BOLDFACE: A hyperlocal look at Philly’s social scene

Chanel Holland
Chanel Holland

Locally, it’s been a confusing week. Mask mandates have made it that Philly’s airport requires face coverings, but planes don’t—and same for SEPTA dropping its mask requirement while everyone else in town enforces theirs. Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson’s bribery trial wound up with a split jury and therefore a mistrial. “Dr.” Mehmet Oz’s conservative run for Pennsylvania’s Senate just got a whole lot more liberal overnight. We went from the low 30s to the high 70s, and I’m pretty sure I lost my keys after putting them in exactly the same space I have for 20 years. So either the stoned effect of 4/20 is lasting longer than expected or this city is living in some confused, duel, sci-fi existence through this weekend.

And if you see a set of keys, please keep me posted.

Music can be teary and bring about the most heartbroken emotions and its sounds can be cheerful, groovy and up. The downside of music Philly came the other night when local radio legend Sid Mark – the on-air personality behind the syndicated nighttime radio programs Fridays with Frank, the daytime, Sundays with Sinatra and The Sounds of Sinatra – passed away. A friend to the late Old Blue Eyes and the still-rocking Blavat alike, Mark revolutionized the single-artist radio playlist over 60 years ago and never stopped swinging.

The upbeat music news, literally, comes courtesy Brewerytown Records label’s Max Ochester who, in tandem with Philly’s Andy Hurwitz and his 30Amp Circuit org, drops a specially edited vinyl 45, “Love from Philly,” from Garrett “G.  Love” Dutton, Schoolly D and Chuck Treece, before its longer version comes out on G. Love’s love letter to two towns, the June LP release of Philadelphia Mississippi. Good news that, if not a little bittersweet against the backdrop of Mark’s death.

And file this in the ‘We’ll miss you, but we’ll still have Sundays” file—on-air personality, radio legend and all-around jazzbo Bob Perkins – a man who has been on WRTIFM since 1997 – is retiring from his weekday program, Monday through Thursday, and will concentrate solely on his 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays. Maybe he suddenly wants the extra time to rock out the other six days of the week. Who’s to say?

Everything and nothing about Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. and its clunky speakeasy vibes has and hasn’t been much of a secret. Once a “hidden” cocktail bar without signage but with a velvet rope and a guy with a vest and a hat out front when it was at the old Bar Noir location, the FM&IC has moved to yet another supposedly hidden space, this time on Latimer Street (the 1700 slot of Schubert Alley).

Southwest Philly native auteur Lee Daniels (Empire, Precious) should be home any second now to start filming his horror flick for Netflix with Mo’Nique and Glenn Close, ‘Demon House’. Ask him then about his other new streaming series about Sinatra and Blavat’s other great buddy, singer-actor Sammy Davis Jr. The Daniels created biographical series will steam at Hulu, and now has Elijah Kelley as its titular star.

Fight for your right to say gay loud and proud: the Central Bucks School District and the students of C-Bucks West have been pretty much told that they couldn’t put on the late Jonathan Larson’s ‘Rent’, prolly due to its LGBTQ-themed elements and queer relationships.

Forever and ever and ever, rumors have swirled that CEO Brian Roberts’ Comcast would be doing business with conceptual restauranter Stephen Starr beyond providing the cable guy’s internet. Now, closer to happening is some sort of mini-Parc, an intimate Franco-fueled foodie cafe on the Comcast Center’s Plaza grounds. That works.

Philly’s The War on Drugs and Upper Darby’-by-way-of-New Jersey’ Patti Smith, top the headlining bill at the just-announced XPoNential Music Festival 2022 -Sept. 16 through 18 on the Camden Waterfront. Also in on the XPo is Jenny Lewis, Nathaniel Rateliff, Felice Brothers, Samantha Fish, Taj Mahal and Philly’s own ska revivalists Catbite.

Unmasked Philly: Chanel Holland

Since 2017, Chanel Holland – the founder and Artistic Director of Philly’s Chocolate Ballerina Company – has brought ballet and ballet culture where it too-rarely exists: in urban communities with performance opportunities for Black artists. Along with bringing hope, discipline, and confidence through training and professional development with free dance classes, outreach programs, and more, digitally and in-person, in 2021 Chocolate Ballerina Company became famous for presenting Philly’s first all-Black production of ‘The Nutcracker’.

While the company’s next moves include “Spring Fest” open dance class, May 7; a Dilworth Park performance June 16, a preview of their upcoming ‘The Black Swan’, June 18; and “Ballet Boot Camp” June 20-24, the Temple U grad and teaching artist for BalletX’s in-school dance program, Dance eXchange seems to work just as hard during her off hours.

“I consider my time precious so I’m always thinking of ways to improve and impact my community,” says Holland. “I’m seeking ways to make a difference through dance and arts education, to be a better ‘me’ as a leader as well as advocate for my community, inventing ways to save lives whether it be through a new scholarship program, or free dance class, a new ballet, or performance opportunity. I always seek ways of being a better role model through activism.”

Having busied her free time with dance since her Christmas at 11 years old (“my grandmother would host a Christmas party and I would choreograph, produce, and create a ballet for me and my cousins to perform for the family: costumes, music, choreographed works, original composed scripts and scenes”), Holland is currently doing everything from writing scripts for potential plays, to working on a children’s book.

“I also love jumping Double Dutch when I can find a group of girls that will actually allow me to play with them. I like designing clothing. I grew up playing the flute, and I am a huge fan of battle rap and core hip hop culture.”

Along with noting her favorites movies (‘Honey’, ‘Center Stage’, ‘Sing 1’ and ‘2’), television shows (‘Moesha’, ‘Living Single’, ‘Girlfriends’) and book (Laurie Anne Gibson’s ‘Dance Your Dance’), Holland reaches back beyond the impact of Chocolate Ballerina Company’s ‘Nutcracker’ landmark (“I spent 5 minutes in the bathroom crying because I was overwhelmed with gratitude and disbelief that we were doing this. That moment I had finally felt like the world has saw me”) for her most precious, memorable professional moment.

“It was attending the Ailey school for the first time and actually performing on the stage with the Ailey intensive students with a solo in 2007. I was filled with tears and gratitude and I had never felt so free and grateful in my life. I could see the look of pride on the faces of my parents and that feeling felt like nothing I had ever experienced.”