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!).