Dressed for gaming

Scrabble gone wild: Sexy costumes, bribes and line dancing make for a real word orgy

Scrabble gone wild: Sexy costumes, bribes and line dancing make for a real word orgy

Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Lisa Foronda
Lisa Foronda Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Sondee Weiss, Sara Karow, Virginia Osborne, Graig Bertuglia
Sondee Weiss , Sara Karow , Virginia Osborne , Graig Bertuglia Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Kristy Montgomery, Stephanie Carr
Kristy Montgomery , Stephanie Carr Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Marjorie Evans, Suzanne Baker, Vince Huebner
Marjorie Evans , Suzanne Baker , Vince Huebner Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Gail Liebelt, Jean Hamilton, Donna Boyer, Bob Rothengass
Gail Liebelt , Jean Hamilton , Donna Boyer , Bob Rothengass Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Tamara Medallian, Kelly McClower, Chuck Leard, Staci Stephenson
Chuck Leard , Tamara Medallian , Kelly McClower , Staci Stephenson Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Steve Ginsburgh, Malanie Fisk
Steve Ginsburgh , Malanie Fisk Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Randy Kasir, Michaela Murray
Randy Kasir , Michaela Murray Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Nidia Cruz, David Soper, Ki Park, Felisa Moreno, Jessica Moreno
Ki Park , Nidia Cruz , Felisa Moreno , David Soper , Jessica Moreno Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Diane LeMaire, Wylan LeMaire, Kimberly Rawson, Tyson Dunn
Diane LeMaire , Kimberly Rawson , Wylan LeMaire , Tyson Dunn Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Karen Bargainer, Jennifer Nobles, Jennifer Barron
Karen Bargainer , Jennifer Nobles , Jennifer Barron Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Emily Murphy, Seth Murphy
Emily Murphy , Seth Murphy Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Ellis Wyms, DeeDee Wyms
Ellis Wyms , DeeDee Wyms Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Dan Downs, Ellen Elam, Katy Hole
Dan Downs , Ellen Elam , Katy Hole Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Beth Walker, Sylvia Mayer, Ellen Newman, Michelle Greenberg
Ellen Newman , Beth Walker , Michelle Greenberg , Sylvia Mayer Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Lisa Foronda
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Sondee Weiss, Sara Karow, Virginia Osborne, Graig Bertuglia
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Kristy Montgomery, Stephanie Carr
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Marjorie Evans, Suzanne Baker, Vince Huebner
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Gail Liebelt, Jean Hamilton, Donna Boyer, Bob Rothengass
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Tamara Medallian, Kelly McClower, Chuck Leard, Staci Stephenson
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Steve Ginsburgh, Malanie Fisk
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Randy Kasir, Michaela Murray
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Nidia Cruz, David Soper, Ki Park, Felisa Moreno, Jessica Moreno
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Diane LeMaire, Wylan LeMaire, Kimberly Rawson, Tyson Dunn
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Karen Bargainer, Jennifer Nobles, Jennifer Barron
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Emily Murphy, Seth Murphy
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Ellis Wyms, DeeDee Wyms
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Dan Downs, Ellen Elam, Katy Hole
Scrabble & The City, September 2012, Beth Walker, Sylvia Mayer, Ellen Newman, Michelle Greenberg

If a game of Scrabble conjures up images of proper wordsmithing, strict adherence to the rules and decorous chitchat about the etymology of the assembled words, accompanied by tea and crumpets, that would not be the mise en scène of "Scrabble and the City" Thursday night —far from it.

There was no pinky-up etiquette here.

Instead, the mess hall at Saint Arnold Brewing Company was host to an untamed, fierce competition thronged by costumed teams that weren't the least bit bashful about line dancing, singing karaoke and daring to accept one of the judge's silly antics to score points en route to earning the sobriquet of literary savant.

 This grapheme orgy's main activity hit close to home for Literacy Advance Houston, which in 2011 supported 1,481 local residents.

Scrambling to scrabble were groups like the Hell on Heels, helmed by host committee member Kristy Montgomery, who alongside her team donned a little black number with stilettos, red horns and a devilish pitchfork. Their scandalous ensembles earned top spot for best outfits, beating out last year's fashion champs, Houston Public Library's The Scurvy Scrabblers in pirate togs, eye patches and a puppet monkey.

The fundraiser's most prestigious honor went to Black Elk Energy's Kari Dominguez, Micah Bowen, Jennifer Ashworth and David Cantu though. As the Word in a Box, they took home "Mr. T," the traveling trophy for highest point count.

Other worthy opponents were Kimberli Bowman's Literate Degenerates, Christina and John Dyer's Words with Actual People and Universal Weather Aviation's Humuhumunukunukuapuaa crew, sporting grass skirts and straw hats.

This house of suds has been home to many crazy carousals, though this grapheme orgy's main activity hit close to home for Literacy Advance Houston, which in 2011 supported 1481 local residents out of the 18 million adults in the United States whose English language skills aren't strong enough to secure employment.

Clients of the nonprofit, who are known as "learners," addressed the 300 guests in their newly-acquired tongue and shared personal details of moving from Mexico, Korea, Honduras and Syria. Like Colombia-born Nidia Cruz, who just arrived in Houston six months ago with a dream to become a nutritionist. Their stories touched many, and were received with an overwhelming — and heartrending — standing ovation.

Roused by emcee Sean Pendergast from Yahoo! Sports Radio 1560, thump-thumping dance remixes of favorite Top 40 tunes, filet mignon skewers, prime meatballs and crab cakes from Fleming's, baked indulgences from Nothing Bundt Cakes and Whole Foods-Wilcrest, teams scrabbled the night away, "enhancing" (read that: bribing with extra cash) judges to accept illegal words, purchase vowels, combine player tiles and consult a dictionary. Those funds would in turn subsidize ESL classroom materials, books and training seminars.

CultureMap's The Copy Cats didn't place, though there was no scrabbler's lament for this digital difference maker's happy troupe.

In the mix were Debra Ford, Donna Boyer and Jean Hamilton of Marathon Oil, Kathy Stockton, Andrea Shiloh, Kristy Montgomery, Stephanie Carr, Diane LeMaire, Wylan LeMaire, Kimberly Rawson, Tyson Dunn, Dan Downs, Ellen Elam, Katy Hole, Lisa and Jonathan Fisher, board president Steve Ginsburgh, David Ruiz, Tamara Medallian, Kelly McClower, Chuck Leard, Staci Stephenson, Randy Kasir and Michaela Murray.