Celebrating Under the Sea

By Richard Mineards   |   August 23, 2022
Teresa Kuskey Nowak celebrating her birthday with her La Boheme dancers (photo by Rick Oshay)

Teresa Kuskey Nowak’s birthday bash at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum may have had an Under the Sea theme, but there was not a flipper or snorkel to be seen when 112 guests descended on the harborside institution for the fun fête hosted by social gadabout Rick Oshay.

After margaritas and comestibles on the museum’s terrace accompanied by music from Maitland Ward and Jackson Gillies, dinner beckoned among the nautical exhibits as ubiquitous KEYT-TV reporter John Palminteri emceed the heaving hoedown, which included Teresa’s colorfully costumed La Boheme dancers and the dancing and singing of Timo Nuñez, and former Junior Spirit Alexandra Nocker.

Among the wave of guests were Gretchen Lieff and Miles Hartfeld, David Bolton, Drew Wakefield, fun loving Franciscan friar Larry Gosselin, Lynn Kirst, Chris and Mindy Denson, Greg Gorga, Richard Auhll, Adam McKaig, Fritz and Gretchen Olenberger, Mark Whitehurst and Kerry Methner, Erin Graffy, and James Garcia.

(Front) Dave Pintard, Monalisa Aguilar, Marc MacIsaac, Pat Longo, Jennifer Purling; (back) Teresa Kuskey Nowak and Rick Oshay, Mike and Debbie Stoker, Maranee Landau, and Bobby Montanes (photo by Priscilla)

Overnight Expenses

Motel 6 Santa Barbara Beach, located just a tiara’s toss off Cabrillo Boulevard, is now the most expensive hostelry in the chain’s 1,225 properties in the U.S. and Canada, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Journal writer Dawn Gilbertson just spent two nights at the 52-room motel, paying a hefty $426 a night before taxes.

She booked her room two weeks in advance, with her first night rate being $407 before taxes, with other guests paying $225 and $450 a night before taxes, thanks to AARP and early booking discounts.

Gilbertson said nearby hotels, including the Mar Monte and the Hilton Santa Barbara, charged more than $800 a night the week she visited our Eden by the Beach.

Her room – 220 – had an ocean view, “a surprise upgrade from the front desk clerk,” after the reporter paid a $20 early check-in fee.

Gilbertson commended the “strong boutique hotel vibe” thanks to a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2020 with rain showers and a blue retro mini refrigerator.

But she complained about “the flimsy bedspread, the thin walls,” and the hair dryer “bolted to the wall.”

Veteran hotelier Sanjay Patel, who bought the motel in June for $14 million – his company Sanj Hotels owns five Motel 6’s in California – says the outsize room rates are driven by market factors and bring higher expectations, including a number he plans to address, including better mattresses and in-room coffee makers.

A long way from my first and only stay at the Motel 6 in Pismo Beach when I was a tourist in 1977 driving down coast from San Francisco.

My bill was $22, including breakfast.

How things have changed…

Honoring Archewell

Prince Harry and his former actress wife Meghan Markle are set to be honorees, along with their Archewell Foundation, for their work advocating for Afghan refugees.

The Riven Rock tony twosome, who will not receive the award in person, are being thanked for their “generous” donation to the Human First Coalition.

Archewell Foundation executive director James Holt will be receiving the Partner Organization Award on their behalf at a New York event this week.

A Close Call

Carpinteria actor Ashton Kutcher says he’s lucky to be alive after suffering from a rare autoimmune disease that left him unable to hear, see, or walk.

Kutcher, 44, has spoken about the condition that upended his life in a sneak peek at an upcoming episode of Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge on which he detailed the horrific symptoms he suffered as a result of the disorder.

“Two years ago, I had this weird, super rare form of vasculitis that blocked out my vision, knocked out my hearing, and effected my equilibrium,” he revealed. “It took a year bringing it all back up.”

Home Sold

Santa Barbara warbler Katy Perry’s 1959-built Regency-style five-bedroom Los Angeles home has sold for $18 million. The 5,427-square-foot property on a 1.16-acre lot was first marketed in March for $19.5 million.

Name Change Request

Oprah Winfrey’s company Harpo Inc. has filed a lawsuit against the creators of the Oprahdemics podcast, claiming the program misleads listeners into believing they sponsored or approved it.

In a complaint filed in Manhattan Federal Court, Harpo Inc. says it is neither seeking profits or damages from Oprahdemics creators Kellie Carter Jackson or Leah Wright Rigueur, nor trying to stop the podcast.

Instead, it wants a name change, saying the podcast and related live events dilute Harpo’s Oprah and O trademarks, and wrongly capitalizes on the good will Oprah has spent decades building.

The End of an Era

Montecito actor-comedian Steve Martin, 76, is retiring from acting after a lengthy career stretching back to the ‘60s. 

He currently stars in the Hulu sitcom Only Murders in the Building alongside Martin Short and Selena Gomez, but he says he won’t pursue movie roles after the series ends.

“I’m not going to seek other movies,” he tells the Hollywood Reporter. “I don’t want to do cameos. This is, weirdly, it.”

Outside of acting, Martin’s upcoming projects include his twelfth book, a documentary, and more tour dates as a double act with Martin Short.

Guest in Residence Designs

Former Montecito Union School student supermodel Gigi Hadid has become a fashion designer.

She announced on Instagram she’s taking her savvy style from the international runway to the design studio with the launch of her own knitwear line, Guest in Residence.

Gigi, 27, combined captioned photos of herself hard at work, giving glimpses at various cashmere sweaters and styles, including a lavender hoodie, a grey pajama set, and orange crewneck sweater.

She also added “founder, creative director @guestinresidence” to her Instagram bio.

Olivia Newton-John Remembered

On a personal note, I remember singer Olivia Newton-John, who has died after a lengthy battle with cancer at the age of 73 at her 12-acre Santa Ynez Valley ranch.

I remember when I was a youngster in the U.K. watching her sing regularly with British rock idol Cliff Richard on his BBC TV show in the ‘70s.

Olivia, who was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth in 1979 for services to charity and cancer research, shot to fame in 1978 in the Allan Carr-film Grease with John Travolta after representing Britain in the Eurovision Song Contest.

She then starred in the 1980 movie Xanadu which featured the music of Montecito Oscar nominee Barry De Vorzon and her co-star Gene Kelly in his last film role.

Olivia was first diagnosed with cancer in 1992, aged 44, and valiantly fought it as it recurred throughout the years.

I last saw her perform four years ago when she sang at a “Songs of Hope” concert at the Lobero produced by Rod Lathim and Thomas Rollerson.


Singer Katy Perry’s father Keith Hudson with his restored 1940 Ford pickup truck at Pierre Lafond… Retired TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres noshing at Tre Lune… Laura Dern checking out Merci Montecito.

Pip! Pip! Be safe, wear a mask when necessary, and get vaccinated.  


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