It was all kinds of people, of all kinds of colors, wearing all kinds of colors — notably hot pink, fiery orange, neon chartreuse, and Princely purple — mixed into the same outfit. This passel of arty party people wended their way to Valentine in the Los Angeles arts district on September 21, for a wild-and-wacky, highly liquid party dedicated to the memory of an iconoclastic creative spirit, Allee Willis. Famously the composer of “Boogie Wonderland” and the theme from “Friends,” Willis died, way too young, in December 2019 just prior to COVID.
The fundraiser, a splashy launch party for the newly formed Willis Wonderland Foundation offered all kinds of distractions from the attributes of the modern age; you know, depression, isolation, loneliness, angst, the gamut. You could peruse Ms. Willis’s objets d’art; pick from fishbowls of her favorite dime candy; bid on her marvelously kooky fashion straight from her closet; drink mango margaritas till you were blotto; snack on teensy little hamburgers so petite it removes the guilt. But hey, it was also really good people watching. Mixing in were several celebs — Lily Tomlin, RuPaul, and Luenell. But the main cadre comprised Angelenos who, like Allee Willis, just. want. to. let. their. freak. flag. fly.
With a passion for mentoring diverse songwriters and multimedia artists, Willis wanted to ensure a future for them, especially given the persistent decline in funding for the arts. After her sudden death on Christmas Eve 2019, her longtime partner Prudence Fenton (photo below) formed the foundation to preserve Willis’ legacy by continuing to support her passions. The foundation will offer mentorships, seminars, lectures and podcasts, as well as Artist-in-Residence programs at Willis Wonderland, Allee’s home in North Hollywood purchased from her first “Boogie Wonderland” royalty check. The 1937 Art Deco Streamline Moderne house holds one of the world’s largest collections of pop-culture kitsch memorabilia.
It was a night to sip, chew, schmooze, meet-up, network, and pay homage to an exceptional, generous woman of the arts who lived in our city. As you see in the photo below, very large shoes to fill.
photo(s) credit: Serena Beggs
Lookin good Rochester!