events to create a totally rad happening that had guests buzzing that this was the party of the decade.

Upon entering the venue, the more than 250 guests posed for photos in front of a wall of Andy Warhol-like portraits of Rossman, and sampled ceviche offered by a a mermaid in a bathtub, recalling the 1984 hit movie, Splash. Artist Hanh Tran created an interactive painting of Rossman with a bottle of champagne and invited guests to paint the bubbles. A custom-built wall in the shape of a Rubik’s Cube overflowed with such 1980s candy treats as Nerds, Pop Rocks, Dots, Zotz, Push Pops, and Cracker Jacks available for the taking.

Inside the main room, artist Justin Garcia created a “lite brite” wall composed of more than 1,000 vials of tequila making up Rossman’s portrait, and guests were encourage to pick a vial and imbibe.The fare, catered by David Cordua, centered on ’80s movies, with Mystic Pizza and Corky’s sliders, along with lobster corn dogs and taco salad served in a Fritos bag, washed down with smoking St. Elmo’s Fire drinks and Pretty in Pink Jell-O shots, served by waitresses on roller skates.

A multi-tiered cake, created by For Heaven’s Cake, was decorated with such sugar spun 1980s favorites as the MTV logo, Converse All-Stars tennies, a boom box and the No Duh slogan.

Neon-colored slinkies dangled from the ceiling — “I told the decorator (Adrienne Wagenheim) I wanted a funky explosion,” Elias said — and two Ms. Pac Man machines were popular as guests vied to tally the highest score.

The popular cover band The Space Rockers performed ’80s hits on one stage before the main attraction — the ’80s New Wave band A Flock of Seagulls — took to another stage and performed their greatest hits, including “I Ran (Far Away),” “Space Age Love Song,” “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You),” and “The More You Live, The More You Love” in a one-hour set that had those on the dance floor rocking out. (The band recently launched a “Lost ’80s Live” tour.)

Guests got into the spirit of the occasion in 1980s attire. Catherine and Dr. Peter Cenk channeled KISS — complete with the rock’s group trademark makeup — while Sonia Soto, Kim Padgett, Roseann Rogers, and Romy Mitchell were among those who drew inspiration from Madonna and Cyndy Lauper, and Edward Sanchez, in a silver satin jacket with gold epaulets, paid tribute to Michael Jackson.

Carol Alvarado was a Rockets cheerleader in a vintage team T-shirt, Cody Soutar was a aerobics instructor in neon splattered nylon shorts and tank, and Lara Bell donned a vintage Reagan Bush campaign T-shirt. Don Murphy looked Miami Vice cool in a white suit and dark T-shirt, while wife Patty Murphy dressed like Olivia Newton John in the late ’70s hit, Grease.

Others dressing for the occasion included Sam and Tina Governale, Jeff Shell, Debbie Festari, Laurette Veres, Gracie and Bob Cavnar, Anika Jackson and Chuck Redick, Nick Espinosa and Carlos Meltzer, Miya Shay and Gene Wu, Leisa Holland-Nelson, Sandra Porter, Dana Kervin, Staci Henderson, Randall Valentino Gonzales, Bubba McNeely, Cindy Clifford, Jason Fuller, Enid Sanchez, Bill Baldwin and Fady Armanious, Salvatore Gill, Dr. Roland Maldonado, Dana Kervin, Dr. Aashish Shah, and Fritz Lucio McDonald.

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