Tag Archives: Shane O’Neil

Pride & Passion 2014: an avant garde wedding

Yet another Pride & Passion event gone by!

In its 8 years, the event has slowly transformed into a fashionable night out downtown to dress up and party.  This year’s theme was an avant garde wedding celebrating the union of art + community + diversity.  I decided to play with the theme, and turned the pimp factor level up a few notches when dressing as my interpretation of an avant garde groom.  And that’s one of the many things that I love about Pride & Passion: how one can be decked out in leather and fur with opera goggles in Florida during the summertime, and not one person bats an eyelash at the ridiculousness of it all.  Pride & Passion is a night to play dress up, and an evening to play with one’s Uncle Karl Lagerfeld André Leon Talley Okie Fierce alter ego.

However, the true importance of this event is the $75,000.00 net that was raised from just one evening for the Tampa Museum of Art, its exhibits and community programs.  As an avid supporter of the arts and of Tampa raising its profile, I applaud this year’s Chairs Kevin Reder and Rick Scherer, the Museum staff, and the Pride & Passion steering and host committee for a spectacular event.

P.S.  Next year, I plan to dress even more ridiculously!

Photos courtesy of Nicole Abbett, Owen Hunt Photography, Todd Montgomery and Nicholas Cardello.

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“I Can’t Keep Up” by Tourist featuring Will Heard:  There’s just something in the way that Will Heard sings SANGS this song that does something to my soul.  When the frenetic pace changes up at the 3:00 mark, the song becomes pure, unadulterated audio ecstasy.

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The Event of 2013!

Okie Group 07

The beginning of summer.  The time of year when your AC thermostat lowers while your electric bill rises.  The start of beach season and sunbathing.  And that time of year when Pride & Passion, arguably one of thee top events in town takes place.

The 8th Annual Pride & Passion was held on Saturday, May 18, 2013 at the Tampa Museum of Art, which this wonderful event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for each year.  In the four years that I have attended Pride & Passion, it has rapidly become one of Tampa’s signature fashion events known for its pomp, flash and extravagant entertainment and decor.  This year’s event was no exception and easily tops previous celebrations in grandeur and eminence.

This year’s Pride & Passion also happens to be the first that I sat as the Public Relations, Marketing & Host Chair.  So it was fulfilling to not only attend this kick-ass party but to also help plan this event with the rest of the fabulous Steering Committee members.  If you missed out on this year’s festivities or have (gasp) never attended a Pride & Passion, mark your calendars for May 2014 and make plans to be there!

Pride & Passion 2013Okie Boys Group 01Cake Areis Rayda 01Shane Aimee Mike 01Group 01Group 03Okie Boys Group 04Okie Jonathan Cheri Linley JocelynOkie Jess 02Okie Linley 02Okie Linley Billy 01Okie Jocelyn 01

Photography by Radko Keleman
Select Photography by Todd Montgomery & Ruslana.Studio
Noticeable Photography by Okie Tilo’s cellphone

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…and in dedication to my fan that became the it-prop of Pride & Passion 2013:

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Moment 4 Life

Eddie Vs Opening

I had the privilege of attending the Opening Preview of Florida’s very first Eddie V’s restaurant last month.  This was an invite-only event to preview the dishes and desserts of the latest culinary offering from the Darden Restaurants Group.  I’m not singing praises only because my friend Steven Hickey is the managing partner there, but Eddie V’s completely knocked my socks off and wowed me.  My table split the Kung Pao Calamari and Jumbo Lump Crab, shared the Bananas Foster dessert, and I managed to inhale a lil’ bit of everything around me: Aimee’s Pacific Ahi Tuna, Jess’s Roasted Double Breast of Chicken and Shane’s Crab Fried Rice with Scallions & Mushrooms.  My Chilean Sea Bass dish managed to rival that of SideBern’s, my most favorite restaurant in Tampa.  The entire evening was a fantastic time spent with fabulous friends, and I salivate at the thought of my next Eddie V’s dining experience.  THANK YOU Steve for having us as your guests.

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Niely Bday 2013 Group

After dinner that same evening, I high-tailed over to my good friend Niely‘s pinup / greaser-themed birthday party at The Dog’s Bollocks Pub.  Every year, Niely throws some colorfully-themed bday party for herself.  Two years ago, her festivities coincided with Square One‘s Man On The Moon art extravaganza, requiring guests to dress in black and white (not exactly colorful now that I think about it.)  However last year’s Nicki Minaj-themed bash featured a Look-a-Like costume contest and a plea for guests to butcher perform a Nicki Minaj song on the karaoke stage.  (Fun Fact: Before believing you can do Nicki’s “Moment 4 Life” karaoke justice, don’t.)

I concluded the evening still feeling dazzled from dinner and still feeling relieved that I stopped myself last year from subjecting my karaoke rendition of “Moment 4 Life” to living and breathing human beings with iPhone and Android video recording capabilities.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY Niely!

“I Was A Fool” by Tegan and Sara: I never paid much attention to Tegan and Sara until recently.  They’ve become one of those artists who lure me in with their new single, and then provoke me to start backtracking, listening and falling in love with all of their previous albums, wondering why the hell I never paid any attention to them ever back then.

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Whoomp There It Is!

Skate RITZ Group

Last week, I went to my work’s second holiday party for The RITZ Ybor.  Unlike The Radiant Group’s holiday mixer with stone crab claws and champagne, this work soiree was a 1980’s / 1990’s-themed dress-up party at the Town & Country Skateworld with Chex mix, veggie dip and brownies.   My sole responsibility for the function was to dress in costume and to provide an iPod filled with hit songs from the 80’s and 90’s.  So I channeled my inner Bret Michaels: guy-liner, bandana and all, and assembled what I truly felt is the best musical soundtrack to those two fun decades.

One thing that I failed to truly realize when creating that night’s iPod playlist was the extremely diverse and abundant musical landscape (and fashion) that symbolized the 90’s: the grundge era (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden), the power balladeers (Boyz II Men, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey), gangsta & mafioso rap (Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac, Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg), corny dance pop (Ace of Base, Right Said Fred, Vanilla Ice), the Lilith Fair ladies (Jewel, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan), the pop rock bands (Matchbox Twenty, Third Eye Blind, The Wallflowers), Florida booty music (2 Live Crew, Tag Team, 95 South) and so forth.

This year’s work holiday party #2 was a blast, and I am very fortunate and blessed to have a cool job working with some amazing individuals.  How fitting was it to celebrate one of the best decades ever with them.  Happy Holidays everyone!

SAMSUNGSkate Okie Corina Rod Jess

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One of my favorite songs from the early 90’s…  “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss” by PM Dawn

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Oops! I Became a Palindrome… Again

pal-in-drome:  a word, verse, or sentence or a number (as 33) that reads the same backward or forward

I never understood why people in their 30’s and 40’s feel the need to proclaim that they’re re-celebrating their 21st birthday on their special day.  Anytime I told someone that I was turning 33-years-old this year, they jokingly tried to correct me by saying, “oh, you mean 21, right?” which only prompted me  to correct them by letting them know that I am proud to be the age that I am.  When compared to when I was a clueless 21-year-old, I am in a much better place in life: basically wiser, richer and more connected with who I am and what my purpose in life truly is.  Getting older is inevitable, so I fully embrace each new year like a brand new pair of shoes.  I am 33-years-old dammit!

Kristin and I decided to host a birthday party for 40 of my closest friends at her house this year.  With friends already flying in from NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Ohio and Miami for that weekend’s Square One event at The RITZ Ybor the next day, I didn’t want to invite everyone out to a huge group dinner for 40 at (insert restaurant name here).  Those type of birthday group dinner gatherings always turn into more of a headache, lack any type of intimacy and just are never any fun: you are forced to socialize more with whoever you happen to be sitting next to, the bill is always wrong, food comes out late, the wrong dishes come out with some dishes not even making it to the table, etc.

Even with the already hectic and crazy work schedule, this year’s birthday party was worth every dime and minute that went into planning it… mainly because I love my friends more than the world.  I wish everyday could be my birthday if only I could have as much fun as I did last weekend!


33rd Birthday… BEST Birthday Ever!


Diamonds by Rihanna

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Team O Wedding

What happens when two of the most beautiful people you know fall in love and get married? You tweetpic photos of their reception throughout the evening as much as you can amid all of the fun. Two of my friends and co-workers, Shane and Aimee got married in Jamaica the other weekend and threw the reception party of reception parties on the first weekend they returned back to Tampa. And yours truly had a ball! Okay, so not many photos (below) were taken on my camera phone last Saturday evening, but I urge anyone to try photo-documenting an evening of pure fun while steadily holding a glass of Tanqueray in your other hand.

Congrats to Team O: Shane and Aimee O’Neil on their nuptials and for providing a template of hope & inspiration to those current non-subscribers of love.





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