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Society / Featured Parties

Topless Waiters, a Stripping Diva and Surprise Rock Stars Turn Billionaire’s Mardi Gras Party Into a Fun Riot

A Hollywood Dinner Club Comes to Life in Galveston

BY // 02.13.18
photography Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup.com

Beefcake, booze and burlesque — the killer “B’s” once again rocked the San Luis Salute to Mardi Gras, Tilman Fertitta‘s soldout bash that celebrates Galveston’s rich carnival history. But for the first time in all the years of this event, the biggest “B” of all — the billionaire himself — was MIA.

Of course, that very night, the Houston Rockets were wiping up the floor with the Denver Nuggets at Toyota Center in downtown Houston. One might logically assume that the team’s new owner opted for round ball over the Mardi Gras ball.

Nevertheless, the show went on with topless beefy waiters and buxom waitresses filling the bottomless champagne glasses and with The Big Beyond band knocking guests out of their dinner seats not only with their compelling dance tunes but also with a decibel level that was probably against the law.

Gowns billowing, face paintings shimmering and revelry on their minds, the 1,800 guests poured into the Galveston Island Convention Center at The San Luis where the Fertitta family provided a genial welcome. The ever-gracious and lovely Paige Fertitta and the couple’s daughter, Blayne, in from studies at USC, and two of their three sons, Patrick and Blake, held their own against the flow that included 26 duchesses, the King and Queen of Momus and a host of dignitaries.

The party played out against a sophisticated backdrop of black and white, echoing the glamour of the storied Maceo family‘s Hollywood Dinner Club, which opened in 1926. White palm trees soared above fields of white orchids that sprung from every tabletop. The Events Company once again working its decorative magic.

For a few brief moments the party-happy crowd settled down long enough for the introduction of Momus clan and VIPs who arrived through a saber arch. Among them were NASA astronaut captain Mark Kelly and his daughter, Claudia; University of Houston System chancellor Renu Khator and her husband, Suresh;  dean of the Texas John Whitmire; University of Texas Medical Branch president Dr. David Callendar and his wife, Tonya; honoree Dr. Joan E. Nichols; and CNBC Power Lunch co-anchor Brian Sullivan and his wife, Julie.

The surprise entertainment of the night was Blondie, starring Debbie Harry who partied like it was 1975 all over again. “Heart of Glass,” anyone?

As rocking as the band’s performance was, the entertainer who made the most lasting impression on guests was burlesque queen Scarlett James bathing in champagne in an elevated bowl, after seductively stripping down to a glittering thong and mini bra. It seemed that every smartphone in the house was instantly raised to capture this unexpected entertainment.

Who: Emcee KTRK Channel 13 news anchor Tom Koch and wife Brenda, Maria and Neil Bush, Joan and Doug McLeod, Doe and Henry Florsheim, Diane Lokey Farb, Dancie and Jim Ware, Joy and Vic Fertitta (Tilman’s parents), VJ Tramonte, Ellie and Michael Francisco, Dianne McDonough, Michelle and Dr. Bryan Ritchey, Elizabeth and Alan Stein, Frank Billingsley and Kevin Gilliard, Lizzie Andrews and Robert Derrick, Vicki West and Ralph Burch, Sarah Sullivan, Loren Shabot and Jocelyn Shabot.

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