Dance vibe at 'Hairspray' bash

The Baltimore Sun

The whole concept of a party involves a certain amount of enthusiasm. The whole concept of anything associated with John Waters involves a certain "over-the-top" feel. Put the two together -- as in the post-screening party for Baltimore's movie premiere of the musical version of Hairspray -- and over-the-top enthusiasm just begins to scratch the surface.

Hundreds of guests who had just seen the film packed the Tremont Grand ballroom to eat, drink, dance and maybe catch a glimpse of some of the movie's stars, such as Nikki Blonsky, Amanda Bynes, Elijah Kelley, James Marsden and Zac Efron. Velvet ropes and a legion of security guards kept most folks at bay. But, then there were the lucky few young fans pulled from the crowd to dance with the celebrities. And, every time that happened, the ballroom erupted in another series of squeals from excited young fans.

So, maybe some of the more "mature" guests weren't quite so audible, but the level of excitement was still there. Especially for two couples who had all been regulars on The Buddy Deane Show, on which Waters based the original 1988 movie.

"I thought [the movie] was awesome. I was jumping up and down in my seat the entire time," said Linda Snyder, who danced on the show as a teenager with Gene Snyder, whom she later married.

"I liked it better than the original," said Joe Cash, who also danced on the show with the woman he later married.

But, it wasn't just folks with a connection to the movie whowere in a celebratory spirit.

"It made us proud of Baltimore, when you think about the substance of the movie, it says a lot about our city," said Scott Wilfong, president/CEO of SunTrust Bank Greater Washington and Maryland Region.

A drink with Ed St. John

His flying took a back seat to the family business

Baltimore native Ed St. John, 69, is president and chief operating officer of St. John Properties, which builds, develops and manages properties throughout Maryland and the U.S. He is single, lives in Severna Park and has three adult children.

How did you end up in this business?

My dream was to fly planes for the Air Force. Fighter-slash-test pilot. ... I went to University of Maryland and joined the Air Force ROTC. I was in primary jet training when my mother came to me and said, "Your father died when you were 16 and left [us] the family companies." I'll never forget this. She said, "If you don't stop this flying foolishness and take over those companies, I'm going to sell them." Over a six-pack of beers, my two frat roommates and I sat at Town Hall [Tavern] on [U.S.] 1, right next to the University of Maryland. ... They thought I should give up the flying and go into business. It was an opportunity that couldn't be turned down.

Do you still fly?

No. I gave up flying 30 years ago. If you don't have the time to fly a lot, you shouldn't fly at all. I traded a love of boating for the love of flying.

What do you think your greatest weakness and your greatest strength are?

My greatest weakness is my inability to remember names. I mean, it's horrible. My strength? I listen to what people say.

What would surprise people to know about you?

Most people think I chew nails and spit rust. And most people would be surprised that I really care about people. The toughest thing that I find in business is when I have to fire someone. Because I feel I failed them. Not that they failed me. I wasn't able to help them to be successful.

What is work for you? What do you do that you don't like to do?

I hate to read e-mails. I bet right now, I have over 200 [unread] e-mails on my BlackBerry. [He looks at it.] I have 223. What a waste of time. ... I dislike scheduled routine meetings. That's why, in my company, we have only one a week, and there's a time limit.

And your favorite things?

I love good wine, and it doesn't have to be expensive. I consider myself a connoisseur of chocolate, peanut butter, and American wine.

How do you eat your peanut butter?

Right out of the jar with a spoon.

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