StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-113276796510304.jpg’, ‘Photo by Marjorie Stradinger’, ‘The Red Bra Babes are as follows, from left to right: Front RowKaren DeWitt, Barb Daly, Paulette Branca, Roxanne Lewis; Back RowJoan Dixon, Cathy Puckett, Theresa Shahmat, Elaine Lemen, Debbie Cassioppi, Maureen Padron, Ann Utech, Tina Olson; and Not PicturedMaggie Carlson, Sandi Marinelli, Tricia Kiddell, Karen Raddle, Debbie Anderson, Margie Bacino, and Barb Powell.’);
The Red Bra Babes didnt originally intend to create an official group. Last December, Debbie Cassioppi, Roxanne Lewis, Maureen Padron, and Cathy Puckett decided to meet at Rockfords Kiki Bs to celebrate their December birthdays. As the dinner party evolved, the women chatted about friendship, getting older and qualifying for the Red Hat Society and AARP.
Kiki Bs was a fun place to hang out, said Cassioppi. We started talking and laughing, having a good time, and thought we ought to get together every month. We have so much fun; our kids are grown; we really enjoy each other.
They decided to meet monthly on the third Thursday, and chatted about a name.
Red Hat had already been taken, said Cassioppi, and for whatever reason, I came up with Red Bra. It just popped into my head. Were still vibrant women, and red bra was more us. We all came up with Babes. Were a little bit more…wild would be more like it.
You have to be 50 to join, explained Cassioppi. But were healthy and enjoying ourselves. Red Bra, its kind of…sexy. Sexy grandmas. It came down to the fact that we felt good about ourselves, that we looked good for our age, and acted younger than our age.
We dont have anything against the Red Hat Society, said Padron. We just decided we wanted to be something different.
After the December birthday party, Puckett went to Victorias Secret in search of a signature red bra item.
We were looking for something that would identify us, Puckett said. They had these red bra sachets made to put into drawers. They were in the shape of a red bra. We bought them and handed them out to the original group.
That sealed the symbol for them. When new women visit, the group tells them to wear their red bras for the next months meeting. Unlike Red Hatters, who prominently display their signature red hats, The Red Bra Babes don their crimson undergarments on third Thursdays in the privacy of their homes, and relish their secret during the workday, reflecting that this will be their night for fun and fellowship.
The Babes have earned quite a reputation with the Kiki Bs staff:
I created a few drinks just for them, said Diane Watson, general manager for the restaurant, who shows obvious delight in the group.
Theres the Cosmo and the Chocolate Covered Cherry, said Puckett, who described the latter as a shot developed by Watson and Kiki Bs bartender, Terry, just for us. Watson told the group they have a big shebang planned for Decembera surprise for the first anniversary meeting.
Puckett said all 19 members dont necessarily make it to every meeting, and that some attend more regularly than others.
We have fun, but we also support each other, Puckett explained. I look forward to itgirl talk, friendly atmosphere. Its so much fun, and an uplift to start the weekend and to end the week. All of us are employed; no one is retired yet. Its just a way for us to celebrate aging, celebrate friendship, and to have some fun together.
When youre 50, youre dealing with other issues than you had in your 20s and 30s, added Cassioppi. Things have changed. If somebody has a problemhealth, kidswere there to support. Were mostly there to listen. Weve all been therehad similar issues. Right now (life) is all about us. It used to be about our kids, our marriages. Now, its our time to have fun, to enjoy ourselves. Were thinking 50 is the new 40. The baby boomers have a different perception of age.
The group is not actively recruiting new members from the general public.
Even though weve been meeting for 10 months, were still kind of organizing, said Cassioppi. Were still getting new people. It seems like every month or so, we get one or two new people. Its word of mouth. A lot of the people in the group I didnt originally know, but now it seems like were all like sisters.
The groups 19 members include: Karen DeWitt, Barb Daly, Paulette Branca, Roxanne Lewis, Joan Dixon, Cathy Puckett, Theresa Shahmat, Elaine Lemen, Debbie Cassioppi, Maureen Padron, Ann Utech, Tina Olson, Maggie Carlson, Sandi Marinelli, Tricia Kiddell, Karen Raddle, Debbie Anderson, Margie Bacino, and Barb Powell.
From the Nov. 23-29, 2005, issue