By Jill Keppeler
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — This is not your grandmother’s fashion show — unless, perhaps, your grandmother enjoys vintage clothing, steampunk style and motorcycles.
The second Fashion Extravaganza show will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. April 21 at the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda, bringing together businesses from throughout the area in an evening that features everything from “paparazzi” to a burlesque performance, while also showcasing wares from local stores.
The first show took place in February 2012 and raised $3,000 for the United Way. This year, the beneficiary will be the Riv itself, said Sharon Barber, one of the owners (with Holly Rankie and Lydia Connor) of the Hip Gypsy shop on Webster Street, the group that originated the show last year.
Barber said that she was pleased and surprised by other local business owners’ enthusiasm for the event during a tough time for many small businesses.
“There are so many good people; people really are gung-ho,” she said. “That’s what kept us doing it this year really: Realizing how many good people there are.
“Last year was great and I had a feeling this could get the momentum going from last year.”
The show will feature clothing and items from stores throughout the area, not just the Tonawandas, leading to a slight name change to “Uniting the Gateway & Beyond.” This year’s themes include romance, gypsy wedding, domestic diva, disco, Gateway GQ, sweet dreams, hippy, wearable art, steampunk, leather & ink and a tribute to veterans.
In addition, Barber said, there’s far more than just a look at what’s available at local stores.
“Our show is going to be even better than last year,” she said. “We have more professional acts between fashion segments, all to a soundtrack, all choreographed.”
Ken Kaufman, organist for the Buffalo Sabres, and Michelle Farina will perform, as will Tom McGinley on the Mighty Wurlitzer and singer Emily Connor. The tribute to veterans will feature Bruce Wojick on guitar. Students from Project 308 Gallery will present a dance performance.
Back by popular demand, Barber said, is a performance by Chelsea Green of Pole Play Dance Studio, who was a hit at the 2012 event. Last year, Green did a pole dancing routine. This year she will present a burlesque performance.
Green, who has danced and been a gymnast throughout her life, said she was spurred to show off “all sorts of crazy gymnastics” last year after hearing laughter at the start of her act.
“It was fun; I think I surprised a few people,” she said. “I probably challenged them to think a little differently about what I do. People think ‘pole dancing (equals) stripper.’ No, gymnast. It was a lot of fun.
“They had all kinds of just regular people in it. I think that’s what the audience really enjoyed.”
Stores contributing clothing and items to appear in the show include American Harley Davidson (providing, among other things, a full-sized motorcycle), American Skin Art, Generation Next Thrift and Consignment Shop,  The Mulberry Tree, Sherwood Florist, The Twisted Tiki, Martinsville Emporium, Purse Sona, Austin Taylor, Sassy Style Consignment, Custom Beaute, Treasure Market, the Flower Barn, Michele’s Motif and Miss Josie’s Antiques.
Other businesses contributing include Attic to Basement Repeats, The Limousine Service, White Bird Production, Cats Like Us, River Art Gallery, Gleam & Glimmer Stained Glass Studio, Pioneer Printers, Designer Sportswear, Walker Bros & Monroe Jewelers, Partners in Art, Creative Hair Design, Guerrilla Video Solutions, Diva on a Dime, Blast Fitness, Spiritually Rooted and Holler-Grapes Insurance Agency.
Gina Bryant, owner of Austin Taylor on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst, said that her store contributed a “vintage-y” skirt, a short red dress and a military-style jacket to the show.
“It’s something different, something you don’t usually find at the mall,” she said. “I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it.”
Lynda Marie Corrao, owner of Generation Next Thrift and Consignment in the City of Tonawanda, contributed items to the show last year and will take part again April 21.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” she said. “It was wonderful to see all the stores, the items that they sell, to be able to talk to all the other owners. That was very successful.
“It was really a very big community event. Everybody got to take part, which I thought was a lot of fun.”
Corrao’s store features many vintage items from the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, from clothing and jewelry to furniture. While she wasn’t sure what items were going to be featured in the show yet, she thought perhaps some items from the ‘70s, including vintage lingerie (”not risque at all”), “beautiful” vintage babydoll pajamas and jewelry, which is a huge seller for her.
“When you’re a business owner of these kinds of shops, you work 24/7,” Corrao said. “It’s so nice to go out and have an evening with your peers like this. Between the two cities, we really work hard to work together, saying, ‘Well, I might not have what you’re looking for, but have you looked over at Hip Gypsy?’ ”
As with last year’s show, VIP tickets will be available that entitle the holder to a limousine ride from the Manhattan Street parking lot to the VIP red carpet at the Riviera, where “paparazzi” will shoot photos. Inside, VIP guests will be able to partake of champagne from Wine World, Tonawanda Wine & Liquor and Frank’s Liquors and sample treats from Crazy Jakes, the Hodge Podge, Lous’s Restaurant, Yummy Thai, Submasters, Swiston’s Beef & Keg, Budwey’s Supermarket, Dwyer’s Irish Pub, Romeo’s Ristorante and Webster’s Bistro & Bar. VIP tickets also include upper-level seating and raffle tickets.
VIP tickets are $35, while general admission is $15 for one person or $25 for a couple.
Money raised will go to the Riviera for, among other needs, a new popcorn machine. The old one dates from the 1970s and volunteers have been jury-rigging parts to keep it popping, said Alanna Pohl Hughes, assistant executive director of the Riviera Theatre.
“We’re in the process of trying to acquire a new popcorn machine and it’s a couple of thousand dollars, believe it or not,” she said.
Barber said that the show will encourage audience interaction, including creative dress. Secret judges will select one man and one woman from the VIP area and one man and one woman from the general seating area to receive an on-stage award for “the most creative and stylishly attired attendees.”
That interaction and more is what made the 2012 event so much fun, Barber said.
“People in the audience were so interactive,” she said. “And it’s a very interactive show. It’s not a quiet show. We don’t care. The louder, the better!”IF YOU GO • WHAT: "Fashion Extravaganza: Uniting the Gateway & Beyond" to benefit the Riviera Theatre • WHEN: 6 to 9 p.m. April 21 • WHERE: The Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda • COST: General admission is $15 for one person, $25 for a couple. VIP admission is $35. • FOR TICKETS: Call Hip Gypsy at 260-1313.