Dinner with Priscilla

Six degrees of separation refers to the notion that all people are six, or fewer, social connections away from each other. Imagine if only two degrees separated you from someone very famous, in other words, an A-List celebrity is “a friend of a friend.” We experienced this situation in 2009 when a walk-in client informed us that she worked extensively with Priscilla Presley. 

Lively discussing ensued about the possibility of having an orchid named after Ms. Presley which we followed up with a letter. Little did we know that Elvis had given his Love sixteen purple Cattleyas for her 16th birthday. To put it mildly, Ms. Presley was keen on having a namesake orchid, particularly if it was a purple Cattleya.

Fast forward ten years and the hybrid, Laeliocattleya Priscilla Presley ‘Beverly Hills,’ has garnished much attention. It was featured in the American Orchid Society magazine and it regularly get blue ribbons at spring orchid shows. 

Last month, I traveled to the West Coast on business and asked Ms. Presley if she would like to see me. She did. For dinner. 

Reservations were set at the Sunset Marquis, a legendary rock & roll themed restaurant/hotel in the heart of West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. The site touts itself as “the home away from home for actors, supermodels, rock stars.” We sat down at her favorite table and ordered drinks.

I had brought a fancy orchid arrangement that consisting of three different genera – all purple - a miniature Dendrobium, a reed-stem Epidendrum, and a heavily spotted Phalaenopsis. She was fascinated by each orchid, its culture requirements, and the duration of the blooms. Her eyes lit up when talking about plants. 

We got a little off track when the waiter brought our entrees. She informed me of her close ties to the Humane Society and that she was a strict vegetarian. I looked down at my bacon-infused Cobb salad and gently pushed it aside. 

Things picked back up when we started discussing her acting role in the hit TV show, Dallas. She had played the leading lady, Jenna Wade, from 1983 to 1988 and thoroughly enjoyed her time, ultimately befriending many of the cast. 

Most notably, her business savvy was on full display. She recently helped open a 450 room hotel, The Guest House at Graceland, in which the top floor suites are recreated as Elvis’s bedroom and she’s launching a national restaurant chain, ‘All Shook Up,’ where you can bet there will be plenty of vegetarian dishes.

Just when I thought my dining experience couldn’t get any better, Ms. Presley asked me to be a speaker at an upcoming event at Graceland. I instantly agreed without even consulting my calendar. Some things just take priority.

The event is called “Graceland’s Elegant Southern Style Weekend” and features seminars, intimate tours of the property, and fancy receptions. I am a panelist in the area of Southern Décor and Architecture with the topic “Decorating with Orchids.” Hope to see everyone there – September 27-29 in Memphis. www.graceland.com 


Monday, July 1, 2019 - 22:15