Six degrees of separation refers to the notion that all people are six, or fewer, social connections away from one another. Imagine if only two degrees separated you from someone very famous, in other words, an A-List celebrity is “a friend of a friend.” We experienced this situation in 2009 when a walk-in client told us that she worked extensively with Priscilla Presley.
Lively discussion ensued about the possibility of naming an orchid after Presley, which we followed up with a letter. Little did we know that Elvis Presley had given his future bride 16 purple Cattleyas for her 16th birthday. So, to put it mildly, she was keen on having a namesake orchid, particularly if it was a purple Cattleya.
Fast-forward 10 years, and the hybrid, Laeliocattleya Priscilla Presley ‘Beverly Hills,’ has garnered much attention. It was featured in the American Orchid Society magazine, and it regularly gets blue ribbons at spring orchid shows.
Recently, I traveled to the West Coast on business and asked Presley if she would like to see me. She did. For dinner.
Reservations were set at the Sunset Marquis, a legendary rock ‘n’ roll-themed restaurant/hotel in the heart of West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. The site touts itself as “the home away from home for actors, supermodels, rock stars.” We sat down at her favorite table and ordered drinks.
I had brought a fancy orchid arrangement that consisted of three different genera — all purple — a miniature Dendrobium, a reed-stem Epidendrum and a heavily spotted Phalaenopsis. She was fascinated by each orchid, its culture requirements and the duration of the blooms. Her eyes lit up when talking about plants.
We got a little off track when the waiter brought our entrees. She informed me of her close ties to the Humane Society and that she was a strict vegetarian. I looked down at my bacon-infused Cobb salad and gently pushed it aside.
Things picked back up when we started discussing her acting role in the hit TV show “Dallas.” She had played Jenna Wade from 1983 to 1988 and thoroughly enjoyed her time, ultimately befriending many of the cast, she said.
Most notably, her business savvy was on full display. She recently helped open a 450-room hotel, The Guest House at Graceland, in which the top floor suites are recreated as Elvis’ bedroom. She’s launching a national restaurant chain, All Shook Up, where you can bet there will be plenty of vegetarian dishes.
Just when I thought my dining experience couldn’t get any better, Presley asked me to be a speaker at an event at Graceland. I instantly agreed without even consulting my calendar. Some things just take priority.
The event, “Graceland’s Elegant Southern Style Weekend,” features seminars, intimate tours of the property and fancy receptions. I am a panelist in the area of Southern décor and architecture with the topic “Decorating with Orchids.” Hope to see everyone there Sept. 27-29 in Memphis, Tenn. Visit www.graceland.com for tickets and more details.