During the mid-'80s, Brandy Wood stood out among the all-girl students at St. Catherine's private school in the posh West End — if not for her frizzy, bleached blonde hair, then for her graffiti-covered car, a Hindu death goddess painted on the hood.
A longtime musician who has lived in New York for 20 years, Wood now works as a marketing manager for the country's number one jazz radio station, WBGO Jazz 88. But she still fondly remembers spending her weekends during high school in the underage Cellar Door club at 2729 W. Broad St.
“It was a place for misfit kids to all fit in,” Wood recalls of the nonalcoholic dance nights held before the club closed in 1986. Think “Pretty in Pink” or some other John Hughes teen flick — minus best friend Duckie, or Andrew “Dice” Clay, working the door.
The Cellar Door attracted underground kids from a variety of schools — Open High, Thomas Jefferson, Freeman, Hermitage, Benedictine, Varina, Manchester — mainly because it offered a welcoming environment, Wood says. Some of her best youthful friendships were forged there, so she was happy to see people were still chatting about the good ole days on a Facebook group site called “I Was a Cellar Door Kid in the 80s,” created by Ginni Hendricks, a single mom in Richmond.
“It started as pure silliness, but the group just grew and grew,” says Hendricks of the site that now has more than 400 members. “The club really was a home away from home for people. I made lifelong friends in that place.”
With the help of Wood and several volunteers, Hendricks has planned a reunion night celebrating the former club, which will also serve as a benefit for the Central Virginia Foodbank. The nonprofit headquartered in Richmond has seen a major increase in requests for food from this time last year.
“In just six months, requests for food at the Foodbank have increased by more than 50 percent,” says Fay Lohr, chief executive of FeedMore, the umbrella organization of the food bank and Meals on Wheels. “The need in our community is real and growing, but thankfully so is the generosity of Richmonders.”
The benefit will be held, appropriately, at Nations, a new club in the old Cellar Door spot. Hendricks does not want the event to be exclusive, so she ran print and radio ads appealing to younger generations, especially those fashionistas influenced by '80s styles. There will be pre-requested '80s tunes from local DJ Rick Danger (who hosts Friday video nights at Bandito's), a fashion show from Toxic Shock Apparel and Need Supply, a best-dressed costume contest, and the piA"ce de rAcsistance: A cheesy prom photo booth run by An Everlasting Impression, for those who want to relive that ritualistic moment in the big rattan chair beneath fake stars.
Wood, who played bass for Cracker for several years and still owns a home in Richmond, is now married. But she says she can't wait to have a prom date portrait with her husband — as well as an old beau from the Cellar Door days — considering the way her original prom went at St. Catherine's.
“I didn't want the pressure of a date, so I took my best friend [another girl],” she writes via e-mail. “Pretty much killed any chance I might have had with the St. Chris boys, but I didn't lose any sleep over it.” S
The Central Virginia Foodbank benefit at Nations, 2729 W. Broad St., is Sunday, March 22, at 7 p.m. The fashion show begins at 8:30 pm. $10 dollars with a $2 discount if you bring two nonperishable items of food to donate. Prom photos are $6 per portrait with the company donating half the proceeds to the food bank. 257-9891.