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“Everyone’s talking about her,” says the restaurateur Jerry Kleiner. “If Candace is there, it must be a good party.”
Candace Jordan and I are standing at a bar, and a group of handsome men are looking our way. “You two look like trouble,” says one.
In my entire life, I don’t think a man has told me I look like trouble. But Jordan has been catching men’s eyes at least since December 1979, when she appeared—come-hither naked—as Playboy’s centerfold. (“If they paid me that much, I would do it myself,” her father said at the time.)
More recently, she has been attracting attention with her popular new blog, Candid Candace—a stream of chipper reports and photos from the city’s best parties. Suddenly, thousands more eyes are following her. Just the way she likes it.
Back to the trouble. “Oh, we are,” confirms Jordan, 55, to our admirers. Then she positions the men and snaps some photos with her palm-sized digital camera—shots that will appear on her blog along with the who-what-where of this launch party for the posh ShowPlace ICON Theater in the South Loop.
One of the gentlemen Jordan directs into place is a six-foot-three businessman, another a TV anchor, the third a documentary producer. Click! Next, she puts me between two of them. Click!
Later, she e-mails me the photo with the message, “Here you are with your future husbands!”
After watching Jordan at work and play over a four-week period, I have no doubt that she could get me wed to one, if not both, of those Adonis-like creatures. “Nothing is impossible for Candace,” says Helen Melchior, who sponsored her for the Joffrey Ballet women’s board. “You should see her fundraise.”
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There are reasons a girl from a tiny railroad town in southern Illinois made two covers of Playboy, nabbed a part in the film Risky Business, married well and happily to an avowed bachelor, Chuck Jordan, and thrived in Chicago’s society circles. Like mountains so imposing that they create their own weather systems, Jordan is—as the restaurateur Jerry Kleiner, her longtime friend, put it—“a force.” (Others have called her just “pushy.”)
Now she’s imposing herself in a way that befits our webcentric age. With most cost-cutting newspapers axing their society columnists, the scene is being colonized by a new breed of chroniclers: bloggers who use the Internet’s warp speed to post party photos long before glossy society magazines such as CS and Michigan Avenue can publish theirs. Like David Patrick Columbia with his New York Social Diary, Jordan is making Candid Candace this city’s go-to webpage for those who want to see themselves being seen. “I have people calling me saying, ‘How do I get on Candid Candace?’” says the society doyenne Hazel Barr. “It’s become the thing to read.”
With 361,000 page views in November alone, the blog was the fourth most popular that month on ChicagoNow.com—the website that’s home to Candid Candace and some 150 other Chicago-themed blogs. “She’s filled a vacuum, and she’s smart,” says the Chicago Sun-Times columnist Bill Zwecker. “[She writes] nothing nasty, and so, of course, everyone invites her to all the events.” (The blog is at ChicagoNow.com/candidcandace. ChicagoNow.com is owned by Tribune Company, which also owns Chicago.)
If Jordan appears in many of her blog’s photos, well, modesty isn’t what it used to be: Housewives can earn six-figure salaries for their reality antics, and the meek don’t seem to be inheriting much at all in this era of self-aggrandizement. Anyway, Jordan is an extrovert with irrepressible energy—“like a jumping bean,” says Kleiner. She couldn’t play the wallflower if she tried. “Everyone’s talking about her,” Kleiner adds. “If Candace is there, it must be a good party.”
Tonight’s was. As we drive away from the ICON, up LaSalle Street in a silver stretch limo, the owner of our posh ride—a new pal of Jordan’s—pours Russian vodka into crystal glasses. “No thanks, I have to be careful,” Jordan says. Tomorrow is almost here—another dawn, another day, another party.
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Photograph: Erika Dufour; assistant: Cathy Sunu; Hair and makeup: Sharon Casey