The original Miss Richfield was present last week for “Christmas Cone of Silence,” Miss Richfield 1981’s 17th annual holiday production at Illusion Theater.

I can’t believe the gender-bender named Russ at birth did his full ribald comedy act in front of his octogenarian mom, Barb King, even factoring in that she’s seen more than the audience does in his interpretation of Nat King Cole’s L-O-V-E. What nerve.

I highly recommend “Christmas Cone,” a safe zone for talking about sensitive subjects in the most hilariously inappropriate way. Its December run includes only four more shows: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the theater in the Cowles Center. After the show, Miss Richfield 1981 will come out and pose for pictures with fans for what could be unusual holiday cards.

It was important that 1981’s mom see the “Cone of Silence” show, because she co-stars in one of its videos. “The video is about what to do about the longevity of burdensome relatives. It’s all based on a calling system, the little [alert] buttons you put on people. But instead of calls going directly to the police or fire department, it goes to India, gets picked up by a computer and given to a representative over there,” 1981 explained.

See, sensitive.

“My mom was perfect for that. Then as it turned out, she ended up falling later in the year and she actually has the real button on,” 1981 laughed.

“She usually goes to bed at 7:30 or 8 and the show didn’t start until 8 so she did really well. She stayed after and visited a little bit. I was proud of her. My mother is the original Miss Richfield because my mom and dad [the late Ken King] met in Richfield,” 1981 told me. “They lived across the street from each other.”

Mom’s “Christmas Cone” arrival went smoothly. “My brother, Jeff, and my sister-in-law, Renee, brought Mom down. They have special spots for people in wheelchairs.”

Great seats and I know them well, as when I picked up my ticket, a theater staffer remarked, “You have the entire left wheelchair box to yourself!”

I eventually was joined by other nonwheelchair users. The seat made it easy for 1981 to incorporate me into his improvisational show, where I fared better than some members of the audience and the North Loop, which Miss Richfield 1981 kept confusing with the less hip North Branch.


Stratford-upon-Avon Loop?

It’s a good guess that Miss Richfield 1981 wasn’t the person blowing in the ear of somebody affiliated with “Fodor’s Go List 2016.”

–nominated the Bachelor Farmer or Spoon and Stable, helmed by chef Gavin Kaysen, who famously quit his high-profile New York City job to relocate here,” wrote Kristan Schiller.

It’s a nice section of town, but I don’t think it’s going to be confused with Taipei, Nepal, Lithuania, Cuba or Stratford-upon-Avon, some of Fodor’s other 2016 destinations worth visiting.


Rest well, Mrs. Hasselberg

Former First Lady of Bloomington Phyllis Hasselberg, 97, who missed going out on the town and dining at David Fong’s, died last week. Services are Tuesday at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd.

“I was over visiting her a couple of months ago,” her cousin Kathryn Bauer said, “and she was telling me what she really missed was going out to dinner. That was very hard ’cause she really liked going out.”

The wife of late Mayor Donald Hasselberg, she is survived by her son, Bruce, an ex-husband of Loni Anderson, whom I’ve met a couple times, including at Phyllis’ 90th birthday party.


C.J. can be reached at and seen on Fox 9’s “Jason Show.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count. Attachments are not opened.