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A Night at the Versace Mansion (Party Pics)

May 30, 2008 By Rebecca Lucente in Miami: Local News  | 2 Comments


When I was told that my husband and I would be going to SPCA Miami’s “Celebrities Go Orange for Animals” party with Neill Hernandez, VP of Cigarette Racing, and his lovely wife, Amalia, I was excited.

Hearing it was at the infamous Versace Mansion however, this writer jumped right out off the couch! The mansion is one of those places you just have to go to. The only problem is, most of us can’t make it past the front door, unless it’s a very special occasion. Here’s the story of mine…

In Search Of Orange Clothing

Saturday morning was another bright Florida sunshiny morning,  and found me awakening with one very important thing on my mind –  buying something orange and fabulous for the party. My husband wasn’t feeling well, so, doing what any other card carrying Jewish American Princess would do – I called Nordstrom and had Jeniffer pull what she said was “everything” orange in the store in our sizes.

I arrived at the mall in a panic. After rejecting everything Jeniffer had pulled except one pale orange paisley shirt my husband would hate, I walked three, literally, three steps to find the most perfect Juicy dress ever .  On any other day, you would call the color peach, but today it is orange. Upon arriving home I was met with the news that my husband would not be going. After a few very tense hours getting ready, and even a frantic post on, it was SamStyl to the rescue! SamStyl is the name my best friend in Miami made for herself when she was working as a high fashion stylist on the beach.  Her given name is Samantha Weston. She is my partner in crime at Epicure, Loehmanns, and Miami at large.

She picked me up in her Acura SUV and soon we were cruising over the McArthur Causeway, digital recorder and camera safely in purse. We parked in a parking garage off Washington, from where we could hear the music and see the orange lighting flowing out of the mansion. When we got past the 47 police officers guarding the door (Yes, my name is on the VIP list, thank you!) the plan was to obtain a press pass, a drink and find Tessie Calejo, the director of SPCA Miami.  Instead I got my press pass, my drink, and realized with the 500 people milling about, we wouldn’t be spotting Tessie, Neill, or Amalia anytime soon.

Behold - The Versace Mansion


The main entrance to the house was set up with various sponsor tables that we passed enroute into the main courtyard where the pool, stage, little pool cabana, and the VIP room was. The house, what I saw of it anyway, was massive. It’s a little mind-blowing every time you remember that an estate like that exists right on Ocean Drive of all places. The landscaping was lush and decadent, from the Royal Palms to the various tropical flowers and creeping ivy. It was seamlessly Miami-Tuscany fusion. It felt like you could either be in Miami or in a grand Villa on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.  The guest bathroom off the main entryway was grand, with a heavy, dark, expensive looking wood door, and light colored marble everywhere, with the most lavish gold fixtures on everything. The courtyard was big enough for a small concert, with stone pavers with grass in between on the ground and gorgeous Juliet balconies that led out of the many bedrooms.

D-Listers Go Orange for Animals

There were tons of Latin celebs there. Not that I knew who any of them were.  Name a Univision star, and I can practically guarantee I rubbed elbows with them (or at least tripped near them – those pavers are so uneven!). Although these people may not be considered A-List in most of the country, it is important to note that Univision and Telemundo are broadcast worldwide, meaning the same Latin soap opera you’re watching in Miami, someone is also watching in Argentina. Even though all the American shows play there too, they are a season behind or more according to my “Greys Anatomy” obsessed friend that lives there.

The first celeb we spotted was Taye Diggs. Although he said he wasn’t Taye, Tessie later told me that Taye was there and when he gave us a business card, SamStyl said the name on the business was Taye Digg’s wife’s name. He was with a guy named Mark who assured us he was not his manager. Here’s a pic of me in my perfect Juicy dress with him. You be the judge.


As I was walking to the bathroom, I saw what appeared to be an incredibly well dressed midget. As it turns out, it was a six-year-old reggaeton star from Puerto Rico named Xavi (the destroyer).. He is Daddy Yankee’s Godson, and when he got up on stage, the press went nuts! It was clear the kid was a born star – when he was posing and went to leave the stage, I called out “Uno Mas!” because I hadn’t gotten a good shot. It was way past his bedtime, and still this little sensation turned back around, got back on stage, and gave me my shot. Here it is:


As we continued to make our way through the crowd, stopping to scope out anyone who looked remotely famous and trying to talk to them. This lady was one step ahead of me however:


I got some good shots of Miss Latin International and Miss Argentina. They were not wearing orange.


I have no idea who these people are, but they were having a spectacular time and were incredibly good sports. I think this picture pretty much sums up the night from the partygoer point of view:


That was when we met M.D. and crew from Vivid_Trendz, a Miami based Fashion label. The boys website is under construction, but you can check out their designs on their MySpace profile.  As Paul says, “Be on the lookout for our clothes.” SamStyl posed for a pic with the boys.


Hanging Out In The VIP Room

The VIP room was a telenovela fan’s dream. I kept on trying to think how it would feel to be in the room with the entire cast of “Grey’s Anatomy”, or at least, the entire male cast. Before I fell over drooling, I sat next to a gorgeous couple that are again, apparently big stars in Latin America.


They were more than happy to sit next to me, tell me their names and what hit show they were on (sounds like, La Pictura?) but besides the speeches, my digital recorder may as well have been at Space for how well it recorded anything but the music. Although I assume this is a bit nicer than Spaces’s VIP room. The best part of that room was that it had a huge industrial strength fan that I stood in front of for a delicious 45 seconds before descending back in the oppressively thick, hot, Miami air.

SPCA Miami Knows How To Party

Tessie took the stage, along with Marielos Baltodano, also from SPCA Miami, and Robert Buiguis from One Source Branding. Since the speech replaced the ba doom of the music, the recorder actually did its job and captured the speech. She started off by thanking Jorvi Entertainment Group, who provided all of the entertainment, music, etc, and invited all the local celebrities.


She then went on to thank, from what I can understand, Miami–Dade Animal Services. Then I hear myself talking over the speech to someone about and my blog while she is thanking the sponsors, and then introducing some people in rapid fire Spanish. There is an awful lot of applause behind my babble. Leave it to me to ruin the one thing my ten-year-old recorder picked up. 

Then in English, (YAY) we have Allison from ASPCA New York.  She was very happy to be there for that night, saying that when they began Go Orange for Animals, years ago, she had no idea the magnitude that it would take on. And thanks to the hard work of ASPCA and SPCA Miami, it is now something that has become nationwide. Their main objectives are to reduce overpopulation and end needless suffering of animals, especially shelter dogs. There is lots of drunken whooping; I believe one of them was mine, and a lot of rapid fire Spanish. And then there was the scintillating conversation of two girls behind me.

“That’s not orange,” says girl “A”, pointing to someone in the crowd.

“And that’s not orange”, says girl “B”, pointing to another. Feeling confident that the Orange Fashion Police had things under control, I made my way back toward SamStyl – and my drink. We walked into the Full Throttle area, which was set up in the poolside cabana. I managed to avoid falling into the pool as I walked in, where I graciously accepted a can, poured half of it into my drink, and then, when no one was looking, grabbed an unopened bottle of Level One vodka, twisted off the plastic, and dumped about six shots into my cup. I then placed the bottle back with the others and carried on as if nothing happened, hoping no one would notice my drink had magically refilled itself. (Our first round was 45$, so don’t judge). Mission accomplished.

Then I lost Sam again getting a pic of the fun partygoers. “Excuse me, have you seen a blonde with a crazy orange shirt?” 


As the concert portion of the night began, SamStyl and I danced for a bit before deciding to call it a night. It was muy caliente in there, and if you are reading this now,  I accomplished what I set out to do.

A follow up phone call to Tessie confirmed what I already knew – the night was a huge success. Tons of money was raised for the Miami-Dade Animal Services trust fund, although she couldn’t confirm an amount when we spoke, The trust fund provides medicine, blankets, food, toys, and anything else the orphan pets of Miami may need.  If you are interested in volunteering for SPCA Miami, or even just finding out a little more about them, you can visit their website, We even got cute little gift bags. I have an extra one for whoever leaves the first comment below.

Related Categories: Casa Casuarina Miami: Local News,

Rebecca Lucente is a freelance writer and poet, also the author of Becca’s Blog

See more articles by Rebecca Lucente.

See more articles by Rebecca Lucente

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2 Comments on

"A Night at the Versace Mansion (Party Pics)"

Mirna says:

Hi Rebecca,

Your article made me feel like I was there. But I am stil jealous! wink

I am a big fan of Taye Diggs, and that guy wasn’t him. If the business card said Idina Kim Menzel (his wife), maybe you are right.

I love the color of your dress. I would called it “Salmon” color instead of orange or peach. The important thing is that it worked and you looked good on it.

P.S. I enjoy reading your blog.

Posted on 05/30/2008 at 2:21 PM

Deb says:

Hey Becca! Great article…so jealous! You’re dress was beautiful and I have to agree…that guy doesn’t look like Taye Diggs, but who knows! Keep the great write-ups coming!

Posted on 05/30/2008 at 4:03 PM

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