#98 Obergefell v. Inequality
February 27, 2017

STRANGER: Jim Obergefell
LOCATION: Open City, Washington, DC
THEME: Breakfast with the lead plaintiff in the landmark U.S. same-sex marriage suit

Jim Obergefell was the lead named plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case that led to the 5-4 ruling in June 2015 finding the Constitution guarantees the right of same-sex couples to marry across the United States. Almost two years after the ruling, I had breakfast with Jim to learn that his life has changed completely since the decision and that his fight for equality is expanding beyond gay rights.


#97 Out To Sea With Matt Yee
January 27, 2017

STRANGER: Matt Yee
LOCATION: Giovanni’s Table, Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, The Caribbean Sea
THEME: Dinner on the ocean with an adult cruise ship entertainer

During a seven-day cruise to Mexico and Haiti, I had the chance to dine with entertainer Matt Yee. He’s a mainstay on gay and straight cruises, and also in high demand on land, for his drag cabaret show. He told me about how he reinvented his life, leaving a career in law behind to pursue his dream of entertaining.


#96 Racism: America’s Past, Present & Future Problem
December 19, 2016

STRANGER: W. Ralph Eubanks
LOCATION: Mulebone, Washington, DC
THEME: Dining with a writer, educator and scholar on racial issues

W. Ralph Eubanks is a self-described “light-skinned” African-American who spent his childhood growing up among the racial strife of the civil rights era in Mississippi. Since then, he’s had an extensive career as a writer and teacher on racial issues, and educated me about them during a dinner in Washington, DC.


#95 Going, Going, Gone To Dinner
September 19, 2016

STRANGER: David Stivaletta
LOCATION: Lupo Verde, Washington, DC
THEME: Dinner with the winner of a silent auction to meet me

A while ago I offered dinner with me as a prize in a silent auction for a fundraiser. David Stivaletta, an accountant in Washington, DC, bid the winning amount. That’s how we came to meet for Italian food, where he told me all about his life in the District.


#94 Life Behind The Lens
September 11, 2016

STRANGER: Brad Rushing
LOCATION: Fare Well, Washington, DC
THEME: Chatting with a cinematographer

Brad Rushing is a Los Angeles-based cinematographer who has enjoyed great success in charge of photography for movies, music videos, commercials, and more. During a visit to DC, he met me for dinner to talk about how he got into the industry and his life behind the lens.


#93 Senator Larry Pressler And The Quest To Save Democracy
September 9, 2016

STRANGER: Larry Pressler
LOCATION: Peacock Cafe, Washington, DC
THEME: Dining with a former U.S. senator

Former U.S. Senator Larry Senator (R-SD) is concerned about the state of politics, fearing it’s become so bitter and broken that it’s impossible to advance good laws. Now out of Congress and officially an independent, he told me about his one-man bid to save democracy — and also about his extensive career in and out of politics.


#92 Arts & Advocacy
June 30, 2016

STRANGER: JR “Nexus” Russ
LOCATION: Highline RxR, Arlington, Virginia
THEME: Interviewing a youth advocate and artist

Artist JR “Nexus” Russ loves the world of theater and dance, and has since he was a child. But these days he finds his passion for the arts starting to reach a genuine nexus with his work as a youth advocate and his growing interest in using the arts to help children learn.


#91 An Evening With Eleanor Clift
June 29, 2016

STRANGER: Eleanor Clift
LOCATION: Clyde’s, Chevy Chase, Maryland
THEME: Dinner with a DC correspondent

Eleanor Clift never imagined being a famous political reporter in Washington, DC. During dinner, she told me how her early goal of being a secretary who would be able to type up interesting notes led to a career that has seen her cover every presidential election from Jimmy Carter’s first run for office to the 2016 campaign.


#90 The State Senator
April 18, 2016

STRANGER: Cheryl Kagan
LOCATION: Ev & Maddy’s, Rockville, Maryland
THEME: Supper with a state senator

Democratic Maryland state Senator Cheryl Kagan didn’t always plan on a career in politics. But these days she relishes her role representing a large district in the Old Line State. Over supper, she told me that the work means she has no private life, but she’s proud to serve her constituents.


#89 On The Road Again
April 10, 2016

STRANGERS: Bill & Laura Johnson
LOCATION: Monell’s, Nashville, Tennessee
THEME: Meeting a couple that travels the United States in their motor home

Bill and Laura Johnson spend at least half of every year traveling the United States in their motor home. They were passing through Nashville, Tennessee, while I was visiting the city, and during a lunch meeting they told me how they came to love living on the road.


#88 Everybody Comes To Nellie’s
March 15, 2016

STRANGER: Doug Schantz
LOCATION: Nellie’s Sports Bar, Washington, DC
THEME: One man’s dream of opening a gay sports bar in the District

After a lengthy career in advertising in Chicago and New York, Doug Schantz moved to Washington, DC, with the goal of opening his own gay sports bar. During dinner at his bar, Nellie’s, Doug told me about the tough work involved with achieving his dream.


#87 The Future King Of Comedy
February 13, 2016

STRANGER: Victor Pope Jr.
LOCATION: Gloria’s Restaurant, Arlington, Texas
THEME: Dining with an aspiring standup comedian

Comedian Victor Pope Jr. has amassed more than one million followers on Vine, a phone app where he performs six-second skits with his offbeat humor. But over a meal in Arlington, Texas, Victor told me his real passion is for standup comedy. He shared his plan for an eventual move to New York and to become one of the greatest standups of all time.


#86 Black September
January 28, 2016

STRANGER: Dave Hindman
LOCATION: The Original Ledo Restaurant, College Park, Maryland
THEME: A meal with an Air Force veteran

During a meal with Air Force veteran Dave Hindman I learned about his experiences during “Black September,” a tumultuous time in the Middle East in the 1970s. He said he’s planning to write a book on the topic, yet that fact is just one of several things I discovered about Dave and his life that has included a host of varied and interesting careers.


#85 Tales From The Town Crier
December 29, 2015

STRANGERS: Michael & Margaret Wood
LOCATION: The Star Inn, Willerby, England
THEME: Dinner with a town crier and his wife

Michael Wood is keeping the ancient art of town crying alive and well in northeast England. He’s an award-winning town crier who loves his work. But it’s just one of many unusual careers he’s enjoyed. During a meal of fish and chips, Michael -– accompanied by his wife Margaret — told me about how he went from a “chaotic” childhood to his current role.


#84 Cycling Through America
December 1, 2015

STRANGER: Ines Verbeke
LOCATION: Etete, Washington, DC
THEME: Learning about one woman’s bicycle ride across America

Ines Verbeke was born in the United States but raised in Belgium, and has always wanted to visit the country of her birth. So at the age of 25 she has launched an ambitious effort to cycle across America, starting in the Northeast. During Ines’ brief stay in Washington, I met with her for a meal of Ethiopian food and to learn about her nationwide ride.


#83 The Swiss Ambassador
November 6, 2015

STRANGER: Martin Dahinden
LOCATION: The Swiss Residence, Washington, DC
THEME: Dinner with the Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States of America

Martin Dahinden, Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States of America, is eager to reveal stories about Swiss influence on cuisine that people might not know. We met at the Swiss Residence for a four-course meal inspired by one of the country’s residents who moved to America, and during our dinner Martin told me about his work as a diplomat.


#82 Night Of The DC Dead

October 12, 2015

STRANGER: Vaughn Irving
LOCATION: The Lost Dog Cafe, Alexandria, Virginia
THEME: Hearing about planning a Halloween attraction

Actor and writer Vaughn Irving is one of the creative minds behind “DC Dead,” a Halloween attraction that offers residents of the District the chance to race through an abandoned building while fending off zombies. He told me how the idea came about, what it’s like to run a haunted house-type attraction, and also about his life in the theater.


#81 The Immigration Attorney
October 1, 2015

STRANGER: Amber Murray
LOCATION: La Bonne Bistro, Washington, DC
THEME: Interviewing an immigration attorney

Immigration attorney Amber Murray talks about the highs and lows of her specialized work on asylum and human rights cases. She explains how, despite the extensive time and effort the cases resolve, she’s certain that this is her right career path.


#80 After The Storm — Part II
September 5, 2015

STRANGERS: Mary Burns, Buzzy “Beano” Langford & Brobson Lutz
LOCATION: Antoine’s, New Orleans
THEME: Reflections on Hurricane Katrina one decade later

In the second and final part of my two-part interview focusing on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I find out what three former Dining With Strangers interviewees from New Orleans have been doing since they were featured on this site.


#80 After The Storm — Part I
September 5, 2015

STRANGERS: Mary Burns, Buzzy “Beano” Langford & Brobson Lutz
LOCATION: Antoine’s, New Orleans
THEME: Reflections on Hurricane Katrina one decade later

Roughly one decade after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, I met with three long-time residents of the Crescent City who have previously been featured on Dining With Strangers. In the first part of a two-part interview, they talk about how the Big Easy has changed on the 10th anniversary of what they call “the storm.”


#79 Young At Heart
August 31, 2015

STRANGER: Barbara Crocker
LOCATION: Le Diplomate, Washington, DC
THEME: Finding out how one woman stays young at heart

Barbara Crocker just celebrated her 62nd birthday, but over dinner she told me she feels like she’s getting younger every year with her busy schedule that includes fundraising for Georgetown University and treks to the top of two famous mountains.


#78 FuckUp Nights
July 30, 2015

STRANGER: Meredith Denbow
LOCATION: Jyoti, Washington, DC
THEME: Learning about a group that discusses business failures

Since moving to Washington, DC, a few years ago, Meredith Denbow has been working to grow a local branch of FuckUp Nights. The unusually named organization hosts seminars across the globe where people talk about business failures and the lessons they learned.


#77 From Pennsylvania To Public Relations
June 25, 2015

STRANGER: Jenny Wang
LOCATION: Marrakech, Washington, DC
THEME: Dinner with a public relations executive

Jenny Wang was born in China but spent her childhood in Connecticut and rural Pennsylvania, before moving to the District of Columbia to work in public relations. During dinner at Marrakech restaurant in DC, Jenny told me about her experiences growing up and why she loves the career she’s chosen.


#76 A Serious Actor — Part II
May 24, 2015

STRANGERS: Fred Melamed & Leslee Spieler Melamed
LOCATION: The Palm, Beverly Hills, California
THEME: Dining with a Hollywood actor and his wife

In part two of my interview with actor Fred Melamed (A Serious Man, In A World…) and his wife Leslee, Fred talks more about his adoption; his experiences meeting his birth mother and father; moving from New York to Los Angeles; his interest in writing; his return to the stage; what he and his family do when he’s not working on a role; and more.


#76 A Serious Actor — Part I
May 24, 2015

STRANGERS: Fred Melamed & Leslee Spieler Melamed
LOCATION: The Palm, Beverly Hills, California
THEME: Dining with a Hollywood actor and his wife

In this first part of a two-part interview with actor Fred Melamed (A Serious Man, In A World…), he discusses how he first developed an interest in acting, and how his training at Yale helped shape his craft. Accompanied by his wife Leslee, Fred also talked about the highs and lows of his on-screen career.


#75 The Musso & Frank Grill
May 21, 2015

STRANGER: Mark Echeverria
LOCATION: The Musso & Frank Grill, Hollywood, California
THEME: Dining with the proprietor of a landmark Hollywood restaurant

Mark Echeverria is the current proprietor of the Musso & Frank Grill, a restaurant that since 1919 has catered to Hollywood celebrities and regular diners alike. But he never planned to be a restaurateur. Mark explained how he learned the ropes of the restaurant business and how he’s working to keep the Musso’s legend alive for years to come.


#74 Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
April 27, 2015

STRANGER: Federico Leidi
LOCATION: Ristorante Pizzeria Maurzzella, Milan, Italy
THEME: One night in Italy with a Beatles tribute band member

During a recent trip to Italy, I had dinner in Milan with Federico Leidi. He told me about his three big interests: his work in business, his interests in Italian politics, and his love of music including performing as Paul in a Beatles tribute band.


#73 Dating In DC
April 23, 2015

STRANGER: Craig Schattner
LOCATION: Mintwood Place, Washington, DC
THEME: A platonic dinner to discuss dating in the District

Craig Schattner has been on almost 100 dates in four years living in Washington, DC, and he’s still single. So he’s started a documentary series called Dated to try and answer the question: Is the problem him, or is it the city?


#72 In Christy’s Shoes
March 19, 2015

STRANGER: Jacki Barnett
LOCATION: Bourbon Steak, Washington, DC
THEME: Dinner with a fashionable charity fundraiser

Dinner at Bourbon Steak in Washington, DC, to meet Jacki Barnett. She’s one of three co-founders of In Christy’s Shoes, an organization that hosts shoe fashion shows in memory of Jacki’s late friend Christy Levy Peters.


#71 The House Of Black And White
February 25, 2015

STRANGER: David Sherer
LOCATION: Le Chat Noir, Washington, DC
THEME: Dining with a writer/anesthesiologist/inventor

Dr. David Sherer is getting ready to retire from the world of anesthesiology and focus on his love for writing, which includes a recent book he wrote about his quest to reunite with the maid from his childhood home.


#70 Empire Of Sin
January 29, 2015

STRANGER: Gary Krist
LOCATION: Acadiana, Washington, DC
THEME: Dinner to discuss the battle for modern New Orleans

A Southern-themed dinner with New York Times best-selling author Gary Krist to discuss his book Empire of Sin, which chronicles sex, jazz, murder and morals in New Orleans in the early 1900s and the battle for the city’s future.


#69 The Bee Lady
December 22, 2014

STRANGER: Jean Bishop
LOCATION: The Beehive, Hull, England
THEME: Lunch with a long-running charity fundraiser

During a Christmas trip to England, I had lunch with Jean Bishop. For more than 30 years she’s dressed in an eye-catching bumblebee costume to raise thousands of pounds for Age UK, a charity for the elderly that’s close to her heart.


#68 The Part-Time Pursuit Of Happiness
November 28, 2014

STRANGER: Caecilia Kay
LOCATION: The Carolina Kitchen, Washington, DC
THEME: A single mother shares her hopes for the future

Single mother Caecilia Kay shares her story of the struggles raising a child on her own, balanced with fulfilling her dreams of working in social media and public relations.


#67 Brobson’s Big Easy
October 31, 2014

STRANGER: Brobson Lutz
LOCATION: Galatoire’s Restaurant, New Orleans
THEME: Dining with a long-time French Quarter doctor

On a return trip to New Orleans, I had a lengthy, lavish dinner with Brobson Lutz, a doctor and long-time French Quarter resident. He shared stories of falling in love with the Big Easy, Hurricane Katrina, practicing medicine, and more.


#66 Stephen Tobolowsky’s Adventures — Part II
October 13, 2014

STRANGER: Stephen Tobolowsky
LOCATION: Art’s Delicatessen, Sherman Oaks, California
THEME: Breakfast with a character actor/storytelling writer

In the second part of my interview with character actor Stephen Tobolowsky, he explains how he started writing and storytelling, including his podcasts and book The Dangerous Animals Club, and why he now prefers writing to acting.


#66 Stephen Tobolowsky’s Adventures — Part I
October 13, 2014

STRANGER: Stephen Tobolowsky
LOCATION: Art’s Delicatessen, Sherman Oaks, California
THEME: Breakfast with a character actor/storytelling writer

Part one of a two-part interview with actor/writer Stephen Tobolowsky, perhaps best known for his role as Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day. In this first installment, Stephen talks his extensive career acting on stage, in television shows, and in movies.


#65 Meeting Michael Hitchcock
October 11, 2014

STRANGER: Michael Hitchcock
LOCATION: Taste on Melrose, West Hollywood, California
THEME: Lunch with a character actor and writer

Lunch in Los Angeles with actor and writer Michael Hitchcock, talking about his current work writing for the television show Glee; his extensive career acting in film and TV; and his love of improvisational comedy.


#64 All About Omnism
September 16, 2014

STRANGERS: Jesse & Sarah Smith
LOCATION: Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
THEME: Learning about a couple’s discovery of omnism

During a visit to Santa Fe, I had dinner with Jesse and Sarah Smith. The couple were struggling with major questions about their Christian beliefs, but experimenting with the hallucinogen DMT led them to the discovery of omnism.


#63 Working For Veterans
August 12, 2014

STRANGER: Marlene Hall
LOCATION: Eamonn’s, Alexandria, Virginia
THEME: Fish and chips with a former Air Force officer

Marlene Hall’s eight years in the Air Force helped develop her passion for helping veterans. She told me about her work with veterans organizations, as well as her other interests including freelance writing about music and arts in the Washington, DC, area.


#62 How To Get To Sesame Street
July 22, 2014

STRANGER: Melissa Creighton
LOCATION: COFFEED, Long Island City, New York
THEME: Lunch with the Jim Henson Creature Shop’s production manager

Jim Henson Creature Shop Production Manager Melissa Creighton didn’t always want to be a puppeteer. During lunch in New York City, she told me what first sparked her love of puppetry, and how she ended up working for the company behind Sesame Street.


#61 Matt Of All Trades
July 21, 2014

STRANGER: Matt Bauman
LOCATION: Locanda Verde, New York City
THEME: Dinner with an actor/realtor/coaching website owner

Matt Bauman always wanted to be an actor in New York City. He achieved that goal, but also wound up with two other careers he never planned on. Matt also launched a website of theatrical coach listings, and spends the rest of his time working as a realtor.


#60 Behind The Craft
June 30, 2014

STRANGER: Brendan Kelleher
LOCATION: Pizzeria Paradiso, Washington, DC
THEME: Dining with a beer brewing enthusiast

During a dinner of beers and pizza, former Chicago-based futures trader Brendan Kelleher told me about his move to Washington, DC, and the launch of Behind The Craft, a website where he interviews craft beer producers.


#59 The Classical Cellist
May 25, 2014

STRANGER: Daniel Lelchuk
LOCATION: Tujague’s, New Orleans
THEME: Luncheon with a cellist

Born and raised in the Northeast, professional cellist Daniel Lelchuk never planned on living in New Orleans. But during lunch in the Big Easy, he told me about the path that led him to the city where he’s now part of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.


#58 There’s Something About Mary — Part II
May 24, 2014

STRANGER: Mary Burns
LOCATION: Deanie’s Seafood, Metairie, Louisiana
THEME: An afternoon with a former teacher/zydeco dancer

In the second part of my two-part interview with New Orleans-based zydeco dance teacher Mary Burns, she explains what first got her on the dance floor. The article also features two videos: one of Mary showing off her moves, and the other of me trying raw oysters for the first time. The latter didn’t go so well.


#58 There’s Something About Mary — Part I
May 24, 2014

STRANGER: Mary Burns
LOCATION: Deanie’s Seafood, Metairie, Louisiana
THEME: An afternoon with a former teacher/zydeco dancer

For more than 30 years, Mary Burns was a Catholic school teacher. Now she’s a zydeco dance tutor. I spent a fun afternoon with her in and around New Orleans, and there’s so much to tell this interview is in two parts. The first focuses on her life as a school teacher.


#57 Amplified Louisa
May 8, 2014

STRANGER: Louisa Hall
LOCATION: Big Bear Cafe, Washington, DC
THEME: An evening with a ukulele-playing singer-songwriter

A few years ago, Louisa Hall picked up a ukulele and started strumming. Cut to the present day, and I had dinner with her in DC to find out how she’s busy writing offbeat, funny songs about what she sees as the quirky things in life.


#56 A Perfect Fit
May 6, 2014

STRANGER: Edwin Schiff
LOCATION: Tash, Washington, DC
THEME: Chatting with a costume technician

Costume technician Edwin Schiff doesn’t have a firm plan on what he wants to do with his future, but he knows that it will involve the world of theater and costumes, a profession that’s a perfect fit for him.


#55 Yes Woman
April 1, 2014

STRANGER: Elizabeth Moore
LOCATION: Pesce, Washington, DC
THEME: Dinner with a woman who says “yes” to everything

Elizabeth Moore used to be an introvert, until she realized that the quiet life was making her miss out on potentially great life experiences. Over dinner, she told me how she performed a 180 degree character change and now says “yes” to as much as possible.


#54 Special Agent Galactica
March 6, 2014

STRANGER: Jeffrey Johnson
LOCATION: Ted’s Bulletin, Washington, DC
THEME: A local actor describes his unique one-man show

By day, local actor Jeffrey Johnson is a mild-mannered, easygoing guy. By night, he dons a dress and hot pink wig, and steps behind a piano for his one-man cabaret show Special Agent Galactica. He shared stories of the very unique performance, his experiences growing up as an actor, and his time running DC’s first dedicated gay theater company.


#53 Born To Run
February 19, 2014

STRANGER: Matt Abbruzzese
LOCATION: Fainting Goat, Washington, DC
THEME: Dining with a DC ANC candidate

New York state native Matt Abbruzzese fell in love with the District of Columbia when he moved to the city for an internship. He now lives and works in the city full time, and this year is running for a seat on a Neighborhood Advisory Commission. Matt told me what inspired him to run and what he thinks he’ll bring to the commission if he wins the election.


#52 The Jazz Man
January 30, 2014

STRANGER: Aaron L. Myers II
LOCATION: The Mediterranean Spot, Washington, DC
THEME: Dinner with a jazz musician

The first interview of 2014, sitting down to dinner with jazz musician Aaron L. Myers II. He’s the resident performer at the Black Fox Lounge, and minister of music for his local Baptist church. He told me about his music, and about his past experiences in the Army, trying to make it in Los Angeles, and getting involved in politics.


#51 Making It Big In The Movies
November 16, 2013

STRANGER: Richard Kiel
LOCATION: Old Ebbitt Grill, Washington, DC
THEME: Dining with Jaws from the James Bond movies

Richard Kiel, perhaps best known as the villain Jaws from two James Bond movies, was in Washington, DC, to appear at a 007-themed event. After doing the rounds at the party, over dinner he told me about his life as an actor and his other interests, including writing a book about an anti-slavery crusader.


#50 Storyville
August 30, 2013

STRANGERS: Josh & Natalie Harvey
LOCATION: Coquette, New Orleans
THEME: Lunch with owners of a t-shirt company

The second of two interviews from a recent trip to New Orleans, this time with a duo. Josh and Natalie Harvey are the owners of custom design t-shirt company Storyville, and they told me about what inspired the company, the ups and downs of starting a business in the Big Easy, and their future plans.


#49 Hungry Town
August 29, 2013

STRANGER: Tom Fitzmorris
LOCATION: Tommy’s Cuisine, New Orleans
THEME: Dinner with a restaurant critic

New Orleans is famed for its food, and a recent trip to the Crescent City gave me the chance to sit down to dinner with an expert on the topic. Tom Fitzmorris is a restaurant critic in the city who also hosts a daily radio show dedicated to discussing food.


#48 Life And O’Death
February 24, 2013

STRANGER: David Rogers-Berry
LOCATION: Mesa Coyoacan, Brooklyn, New York City
THEME: Lunch with a goth country musician

Lunch in Brooklyn with David Rogers-Berry, drummer in the band O’Death. He’s focused on ensuring the band’s integrity through steady growth rather than through hype as the next big thing. Even in the face of personal battles — including a fight with bone cancer — he’s never wavered from his vision for the band.


#47 Mistress Of Melody
January 2, 2013

STRANGER: Lorraine Bowen
LOCATION: Searcys St. Pancras Grand, London, England
THEME: Dinner with an English singer, songwriter and musician

Outgoing self-titled Mistress Of Melody Lorraine Bowen specializes in writing and singing quirky songs about unusual subjects, but also has experience playing in bands with the likes of Billy Bragg. Over dinner at a train station in London she told me about her career and her love of the randomness of life.


#46 La Gitana
October 14, 2012

STRANGER: Katelan Foisy
LOCATION: Cosmopolitan Café, New York City
THEME: Breakfast with a visual artist

A Sunday morning meeting in New York City with visual artist Katelan Foisy, who told me about her move to the Big Apple and how her ever-growing circle of creative friends keeps her busy working with them on tarot, acting and other projects.


#45 Working Hard For The Money
July 29, 2012

STRANGER: Antonio Biaggi
LOCATION: Beacon Bar & Grill, Washington, DC
THEME: Brunch with an out gay porn star

Two years after interviewing a gay for pay porn star who hated his work, I sat down to brunch with Antonio Biaggi. He’s an out gay man who has worked in gay porn for several years. It’s just a job for Antonio, who sees porn as his “second life” in his ongoing attempt to keep his porn life and his private life separate.


#44 Talking With A Tutor
May 17, 2012

STRANGER: Kay Cameron
LOCATION: Kramerbooks, Washington, DC
THEME: Dinner with an English literacy tutor

Back to Washington, DC, for a meal with a fellow Brit. Kay Cameron is in America’s capital until August due to her husband’s job. She told me about the volunteer tutoring work she’s doing with the Washington Literacy Council during her time in the city.


#43 Drawn Together
April 28, 2012

STRANGER: Ben Claassen III
LOCATION: Golden West Cafe, Baltimore, Maryland
THEME: Chatting with a cartoonist

A weekend trip to Baltimore to have lunch with Ben Claassen III, a cartoonist who created the Dirtfarm comic strip. Over a plate of chicken and biscuits, Ben told me about his lifelong interest in drawing and the unusual story behind how his comic began.


#42 Parties, Playtime And Public Relations
February 4, 2012

STRANGER: Rozanne Weissman
LOCATION: Bangkok Joe’s, Washington, DC
THEME: Dinner with a marketing communications executive

The first dinner of 2012 is with Rozanne Weissman, a public relations specialist who also has plenty of other interests including a volunteer stint at a local playtime center for homeless children and a history that includes reporting on Capitol Hill and teaching people the best way to gatecrash parties.


#41 Here Comes Santa Claus
December 15, 2011

STRANGER: Ed Downey
LOCATION: Red Lobster, Silver Spring, Maryland
THEME: A mid-December dinner with Santa Claus

December is a busy time of year for Ed Downey, who performs as Santa Claus at parties and other events. But as I found out during dinner, there’s much more to his life than the festive season. Ed has traveled the globe and had dozens of different jobs, all of them providing fodder for an endless list of interesting stories.


#40 Fighting Against Hunger
December 10, 2011

STRANGER: Shamia Holloway
LOCATION: Busboys & Poets, Washington, DC
THEME: Lunch with a food bank communications manager

Shamia Holloway often finds herself working long hours and into the weekend in her role as communications manager for the Capital Area Food Bank. But she’s happy to do the work, helping to provide nutritious food to Washington, DC’s, citizens living in hunger.


#39 Forever Young
October 16, 2011

STRANGER: Burt Young
LOCATION: Louie’s Oyster Bar & Grille, Port Washington, New York
THEME: Brunch with an actor/artist/writer

People might know Burt Young best from his role as Paulie, the unsophisticated brother-in-law of Rocky Balboa in the Rocky movies. But as I learned over Sunday brunch, there’s so much more to the New York-born actor, artist, and writer.


#38 Meeting The Mayor
October 14, 2011

STRANGER: Ed Koch
LOCATION: Bryan Cave, New York City
THEME: Coffee and cupcakes with a former mayor

I interviewed former New York City Mayor Ed Koch in his law firm office over an afternoon snack, instead of meeting at a restaurant. As we drank coffee and ate cupcakes, we talked about his career, current events, and what he’s working on these days.


#37 The Doctor Is In
September 29, 2011

STRANGER: Andrea Bonior
LOCATION: La Canela, Rockville, Maryland
THEME: Dinner with a clinical psychologist

Dinner with Dr. Andrea Bonior — clinical psychologist, college professor and writer of the “Baggage Check” advice column in free DC newspaper Express — to learn what it’s like to listen to other people’s problems for a career.


#36 Celebrating Charleston
August 7, 2011

STRANGER: Caroline Nuttall
LOCATION: Caviar & Bananas, Charleston, South Carolina
THEME: Celebrating culture in Charleston

A Sunday lunch with Caroline Nuttall, learning about her creation Charlie, an online-only magazine that promotes art, food, music and other culture in Charleston.


#35 Jason Ryan’s Jackpot
August 6, 2011

STRANGER: Jason Ryan
LOCATION: Lana, Charleston, South Carolina
THEME: An evening with an author

Over dinner in Charleston, Jason Ryan explained how he came up with the idea for his non-fiction book “Jackpot,” detailing the history of marijuana smuggling in the South.


#34 Florida’s Funambulist
July 20, 2011

STRANGER: Will Soto
LOCATION: Salute! On The Beach, Key West, Florida
THEME: Lunch with a tightrope walker

Chicago-born Will Soto fell in love with Key West when he visited the island 30 years ago. The former navy man has lived there ever since, performing a weekly tightrope and juggling show for cheering crowds of tourists.


#33 We Dance To The Beat
July 16, 2011

STRANGER: Julia Kulakova
LOCATION: Josie’s West, New York City
THEME: Dinner with a dancer

An interview with Russian-born dancer Julia Kulakova, who teaches a gypsy dance class in New York City. The video included with this article confirms once and for all my inability to pull shapes on the dance floor.


#32 Viva Las Vegans
June 30, 2011

STRANGER: Katelyn Sornik
LOCATION: Founding Farmers, Washington, DC
THEME: A meal with a vegan food blogger

My first ever vegan meal as I sat down to dinner with Katelyn Sornik, who gave up a meat-eating diet several years ago but only recently turned fully vegan. She blogs about her experiences being a new vegan, including experimenting with new recipes, reviewing vegan food and life after giving up being a carnivore.


#31 Keeping The Faith
May 15, 2011

STRANGER: Patrick Walker
LOCATION: Acqua Al 2, Washington, DC
THEME: Dinner with a pastor

Sunday dinner with Patrick Walker, who realized from an early age his calling was to be a baptist preacher. It’s a role that’s taken him across the country and overseas spreading the word of God, but also seen him take a lead role in the fight against a law to allow same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia.


#30 March Of The Bucket Brigade
April 16, 2011

STRANGER: Anne Rolfes
LOCATION: Lüke, New Orleans
THEME: Eating with an environmentalist

During brunch in the Big Easy I asked Anne Rolfes about her work as founder of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, an organization that works with communities living near refineries to collect air quality data and fight for pollution reductions.


#29 An Audience With The Lincolns
February 11, 2011

STRANGERS: Michael Krebs & Debra Ann Miller
LOCATION: Phillips Seafood, Washington, DC
THEME: An evening with Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln impersonators

Back in Washington, DC, I sat down to dinner with Michael Krebs and Debra Ann Miller. They’re both actors and tour the country as Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd, performing in a 60-minute educational play about the couple.


#28 A Voice For Radio
January 13, 2011

STRANGER: Zeb Soanes
LOCATION: Andrew Edmunds, London, England
THEME: Dinner with a BBC radio presenter

Dining With Strangers goes international with the first interview outside of the United States. My evening meal companion was Zeb Soanes, whose polished voice is a main reason behind his long-running work as a BBC radio presenter.


#27 British Ink
December 2, 2010

STRANGER: Paul Roe
LOCATION: Montmartre, Washington, DC
THEME: Talking about tattoos

Paul Roe spent his early career working in the fine dining industry, but eventually jumped into the world of tattoos. Find out what got him into the business of inking skin, and his unique approach to what he describes as “haute tattoo.”


#26 The Write Stuff
November 21, 2010

STRANGER: Kyle Michel Sullivan
LOCATION: Heartland Brewery, New York City
THEME: Words with a writer

An author of some rather controversial novels describes how he uses the art of writing his “immoral morality tales” as a way to address what he sees as modern social injustice.


#25 Weaver Ward One
October 5, 2010

STRANGER: Bryan Weaver
LOCATION: Marvin, Washington, DC
THEME: Talking politics in the nation’s capital city

Bryan Weaver has lived in America’s capital city for almost 20 years. He’s a community activist who recently ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the city council. Found out what inspired him to run and why he’ll keep working to improve the city.


#24 Food For Thought
July 24, 2010

STRANGER: Albert Yee
LOCATION: Garces Trading Company, Philadelphia
THEME: Brunch with a restaurant review blogger/photographer

A return to Philadelphia to interview Albert Yee. He moved to the city several years ago knowing little about it, but now he runs a popular restaurant review blog, works at a local food non-profit and even manages some photography in his spare time.


#23 Winston Unzipped
July 20, 2010

STRANGER: Winston Gieseke
LOCATION: Dear John’s, Culver City, California
THEME: Supper with a singer/gay porn site editor

Hours before a flight back to Washington, DC, I had dinner with stranger Winston Gieseke. He’s the managing editor of a gay porn blog but has an interesting history as a writer for television shows and cable movies after moving to Los Angeles when he was 18.


#22 Gay For Pay
July 19, 2010

STRANGER: Malachi Marx
LOCATION: Los Angeles
THEME: An afternoon with a gay for pay porn actor/escort

While on holiday in Los Angeles for my 30th birthday I had the chance to interview Malachi Marx, a gay for pay porn star and escort. Malachi (not his real name) told me how various pressures in his life led him into the world of straight men who have gay sex for money.


#21 Bloody Mary
May 27, 2010

STRANGER: Mary Millan
LOCATION: Muriel’s, New Orleans
THEME: Dinner with a voodoo priestess

On a return visit to New Orleans I had the chance to interview Mary Millan, who is a genuine voodoo priestess, ghost tour guide, psychic healer and more. Find out how she got started in the religion and what daily life is like for a voodoo practitioner.


#20 A Natural Voyeur
April 25, 2010

STRANGER: Amy Messere
LOCATION: Caffe Dolce Vita, Providence, Rhode Island
THEME: Brunch with a strip club waitress/photographer

The fourth of four interviews with strangers in Providence. Rhode Island-born Amy Messere is a keen photographer and would like to make it a full-time job. But for now her main income comes from working as a strip club waitress.


#19 Living In Rhode Island
April 24, 2010

STRANGER: Bob Black
LOCATION: Andreas, Providence, Rhode Island
THEME: Dinner with a realtor/blogger

Bob Black is a realtor with no less than three blogs. He’s got a lot to say and many goals in life. Find out about his history with Rhode Island, his love for his home state, and his plans for the future.


#18 The Many Lives Of Mary Ann
April 24, 2010

STRANGER: Mary Ann Sorrentino
LOCATION: Mediterraneo, Providence, Rhode Island
THEME: Lunch with an abortion rights advocate

Another interview in Providence, this time with Mary Ann Sorrentino. This always-energetic woman was a former director of Planned Parenthood in Rhode Island, a radio talk show host, and too many other roles to summarize here.


#17 Artist By Design
April 23, 2010

STRANGER: Robin Tafel
LOCATION: Camille’s, Providence, Rhode Island
THEME: Dinner with a design student

The first of four dinner interviews from a weekend trip to Providence. Meet Robin Tafel, a student at the Rhode Island School of Design. As she gets ready for graduation, she’s trying to figure out what to do next.


#16 Teresa’s Toys
December 6, 2009

STRANGER: Teresa Suarez
LOCATION: Alice’s Tea Cup, New York City
THEME: Tea and sex toys

Brunch in Manhattan with Teresa Suarez, a busy woman with three jobs. One of them revolves around selling sex toys and other adult entertainment. Find out how she got started in the business and why she loves the work she does.


#15 They Call Him Mister Fry
December 5, 2009

STRANGER: Jack Freiberger
LOCATION: Tony’s DiNapoli, New York City
THEME: Talking with a teacher/actor

A visit to New York City led to an interview with Jack Freiberger, a part-time teacher, part-time actor who is successfully combining both professions into a one-man play about the ups and downs of being an educator.


#14 Magic Moments
November 27, 2009

STRANGER: Michael Chamberlin
LOCATION: Thaiphoon, Washington, DC
THEME: Dining with a magician/stage director

Back in Washington, DC, for an interview over Thai food with a magician who splits his time between New York and DC. Click on the picture above to read all about his magical career, and his ever-growing interest in theatre.


#13 The Heart Of Rock And Roll
August 29, 2009

STRANGER: Buzzy “Beano” Langford
LOCATION: Bayona, New Orleans
THEME: Meal with a musician

New Orleans is the home of jazz in the United States, but what about rock and roll? I had dinner with Buzzy, a guitar player in a local cover band who is living out his dream by making music, both as a career and a hobby.


#12 That Voodoo That You Do So Well
August 28, 2009

STRANGER: Jerry Gandolfo
LOCATION: The Court of Two Sisters, New Orleans
THEME: Curious about a curator

Voodoo is one of the main attractions for many visitors to New Orleans. On a recent trip to the city I sat down to dinner with a man who runs a museum dedicated to the subject to find out more about the world of voodoo.


#11 In The Picture
August 15, 2009

STRANGER: Lars Stephan
LOCATION: Diner, Brooklyn, New York City
THEME: Prying into a photographer’s life

An evening meal in Brooklyn to find out about the life of a young photographer who moved from Germany to New York, and is starting to make a name for himself by using the Internet to post his work.


#10 Enter Cecil, Stage Right
August 15, 2009

STRANGER: Cecil Baldwin
LOCATION: Belcourt, New York City
THEME: Acting up in Manhattan

Brunch in New York City with a waiter working to be a full-time actor. Forget any preconceptions that previous sentence may conjure up, because his life history so far testifies to the dedication he has to acting.


#9 A Slice Of Pizza
May 25, 2009

STRANGERS: Michael Wilkinson & Alicia Wilkinson-Mehr
LOCATION: Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza, Washington, DC
THEME: Making a pizza with strangers

Back to Washington for lunch with brother and sister twins who are bringing New Haven style pizza to the nation’s capital. Not sure what’s meant by New Haven style? Click away on the picture above to have your question answered.


#8 She Loves New York
May 10, 2009

STRANGER: Gretchen Auer
LOCATION: Ta Cocina, New York City
THEME: Big fan of the Big Apple

Another dinner in New York, this time with a stranger who was born in Ohio but long desired to move to Manhattan. Now she’s achieved her dream and is enjoying life in the city so good they named it twice. But if it’s that great, why not name it three times?


#7 No Regrets
May 9, 2009

STRANGER: Lynda Eselp
LOCATION: AOC Bistro, Brooklyn, New York City
THEME: Breaking bread in Brooklyn

Back to the Big Apple to meet another stranger. This time it’s a woman who has had more than her fair share of bad things happen, but she turns everything into a positive experience.


#6 Clowning Around
March 26, 2009

STRANGER: Diego Barquinero
LOCATION: The Counter, Santa Monica, California
THEME: Chatting with a clown

On a recent holiday in California I got the chance to have dinner with a genuine circus clown. Click above to learn all about this stranger’s life under the big top.


#5 The Prince Of Petworth
March 24, 2009

STRANGER: Dan Silverman
LOCATION: CommonWealth, Washington, DC
THEME: Dining in the District

The inaugural dinner in Washington, DC, with a stranger took me less than a block from my house to meet up with a locally well-known blogger who’s all about promoting the positive aspects of the city. Hard to argue with that.


#4 The Curious Case Of Benjamin Franklin
February 28, 2009

STRANGER: Ralph Archbold
LOCATION: City Tavern, Philadelphia
THEME: Hungry for history

For more than 30 years, Ralph Archbold’s job has been taking on the role of Benjamin Franklin for school events, public speaking, promotions, and even White House celebrations. Find out more about how he got into such a career, some of his favorite moments performing as Ben, and even hear a fine story about oysters.


#3 The Eager Beaver Diva With The Unconstricted Boa
December 6, 2008

STRANGER: Margarita Pracatan
LOCATION: Fusha, New York City
THEME: Chatting with a Cuban singer

Learn all about Margarita Pracatan, a Cuban singer living in New York. She’s a true individual whose endless enthusiasm and love of singing make her a genuine pleasure to be around. The article also includes videos of Margarita and I performing a couple of hits. You may want ear-plugs.


#2 Funny Man, Funny Man-Date
November 28, 2008

STRANGER: Jim Piddock
LOCATION: Mistral, Sherman Oaks, California
THEME: Interview with an actor/writer/Brit

The second dinner with a stranger, this time with a celebrity. Click on the bright shiny picture above to read about my meeting with Jim Piddock, learn about his climb up the Broadway and Hollywood ladders, and some of the projects he’s working on these days.


#1 My Dinner With Joseph
November 15, 2008

STRANGER: Joe Matar
LOCATION: The Spotted Pig, New York City
THEME: Genesis of the site

It begins. The inaugural dinner with a stranger, which is actually brunch with someone I know quite well. Try to look past the deception to find out more about the idea for this site, dining at an over-hyped New York pub, and even a bit about my friend Joe.