Feature: Ready for Their Close-Ups: Behind-the-Scenes With Philly’s Socialites

Led by Sabrina Tamburino Thorne, a new breed of attention-loving, camera-hungry partygoers are making themselves “Philly-famous” — and turning Philadelphia society upside down

Sabrina Tamburino Thorne met the millionaire she would marry at a pimp-and-ho party two years ago. She was dressed as a hooker. He went as Hugh Hefner.
It was meant to be.

Sabrina, a bright, effervescent 30-year-old, goes to lots of parties. In part, this comes with her role as finance and budget coordinator for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation. But more than that, it comes with being Sabrina: Philly fun girl; friend to movers, shakers and shimmy-ers; daughter of Carol Tamburino, construction consultant and charity committee member extraordinaire. Sabrina is also the wife of Steve Thorne, the 55-year-old auto-parts magnate who’s possibly best known for his highly contentious, highly public breakup with anchorwoman Monica Malpass a few years back.
Sabrina is best known for being photographed.

A voluptuous honey-blonde with dark eyes and a wide smile, Sabrina Tamburino Thorne is many things: a Philadelphia native (born and bred at 19th and Spring Garden); a Margate summerer who, as a teen, scooped ice cream for pocket money; a graduate of Lynn University in Boca Raton, where she fell in love with Miami nightlife while studying business and hospitality management. She came home to work in decidedly unglamorous posts in finance and mortgages before landing a job she loves at GPTMC, where she has, over five years, forged a successful career. She serves on the boards of the National Italian-American Political Action Committee and an annual teen charity event hosted by Karen and Jamie Moyer, and is Young Friends chair for glittery UBS Motor Cars Under the Stars.

Google her, and you’ll find none of this. In fact, you’ll find no news stories at all (other than mention of her new $7.17 million condo at 10 Rittenhouse), nor any hints of scandal (unless you count Congressman Bob Brady showing up at her wedding in a priest’s collar). What you will find are photos: of her lavish wedding at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul; of the charity dance-off at which she fox-trotted her way into second place; of her raucous Lady Gaga-themed birthday bash at R2L, the invitations for which featured her face superimposed on the Rolling Stone cover on which the singer’s nakedness was covered by strategically placed bubbles.

Sabrina isn’t your standard-issue Philly socialite, if by that you mean a Quaker–humble, jacket-with-elbow-patches, ride-to-the-hounds sort of gal. Those types have been somewhat overshadowed in recent years by newer faces on the local party circuit — faces who seem to be having more fun, drinking more cocktails, wearing higher heels and sporting much more leopard print. Besides Tamburino Thorne, there are her friends: Kristen Foote, another blonde (of a more Nordic variety), who’s a successful Allan Domb real estate broker, the product of a Swiss boarding school, and the onetime girlfriend of rakish developer John Westrum; striking brunette PR and party queen Nicole Cashman; willowy, olive-skinned Lauren O’Dorisio, girlfriend of perennially pocket-squared John Colabelli, publisher of Philadelphia Style, a glossy lifestyle mag here in town. There’s also aging weatherstud John Bolaris, hyper-tan superlawer Chuck Peruto, fashionable Rendell pal Nina Tinari, Donald Trump’s Apprentice semi-star Erin Elmore, and even fame-obsessed Web phenom Arthur Kade. Depending whom you ask, they’re the new socialites, or skilled networkers, or charitable givers, or out-and-out social climbers. Fauxcialites.

“They’re sort of the influencers,” one networker explains.
“If they’re at an event, you know it’s a good one,” says another.
But a more old-school Philadelphian says of the nouveaux: “Ugh, just please. Bring. Them. Down.”

 

 

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  • Synthia

    The most significant attribute that HughE does is highlight the many known and unknown charities in the greater Philadelphia region on his blog.

  • Jackie

    …when Jack Kelly and Rachel Harlow (ne Richard Finocchio) were newsworthy.

  • Charlotte

    finally Sabringa, Nicole and the others can’t run from Arthur Kade – they try and try to make themselves out to be “not like him”, when in reality they are the same exact ilk as Kade – he just puts it out there more publicly. But blog or not, this city knows who to go to for the legitimate charity functions and who to go to for cheesey, sleezey famewhores that like to party.

  • sabrina

    just love them…why do people feel like they need to be mean? does it make them feel better about themselves?

  • Hakan

    Miss Speer is right on with this story. Just like everything else, there is the good and the bad. For every Arthur Kade there is socialite doing good (whether behind the scene or for everyone to see). These socialites simply take on a bigger stage with more money. We on the other hand rely more on the smaller budget facebook for our own mini-personal fame is all!

  • Jasmine

    Are the people of Philadelphia really wasting their time with this? I mean, really? Everyone is a socialite in their own right. ANd the truth is, that this city is filled with people thaty have money but just choose not to show it off. So, let the girls have fun and keep the hater comments to a minimum. People only believe what they want to believe. Good job getting publicity girls. It worked like a charm!

  • Jasmine

    Are the people of Philadelphia really wasting their time with this? I mean, really? Everyone is a socialite in their own right. ANd the truth is, that this city is filled with people thaty have money but just choose not to show it off. So, let the girls have fun and keep the hater comments to a minimum. People only believe what they want to believe. Good job getting publicity girls. It worked like a charm!

  • Jasmine

    Are the people of Philadelphia really wasting their time with this? I mean, really? Everyone is a socialite in their own right. ANd the truth is, that this city is filled with people thaty have money but just choose not to show it off. So, let the girls have fun and keep the hater comments to a minimum. People only believe what they want to believe. Good job getting publicity girls. It worked like a charm!

  • mackenzie

    This has to be one of the most ridiculious articles I’ve ever read. Im not sure what makes any of these people remotely newsworthy and why they are always being written about especially when there are plenty of people in this city who are worth mentioning, do actually do have value and never get any mention. If this is considered newsworthy, philly is in some real trouble.

  • mackenzie

    This has to be one of the most ridiculious articles I’ve ever read. Im not sure what makes any of these people remotely newsworthy and why they are always being written about especially when there are plenty of people in this city who are worth mentioning, do actually do have value and never get any mention. If this is considered newsworthy, philly is in some real trouble.

  • Stavros

    None of these people have real talent, beyond cozying up to a guy with a camera. The real money flows from foundations and wealth created by others. These people just want attention. Boring.

  • Danny

    How are any of these people newsworthy? Is this the best Philly has to offer? Whoever wrote this article should have been fired yesterday. Buying a ticket to an open bar “charity” event isn’t anything special. Not one of the “socialites” mentioned has done anything even remotely “charitable.” EVER. Most of them also wouldn’t be caught dead next to HughE unless he was taking their picture. At what age will these “socialites” stop going out every night and actually try and do something meaningful? Funny how you focus on Sabrina. She’s the worst of them all. At least Kade is up front about what he is trying to do. How about a follow up piece in a few years when Sabrina’s husband leaves her for a younger “socialite” and she is left alone, her face looking like a beat up catchers mitt from years of alcohol, desperately trying to get into the VIP room at G?

  • Danny

    How are any of these people newsworthy? Is this the best Philly has to offer? Whoever wrote this article should have been fired yesterday. Buying a ticket to an open bar “charity” event isn’t anything special. Not one of the “socialites” mentioned has done anything even remotely “charitable.” EVER. Most of them also wouldn’t be caught dead next to HughE unless he was taking their picture. At what age will these “socialites” stop going out every night and actually try and do something meaningful? Funny how you focus on Sabrina. She’s the worst of them all. At least Kade is up front about what he is trying to do. How about a follow up piece in a few years when Sabrina’s husband leaves her for a younger “socialite” and she is left alone, her face looking like a beat up catchers mitt from years of alcohol, desperately trying to get into the VIP room at G?

  • Danny

    How are any of these people newsworthy? Is this the best Philly has to offer? Whoever wrote this article should have been fired yesterday. Buying a ticket to an open bar “charity” event isn’t anything special. Not one of the “socialites” mentioned has done anything even remotely “charitable.” EVER. Most of them also wouldn’t be caught dead next to HughE unless he was taking their picture. At what age will these “socialites” stop going out every night and actually try and do something meaningful? Funny how you focus on Sabrina. She’s the worst of them all. At least Kade is up front about what he is trying to do. How about a follow up piece in a few years when Sabrina’s husband leaves her for a younger “socialite” and she is left alone, her face looking like a beat up catchers mitt from years of alcohol, desperately trying to get into the VIP room at G?

  • Danny

    How are any of these people newsworthy? Is this the best Philly has to offer? Whoever wrote this article should have been fired yesterday. Buying a ticket to an open bar “charity” event isn’t anything special. Not one of the “socialites” mentioned has done anything even remotely “charitable.” EVER. Most of them also wouldn’t be caught dead next to HughE unless he was taking their picture. At what age will these “socialites” stop going out every night and actually try and do something meaningful? Funny how you focus on Sabrina. She’s the worst of them all. At least Kade is up front about what he is trying to do. How about a follow up piece in a few years when Sabrina’s husband leaves her for a younger “socialite” and she is left alone, her face looking like a beat up catchers mitt from years of alcohol, desperately trying to get into the VIP room at G?

  • Eric

    I’m with Danny…

    Can I have the 5 minutes of my life back that I wasted reading this article?

  • P

    This is why the majority hate philly mag..This is what we write about these days.give me a break!!!Hello world we live in philly WE DON’T HAVE SOCIALITES HERE……and never did it’s not LA. yeah a girl who married rich big deal anyone could have done that the goal was to marry rich and beautiful,you accomplished nothing that anyone else couldn’t hopefully he won’t leave you one day that would suck…….right???

  • sabrina

    Danny DumbFounded is Dumb and has NO idea what he is talking about. Sorry to hear you are really so jealous of this girl, do u even know her?