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“Emporium” event showcases locally made Halloween costumes, risque performers

on October 28, 2010

For many of us, Halloween means shelling out fifty dollars for that must-have Lady Gaga costume, pants not included. But in this economic environment, Samantha Stevens wants us all to “kick it old school.”

“Back in the day, your mom made your Halloween costume,” says Stevens, a filmmaker and event planner, and the creator of Thursday night’s D.I.Y. Emporium: A Benefit for Rock Paper Scissors. “That was so much better than the little dinosaur costume you would buy at Wal-Mart.”

Food vendors will be set up outside of Sweets Ballroom in Oakland, ready for the start of the D.I.Y event–do it yourself, that is– at 7:00 pm. The Emporium is a combination showcase and sale of clothing, jewelry, hats and homemade costume pieces, some of which would make a mother blush. For a unique and attention grabbing look, for example, just head out trick or treating in a rhinestone bra from Broadway Bling, the creation of local designers Katy Chmura and Naomi Rivera.

“The stuff that I see people make locally is amazing,” Stevens says.  “People around here are talented, and I want to support them instead of stuff that is made overseas.”

After eight years of performing in and producing the Vagina Monologues around California, Stevens settled in Oakland and organized this benefit, she says, just because she saw a need in the community.

Still sporting her royal blue glitter eye shadow from the previous night’s festivities, Stevens brightens the rainy afternoon. She sweeps into Mama Buzz’s coffee shop in Oakland, which Stevens affectionately calls “her living room;” she lives next door. With a huge smile and bubbly energy, Stevens plops down at a table after ordering hot chocolate and a cookie.

“I put on this show to give back to Rock Paper Scissors, the art collective here in Oakland,” Stevens says, as she tears off pieces of her cookie and pops them into her mouth. “They foster that creative space and outlet for the community. But the event also gives space to all these artists who want to sell their things. They want to make a living on their passion, their art.”

It’s not that you can’t buy a great costume at a big chain store, but everyone else might be purchasing that same great costume too. With each passing October day, a new Halloween super store seems to pop-up in a vacant Oakland storefront. These stores, like Spencer’s Halloween, sell pre-made costumes that include giant bananas, sexy police officers, and grim reaper complete with five foot silver plastic scythe.

But the D.I.Y emporium and trunk show will transform the ballroom into an alternative Halloween-themed marketplace, including about 30 local designers and costumers selling their own pieces. Fashion and cabaret shows will punctuate the evening.

A fashion show, starting at nine, will showcase the work of these local designers and provide inspiration for those looking for one-of-a-kind costume ideas.

Yarn hair extensions by Wild Ponies, corsets by Darina Drapkin Custom Corsetry and Fine Fashions, and elf stockings by elfin designs are some of the pieces that will be on display.

“I tell all of the vendors to bring their own model, and dress them, and have them ready to go,” Stevens says. “They have the freedom to wear and do whatever they want. All we are going to do is point them in the right direction and play the music. It’s a chance for people to get an idea of how they can tie these pieces into their own costumes.”

Ending the evening, with curtains up at ten, a cabaret show will include belly dancing from Ooh La La dance troupe and malicious, and MJ Pau’s Go Go Dollies’ zombie-clad go-go dancers. Eve Devlin, Vera Deville and Chi Chis DelFuego will intensify the show, performing burlesque in scantily clad ensembles.

Barely Legal Productions will round out the group, performing two numbers from their new production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Many performers will be wearing not much more than fabulous lingerie with a Halloween twist.

“I love Halloween!” Stevens almost shouts. “It’s the one day a year when everybody gets permission to dress up and act crazy.”

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
Oakland North

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