Latin Jazz Master Poncho Sanchez kicks it up at The Playboy Mansion


By Kim Devore

Entertainment Columnist

It was a lively little crowd at the Playboy Mansion as we gathered for one of those fabled soirees and what better way to spice things up than with a sizzling hot performance by Poncho Sanchez. Looking very Castro-esque in his long gray beard and black beret, the Poobah of percussion took center stage while his amigos cut loose on the floor. This incredible conga man has so much soul, it’s hard to believe he’s not from Havana. Believe it or not, PS actually hails from that hotbed of hipness – Norwalk, California!

The evening kicked off with a stylish cocktail party by the pool where attractive young servers made the rounds with tender crab cakes, spicy chicken satay and tasty artichoke dumplings. First-timers slipped away to check out Hef’s celebrated menagerie of macaws, parrots and primates, pausing just long enough to sneak a peak at the infamous grotto.

As the sun went down and the stars came out, the eclectic crowd trickled into a tented party palace complete with festive floral arrangements, crystal chandeliers and colorful neon lights shaped like guitars. After indulging in a feast of fresh salmon, steak with peppercorn sauce and chocolate-dipped strawberries, they settle-in for a sampling from Poncho’s “Out of Sight” CD.

And there’s nothing like a little salsa to work it all off. Even guys who can’t keep a beat busted some moves hoping to catch the attention of a few leggy Playboy bunnies who were hovering nearby.

In between sets, the beauties adjusted their bunny ears and fluffed their cottontails in the powder room. It’s been a while, but the pit-stop reminded me why this ritzy restroom is a must see. It’s stocked with more goodies than your local 7-Eleven. The place offers everything a playboy or playmate might ever need including bobby pins, Pepto Bismol, Tampax, shaving cream, hair spray, disposable razors, Vaseline, aspirin, mouth wash, Q-Tips, hand cream, well, you get the idea. So, no excuses to keep you from being your sexy best!

Meantime, back on the dance floor, they were dancing up a storm with some south-of-the-border booglaoo, a bit of shing-a-ling, a pinch of cha-cha and a little “son.” Pancho’s sensational set was followed by an equally stellar performance by songbird Diane Schuur. All the hot stuff was for a very cool cause. Proceeds benefit the Jazz Musicians Emergency Fund.