Joey Cornblit was born in Canada in the midst of a circuitous emigration his family was making from its native Israel to Miami. Once in Florida, he dabbled spectacularly in nearly all schoolboy sports—showing special promise in gymastics. Now, at 18, he is walloping the local Basques and Spaniards at their own ancient game—jai-alai (pronounced “HI-ALIE”). Called the world’s fastest ball game, it is played on a 175-foot-long court, or frontón. The players hurl a rock-hard, goatskin-covered ball from basket-like scoops, or cestas, against the three walls of the court at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour. A heavy betting game, jai-alai is considered recklessly dangerous by many. To Joey, holding an incredible 10th place in world competition against veterans after less than two years as a pro, it’s “the most exciting and thrilling sport around.” And Buddy Berenson, president of the Miami frontón, describes Joey as “the first American with the potential of rising to superstardom.” Such distinction could mean upwards of $40,000 a year for Joey at his peak. But, looking ahead, he knows he will eventually “have to learn a business or something. Most players are through by 35,” says the new star—just over half that age today.
Susan Kelner isn’t really a jeweler. “It’s sculpture to wear,” says the 28-year-old artist of creations as often sold in galleries as in New York boutiques. Prices range from a modest $30 for a simple ring to $9,000 for an enormous brooch called “The Great American Indian.” Her materials are precious stones and metals, coral and seashells, some of which are fashioned into such Daliesque fantasies as a jewel-encrusted anatomical model of the human heart. She also makes bestudded goblets, chess sets, inkwells and, for one latter-day Brünnhilde, a gold breastplate.
Educated at Ohio University, Susan odd-jobbed as a toy designer and a singles’ bar cashier before her original jewelry designs caught the eye of a number of affluent rock stars and brought her financial independence. Older patrons bring her their heirlooms to be refashioned. One elderly woman, who asked the artist to create an ornament from her gold inlays, died before the commission could be executed. Susan still has the teeth. Obsessed with the notion of designing a bridge or ornamenting the top of a skyscraper or some other architectural monument with her fancywork, Susan meanwhile will content herself by designing a lavish crown. But isn’t monarchy on the wane? “If only Mick Jagger would buy it,” she sighs.