By Jacqueline Monahan
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Photos credit: Judy Thorburn

Women in Performing Arts, Entertainment and Media Reception at Bootlegger Bistro

What you see is a roomful of well-dressed women; what you get is a combination of brains and experience to augment the inner and outer beauty they exude. These are the first wave of members of the Women in Performing Arts, Entertainment and Media (WIPAEM) organization, the first of its kind in Las Vegas.

WIPAEM evolved out of the membership (and is a division of) the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Nevada. Las Vegas is a natural environment for the existence of such an organization due to the entertainment hub associated with the city.

Bistro Owner and former Lieutenant Governor Lorraine Hunt Bono hosted the event for the newly-organized club, stating that it was “long overdue” because the state’s “population base is in southern Nevada.”

Former Lieutenant Governor (& Bistro Owner) Lorraine Hunt Bono

Founder June Beland is a former model and owner of ABC Publishing, which produces several publications and directories including the popular Celebrity Registry. After a group welcome and introduction, Beland had women from each of the tables stand and introduce themselves to the group.

WIPAEM Founder June Beland

At my table alone there sat an entertainment reporter and film critic; a voiceover artist; an agent; and two women from the Nevada Film Alliance Board of Directors. Others in the group at large included several fine artists (oil & watercolor media), dancers, motivational speakers, image consultants, female entrepreneurs including a tax-free wealth specialist, a videographer, an attorney, a certified financial planner, and a music therapist.

One young woman, 24, had just started an internship with P.R. professional Jackie Brett, while another entrepreneur celebrated her 60th birthday. The age gap was seamlessly bridged by dedication to excellence; the more seasoned veterans in the room welcomed rookies with brand new careers.

Those in attendance got to see a newly formed and instantly vital network in action as skills and services were offered to those in the room who needed them from those who could provide them. Business cards were exchanged with the frequency of a speed poker championship.

The testosterone in the room was provided by director/writer/producer/marketer Ray Garza and two-time Emmy-award-winning producer and marketing director Jon Fondy. Currently Fondy is hosting and producing Stars among the Angels a “live” Las Vegas Variety Show for Cox Communications, while Garza’s organization, Upkids, is “a type of Special Olympics for the arts.” Both men were there to lend support to the fledgling organization.

Emmy-Award winning producer Jon Fondy


Notable among the attendees were Emmy-nominated performer Paris Lane, Las Vegas’ only female Elvis impersonator (and host of the Bistro’s Monday night talent showcase) Kelly Clinton, Sales and Marketing powerhouse Dee Drenta, official event photographer Camilla Sjodin, 106.5’s Melanie in the Morning (on the air in Las Vegas for 20 years and a former Athena Award winner); Z.Z. (Adele) Zorn, a former sexologist, now a journalist and stage actress, correctly declared to the assembled crowd that she pre-dated Dr. Ruth (at five foot nothing in heels, she’s even a little taller, too).

Melanie in the Morning's... Melanie

The Dynamic Dee Drenta

Costume designer Diana Eden is currently working on creating an original gown for Lorraine Hunt Bono, while writer Susan Haller, author of the play, “A Dead Guy in my Daughter’s Bedroom” told of an Episcopal church where “they move Jesus off of the altar and it becomes a stage.” Call it divine inspiration.

Costume Designer Diana Eden

Lynn Wexler is an empowerment coach who emphasizes morals, manners, and poise, resurrecting those near extinct qualities in a much needed attempt to coax civility back into the mix. Hearing that was a reason to celebrate in itself.

Your humble correspondent was quietly celebrating the 4th anniversary of her Las Vegas relocation on this night, and finding herself in the company of such a talented, engaging and formidable group of women was a circumstance of gratifying serendipity. This was a gifted, hidden side of Las Vegas, and they held the promise of a strong, diverse but united voice. I was happy to be among them.

There are six levels of membership to WIPAEM, and annual dues range from $50 (student) to $1000 (friend). An arts, entertainment and media component, whether in a field of study or as a profession, is the common thread. The women themselves provide the fabric and the fledgling organization appears to be a creative work in progress, full of ideas as exciting and optimistic as those Judy and Mickey let’s-put-on-a-show numbers.

Except this time, the women are in charge.

For further information:

Women in Performing Arts, Entertainment and Media
(A Division of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Nevada)
2300 West Sahara Avenue Suite 800
Las Vegas, Nevada 89102
(702) 733-3955


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