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Celebrating with Oscar, Sebastopol style


Dapper in their black tailcoat jackets, white shirts and white vests, James Knauer and Richard Jones posed for photos Sunday, standing on a plush red carpet next to a long, shiny black limousine.

The two Santa Rosa men were in front of a theater, but it was more than 400 miles north of the Dolby Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, where the 86th annual Academy Awards were unfolding with the usual show-biz splendor.

Instead, they were among about 230 folks attending the second annual Academy Night in Sonoma County, hosted by the Rialto Theater in Sebastopol as a benefit for Food for Thought, a Forestville-based food pantry for AIDS and HIV patients.

"It's a good cause," declared Knauer, who has been partners with Jones for 34 years.

Their ultra-formal outfits were rented.

"I won't wear it again until I'm buried," Jones joked.

"Do it now while the tux still fits," Knauer suggested.

Lending dramatic flair to the limousine photo session was Sister Yoda Lay-Hee Hoo of the Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a Guerneville-based nonprofit.

Sister Yoda, outrageously made up and wearing black and white polka dot stiletto-heeled stocking shoes, said her last name could be spelled with "as many O's as you want."

"You have to sing it if you read it out loud," she said.

A VIP reception, with sparkling wine and hors d'oeuvres, took place under a long white tent across the street from the theater, where guests later watched the Oscars telecast on a movie screen.

Gary Gerber of Occidental stood out in a white jacket covered with shiny silver sequins, purchased at a Sebastopol boutique.

"It's amazing how many opportunities pop up when you have a jacket like this," he deadpanned.

Roberta Goldfarb of Sebastopol had on a wine colored satin gown she bought "just for the Oscars." She was pulling for "12 Years a Slave" to win best picture, which it did.

"I think that was a phenomenal movie," Goldfarb said.

Jean Maltby of Sebastopol wanted Cate Blanchett to win best actress for "Blue Jasmine" and Matthew McConaughey to cop best actor for "Dallas Buyers Club."

"They just stand out," she said, noting that McConaughey typically plays a "fluffy, romantic lead" as opposed to the gritty character Ron Woodroof, a man with HIV distributing drugs the government would not approve.

In Hollywood, both picked up gold statuettes.

Inside the tent in Sebastopol, guests stepped onto a platform for photos with "Oscar Boy," played by Christopher Watros wearing nothing but clingy shorts, shoes and gold body paint literally from head to toe.

"It's a good half hour washing with Dial soap," he said, when asked if it comes off.

Tom Wilson of Petaluma said he rented his black tuxedo. "We wouldn't get to dress up like this very often," he said.

"Especially in Sebastopol," quipped his wife, Anne O'Toole.

Ron Karp, executive director of Food for Thought, wearing a double-breasted black tux jacket, said the Oscars night isn't the nonprofit's biggest fundraising event, "but it's definitely our flashiest."

Sunday's event netted an estimated $10,000 for the charity, which has been feeding AIDS patients and their families since 1988.

Larry Needleman, a Food for Thought board member, got a lot of comments on his somewhat stiff silvery jacket, actually a shirt from Goodwill covered with duct tape.

He made it 10 years ago and has only worn it a half dozen times, said Needleman, a 40-year Sebastopol resident.

"This is my favorite Sebastopol event," he said, summing up the evening.

"It's really silly."