Enter your email for updates:
Counselor Senior Editor Michele Bell's slanted view of the world.

Putting the “Chic” in Chicago…The High (& Low) Lights from the ASI Show!

Filed under: ASI Shows, Editorial, Fun, Travel

Hi Everyone!

Welcome back from Chicago! If you weren’t there, YOWZA, did you miss a good time! I can’t remember a show where everyone seemed to be in such a great mood and going off the rails they were having so much fun!

The show was fabulous and the parties were epic — but don’t take my word for it; check out the menu of mayhem and debauchery in the array of photos below. I don’t know about you all, but I have serious concerns as to whether my liver will cease quivering in time for the SAAC Show next week. And that one, my friends, being my last show of the year, is where I go out with a bang, not a whimper. ; )

More on Friday!


— Michele

Tom Riordan, CEO of Maple Ridge Farms, and I share a drink at the Mix bar in the Hyatt — where the elite meet to eat and the rummies flock to drink. Tom and I had never met in person before, and he was as delightful as I had heard.

On Monday night, the editorial team went to dinner at Chicago’s Chop House with two industry friends — PromoShop’s Kris Robinson (shown here with Counselor editor Andy Cohen, left, and editor-in-chief Melinda Ligos) and Awesome Line’s Jodi Friedman. I ADORE Kris Robinson, though he swears he’s growing his hair long again just for me… Boys with long hair are like catnip to me.

Joe Haley, managing editor and star of The Joe Show, attempts to strike a sexy pose. I think it looks as though he’s about to go face-down in his arugula.

Awesome Line’s Jodi Friedman (left), looking lovely in lime green, Hillary Braubitz, the super-designer who lays out ASI’s seven magazines and Joanne Lynch, director of ASI’s education program share a relaxed moment before the craziness of the show week kicks in.

Counselor editor Andy Cohen (left) and PromoShop’s yummy Kris Robinson get markedly happier after a few glasses of wine. And yes, I am well aware that I am shameless when it comes to flirting with the industry’s hottiest of hotties!

Andy Cohen comforts Joanne Lynch upon her realization that Joe Haley and I indeed never stop talking.

The kiss that launched a thousand gags. Immediately prior to this, I announced to the table — in my typical level-headed fashion — that I would never kiss a Republican. Joe Haley, being a staunchly conservative Republican, planted one on me before I had a chance to crawl under the table and curl up in the fetal position.

Andy Cohen (shown here) and Kris Robinson were so flummoxed by the kissing, they immediately had to order more wine, “to burn the image” out of his brain, as Kris said.

Jodi Friedman and I have been friends for more than 10 years and Jodi was one of the first people to invite me to her home and her fabulous party during the SAAC Show when it was still held in San Diego back in the day. The industry may be full of loonies, freaks and tools, but the friendships do endure.

Upon leaving the Chop House, Jodi and I climbed into a cab with Joe Haley (left, above) and Andy Cohen, who took turns sitting on each other’s laps, being the big babies they are. Kris Robinson, wisely, sat in the front, talked to the driver and pretended he didn’t know us.

(From left): ASI’s marketing renegade Jake Krolick, ASI’s sales director of CreditConnect & Supplier Membership Services Gene Rahill and CreditConnect account executive Matt Canamucio get their Irish on at Kitty O’Shea’s in the Hilton Hotel. For those of you who don’t know Gene Rahill, Joe Haley maintains — and I concur — that he has the best walk EVER; a hybrid of a strut, a swagger and a sashay. Next time you see Gene at a show, request that he trot around the ASI booth for your benefit. You can almost hear the opening music for “Saturday Night Fever” when he walks.

Gene Rahill, henceforth known as the “The Strutter,” ASI’s marketing manager Jack “I’m not Santa!” Flohr and my girl Laura Fisher, now with ASI’s catalog sales department. Next time you see Laura at a show, buy her a drink as she now reports to my brother from another mother, Christian Brandt. Those of you who know Tigerbeat know that he’s all cocktails and disco-balls at the shows; here in the office, however, he’s one tough cookie and all business.

Jakey Krolick, Laura Fisher and our BFF from Avaline, Dan Burke. It was soon after this that an “incident” occurred (which usually happens when Jake and I are together — we’re like the Wonder Twins, in the form of “degenerate”!) in which the bartender hinted that the police would be arriving shortly. He soon joined our party, as Jake bribed him with tips and I distracted him with cleavage.

Let’s all just take a moment to contemplate the sheer animated glee on Gene Rahill’s face. Shown here with Jack Flohr, I think we need to get Gene out of the office more often and let him loose on the road.

Here’s Jakey thinking he’s Annie Leibowitz, snapping aesthetically artistic, angled shots. Too bad the subject matter isn’t nearly that high-brow — note the expression on my face, as if it’s ready to pool into a puddle.

At the Mix bar in the Hyatt Hotel, I was able to catch up with Bullet Line’s Carol Goebelt (left), an industry friend from way back, Jodi Friedman and Cathy Cain, owner of CC Marketing.

To coincide with Counselor‘s first-ever “Hot” issue (the soon-to-be-released August issue), we threw an invitation-only soiree at the tres hot bar on the top floor of the W Hotel on Lakeshore Drive. In addition to those who are on Counselor’s “Hot” list, many of the industry coolest, hippest and prettiest people were on hand to celebrate. Here, we have Mark Smalley, director of marketing for American Apparel (left) and one of the people who can keep Dov Charney, American Apparel’s famously batty CEO and a member of the “Hot” list, in check and Leon Rudolph, one of the swankiest dressers this industry has ever seen. We love Leon and are now lucky enough to have him working with us at ASI.

What a cast of characters! From left, my pal Tom Carroll, vice president of marketing for Selco, Brett Hersh, president of AdMints, iPROMOTEu’s Pat Caccamo (who also serves double-duty as Ross Silverstein’s ever-present consigliere), and the lover of limelight himself, Ross Silverstein, president of Counselor Top 40 distributor iPROMOTEu and one of the 37 people on Counselor‘s Hot list. (For a complete list, check out August’s issue of Counselor!)

The fabulous fashionista from Poly-Pak Industries, my friend Melissa Cantor, shown here with Dan Scribner and Josh Goodelman (LOVE him!!!) from Liqui-Mark.

My BFF Sharon Biernat of OnTime Promotions in Chicago and Counselor editor Andy Cohen greet the paparazzi looking like the celebs they are.

Terry’s Angels! These lovely HALO/Lee Wayne ladies (left to right: Dana Wike-National Account Executive, Peggy Peugh-National Account Executive, and Julie Harms-Supplier Relations Administrator) all showed up with Terry McGuire, senior vice president of marketing for HALO/Lee Wayne, and one of my all-time favorites in the industry. Terry was a shoe-in for Counselor‘s “Hot” list, and if you need proof as to why, see the next two photos…

Terry McGuire, shown here with me at Counselor‘s “Hot” party at the W Hotel. Oh, let me count the ways I love Terry McGuire:

1. His sense of humor is as dark and warped as mine

2. He never takes himself too seriously and embraces self-deprecation

3. He is the embodiment of a quote once uttered by another enigmatic personality, Gonzo writer Hunter S. Thompson: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

Here’s one of Terry greeting me hello. Unlike with the kiss from my colleague Joe Haley, I didn’t run from this one! This shot, my friends, is one for my wallet.

Another great gal pal of mine, the lovely Kellie Claudio (right), shown here with her friend Amy Kaplan, sales executive for KC & Associates. Look at Kellie’s tan and big white smile… she is just the picture of California cool!

And so the trouble begins, when Key-Bak’s Tom Ngo rolls onto a scene. Shown here (left) with American Apparel’s Mark Smalley, Tom was kind enough to keep my Grey Goose filled as I roamed the Hot party snapping photos.

Ah, here’s one my mother would be proud of… I look like an aging porn star — one that’s past her prime, on the “D” list and makes films with titles like “Batman & Throbbin.'”

Two “Hotties” and a blondie! From left: Brown & Bigelow’s Cindy Jorgenson, Mark Hobbs (aka “McDreamy”), president of Del Rey Nut Co. — both of whom are on Counselor‘s “Hot” list — and my BFF Sharon Biernat, striking a pose at the party. For those of you who think this industry isn’t filled with the beautiful people, I suggest you take a good long look at this photo!

Three words to describe me in this photo with my friend Mike Riddle, director of promotional marketing and one of the hottie boy toys I know and love at WorkFlowOne: Shiny, Sloppy and Swollen.

WorkFlowOne’s Mike Riddle and Brown & Bigelow’s Cindy Jorgenson, who are so attractive they look like they should be in the “Fanfair” section of Vanity Fair magazine — the collage of celebs at jetsetting international parties.

MegaCap’s David Chen and I sharing some quiet time at the “Hot” party.

Paul Kory, Bullet Line’s director of sales, and I schmoozing for the camera.

Avaline’s Dan Burke and I show off our cocktail-induced miles of smiles.


The straws that stir the cocktails… my favorite bon vivant couple — the Nick & Nora Charles of the industry — Dan and Natalie Townes. After the ASI Chicago show ended, Sharon Biernat and I spent last weekend at the Townes’ fabulous lakehouse in Tullahoma, TN. More photos from that leg of “Michele & Sharon’s Excellent Adventure” this Friday!

A few words about my colleague Andy Cohen: Andy is the type of person who does his job without expecting any fanfare, he does not crave the spotlight or need to be the center of attention (unlike Joe Haley and I, who are whores for the limelight) and who diligently tracks down leads for stories, every so often leaving his office to print something out from the financial news. In short, he is not a kook. At this show, however, Andy was a revelation — dancing with the gusto of a lounge lizard, swilling cocktails like a rock star and passing out in bed while still wearing his glasses. Rock on, Andy — we love degenerate you.

Hillary Braubitz, our diva of graphic design, gets her frakin’ dance moves on at the W.

Joe Haley, star of The Joe Show, exemplifying the concept of the “angry inch.”

Ladies and gentleman, meet Andy Cohen, Solid Gold Dancer.

Associate publisher Ed Koehler, “Special Ed,” as we like to call him here at ASI, raises a drink to the camera.

And without further wait, the Caligula of ASI, Ron Ball, sporting what only can be described as his “pimp gear.”

Ron Ball and Nadine Panetti, the “Saucy Aussie” and one of the trend-setters on Counselor‘s “Hot” list. I adore Nadine because she does not, as they say, “gild the lily” — she tells it just like it is!

The Saucy Aussie and I as we tried to duck out for a quick cigarette…

Tim Andrews, ASI’s president/CEO and host with the most, welcomes guests to Counselor‘s “Hot” party atop the swanky W Hotel on Lakeshore Drive.

Tim, in a rare quiet, pensive moment at the Hot party, preparing to announce the names of the 37 industry people on Counselor‘s inaugural “Hot” list in the upcoming August issue.

Liqui-Mark’s Josh Goodelman and Poly-Pak Industries’ Melissa Cantor let loose at Counselor‘s “Hot” party.

From left: Rena Wells from Winning Edge, “Hot” lister Cindy Jorgenson from Brown & Bigelow and I vogue for the camera.

Tim Andrews, ASI’s CEO/president, welcomes the pretty people to Counselor’s “Hot” party at the W Hotel. Here, Tim poses with Rena Wells from Winning Edge and Cindy Jorgenson, one of Counselor’s “Hot” people profiled in the August issue, from Brown & Bigelow. I don’t know who the cutie is behind them, but I think he needs his own dipping sauce… he’s like a little hors d’oeuvre. Yummy!!!


WorkFlowOne’s Roger Burnett and Mark Messner, enjoying the ambiance and pretty people at the Hot party. And I will absolutely state without reservation that there are few people who revel in a party like my boys at WFO!

On Wednesday night, party-goers flocked to Excalibur for the ASI Show Gala — always a good time that ends up with all the hard-core partiers disgracing themselves at Shenanigan’s — of that mess, I took no photos to protect those involved in all the after-hours antics. You can thank me with cocktails! ; ) Here., Key-Bak’s Tom Ngo (left) enjoys some drinks with Ryan and Nick Hung of Handy Industries.

The ASI Show’s Shelli Jordan (left) and Sue Long, were the first smiling, festive faces guests saw as they entered the Gala at Excalibur.

Tom Ngo and my pal Rena Wells from Winning Edge Inc. in Minnesota. Rena, like Brown & Bigelow’s Cindy Jorgenson, always set the standard for fashionistas in the industry.

Cindy Jorgenson and WorkFlowOne’s Mike Riddle, at the Excalibur gala. Clearly, these two were leading the way on the party circuit!

My editorial merry band of misfits, from left: Counselor editor Andy Cohen, senior designer Hillary Braubitz, managing editor Joe Haley and editor-in-chief Melinda Ligos at the Excalibur gala. With them is our colleague Candace Hershey, who oversees ASI’s ESP department. Much like the chocolate bar with which she shares a name, Candace is very sweet and too much of her just may be the death of you. Kisses, Candy! ; )


  1. Rena Wells Says:

    Cute pictures Michele :) Loves them….. it was SO great to see you in Chi-Town!

    Thursday July 31, 2008
  2. Melissa Cantor Says:

    A great party with great people! Michelle’s comments are perfect! Thank you ASI for a wonderful evening!

    Thursday July 31, 2008
  3. Dan Burke Says:

    And of course the coolest party of the year goes to Michele Bell. A party on the top floor of the W with bouncers? Now THAT’S style. P.S. Is it just me or does the one shot of us from above in the Irish Pub look like a band shot with you as the singer channeling a 70s Stevie Nicks?

    Wednesday August 6, 2008
  4. Alison Minnich Says:

    Great photos. Loved the aging porn star photo, too funny. Missed everyone at SAAC.


    Thursday August 28, 2008

Leave a Comment