Talker sweet talks Cheetah Girl. Or was it vice versa.


Two cheetah coats are warmer than one. Writers and Books, April Fool’s Day [Photo: Mary Brzustowicz ]

Upon reading that Deborah Gregory, award winning author and designer — the “Cheetah Girl” — was in town, we cleared our schedule.  Deborah was to be at a Writers and Books reception on Friday and a Saturday afternoon reading and reception at the MAG, later followed by the Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair Gala auction.cheetah girl

Overcoming a difficult childhood in which she was in foster care until 18, according to the article, Deborah has built a “billion dollar empire from her young-adult series, The Cheetah Girls, that today includes films, concerts, albums and merchandise.” Throughout her career, Deborah has opened doors for African-American models while also focusing on the fashion concerns of plus-size women.


Lindsay Valenti at the Writer’s to Writer’s Social, 4/1/16

But we also marked the date with trepidation. Our ace fashion reporter Shadi who you met at the Good Luck Spring event was in Spain with her high school students. After getting the thumbs down at the Gilda’s Club bachelor auction, this Talker fretted about his glaring glamour deficit.

At Writers and Books, SUNY Empire State College (Deborah’s alma mater) sponsored a “Writers to Writers Social.” I learned from the College’s Associate Director of Alumni and Student Relations Lindsay Valenti that Deborah was a Distinguished Alumni Award Winner, whose past winners include Kenny Baron, Melba Tolliver and Robert Roach. By the time I arrived, Deborah had charmed the gathering of Empire State alums, staff and friends.

Draped head to toe in her Cheetah garb, Deborah immediately put me at ease with her bursting smile and New York effervescence. When she heard I was a fellow writer, Deborah asked to see the magazine on my phone, especially the article on the Inspiring Beauty exhibit, titled “Girl you are WEARING that dress!” 

She loved it!  Cheetah, flattery will get you everywhere. And girl, you were WEARING that cheetah dress.

Feeling a good vibe, I tested the photo op waters. Could I wear your hat? Displaying her own gonzo elan, Deborah immediately placed the cat hat on my head. Eying her second cheetah coat hanging nearby . . . well of course.


Jamming with NEF, Memorial Art Gallery, [Photo: Sandra St. James of St. James Photography]

My Brighton High School friend and premier blogger Mary Brzustowicz was there and took the photo.  Deborah worried she looked too overbearing in the picture. Whether Deborah meant the visual composition or was diplomatically referring to the fragile male ego, Mary and I are not sure. But entirely secure, I think it’s a “click pic,” one that will entice readers — as it may have you — into reading further.

The next day, Saturday, Deborah was scheduled for a talk, book signing and mingle at the Memorial Art Gallery.  Upon my arrival, the talk was winding down.nen


What do you mean you only sign for teenage cheetahnistas? [Photo: Sandra St. James of St. James Photography] 4/2/16

Trying to look hip in my all black outfit, sporting a black leather Yankees cap (Cheetah is from the Bronx after all), I decided to gig with North East Flow, glad to have my talents. As Deborah entered the gallery foray, we serenaded her with Your Cheetah-ing Eyes. (Well sort of.)

Time for the book signing as a large crowd was milling in the bookstore. Not be denied.

At first, Deborah was coy, pretending she only signs for teenage fashionista girls. As I looked forlorn given our cheetah-to-cheetah encounter at the Writer’s to Writer’s social, Deborah smiled. She was just kidding and had something better in mind.

And on Memorial Art Gallery stationary no less.  See you, Cheatalicious, on the town!

Unfortunately, I could not attend the Gala and Shadi’s plane was somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.


Girl, you are WEARING that dress! “Inspiring Beauty” at the Memorial Art Gallery

Guys, dolls and apples at the Writers and Books Scavenger Hunt for Rochester Reads

A kicking First Friday at Anderson Arts Building


Shopping for all the women in your life at the La Femme Women’s Expo at Arbor Loft