Art & Commerce: Her Side of the Story:

Kiki Melendez Responds
I’m writing in response to your article “Hostess With the Leastest” [ShopTalk, March 20]. I’ve always regarded your magazine as one of the most prestigious industry publications; that is, until I read this story attacking my performance and character.
When the Atlanta Ad Club asked me to host its awards ceremony, I gladly accepted. I wanted the challenge it presented me as a performer and I wanted the ad community to see my work. I was also proud the Addys were encouraging diversity–this was the first time a Latina had been asked to host the show.
After my performance that night, your reporter was the first to congratulate me. He said I was “great” and he wanted to take my picture for Adweek. But upon my return to L.A., I received a phone call from him saying people were complaining about my act, in particular one of my jokes. I soon realized he had started a controversy to get a story. I called the Ad Club to apologize for the rumors your reporter had started.
After the article came out, Norm Gray [founder of Atlanta’s Creative Circus] left me a wonderful message, saying he wasn’t angry and that he never said I was “a desperate comic who was bombing.” Since there are at least 300 witnesses who know I did not say, “Oh, you’re a Jew!” to Mr. Gray on stage, as your story states, and since my letters, phone calls and write-ups (like the Atlanta Business Journal’s) were all positive, I remain confused as to your reporter’s sources.
I have always used my comedy to unite, not divide. I start my act by saying I was raised in a Jewish neighborhood and this inspired me to pursue a higher education. So while my peers planned for Princeton and Yale, I was a proud graduate of the Wilfred Beauty Academy! Although I didn’t go to Wilfred, this is how comedians stretch the truth to be funny.
I have worked hard to make a name for myself. I host countless events for nonprofit organizations nationwide and, although everyone is entitled to an opinion, they do not have the right to misquote sources for their stories.
I consider this story to be slanderous and defamatory with intended malice, not only to my reputation and person but also a disservice to what many considered was a great and entertaining event for the Atlanta ad community. As further proof of the success of both my performance and the event itself, I received several letters of praise the following day. One response–“We could not have asked for a more energetic and entertaining host”–represents the feedback I got. Where your reporter got his [feedback] I don’t know.
Kiki Melendez
Hollywood Hills, Calif.