24 Hours in #CLE: Emcee extraordinaire Christopher Axelrod, aka Peacock, loves to show off his city

If you attend a large charity event or annual meeting in Cleveland, chances are the master of ceremonies will be a loquacious fellow in a colorful formal jacket. That would be Christopher Axelrod, a man of many talents and a supporter of good causes.

The Cleveland Heights native prefers the sobriquet of Peacock, a nickname he says he earned because he owns and designs “the largest custom-made, themed dinner jacket collection on the planet.”

An auctioneer, emcee extraordinaire, and house party host, Peacock spent several years working in Las Vegas, including an event with Sir Elton John, who said, “I may well be the Rocketman, but Peacock is the definitive jacket man.”

Christopher Axelrod, aka PeacockThe Heights High graduate went by a different name at 16. As teen glam rocker Chris Greer, he recorded and released the song “Rock City USA,” proclaiming Cleveland the rock ’n’ roll capital of the world, two decades before the Rock Hall opened.

After 35 years on the road running his outdoor event food and merch company, serving the USN Blue Angels, USAF Thunderbirds, the band Phish, and Bonnaroo Music Festival, Peacock has come home to roost. Now 63, he’s mostly retired and savoring life in his hometown. And now the showman shows us his suggestions for a perfect day in Cleveland.

7:30 a.m. — The day begins

On days that he’s not performing, Peacock gets off his perch in Bratenahl by reading Tao verses and moving into prayer and meditation.

9 a.m. — Six Shooter Coffee

Peacock loves a good cup of coffee, which he finds at the popular coffee shop on Waterloo Road in Collinwood. “A large mug of quality black drip dark coffee gets me primed,” he says.

10 a.m. — Hospice of the Western Reserve

Peacock visits patients at the Cleveland hospice care provider, where he volunteers to offer hope and care. One of Peacock’s favorite quotes is by Sir Winston Churchill: “God will not count our prizes and medals but will surely examine our scars.”

Wade Chapel pond area at Lake View Cemetery.11:30 a.m. — Lake View Cemetery

During a brisk and reflective walk through the historic Cleveland resting place, Peacock admires the fine sculpture and visits friends there. He especially likes the Alan Freed jukebox headstone and the Wade Chapel pond area, as well as the Rockefeller obelisk. Lake View reminds him to give and live each day to its fullest. “Would haves, should haves and could haves don’t count,” he often says. “Make life happen, and lead a balanced, holistic life.”

Noon — Superior Pho

Although he enjoys cooking at home, Peacock embraces local eateries, and he welcomes a good, hot bowl of pho noodle soup at the Vietnamese restaurant in Cleveland’s New Chinatown neighborhood. “It is total comfort food that makes you slow down to unwind and warms the spirit and creative soul,” he says.

1 p.m. — Cleveland History Center

Peacock often enjoys an afternoon walk in the Cleveland Metroparks, but this day finds him touring the University Circle museum, run by the Western Reserve Historical Society. A former classic Cadillac collector, he loves their world class vintage auto collection. Favorites include the Jordan, Franklin, Peerless, and Pierce Arrow models. “Such pride and dignity when owning and driving those fine autos was revered,” he says.

The vast offerings at the architectural salvage store Rebuilders Xchange.2:30 p.m. — Rebuilders Xchange

As a creative mind always engaged in some project, Peacock likes to rummage through the vast offerings at the architectural salvage store, northwest of St. Clair Avenue and East 55th Street. “I always like the unique and funky small items, because I live in a condo and am somewhat restricted,” he says. “I am always snapping photos of amazing finds and sending them to friends for their projects. The place is a marvel for sourcing the unique.”

3:30 p.m. — Heinen’s of Downtown Cleveland

While planning his shopping list in support of that true Cleveland legacy grocery chain, he leaves room for a sweet treat. “I hold fond memories of personally banking in that historic building in its era as the Ameritrust Rotunda,” he says.

4:30 p.m. — Casa Dolce

When his sweet tooth beckons, Peacock flies to the fine Italian cafe and bakery in Mayfield Heights. “Casa Dolce makes a killer pepperoni bread with hot peppers,” he says. On other days, he might land at Wild Flour Bakery in Rocky River. But for a chocolate adventure, Peacock’s absolute favorite store is Fantasy Candies Chocolate Factory in Lyndhurst. He is a nonrecovering chocoholic, he confesses. “Their vast assortment of genuine dark chocolate-covered items along with their huge fudge assortment is sheer bliss. I also grab a couple of bottles of wine there, too.”

6 p.m.

Since he does not have to perform this evening, he celebrates the performances of others.

The Cedar Fairmount restaurant and cocktail bar.7 p.m. — The Fairmount

Peacock starts the evening with a nice fireside wine or martini with friends at the Cedar Fairmount restaurant and cocktail bar.

9 p.m. — The Agora

Peacock can be found supporting new artists at concert venues in all parts of town, from the Agora to Coda, Music Box Supper Club, the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern, the Grog Shop and the Bop Stop. His vast cultural passions also often take him to hear his favorite “band,” The Cleveland Orchestra, at the grand Severance Hall. “There is nothing like the live experience,” he says. “I have lived it. Cleveland is so full of wonderful cultural performance options. I believe in supporting the arts.”

11 p.m. — Nighttown

This tired Peacock orders a nightcap at the white tablecloth restaurant at the top of Cedar Hill before returning to his Bratenahl nest of 36 years. “A bone-dry Tito’s martini up with a twist of lemon celebrates a special day … and every day is special,” he says.

1 a.m. — The day ends

“I close every day in meditative prayer and to unwind and count my blessings for any and all that I am privileged to experience, and that includes meeting new people in my hometown.”

Read more articles by Chris Ball.

Chris Ball became managing editor of FreshWater Cleveland in August 2019 after more than 20 years of editing and writing for The Plain Dealer. A graduate of Hawken School and Oberlin College, he previously worked for Crain Communications, the Lorain Morning Journal, The Free Times and The Cleveland Edition. A lover of Frisbee and film, Ball wrote a DVD review column for The PD for 15 years. He won the Press Club of Cleveland award in 2018 for Best Headline Writer in Ohio.
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