AN INSIDE PEEK OF THE FOUNDER OF LATINARRIFIC
Gertrude Stein would enjoy the wine and the bubbles poured liberally at the “Polk Street White House,” I suspect Truman Capote would have a tipple or two himself—such is the vibe of this hallmark in the hip hamlet of Hollywood…
I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to Mary Mathis (a meeting with Minh Collins and Cobra Joe Bevelacqua at Atelier 3 re: The 2nd Annual Hollywood Film Festival).
Within days I was seated with Mary and her husband Don Bezahler—near the beach, in their home, which can best be described as a delicious manor of all things artistic and Edenistic…
The Bunce clan (Mary’s family) arrived in Florida from Chicago at the turn of the century in a Model A Ford. The Bunce’s settled in what was then called Lemon City (now known as Little Haiti).
Mary’s Great Grandmother (fondly referred to as Big Nana) relocated to Hollywood shortly after the big hurricane of 1926. Big Nana took up residence on Lee Street, where Mary’s father, Philip Munroe Mathis was born in 1931.
Philip was an outdoorsman who taught his daughter what has become a life-long passion—fauna and flora—fishing, sailing and adventure.
Mary remained in South Florida until she went off to Hollins University in Virginia (their motto; Levai Oculos—Lift Thine Eyes—she hasn’t blinked since).
After college the English/Political Science major caught the attention of Marina Polvay who took the wunderkind under her wing—Mary serving as a ghostwriter, food & travel writer and a public relations consultant for the hugely successful author/nutritionist.
Under the mentorship of Polvay, Mary traveled the globe—immersing herself in the cultures and miens of the various societies she frequented.
The bon vivant married Australian Peter Martini and moved to Perth in 1984.
The previous year, 1983, Alan Bond, the famed Australian entrepreneur usurped the New York Yacht Club for the first time in its 132-year history by winning the America Cup.
Four years later (as is the case in the America Cup) it was up to Perth and the Royal Perth Yacht Club to both host and defend the title.
Mary, with her event coordinating background, was put not only in charge of the general promotion but also for the staging of key events (i.e. The America’s Cup Cocktail Party and the auspicious America’s Cup Ball).
Dealing with dignitaries and heads of state from around the globe, Mary aced the mission.
In 1987 Mary and Peter divorced but she stayed on in Australia securing her position as a go-getter—jet-setter, with top notch business acumen.
In 1998, upon her father’s passing, Mary was ready for change. She entertained three destinations—New York City, Atlanta and Miami. Hollywood won!
In 1999 the erstwhile expat purchased the ramshackle property on Polk Street.
“Everyone thought I was crazy. Why Hollywood, they bemoaned. But I had a sense of something grand brewing beneath the surface. Still unrefined but with so much potential—I wanted in on the ground floor!”
In 2011 Mary married the aforementioned Don Bezahler. Together the pair have utterly overhauled their domestic dominion—two sophisticates with a passion for art and social relevance—hunkered down at the Polk Street White House…
(The author will be posting a separate blog on Mary’s passion project Latinarrific in the coming weeks—stay tuned!).