Photos: Selena Salfen

Top: Puppy love at the Fur Ball.
Below: PAWS Chicago founder Paula Fasseas

Animal Passion

I’ve certainly dated more than my share of dogs, but I’ve never partied with pooches like I did at this year’s Fur Ball, thrown by the animal anticruelty group PAWS Chicago at the W Chicago City Center. More than 500 human attendees and 100 pets ($300 and $100 a ticket respectively) filled both upstairs ballrooms, as well as a doggy spa providing massages, treats, and play time for the spoiled four-legged revelers.

The fourth annual black-tie gala, which had a red carpet entrance emceed by the socialite Bunky Cushing and the director of the Illinois Film Office, Brenda Sexton, raised more than $300,000, which will go toward the organization’s operating budget and its flashy new 13,000-square-foot animal shelter-a $6.5-million project-set to open next fall at 1997 North Clybourn Avenue. “We have 45 to 50 dogs at a time and expect about a three- to five-day turnaround with our new center,” said PAWS Chicago’s founder and chair Paula Fasseas, looking quite the elegant partygoer in a beautiful gold lamé Ralph Lauren gown. Fasseas founded PAWS Chicago-now the largest no-kill humane organization of its kind in the city-in 1997, modeling it after a facility in San Francisco. This year’s glamorous event drew the city’s glitteriest crowd-including even some tuxedoed canines-and started off with a live auction that raised 16 grand for a pair of donated diamond Van Cleef & Arpels earrings that retail for $18,500. But the highlight for me was the display of dogs for adoption, a litter of Lab mixes, one of which Fasseas toted around like a designer accessory. Will she be adding to her own personal brood anytime soon? “I’m not looking to adopt another because I always leave room to foster,” she said.


Photo: Chris Guillen

Being seen at Carnivale

Fluent in Latin

Carnivale (702 W. Fulton St.), a splashy, 35,000-square-foot Nuevo Latino restaurant in the old Drink space, is restaurateur Jerry Kleiner’s and co-owners’ new see-and-be-seen hot spot. But don’t let the massive space with the mesmerizing color scheme intimidate you. With too many dining rooms to count, we opted instead to sit in the bar area up front, enjoying a margarita (or three) along with a trio of Latin appetizers recommended by the owners: fish tacos, the Puerto Rican sandwich with plantains, and guacamole “Kleiner style.”  We made the scene on a recent Thursday night to judge a margarita-shaking contest that was part of an event put on by the newly launched International Wine Institute (Kleiner won). That same evening, Oprah Winfrey’s chef Art Smith schmoozed with local scenemakers, and co-owner and real-estate mogul Bill Marovitz (a.k.a. Playboy CEO Christie Hefner’s hubby) made the rounds as well. Most nights, Kleiner and his beautiful girlfriend, Marisa Molinaro, can be seen greeting patrons or dining with pals.

Celebrity Beat

The Black Eyed Peas, sans Fergie, partied at Jet, Reserve, and Four recently. . . . Busta Rhymes dined two consecutive nights at SushiSamba Rio-he and his date ate sushi and sipped Courvoisier (one of his hit songs is “Pass the Courvoisier”). . . . Goldie Hawn had dinner at Japonais with son/actor/hottie Oliver Hudson and other family members, the same night her daughter, actress/hottie Kate Hudson, watched her husband, Chris Robinson, rock the stage at the Riviera during the Black Crowes concert. . . . The kids from Laguna Beach, the hit MTV reality show-Dieter, Jessica, Alex M., and Alex H.-caused pandemonium at Crobar during a recent charity event. (Their bodyguard pushed your faithful columnist over a table, causing the club to kick him out and cancel Alex M.’s performance that night.) Lauren, a.k.a. “LC,” and her beau Jason were a last-minute no-show, I’m told, after getting into a fight with the rest of the cast.