Diana Hamann, owner of the Wine Goddess (Photo by Wendi Kromash)

The topic was “Bodily Fluids” and the storytelling event, originally proposed for January but postponed because of omicron, finally took place Sunday, March 13, in the cozy confines of The Wine Goddess store on Main Street. Five distinct creative voices shared extremely personal stories in front of a sold-out group.

From left: Iden Nowlin, Chelsea Elward and Claire Zulkey enjoy storytelling night at the Wine Goddess. (Photo by Wendi Kromash)

The crowd was sipping wine, beer and cider and nibbling on cheese and charcuterie plates. A nonalcoholic drink infused with CBD was especially popular. Diana Hamann, the store’s proprietress and educator about all things wine, as well as a nationally known wine consultant, welcomed everyone saying, “We needed humans to be in the same room together, in real life.”

Hamann introduced Claire Zulkey, a local writer who planned the storytelling series. The two women worked together to choose the themes for each event, and Zulkey recruited the storytellers from her wide network of creative friends. She selected writers whom she trusted “would know what to do, write well, be funny, show up on time and know how to respond to an audience,” she noted. She observed that most creative people need to be around others, so this type of event is a welcome respite after being isolated for so long.

Lily Be (Photo by Wendi Kromash)

Zulkey introduced each of the speakers. The “stage” was the front area of the store with a solitary microphone. James Finn Garner told the audience how he went skydiving to celebrate his 30th birthday. There was drama and bodily fluids, but no injuries.

Adrienne Gunn told a magical story involving her son, the messiness of parenthood and the pressures of trying to be perfect when you are young, away from your friends and family, a new mother and married to the wrong person.

Lily Be told a heartbreaking story about a relationship that was never to be and how she still carries those memories with her.

Chelsea Elward, founder of the Evanston children’s bookstore Booked, told a hilarious story about her cancer diagnosis, her breasts and the newest medication prescribed by her oncologist. Cancer usually isn’t what comes to mind under “funny,” but Elward received some of the loudest laughs of the night.

Chelsea Elward (Photo by Wendi Kromash)

The final story was by Elizabeth Gomez, aka “Juanna Rumble,” one of the co-founders of the Windy City Rollers, a flat-track roller derby league for women. She told a funny, profane, angry and heartfelt story about how she still wrestles with the distorted ideas her mother communicated to her about being female and the value of women. Her reflections on toxic masculinity, sex, empowered aging and fears about not being seen made for a riveting performance.

Upcoming “Uncorked” events will take place on April 24 when the theme will be “Ghost Stories,” and on May 24 when the theme will be “Love and Hate.” Contact The Wine Goddess for details.

Wendi Kromash

Wendi Kromash is curious about everything and will write about anything. She tends to focus on one-on-one interviews with community leaders, recaps and reviews of cultural events, feature stories about...

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