WATCH: Drag queens and Speedos and sarongs, oh my!

IMG_2878Last weekend, over the course of a brief 24 hours, three different charities — AIDS Services of Dallas, Legacy Counseling Center and Founders Cottage and AIDS Arms — received an awful lot of love from the Dallas gay community … and did so with a lot of costume changes.

On Saturday, The Summer Party, a 12-year-old pool bash at a private home in East Dallas, raised money for ASD, and included a fashion show by Skivvies, as well as a sarong contest for the gathered guests. Later that evening, The Red Party, a fundraising group benefiting Legacy, staged a poolside fashion show of its own at the ilume, with vodka by Hudson Ferus, snacks and margaritas from Mi Cocina and swimwear by Aussie Bum, ES Collection, Marek+Richard and others. Then on Sunday evening, the Rose Room gave over to the Miss LifeWalk contest, a fundraiser for AIDS Arms. Thousands of dollars were raised … and a lot of eyes popped.

You can see slide shows of each of them with these links to the Summer Party, the Red Party and Miss LifeWalk.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

PHOTOS: The Summer Party, benefiting ASD

Photos by Arnold Wayne Jones

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Skivvies opens outlet location

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Skivvies, the longstanding gayborhood destination for sexy underwear and swimwear, isn’t just in the gayborhood anymore. In the planning stages for a while, today the gay-owned retailer has a second location — one of the outlet variety.

The new storefront, at 1336 Inwood Road, is next door to gay-owned Zeus Comics and across the street from the Crate & Barrel outlet. The neighbors don’t seem to mind.

“A men’s underwear/clothing shop is opening next door,” Zeus owner Richard Neal posted on Facebook recently. “If my wardrobe shifts to club wear, you’ll know why.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

It’s beginning to look a lot like Black Friday

Merchants talk about the importance of the day after Thanksgiving to the overall health of their business

Santa

BIG GAY SANTA | Fete-ish owner Chad Vogel placed a big Santa over his doorway in time to welcome Black Friday shoppers to his Bishop Arts District store. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Although most gay shopkeepers don’t approach Black Friday with the same frenzied mentality as mainstream retailers, the day after Thanksgiving is nonetheless important to their businesses.

To get the edge of those holiday shopping dollars, big box stores have been opening earlier and earlier. Wal-Mart even announced its Friday hours will begin on Thursday this year.

Dallas’ LGBT retailers haven’t turned the day into that kind of maniacal hysteria, but gay merchants on Cedar Springs Road and in the Bishop Arts District want customers to know they depend on good sales this weekend, too.

“Oh my God! It’s very important,” Skivvies owner David Richardson of the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping rush.

He said that he and partner Todd Seaton get to the store three hours early that day to start setting up, and business starts the minute they open the doors. He schedules extra help for the day and stays in the store himself from open until close to help answer questions, work the register and bag items.

“We’ll have discounts on some groups of merchandise throughout the store,” Richardson said, but every category sells well that day.

Black Friday accounts for as much as 20 percent of the Christmas season sales at Skivvies.

“It can be the biggest day of the year,” Richardson said. Only the day before Halloween rivals it.

Nuvo salesperson Daneen Foster agreed. She said she expected her store to be busy from open until close on Black Friday, even without any special promotions.

“We’re just going to be here with our fabulous merchandise, free gift wrapping and a knowledgeable, helpful and friendly staff,” she said.

TapeLenders owner Mark Milburn said, “This is the first time we’ve publicized Black Friday specials.”

In the past, he hasn’t noticed a big spike in business, but he said he thinks his “buy one, get one free” offer on adult videos and an additional 10 percent off on clearance items would especially boost sales.

Things are a little different for OutLines.

“It’s not one of our busier days, like at the malls,” owner David Lester said.

He said that for the past three years, Black Friday has been no better than any other Friday at OutLines. However, to boost sales over the holiday weekend this year, Lester planned to open the store from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

During those four hours last year, he said, he did more business than on the traditional shopping day. He said that specials would be offered throughout the store during the weekend.

“But our biggest weekend is Pride,” Lester said. “And First Wednesday is always a good night for us.”

Bishop Arts retailers report less reliance on a Black Friday surge.

Bishop Street Market owner Mike Harrity said it is usually busier than a normal Friday, but he expects to do much more business on Small Business Saturday. That is an American Express promotion started last year that gives $25 off to anyone that uses an Amex card in a small business on the Saturday following Black Friday.

“Down here we have Jingle Bells on Bishop,” Fete-ish owner Chad Vogel said.

That event takes place the following week.

“We’ll have live entertainment,” Vogel said. “Thousands of people roll through that weekend.”
Harrity agreed that Jingle Bells on Bishop was his store’s biggest weekend of the year

But Vogel said that Thanksgiving weekend does give his store a healthy and welcome spike in sales.

Then he reacted to the question of how gay stores do on Black Friday.

“What makes you think our store is gay?” he asked as he was lighting up the big pink Santa whose mouth is the front door of the store, while other employees were spraying tinsel and glitter everywhere.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas

BUSINESS: Skivvies goes wholesale

GENTLEMEN PREFER SKIVVIES | Dave Richardson shows off one of his new Skivvies designs that will soon be available in stores across the country. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Owner David Richardson has designed a line of men’s underwear that is now selling around the country

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Dave Richardson not only sells underwear at his store Skivvies on Cedar Springs Road but now wholesales a line under the store’s name.

“I’ve always wanted to create some underwear styles of my own,” said Richardson.

This week he and his partner Todd Seaton are in Las Vegas at MAGIC, the largest men’s apparel wholesale market, looking for new lines for their store and selling the new Skivvies line to other stores.

When it opened, Skivvies was the first men’s fashion underwear store in the country, Richardson said. With its 5,000-square-foot space, it has remained the largest.

Richardson said that others have copied his idea and some individual brands have opened retail outlets. But his concept of selling underwear as fashion was new when he created the store.

About 30 years ago, Richardson began his retail career at TapeLenders with his partner, Steve Freeman. After Freeman’s death, Richardson took over the rental outlet and expanded with a store in Austin.

In 1994, he and Seaton, his new partner, opened OutLines and about five years later Skivvies. They have since sold the other stores while expanding Skivvies.

“I’ve learned what design aspects sell the best,” Richardson said. “So in my new line I’ve combined the colors, fabrications, fit, pouch design and waistband materials that our customers like best.”

Through a contact in the garment industry, he found a factory in Medellin, Columbia that is manufacturing the product in relatively small runs of 10,000 pieces at prices he can wholesale competitively.

After the first manufacturing run, Richardson and Seaton tested the brand in their own store.

“To my great surprise and pleasure, it’s been selling very well,” Richardson said.

Then they held their product launch party on the last Atlantis cruise and picked up a few retail accounts. Skivvies is now selling in stores such as LA Sporting Club in Los Angeles and Underwear Station in Miami.

For the Las Vegas market, they chose the top five models, counting on those models to catch on across the country.

Since “skivvies” is a military term, Richardson decided to use military terms for each of the designs in the line. “Rear admiral,” he said, has the butt cut out.

Richardson said that when he got into the business, most underwear lines had two or three styles and colors.

“Now we get new styles in constantly,” Todd said.

As for the wholesale line, Richardson said he’s hoping to grow slowly and steadily.

“We don’t want to be a flash in the pan,” he said.

He said he doesn’t want to overextend his company and would be delighted with about.

A slide show of men modeling the new Skivvies line is available on line.

—  John Wright

Skivvies holds underwear model auditions tonight; talk about a win-win situation

Let’s face it: Every gay guy, at one time or another, fantasizes about being the underwear model that first made him realize he was gay. (For men my age. baseball star Jim Palmer’s Jockey ads had a greater impact than Will & Grace and a dozen Pride marches combined.)  Tonight, you may actually get the shot.

Skivvies, the underwear store in the gayborhood, is on the prowl … er, search — for the next Skivvies Man. Tonight, from 7 o’clock on, those interested in auditioning will get a fairly professional opportunity to prove their catwalk skills: There will be lights, camera and, we can only imagine, a whole lot of action.

So, if you or someone you know wants to shake a little booty for the camera, be there from 6:30 to 6:45 to sign up. And even if you don’t want to audition yourself … well, you can still stop by and see the men who do want it. And if you see Jim Palmer, call me.

Skivvies, 4001-C Cedar Springs Road. June 8 starting at 7 p.m.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Razzle Dazzle Dallas returns to Cedar Springs

 

Revived event will span 5 days with a variety of new features

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

When organizers decided to revive Razzle Dazzle Dallas, they made the event bigger than it had ever been. And Scott Whittall, president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association said that the five-day event just keeps growing.

For example, after rain forced the postponement last weekend of a sidewalk sale and antique car show scheduled for Cedar Springs, the events were added to the Razzle Dazzle schedule.

Razzle Dazzle begins on Wednesday, June 1, with the Cedar Springs Wine Walk and Dog Walk. Participating merchants will serve free wine to anyone who has purchased a $5 wine glass. The Humane Society will set up pet stations along the street to make the event dog friendly.

Thursday, June 2, is the Jagermeister Oak Lawn Pub Crawl. A party bus will shuttle partygoers to participating nightclubs off of Cedar Springs. Participants can travel from club to club in their own cars or park in one place and ride the party bus.

Four Oak Lawn bars will offer a variety of entertainment, contests, dancers and more. The party runs from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. and participating clubs include BJ’s NXS, Zippers, the Brick/Joe’s and Kaliente.

Metro Ball begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 3, and is the weekend’s major AIDS fundraiser.

The party will be held at Station 4 until midnight and includes dancing, raffles, a silent auction and entertainment by Deborah Cox. Tickets are $25 in advance and available at GDMAF.org or at Skivvies or $30 at the door.

The event benefits the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund, which provides financial assistance to people with HIV and AIDS for critical needs when resources are exhausted through other local organizations.

Two additional events have been scheduled for VIP ticket holders. The Melrose Hotel will host a reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. featuring Pinnacle flavored vodkas.

The original founders of Razzle Dazzle Dallas will be honored at that reception.

The Round-Up Saloon will hold a late-night private party with hors d’ouevres on the upstairs deck for VIP ticket holders.

VIP tickets are $100 and include five days of free reserved parking at ilume, a $100 merchant coupon book for the Wednesday Wine Walk and more.

Each VIP ticket holder will be entered into a drawing to win dinner, a one-night stay at the Worthington Hotel in Fort Worth and tickets to the musical Chicago at Bass Hall.

Whittall said producers of the show contacted CSMA to offer the giveaway as a promotion for the tour coming because one of the songs in the musical is called Razzle Dazzle.

About 50 autos from Classic Chassis Car Club will be parked along Cedar Springs Road on Saturday until 4 p.m. for an antique and classic car show. Many of the street’s merchants will be offering discounts during the day at a sidewalk sale.

The street closes to vehicular traffic at 4 p.m. for the main event that begins at 7 p.m.

Cazwell will appear on the main stage with Cheer Dallas, Billy Halliday, The Bright, Uptown Players, Chaz Marie, the Gary Floyd Trio, Anton Shaw and the drag-based performance group Something Fabulous!!!

A female impersonator stage will be set up on the deck at Woody’s Sports and Video Bar beginning at 10 p.m.

DJ/VJ Mickey Briggs of Dallas and the dance sounds of DJ Tim Pfleuger from OZ in New Orleans will alternate on a dance stage at Cedar Springs Road at Knight Street.

About 40 community groups will have booths with information and activities. A late addition to the Razzle Dazzle line up is a Midway with carnival games, dunking booths, a mechanical bull and an obstacle course.

Admission to the street is free but Whittall said that this is a fundraiser. Beer sales from booths will go toward the donation to charities. Midway sales and collections from participating vendors and organizations will benefit agencies.

A closing party and tea dance will be held at TMC: The Mining Company on Sunday, June 5. Miss and Mr. Razzle Dazzle Dallas will be crowned at the Brick on Sunday, with the contest beginning at 10 p.m.

Whittall said they are hoping to attract 20,000 to 30,000 people for the street party. He said the last time Razzle Dazzle was staged in 2003, an estimated 35,000 people attended.

The Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau has been promoting the week nationally.

Veronica Torres of the DCVB said, “We’re marketing Razzle Dazzle Dallas as a destination event.”

She said that they’ve been promoting weekend stays in Dallas through Facebook and Twitter and on their GLBT Dallas site. The DCVB featured the event at trade shows nationally including at a recent International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association convention.

Whittall said the event has been entirely underwritten so all proceeds will go to the beneficiaries — Youth First Texas, Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Interfaith Network, Cedar Springs Merchants Association Beautification Fund, AIDS Arms, Legacy Counseling/Founders Cottage, Lone Star Ride and Legal Hospice

—  John Wright