Chicago Experiencing a Magic Renaissance

Chicago has been known as a cow town, a town of bootlegging gangsters, and even a town with long-winded politicians but few people know that Chicago was also a place for all things magic. 

At the turn of the 20th century, famous magicians, such as Harry Houdini and Howard Thurston, performed in theaters throughout the city. Chicagoans were hungry for magic and other live entertainment.  Another famous magician of the era, Harry Blackstone Sr. was from Chicago and took his name from the Blackstone Hotel, noted David Witter, author of “Chicago Magic: A History of Stagecraft & Spectacle.”

In the 1950s and 1960s, Chicago was known for its magic bars, where magicians delighted patrons with tricks right at their tables.

“From the ’20s to the ’90s there were at least 16 different magic bars operating around the city,” writer Raf Miastkowski said.

Starting in the 1970s, Marshall Brodien, who played Wizzo the Wizard on TV’s “The Bozo Show,” brought magic into homes as spokesperson for TV Magic Cards, Watkins said.

But by the end of the 20th century, the age of magic in Chicago becan to dry up, and magic bars and shows began disappearing.

Now Chicago’s rich magic history is re-emerging throughout the city as well as the US.

Chicago Magic Lounge, 5050 N Clark St., opened a permanent location in 2018. Dennis Watkins,  a magician, mentalist and entertainer, does five weekly shows of The Magic Parlour at the Palmer House hotel since 2011. He’a also performed in Chicago plays that have incorporated magic into their shows.

Shows like “Penn and Teller: Fool Us” are getting people interested in magic again, Watkins said. 

“Magic isn’t just for kids,” he said. “People are looking for childlike wonder, a virtuosic performance, a puzzle and mystery.”

Close-up magic was Chicago’s speciality in comparison with big-production value disappearing acts. “Chicago magic history has been rooted in close-up and parlor style for a long time,” said Watkins. 

He said his intimate show for 44 guests takes place in the famed Empire Room, where magic legends have performed since the turn of the century. Audience members “get to experience something magical, not in front of you, but with you,” he said.

Ultimately, Watkins said that he and most magicians hope that their audience members will experience the “childlike wonder” of the show. After all, that’s what magic strives to do.

Chicago’s downtown offers spooky history

By Elisa Shoenberger

Downtown Chicago has a rich history of ghost stories and and many popular landmarks have spooky tales associated with them.

A famous site is the Iroquois Theater, now the James M. Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph. Hundreds of moviegoers, mostly women and children, perished in a horrible fire during a Christmas musical in 1903.

Many people died in an alley behind the theater when the panicked crowd ran out the upper-level fire escape doors and fell to their death because fire escapes had not been installed. 

There have been reported sightings of ghosts in the alley as well as the theater.

One reported haunting is inside the theater. Adam Selzer, a local historian, said theater workers report a backstage toilet that flushed by itself and the sound of a little girl giggling. 

However, Selzer explains, people assume that all the ghosts behind the Nederlander theater are from the Iroquois Theater Fire.

“Plenty of other people got killed there,” he said. The street, known as “Hairtrigger Block,” was filled with gambling halls.

Selzer has led ghost tours all over Chicago. This fall he’s running haunted river cruises as well as tours of Lincoln Park Zoo. 

Selzer said he does his research “to get the history right.” While studying haunted places, he’s found the stories can change as they are passed along.“

“Like a game of telephone,” he said.

Selzer said some stories involving Congress Plaza Hotel are more legend than history. However, he said, the location’s proximity to the Auditorium Theater offers some “gruesome” history. Many opera singers who stayed in the hotel ended their lives there.

Selzer said he once heard a gunshot in the hallway behind the Congress ballroom while leading a tour. They never found the cause.

Other haunted places include the site of the S.S. Eastland Disaster on the Chicago River at Clark St. and Wacker Dr., where 844 people perished when the boat capsized in 1915, and the site of Fort Dearborn at Wacker Dr. and Michigan Ave. where soldiers died in the Battle of Fort Dearborn.

Get to know a CEO: Joanne Smith, CEO of Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

(Published Aug. 31, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Q: To start with, could you tell me a little bit about your background? I know you went to undergrad in Michigan; did you grow up there? When did medicine begin to interest you and at what point did you decide to focus on rehabilitation? I noticed by the time you did your residency, you were already practicing in the field of rehabilitation, and I’m curious what professional challenges appealed to you in the field.

A: Yes, I grew up in Michigan and went to undergrad and medical school there. My sister was a nurse, and I considered that path, but ultimately decided to become a doctor. Nursing is highly structured, and I needed to interact with patients in a way that was less process-based and more discovery-based. So I went to med school. I’ll never forget assisting an orthopedic surgeon on a visit to a free clinic during my elective rotation in physical medicine and rehabilitation (PMR). Patients there gifted me with insight — I realized they didn’t want conformist solutions, they wanted better outcomes. They want to live their best, happiest and most independent lives. This insight would drive my calling and my career.

Q: Did you immediately notice the problems with rehabilitation medicine—the ones you would later come to address through Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, or did your opinions and views change over time?

As someone with a scientist’s drive for solving problems, early on I saw a lack of research advancing this field. However, now we are living in a time of momentous, rapid convergence of the sciences, technology, biologics and engineering. As leaders, it is incumbent upon us at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab to harness this synergy. Thus, my vision was born to structurally and philosophically compel collaboration between medicine and science. Our success, which is already apparent in helping patients achieve better outcomes, is not only raising the bar for our field, but also for the practice of medicine.

Q: What inspired you to get an MBA? Being a physician is notoriously time consuming and stressful and it’s a passion for most doctors. Why get into the business side of things? More specifically, what interested you in being a CEO?

A: I didn’t plan to earn my MBA, but when I was a young physician at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), my mentor asked me to serve as a medical consultant for the University of Chicago Hospitals. There, I got a bird’s-eye view of the business and operations side of medicine. I observed that leading physicians in acute “cure-based” medicine did not always understand the rehabilitation work of the post-acute sector. This experience led me to the MBA program at University of Chicago Booth School of Business. As a physician, I loved treating my patients, but as CEO of Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, I know that I can have a much greater impact, not only for our patients, but also for the people who need us all over the world.

Q: In addition to being a CEO, I understand you’re still on the medical faculty at Northwestern’s school of medicine. Where do you find the time to do all of this? What keeps you in academia? I would assume there’s more than enough to fill the days as CEO of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab?

A: We are doing what no one else is doing, and thus have a responsibility to be a resource to the world. It’s a privilege to share our ever-growing expertise and discovery, and that’s why I speak frequently nationally and internationally before thought leaders in healthcare and beyond.  

Q: The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab has long been noted as one of the world’s leading providers of rehabilitation services due, in no small part, to your view that medical providers should dismiss the prefix dis- in disability and focus instead on helping the patient function in a way that makes sense to them as opposed to forcing patients to conform to expectations/social preferences of those around them. This seems nothing short of a radical idea, considering until very recently, people with severe disabilities were literally hidden away from public view in various way, though often with the best of intentions. Is this indeed as radical as it seems?

A: Yes, it’s a radical idea. Even more radical is our model that integrates doctors and therapists together with researchers in the same space so that “cross-pollination” can lead to greater innovation. Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is the first-ever translational research hospital in which clinicians and scientists collaborate side by side with patients 24/7. In our revolutionary model, we have shifted the focus from the process of rehabilitation to the outcome — ability. The result? Better, faster recoveries for the patients we serve.

Q: Of course, this was the topic of your Aspen Ideas Festival essay and you mentioned changing the vernacular in medicine and in treatment settings (and I understand that’s why the lab was renamed the AbilityLab, as opposed to the former Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) but this issue seems bigger than a CEO or a physician or even a research hospital. It seems like you’re trying to change public opinion, or the opinion of everyone who isn’t or has never been through rehabilitation. Is this indeed the goal?

A: Our biggest goal is advancing human ability. Ability is function. That’s why we’ve invested so significantly in speeding discovery and innovation — all focused solely on helping patients achieve better outcomes, faster. The world is watching and taking note.

Q: If so, that seems perhaps a bit Sisyphean and maybe even more ambitious than leading one of the world’s best research hospitals, though I’m guessing you wouldn’t agree with that?

A: Patients and families don’t come to us for the status quo. They expect more from us, and everyone here — from clinicians, scientists and staff to executives — is passionate about helping others by solving big problems. I’ve never shied away from a challenge, and that attitude is part of our culture. It’s no accident that we invented the world’s first thought-controlled bionic arm, among many other advancements and innovations. Every one of our scientists works on projects that will directly benefit one (or more) of our patient populations.

Q: I ask because from an outside perspective it seems like public option of people with disabilities seems almost regressive at time. Last year the House passed the ADA Education and Reform Act, which would have significantly weakened the ADA and made it harder for people with disabilities to get access to public facilities and to sue violators. What did that mean for you? What does that say about public opinion of people with disabilities?

A: I keep a quote by Goethe close at hand: “The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.” We need a new vernacular. Our language evolves as our society grows more informed, compassionate and inclusive. We are not waiting for that change to happen, we are driving it. Actually, our patients are driving it.

Q: How would you suggest doctors and other advocates change public perception and public opinion?

A: Focus on what people can do, not what they can’t. At Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, we’re harnessing the power of science and best-in-class clinical care to advance human ability.

Q: Finally, getting back to the day to day at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and maybe ending on a more positive note, is there any new research that looks promising you’d like to share? What do we have to look forward to?

A: Two years into our novel experiment of embedding science into the clinical environment, we’re taking advantage of a convergence of disciplines and discovery to leapfrog our understanding of the human brain. We are using multiple modalities to exploit the brain’s potential. By focusing on outcomes, we’re getting closer to finding cures for today’s most vexing brain injuries and diseases.

Get to know the only biplane pilot in the Air and Water Show

(Published July 31, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

The Chicago Air and Water show may be famous for its display of high powered state-of-the art aircraft, but one airplane featured this year is not like the others. 

Chicago-based pilot Susan Dacy’s biplane is a throwback to pre-war piloting, to a time before jet engines, but her performance is no less technical and it is no less thrilling. 

Dacy, one of the pilots featured at the Chicago Air and Water Show Aug. 17-19, is one of the few female pilots in the U.S. performing in a bi-plane. But this isn’t her first Air and Water show. Dacy is a commercial pilot and, when she’s not doing tricks during her day job, she tours the country performing rolls, spins and other acrobatic tricks. She said she started in the 1990s and her decades of acrobatic performances is the realization of a goal she’s had since she was a kid and went to her first airshow.

“Of all the performances what impacted me was the biplane that flew,” she said. “It had the smoke trail and it was loud and it really excited me. I always remembered that.”

The early inspiration is reflected in Dacy’s plane, a bright red, 450 horsepower Super Stearman named Big Red. Although biplanes are among the earliest planes, the Super Stearman is a WWII-era plane, developed as a reliable craft for young pilots to learn to fly. Because of their reliability and their ubiquity, Dacy said quite a few planes were retired after the war and they flooded the civilian market.

“This type of plane trained bunches and bunches of cadets,” she said. “They made Army and Navy versions so they had gobs and gobs of these airplanes after the war. A lot of bombers and things like that were crushed up melted down and repurposed but a lot of the Stearmans luckily survived because it was determined they were good for crop dusters.”

It’s a Stearman crop duster that chases Cary Grant in “North by Northwest.”

Dacy’s plane was used in air shows before she bought it. Aside from a new engine, a new “skin” and some aileron flaps, it’s the same plane as the cadets would have piloted in training.

“It’s been a plane that’s pretty much worked its whole life,” she said. “It’s never been in a shed collecting dust.”

Later this month it will be at it again. Although the pilot schedule isn’t set until the day of the show—weather affects what planes can perform—Dacy offered a behind-the-scenes sense of what audiences can expect. Like all the other pilots, Dacy will take off from Indiana but Big Red is the only bi-plane scheduled for the day.

Dacy said audiences can expect “barnstormer-type moves,” including some twists and circles, shooting her craft high into the sky, trailing environmentally-friendly smoke before tumbling back down to earth and ending in a barrel roll.

While her performance may shock, surprise or even make audiences anxious, the one person who won’t be wowed is Dacy.

“Of course, we know what to expect, so it’s almost everything seems routine,” she said. Dacy said she’s got an exit plan in case of the worst, but said she doesn’t worry about it.

“You’re always thinking that stuff and it’s not being fatalistic but it’s just common sense,” she said. “But my airplane is so reliable, and of course I make sure maintenance is performed regularly”

Sticking with the queen of tape

(Published June 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Anna Dominguez is the queen of tape. It’s a self-proclaimed monicker but it’s also something she can back up. 

Not video tape nor audio tape. Sticky tape. The sort of stuff people use to seal packages and paint walls. She is a tape artist; at once the inventor of a medium and a leader in the Chicago arts scene. 

Dominguez, a Gold Coast resident, has a piece displayed in the St. Jane Hotel in New Eastside. St. Jane owner Carrie Meghie said she’s glad to work with local talent. 

“We are thrilled to support an up and coming artist who is unique, innovative and extremely talented,” Meghie said. 

This is the second work Meghie’s bought from Dominguez. 

“I first saw Anna’s work when she created a piece for me and my husband for our charity (the Jackson Chance Foundation) a few years ago,” Meghie said. “I was impressed, not only by her talent and creativity, but also by her generosity to create such a special piece for us personally. When selecting the artists to work with at St. Jane, she immediately came to mind.”

Dominguez has been creating art since she was a girl. Following graduation from the arts program at Dominican University, she delved into the tape designs—a style she invented. 

“It’s really cool to see that this has become a form of art,” she said. “A lot of us that create with tape call it ‘tape art’ and I refer to my work as ‘tapings.’ When I started this nine years ago, no one was doing what I was doing as far as I know. In the last two years it’s really picked up as a form of art and more people are creating with tape now.”

Dominguez focuses on sports figures, most recently the tennis champion Serena Williams, with the kinetic energy illustrated with various shades and textures of different tape.

“I’m a huge sports fan and athlete myself,” she said. “To me sports and my art relate so much. It’s like you work towards this goal, it’s grueling sometimes, you laugh, cry, mentally push through some of your biggest obstacles. In a way, art is both physically and mentally enduring for me like sports. I could be up for 21 hours straight working on a piece I’m really into and it does take a toll on your body. But a lot of it is mental for me. At the end you find out all the hard work you’ve put into that one piece was worth every emotion and physical obstacle you’ve hit.”

To check out her work, visit www.queenoftape.com. 

Ryan Evans has his eye on the pie

(Published May 21, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, Managing Editor

Ryan Evans has pie-in-the-sky dreams. Well, pizza pie-in-the-sky dreams.

Evans is the executive chef at Streeterville Pizzeria and Tap and in May he unveiled the neighborhood eatery’s new menu complete with some ambitious new flavors he hopes will rake in awards—and maybe national attention.

Evans should know pizza.

“My grandfather and I used to make pizza when I was a kid,” he said. “My very first memory is pouring water into the mixing bowl.”

He’s long since graduated from his home kitchen and, at almost 33, he’s been making pizzas professionally for more than 17 years (he had to get a waiver to begin his kitchen work as a minor) and last year he won his first award at a Las Vegas pizza competition wherein he placed third in the mid-America pizza classica division.

“I prepared for a couple of months,” Evans explained. “That was in 2018 and I went out to Las Vegas and met some really good people and did pretty decent. I really used that as an opportunity to meet the higher ups in the pizza community.”

One of those people was Leo Spizzirri, a master pizza instructor at The Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli in Lisle. The Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli is one of two such pizza schools in the United States, and it is affiliated with the oldest pizza schools in Italy. Evans, of course, signed up for a course.

“It’s five days, 40 hours and it teaches fundamental dough chemistry, the physicality of working in a pizzeria and a whole bunch of hands-on chemistry,” he said.

After the course, Evans said he worked with Spizzirri as an assistant for another six months, where he dove into dough chemistry and worked out what he believes is the best blend of dough for Streeterville Pizzeria. His dough is part fermented whole wheat dough, sourdough and high-gluten King Arthur dough for a crust that’s slightly sour and sweet and it takes five days to make as sourdough requires time for fermentation.

Besides the dough, Evans has spent his time at Streeterville Pizzeria tinkering away, redeveloping the whole pizza menu, with emphasis on a Detroit-style pie that is simple and also delicious. He tries to follow the Italian rule for pizzas—the toppings can at most include five ingredients, and two are sauce and cheese.

“So Detroit-style pizza is a rectangle or square pizza,” he said. “It’s an inch of fluffy focaccia bread with a golden crown of cheese baked around the side. It’s delicious and it’s pretty unique in Chicago.”

But he acknowledges Chicago is a hard city for pizza chefs. Everyone is a critic and, with a wealth of renowned pizza spots, it can be hard to stand out. But Evans is confident he’s got what it takes to win in Chicago and, he hopes, in Italy.

“Chicago is a very tough city, and we don’t have a huge foot print here,” he said. “We can’t do quantity so quality will have to be our mark.”

Streeterville man’s new book tells history through the cemetery

(Published April 29, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, staff writer

Streeterville photographer and author Larry Broutman knows a thing or two about cemeteries.

His newest book about the city’s cemeteries, “Chicago Eternal,” in April was awarded a silver award in the regional book category by the Independent Book Publisher’s Association. .

For Broutman, cemeteries aren’t maudlin but rather they are instructive.

“The history of Chicago can be quite well told by walking through the cemeteries and looking at Chicagoans who have passed away,” he said.

His previous book, “Chicago Monumental,” focuses on the city’s monuments. After that book was published, Broutman said he began thinking that many monuments are in cemeteries. So, he went searching.  

“Some of the monuments were done by world famous sculptors,” he said. “I had been in a couple of cemeteries when I realized, ‘Wow there are some pretty incredible stories there.’”

So, he began to tell those stories.

His research took him to over 30 cemeteries across Cook County and when he wrapped up, he had 300 stories.

“It’s a hefty book and a time consuming one, but I am retired,” he said.

Before going into a cemetery, Broutman explained he talked with the keeper first.

“I always was careful about the respectful aspect of it and first I consulted the cemetery staff and told them what I was doing, and I asked them if photography was OK,” he said.

Broutman said almost every cemetery was fine with the project as he set about taking photos of grave markers, monuments, tombs and war memorials.

Streeterville residents might already be familiar with Broutman’s work as it adorns some of the walls of the Lurie Children’s Hospital. Broutman said he’s been an avid photographer for years, and he has travelled through Africa taking nature photos.

Several years ago, the Lurie Hospital asked him to take photos of Chicago scenes, so he mixed them together with his African photos. The result included  a tiger lying in the flowers along Michigan Avenue and he replaced the horses on a horse drawn carriage with zebras. Now these photos decorate the Lurie’s walls.

The project also sparked another interest, photographing the city.

“Once I did that I couldn’t stop,” he said. “I spent another year taking Chicago scenes all over the city.”

Then, of course, he moved on to the grave yard.

“Chicago Eternal” is available at Amazon.com for $43.25.

MCA exhibit offers up Midwestern sensibility in Western setting

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

In November, the Museum of Contemporary Art opened a new exhibition, “West by Midwest,” showing works by a collection of artists from the Midwest who migrated West in order to develop their artistic vision.

The art in the collection spans much of the middle part of the 20th century and the early parts of this century, and the media varies from sculpture and photography to painting and knitting. In total, the exhibition includes 80 pieces from artists like Billy Al Bengston, Andrea Bowers, Judy Chicago, Anna Halprin, David Hammons, Mike Kelley, Senga Nengudi, Laura Owens, Sterling Ruby and Ed Ruscha.

This exhibit represents a diverse crowd creating over a long period of time, and Charlotte Ickes, a post-doctoral student and MAC Curatorial Fellow for the exhibit, explained that viewers should avoid being reductivist in looking for common themes when visiting the collection.

“[The exhibition] can mean many different things because it’s many different artists,” she said. Not only did the artists work in different media across different times, but some were expressly political, and even that political emphasis shifted throughout the decades.

Ickes said the only real connective through-line in the exhibition is the constant attempts by each artists to do innovative work in whatever medium they’re working in.

“Those are the shared concerns you’ll see throughout the show,” she said.

Rather than emphasizing any sense of shared aesthetics or point of view of the Midwestern artists, the collective exhibition illustrates how regional artists impacted the national art scene—or at least the California scene in response to their individual concerns and aesthetics.

For a deeper dive, don’t miss a talk on Dec. 9 led by artist Barbara Kasten. Kasten will lead a walkthrough of the exhibition with Ickes and will talk about her work, as well as the work of her favorite fellow artists. This begins at 2 p.m. and it is free with museum admission.

The exhibition is on display now through Jan. 27, 2019 at the MCA. The MCA is located at 22 E. Chicago Avenue and is open Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.,Wednesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is closed Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Disability Summit focuses on benefits from disabled workers

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

Business leaders from across the city met in October for the fourth annual Disability Inclusion Opportunity Summit, a daylong meeting of breakout panels and discussions on how to better include disabled workers into the workplace.

The Chicagoland Business Leadership Network and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce presented the summit, bringing together hiring professionals to discuss things like mental health in the workplace, online accessibility and best practices for disability recruitment.

Rob Hitchcock, the president of government and consumer solutions for the Health Care Service Corporation welcomed attendees and said there are ample opportunities for disabled workers.

“We’re struggling to fill open positions,” Hitchcock said. “We view this as a wonderful opportunity to recruit and get talent into our organizations, and I know many of you feel the same way.”

The summit did more than focus on employers and their needs. At one point, the conversation turned to the disabled employees themselves.

“We’re going to talk about the power of owning your identity and the power of the beauty that exists within us.” said Jill Houghton, president and CEO of Disability: IN. “One in five of us have a disability. And it’s cool.”

Houghton said disabilities have workarounds and disabled people don’t need to be labeled as differently abled or special because there is nothing wrong with being disabled.

Suhail Tariq, one of the panelists, echoed this sentiment with his own experiences at work. He said he can compete with coworkers who are not disabled because he is willing to work hard.

“I am no different than any of you guys,” Tariq said. “We’re no different than anyone else. It’s just hard work. I like my mantra to my executive committee, which is, ‘You may through a certain way get to the end goal, but I’ll get to the end goal too, the way I am comfortable doing it, and if I need any help because of my disability, then I will raise my hand.’”

Panelist Ben Lumicao, an attorney for Allstate, said open dialog about abilities is welcome because the days of ignoring a disability are over—and that’s a good thing.

Another panelist, Shannon Maher, a recruiting programs specialist with Exelon, said the challenge is two-sided, as disabled workers need to own their disability and recognize it, just as much as employers do.

“We bring many talents to the table because of our disabilities,” she said.

Bertha’s scissor services a cut above

By Jesse Wright |

Staff Writer

 

 

Bertha Moreno poses in her hair salon with a caricature one of her fans drew and an award from Yelp, the online review site, that recognizes her positive reviews. Photo by Jesse Wright

Bertha Moreno knows hair.

For over 30 years, she’s been cutting, coloring and combing hair on heads from around the world and while she is not the most talkative hair stylist in Chicago, she might be one of the most talked about.

For 18 years her salon was based in on the ninth floor in Tribune Tower. Over the summer, tenants of the tower were kicked out—including the Tribune employees—and Moreno has relocated to 230 Ohio Street. Yet at her new second-floor digs, Moreno is still snipping away, Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. into the evening, same as ever.

Over the years, she has cut the hair on the heads that influenced Chicago. In 2007, while John Edwards was on his doomed presidential bid, ensnared by a hair care scandal after he paid $1,250 haircut, the Tribune name-checked Moreno in an editorial.

“The next time you’re in town, Mr. Edwards, stop by Tribune Tower,” the editors wrote. “Bertha Moreno runs a little salon on the ninth floor. She’ll give you a haircut for $15. If you want to leave a $1,250 tip, that’s your business. … She does a great job and she won’t talk about your hair when you’re gone.”

It’s true, she won’t talk about her customers. She has clients including WGN, CNN and NBC talent, but she won’t name names.

“I don’t like to talk about who I know,” Moreno said. “I just like to do the hair.”

Moreno said she’s proud to be able to do anyone’s hair—male or female, a formal or informal style. She said she just loves the work.

“One thing about me, I treat everybody the same,” she said. “I don’t care if it’s the person who cleans the floor or the person in charge. I treat everyone the same way.”

The same way includes plenty of silent treatment. While some stylists will chat up their clientele, Moreno said she’s not much of a talker when on the job. She’ll ask her client what they want and how they think the cut looks, but otherwise, Moreno doesn’t make a lot of small talk.

“I have to concentrate on what I’m doing,” she said. “The customer has to look good, because otherwise I look bad.”

This is also why she asks that people book appointments ahead of time.

“When someone is waiting for me, I get nervous,” she said.

Whatever it is she’s doing, she is doing it right. She has repeat business that has lasted decades and even her fans at the Tribune have been walked 20 minutes from the Tribune’s new offices on the New East Side, back to Moreno’s studio.

One of her longtime clients and friends, Yolanda Ayubi, said she visits Moreno twicie a week and she will not go anywhere else.

“I find it interesting that when she is doing my hairstyle, I feel like she is an artist. I can see her enjoying the process of doing my hair. It’s an art and science at the same time,” Ayubi said. “She keeps asking me how I like it … and she doesn’t let me go until I am satisfied.

“Let me put it this way, her clients aren’t a number. Her clients are people whom she helps with an image.”

Ayubi is far from alone in her praise. Out of 31 Yelp reviews, 29 are five star.

Moreno calls her clients her family and indeed, she gets Christmas cards from some and she has a bulletin board filled with some of the heads she’s had the pleasure to know. Some faces, children in the photos, now have kids of their own and still stop by Moreno’s shop.

Moreno said she’s grateful she’s got so many loyal customers.

“I am lucky to have them, because they are the ones who support me here,” Moreno said. “Because after only three months (in the new location), they’re coming back.”

To book an appointment, call 312-259-4150.

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