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Everything Went

Gloria Penner during live auction "Showcase" in 1987.
Gloria Penner during live auction "Showcase" in 1987.

My colleague, Ken Kramer, characterized the KPBS television auction of the 70’s and 80’s as an “everything went” event. For 7 nights, we sold the most unimaginable to the most exquisite items in a wild, no-holds-barred preview of QVC. In fact, QVC was born the year we bid adieu to the KPBS auction after a 12 year tumultuous and often emotional ride.

Just about all normal activity stopped during that week as auction took over the evening hours. Staff and volunteers were totally invested in the magic. We lived on junk food. We set financial goals – sometimes unrealistic. We worked strange schedules from mid-afternoon to the small pre-dawn hours. In that temporary, unreal bubble of glamour and exhaustion, romances flourished, friendships grew and disagreements magnified. It was a family event, too, with kids working alongside their parents as bid-runners (perfectly legal) rushing slips of paper from the phone bank to the confirmation desk. Madness of sorts always set during auction, when we all hungered for the return of predictable, normal life.

Such was the state of things in 1974. With just dollars short of meeting a $100,000 goal, our auction co-chair and famed architect Homer Delawie ripped off his jacket and offered it to the cameras with the best sales pitch I’d ever heard. It sold for $100 and the goal was reached.


That year was burned into my memory when an auction viewer and fan called in an extravagant offer for an item that wasn’t on sale. We sold it, of course, and I said goodbye to my trademark pony tail – part of me for 15 years. Ken said it: “everything went.”