On Saturday night at Bo Brooks Crab House, the intoxicating odor of Old Bay is seeping into every pore, permeating every stitch of clothing. It's dinner time and the natives are getting hungry, very hungry. Where are those crabs hon? But here's something new and distracting: A small woman with long blond hair, lime green fingernails and a loud Brooklyn accent is cutting up paper plates and fashioning them into the most amazing sculptures: Hats that look like crabs and clipper ships and roosters and mice eating cheese and dragons and telephones and storks carrying baby bundles. She's giving them away for free. And she's singing and telling jokes at the same time.

"Ooh, this is so cool!" gushes Paula Casagrande of Patterson Park, who has left her table to gawk as Wendy Brackman transforms a paper plate into a Viking helmet. "I'm so impressed! I've been around and I've seen a lot of things. I'll be your agent, babe, I'll set you up! A hundred bucks an hour you could definitely get."

A hundred bucks an hour? Ten years ago, maybe.The unknowing Casagrande is face-to-face with Wacky Wendy. Yes, the Wacky Wendy of Wendy's Wacky Hats. The madcap mad hatter who entertains elite corporate audiences and creates public spectacles all over the country. The very same one who's been on Shari Lewis and Regis & Kathy Lee.

The Wackster is making her seventh Artscape appearance this weekend. She will create a 12-foot-high Baltimore Bicentennial pinwheel covered with multicolored paper images such as sailboats, crabs, little white steps and Bromo Seltzer towers. The last time she was in Baltimore, she fitted Mayor Schmoke with a Baltimore Bicentennial hat. This time, she and her husband, "Lucky Lou" Capello, are dining with their good pals from Bolton Hill: Sally Gold, Elliot Zulver and their daughter, Alissa Zulvergold.

Bo Brooks is Wendy's favorite Baltimore eatery -- that is, when she gives herself permission to eat. This is a woman who never leaves home without her Joyce Chen scissors. As a result, the pile of steamed crabs must wait while the paper sculptor does her best to beautify her surroundings.


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The Baltimore Sun Times
By Linell Smith