By Virginia Dean, Standard Correspondent
The reason Jessica Abston sprinted down Central Street last summer after the Hollywood actor and film producer Leonardo DiCaprio was not, as one might think, to get his autograph.
Rather, DiCaprio — who had just finished filming The Great Gatsby and was visiting here for a few days — had left his sales slip behind after browsing through Abston’s shop, Who Is Sylvia?, and she was dashing down the sidewalk to return it to him.
At the time, Abston said to herself: “Today was the first and most likely last time in my life that I got to run down the street after Leonardo DiCaprio and not get tackled by security!”
Thanking her, DiCaprio, along with his alleged Victoria’s Secret model girlfriend, took the slip and continued eastward on foot with his 1920s Boater hat that he purchased for $135 and a 1960s swim cap for his mother at $45. He paid with a credit card that was under an alias, according to Abston.
Now, DiCaprio is back in town — well, at least figuratively speaking — this time on the new digital screen at the Town Hall Theatre with the showing of his film, The Great Gatsby, tomorrow night through Monday.
To celebrate, Abston spurred the idea of conjoining three local businesses, including her own shop, that will promote the movie’s showing, sponsored by Pentangle, including dressing up in vintage clothing and having cocktails at Bentleys, walking to the theatre, and then strolling back to the restaurant for a late dinner and dancing.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” said Sunni Fass, Pentangle’s director. “Any time local businesses can partner, it becomes the perfect marriage. It’s what keeps this town going. The party vibe here around the movie is going to be just phenomenal.”
Beginning at 6 p.m. at Bentleys on Saturday, June 29, costumed attendants can enjoy a pre-movie cocktail hour featuring such 1920s and 1930s favorites as Gin Rickeys, Martinis, Mint Juleps and Sidecars.
Before and after the movie, there will be two live bands, one from 5-7 p.m. with Susan Gabriel and the Blue Moo Jazz Muse, and another with Walt Sayre and the East Bay Jazz Quartet from 9:40 p.m. to midnight. Last call will be at 1:40 a.m.. with a restaurant closing at 2 a.m.
“I think it’s going to be a great night,” said Todd Bebo, Bentleys office manager. “It’s pretty exciting and with home-grown entertainment. It’s a chance to get away from your TV and make your own party.”
Bebo said that, along with crazy flapper dancing, there will also be a costume contest in which the best male and female costumes will be judged. Prizes will include gift certificates.
“Bentleys is proud to team up with Who is Sylvia? owner, Jess Abston, to create a fun-filled evening at Bentleys to coincide with the screening of The Great Gatsby,” said Bentley’s owner, John G.F. Ruggieri. “We hope to see everyone there!”
The partnering up of these three local businesses was originally Abston’s idea, according to Bebo.
“It’s really her brainchild,” Bebo said. “She was all over the movie coming to town, and so she approached us about hosting the party.”
Still whirling from her celebratory visit nearly a year ago, Abston is excited about acknowledging a bygone era, one that — through F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel that has endured intense popularity across generations of readers who now can enjoy the recent rendering of the penned story onto the digital screen — she has been touched by personally through the actor that plays the main character.
“DiCaprio was extremely smitten with the whole concept of the vintage store,” Abston said. “He tried on a few hats and his girlfriend, a few dresses. They talked to each other and finally he said to me, ‘If you could pick anything in the store that is completely fabulous, what would it be?’
The star, who was rumored to have stayed at Twins Farms in Barnard during his visit, was apparently impressed with the 1920s boater hat that was similar to the one he wore in The Great Gatsby.
“He was friendly and chatty and kept asking me for my opinion about how stuff looked and recommendations for what to buy but I couldn’t make words come out of my mouth!” Abston laughed.
Abston said that DiCaprio was unobtrusive upon entering her shop, wearing sunglasses, a T-shirt and cargo shorts. In fact, she didn’t recognize him at first. It was when she did that she became tongue-tied. She said he stayed for about a half hour.
“He spent quite a bit of time here,” Abston noted. “He’s a big fan of old things. He seemed very interested in the history of the items he was looking at.”
Abston, who described herself as “floating on air” after DiCaprio’s visit, said she is looking forward to seeing his new film.
“I’ve always been a fan of the 1920s and was extremely excited to hear about the movie, even though it’s gotten mixed reviews,” said Abston. “It will be fun to see it, dressed in ’20s flapper styles and immersing myself in it.”
Interested individuals can RSVP to this weekend’s event by going to: www.facebook.com/events/161777407332621.Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jay Gatsby in the film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby.” (Warner Bros. Photo)