Darcel Grimes, Unscripted

A behind-the-scenes look at Asheville’s best-known TV celeb.

by Jess McCuan . photos by Rimas Zailskas

The Darcel Grimes you see on TV couldn’t be more dapper. For nearly 30 years now, the WLOS anchor’s wardrobe has been the subject of much speculation and comment. “I cannot imagine the clothes in that woman’s closet,” says Deborah Potter, a longtime WLOS reporter who’s now the PR manager at the Grove Park Inn. “She always looks just absolutely gorgeous.” One local blogger, Petulant Rumblings, posted 42 screen shots of Darcel on camera, arguing that her vast suit collection was lovely but monchromatic. In July, Grimes did a tongue-in-cheek interview about her clothes with Asheville Citizen-Times columnist John Boyle, who got this query from a reader: “I have watched Darcel Grimes on WLOS-TV News for about 25 years and, in all that time, she has not worn the same outfit twice. Does she really own all those clothes?” Grimes (who was voted Best Dressed in her high school) responded that she obviously wears outfits more than once. But she tries not to wear the same getup three times in a year. “I think they’re giving me too much credit on the wardrobe,” she told Boyle in an email. “I am the master of mix and match.”

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Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 10:58PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious in , | Comments3 Comments | References61 References

Something's Brewing in the Kombucha Biz

Weaverville’s “Buchi mamas” scramble to overcome an industry scandal.

by Melanie McGee Bianchi photos by Matt Rose

Jeannine Buscher looks far too wholesome to get anyone drunk. With her alpine-blonde hair, lean physique and handsome hand-knit sweaters, she is health evoked in gentle pastel. And health is exactly what Buscher and her business partner, Sarah Schomber, are successfully selling. Buchi is the cultishly popular brand of kombucha tea that the two mix and bottle at their Weaverville microbrewery, helped by a half-dozen part-time women employees.

Actually, “brew” is misleading. Containing only a .5 percent alcohol content—about the same as “near beer”—the cold, carbonated tea is not drunk for mere fun, though its spicy-sour tang has a certain earthy appeal. Instead, it’s a health tonic that dates back eons, to ancient China. Kombucha is crammed with vitamins and probiotics. It purportedly boosts immunity and cures hangovers and digestive ills, among a slew of other ailments. (Buscher claims her psoriasis is dormant due to consuming kombucha.)

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Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 10:57PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments2 Comments | References3 References

The Love Doctor Is In

In her new monthly column, Susan Reinhardt (and her mama, and a handful of Asheville psychotherapists) will dish out relationship advice. Send her your love woes and conundrums. She’ll have you fixed up in no time. Just remember: she’s a columnist, not a magician.

by Susan Reinhardt . photo by Rimas Zailskas

First, the dirt. Relationships shouldn’t be as tortuous as entering a Port-a-John. Be it a love interest or an icky neighbor, I’m here to help you solve those unpleasant situations.

It’s not like I have a Ph.D. or anything. When it comes to doling out advice, it’s just me, my friends, my long-married quirky mama and 47 ex-boyfriends. Oh, and a handful of local therapists on speed dial. Toss out your problems, and I’ll help you tackle sensitive subjects when it comes to the bedrooms or battlegrounds of amour.

Maybe I tanked with most of own my buzzard fleet, the nickname I gave my line-up of boyfriends and fiancés past. It’s so much easier to give good advice than take it. But toss it to me. Whether the cad under your comforter refuses to marry you, or the fellow pinging thy tender heart is a low-down cheatin’ drunk, this is why I’m here. I’ve had every kind of boyfriend: from those scared to commit (you know the type who’d rather get neutered than hitched) to the oddball millionaire who bathed his face like a raccoon before every meal. At the dinner table.

So ladies (and gents), send me those stories of love’s wrong turns, the beauty and the blunders, the meet-the-family faux pas. Even those moments when you find yourself saying: “Why has my teenage son suddenly turned into a bratty, pot-hoovering toddler?” Send the trouble my way. I’ll either mine my own failures and successes or poll my “experts.” Soon, we’ll get your relationships off skid row and back in the easy chair.

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Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 10:56PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References12 References

Broadcast News

Caitlin Krisko and her band of Brooklynites are about to unleash soulful star power on Asheville.

by Joanne O’Sullivan

photo by Stewart O'Shields, shot on location in the Kessler Ballroom at the Grand Bohemian Hotel
makeup by Mendy Hoffman for Makeup at the Grove Arcade
hair by Gretchen Pheffer for The Secret Spa

The typical rock band trajectory is this: play your heart out in small town, then move to a city like New York and hope you make the big leagues. Maybe even sign a record deal. But The Broadcast, featuring lead vocalist Caitlin Krisko, isn’t a typical rock band. They left New York this summer when their star was on the rise and relocated to Asheville to pursue music full-time, free of rat-race stress. “Before you can be successful, you need to be of sound mind, body, and spirit,” says Krisko, who seems wise beyond her years at 25. Where better to achieve that than here?

The soul-driven band (which dropped “Caitlin Krisko and” from its name with the move) was filling spots like New York’s Mercury Lounge and the Bitter End, developing a following with live shows and a record last year, Over the Undercover. Krisko has drawn comparisons to vocalists such as Joss Stone and Janis Joplin. But you know the drill: expensive city life means struggling to make a living so that you can make music. Keyboardist Rich Brownstein was a booking agent. Guitarist Christian Mendoza worked at a music venue. Other band members, brothers Michael and Matthew Davis (drums and bass, respectively) and percussionist Tyler Housholder all had day jobs, too. So, with a little “feminine persuasion,” she says, Krisko convinced the whole band to move to Asheville in June. They share a North Asheville house in which they’ve set up a recording studio. (Expect a new EP at the end of this month). A typical day now starts at the gym, then doing outreach and bookings. They tout their high-energy live shows and cast the net wide. “We’ll call a fraternity house and ask if they need live music at their parties,” she says. Then the band rehearses all afternoon and has dinner together. The togetherness, she says, makes their music stronger.

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Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 10:55PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References6 References

Slow Track To The Top

Tia Bednar takes over as prez of Slow Food Asheville in January.

story and photos by Naomi Johnson

Imagine this: You’re a tourist from Italy spending your vacation in scenic Asheville, North Carolina. But you can’t figure out where to eat. Mama mia, what to do? Suddenly, you see a sticker on a restaurant door: a “Snail of Approval,” the international symbol of Slow Food, the organization dedicated to tasty, responsible, real food worldwide. Dinner is saved.

If Tia Bednar has her way, Asheville’s future might look a bit like that. Starting next year, Bednar, 35, takes the reins as board president of Slow Food Asheville. High on her agenda is introducing the Snail of Approval, a certification program aimed at making it easier to find food that fits with the Slow Food philosophy, which exalts the “quiet material pleasure”—the slowness—of preparing and sharing real food. In a restaurant setting, the snail basically means the establishment uses local products and ingredients, prepared in a traditional way, she says. WNC will join big-time food cities like New York and Chicago as early adopters of the program.

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Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 10:53PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References2 References

Having Her Way With Clay

At 66, Silvia Sabaini reinvents herself as a sculptor.

by Ursula Gullow . photo by Anthony Bellemare

Two years ago, a community center ceramics class changed Silvia Sabaini’s life. At the time, 66-year-old Sabaini was working with the Parrot Rescue organization in Clyde, North Carolina. She had never had any formal art training, but her daughter encouraged her to take a ceramics class at a Waynesville community center. “It was six classes for $60,” says Sabaini. “How could I go wrong?”

She was immediately gripped by what she could do with clay. Or rather, the clay somehow seemed to grip her. “Clay has its own life,” says Sabaini, who creates forms without models or photographic references. “The faces are all in the clay already. I honestly feel like it only needs my hands to bring it. It already is its own being.”

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Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 10:52PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments5 Comments | References1 Reference

Indigo Girl

A nurse and two-time breast cancer survivor is excited to feel girly again.

by Mick Kelly . photo by Matt Rose

Dee Ann Dewitt-Ashworth spends most of her days in scrubs. In fact, the 44-year-old sheepishly admits, that’s one of the reasons she went into nursing. “I don’t have to get fixed up,” she says. “It’s like wearing pajamas to work.”

Even if she’s been hiding out in scrubs for 20 years, Ashworth says she loves to feel feminine. Once upon a time, the Owensboro, Kentucky native considered going to beauty school. But she changed her mind once she was accepted to nursing school, and her current gig is in the anesthesia office at Park Ridge Hospital. Now, when she goes out on weekends, she still keeps things casual, wearing blue jeans and bright sweaters but very little makeup. “When my kids see me put makeup on, their jaws drop,” she says.

Her health and beauty routine (and really, everything else) changed radically in 2001, when she discovered that she had breast cancer. At the time, she was an active, healthy single mom, and the diagnosis was a shocker. “It just floored everybody—even myself,” she says. She made it through surgery and radiation treatments fine, but in 2006, she found another cancerous lump under her arm. Then, in 2008, more pre-cancerous cells, but those were easily removed. “I tell people I’ve been through breast cancer two and a half times,” she says.

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Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 10:51PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

Dog and Pony Show

A pet-sitter by day is a burlesque dancer at night. (And has many other lives besides.)

by Jess McCuan . photo by Matt Rose

Celeste Ametrine has at least two lives. By day, she’s a housesitter and pet-sitter, looking after Ashevilleans’ sweet Persians and Pomeranians. By night, she does belly and burlesque dancing, which she’s been involved in for about a decade. In her most recent dancing role, with Asheville’s Bombs Away Cabaret this spring, she played Anita BigBrek, an assistant to a dance diva who has secret hidden talents of her own.

But like the cats she looks after, Ametrine, who’s 38, has at least nine more lives. To look at her long, strong body today, you’d never believe that she once weighed 300 pounds. And she doesn’t have any trouble admitting it. A decade ago, she was working in the IT industry in Madison, Wisconsin, not far from Lake Mills, the small Wisconsin town where she grew up. At the end of a 13-year relationship, she was losing weight but struggled daily with her self-image. “I didn’t know who that woman in the mirror was anymore,” she says. A friend encouraged her to take a belly dance class, which Ametrine loved. She started doing folkloric and Middle Eastern dancing at cultural gatherings and festivals around Madison. She shed pounds quickly, and for the first time in years, felt buoyant again.

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Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 10:50PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments1 Comment | References12 References

Hoh Down

A Kenilworth designer holds her first solo trunk show.

by Ursula Gullow . photos by Matt Rose

When Valerie Hoh moved to Asheville six years ago, she decided it was time to become a fashion designer. She’d had years of textile and ceramic design training in London, but she enrolled in sewing and computer classes at A-B Tech. Two years later, she is selling her edgy wearables around the globe and locally out of her Kenilworth studio.

Hoh, 61, was born in Malaysia but frequently revisits Hong Kong, where she spent part of her childhood, to collect new materials for her clothing line. She attributes her rock-n-roll fashion aesthetic to her raucous past and international travels. (She used to be married to Ted Nugent’s drummer.)

Now, she travels to Key West each winter to throw a one-woman fashion show and sale at the chi-chi Gardens Hotel. This month, she’s holding her first solo Asheville trunk show in her Kenilworth studio to launch a new line of handbags, which incorporate functional details like wide shoulder straps.

Finding her niche in the Asheville market has been challenging. Younger people sometimes like her rock-themed outfits but can’t afford them if they’re in the $200 range. To fix this, Hoh has begun making scarves and clutches to sell at lower price points, starting at around $85. Her reclaimed and embellished jackets, hodgepodge handbags and stylish dresses are all made with the same intention: “I design with my own needs in mind,” says Hoh. “Comfort, function, and looks are all important.”

Valerie Hoh will sell handmade products at her studio in Kenilworth November 13 and 14 from 11am-6pm. See more of her work at www.hohcouture.com.

Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 10:48PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References3 References

Don't Skirt The Issue

interview by Jess McCuan . photo by Rimas Zailskas

Name: Anne Moore

Age: 61

Great skirt. Is it leather? Yes. It’s from an outlet store, Doncaster Tanner, in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. It’s their overstock, what they haven’t sold from the season before. I just love their stuff. I’ve been shopping there since 1970.

Where do you look for style tips? I like to read Town & Country, Vanity Fair and InStyle. The malls a lot of times are trendy, and you see fashions for younger girls. I tend to stick to the classics.

Those glasses look vintage. They’re new, but Jackie O style. They do look like what I wore in the ‘70s.

Anything else you can’t live without? Anything black. If I travel, I can go for a while in a 22-inch suitcase and look good by changing shells or scarves. You can dress anything up or down with black. A good-fitting quality black piece to me is the smartest thing a woman can buy.

Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 10:46PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments1 Comment

Puupy Love

interview by Jess McCuan . photo by Anthony Bellemare

Name: Alesha Reardon

Age: 28

Tell me about your dog. His name is Utah. He’s a pound puppy.

You went to the pound to get him? Yes. At the time, my boyfriend, now husband, didn’t want a dog. I said, well, I’m getting a puppy, and I’ll take full responsibility. It’ll be my dog. But then we both went to the pound and fell in love. He was a fluffy little loaf of bread. He was so cute.

And what do you do? I’m a program manager at Southwings. We’re an environmental group, and we fly over different sites and regions.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve seen from the plane? The mountaintop removal coal mining sites, mainly in Kentucky and West Virginia. The destruction is so widespread and massive. It’s really eye-opening to see it from the air. It’s something you just can’t understand unless you see it from above. 

Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 10:45PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment

The Other Side Of Munday

interview by Jess McCuan . photo by Anthony Bellemare

Name: Ashley Munday

Age: 35

I never would have guessed 35 for you. It’s a blessing and a curse. In my business life, people sometimes don’t take me as seriously. I used to try and act older. Now, I just don’t care… There have been times when I’m traveling with my boss, and I’ve had people say, “I thought you were his secretary.”

What do you do? I work at the Barrett Values Centre. We measure values and culture—it can be in businesses or cities or nations. It could be Latvia or Iceland. We see beyond political strategies and talk about what’s more common and human.

What does that mean in a company, for example? We look at what’s most important to a group of people. Things like financial stability, relationships, trust, future generations, or the environment. The people need to have a sense of meaning and purpose. What’s most important in any group is having similar values.

Any pearls of wisdom you can share, having talked to so many people about values? People’s perceptions create reality. If they’re feeling negative, their values impact the way that they go. 

Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 10:44PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment

Taking The High Road

How did Abby Burt land such a lofty position?

by Janet Hurley . photo by Corinne Krogh

Abby Burt’s life has been a bit squirrelly this year. As branding and marketing leader for Navitat Canopy Adventures in Barnardsville, she helped roll out the billboards with Chester A. Corn, the company mascot, a squirrel. Burt, 28, says the cute critter in a harness helped create a buzz that’s keeping Navitat ahead of its original first-year projections: Since May 15, Navitat has had more than 13,000 visitors at its totally tree-based course in Moody Cove. It got a USA Today mention as one of the ten best zip line tours in the country.

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Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 10:42PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References3 References

The Whole Kit and Caboodle

A longtime Charlotte resident takes the reigns at the Asheville Chamber.

by Jess McCuan

Her name is Kathryn, but she’s always gone by Kit. In fact, Kit Cramer comes from a whole family of Kates and Kathryns, so Kit—in addition to sounding cool—helps her stand out from the crowd. The 49-year-old Jacksonville, Florida, native, will take over as Asheville Chamber of Commerce president & CEO on November 15, when longtime Chamber president Rick Lutovsky retires. Now president of the International Downtown Association in Washington, D.C., Cramer worked in various management roles at the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce for 17 years. Cramer says she’s not planning any drastic action for Asheville right away. Instead, after reading a management book by Michael Watkins called The First 90 Days, she’ll spend her first 90 days in Asheville doing nothing but listening and learning. And drinking beer, of course. She’s a beer fan and can’t move to Beer City, USA, without tipping back a few local brews, she says. Cramer spoke to us recently from her D.C. office.

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Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 10:40PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment

A New Perspective On The Spectrum

Autism gets the Hollywood treatment, and Sylvia van Meerten has a fresh take on helping Ashevilleans deal with the disorder.

by Jess McCuan . photo by Matt Rose

In 1988, the movie Rain Man gave many Americans their first close-up view of autism. Dustin Hoffman won an Oscar for his portrayal of Raymond Babbitt, a long lost brother to Tom Cruise’s character, a brash, rude L.A. car salesman. Twenty years later, Claire Danes has given us a new view of the disorder, with HBO’s release this summer of a movie about Temple Grandin, an autistic scientist who was one of TIME’s most influential people of 2010. The movie, which won five Emmys, tells Grandin’s story of battling autism while charting a career studying animal behavior.

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Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 10:39PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments3 Comments

Editor's Note

Greetings from Asheville, where women are taking over.

In case you weren’t keeping track… Both Asheville and Hendersonville have female mayors. In Asheville, the university, the public radio station and the art museum are all run by women. This month, it’s likely that three women candidates will be elected to represent Buncombe County in the North Carolina House of Representatives. And on November 15, Kit Cramer (see our Q&A, page 40) is set to take the reigns as president of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce. Forget Beer City, USA as a designation for Asheville. And Beard City doesn’t even stand a chance. How about Babe City, USA?

Here in Babeville, we’ve had a terrific time interviewing, photographing and getting to know one of its best-know denizens, longtime WLOS anchor Darcel Grimes. She’s been delivering TV news to your living room for nearly 30 years now, and she’s still as sharp and polished as ever. Her age, she says, is one of Asheville’s best-kept secrets. But here’s my favorite tidbit about Darcel: even though the rest of the world sees her from the waist up in stylish suits, TV station staffers know that, below the desk, she’s often wearing bright white sneakers.

Speaking of babes. Check out Susan Reinhardt’s first love advice column for us, It’s Complicated, starting on page 20. This one is an introduction, and a hilarious one at that. Her photo shoot was even funnier. See our contributors’ page for a behind-the-scenes rundown. Then send her your love troubles. She’s sure to cook up some truly entertaining responses. You might even (like her) be inspired to jump up and cheer.

Jess McCuan

Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 10:37PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment