Retro & Vintage in Buffalo NY
Retro & Vintage in Buffalo NY
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Behind the Scenes: Cats Like Us at VLV14

Posted Julie Ann Davis

We just made our yearly mecca to Las Vegas for the always fun Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender, and I finally had a moment to sit down to blog about our trip. Since VIVA is basically a work trip for us, this should be pretty short, but our trip always seems to be punctuated with a usual amount of fun random happenings. Part tourguide, part behind-the-scenes, this blog post looks to illustrate just SOME of the fun to be had at VIVA!



On our first day we made our mandatory trip to the Charleston Antique Mall. We've been there 3 times and we will probably go every time we come to VIVA. Just off the highway and about a $20 cab ride from the strip, it is definitely worth a trip on a Friday morning before Vegas gets rolling. (This year we went on Wednesday, just because the timing was better.) 

Julie Ann at the charleston antique mall

While not unusually large, we find that the CAM seems to reflect the antiques of the area nicely. Lots of Vegas merchandise and southwestern flair we don't see in Buffalo, NY. That alone makes it worth the trip, but the TIKI ROOM really puts you into the lounge stratosphere. It has a great selection of mugs, necklaces and other polynesian pop items to really satisfy the tiki-file. Even beautiful artwork you won’t find anywhere else from Derek and Squid are featured here!

the tiki room at the charleston antique mall

If the Tiki room doesn't satiate you, walk as we did just 2 blocks down West Charleston Boulevard to Frankie's Tiki Room. This place is definitely not to be missed. This is our second time here, and we came to Vegas a day early just so we wouldn't be rushed. It is literally a very dark tikirific room. Any drink is available on the menu in a take-home mug (by Tiki Farm!) for only $20. Our friend (and always a down to earth pinup doll) Kelvis happened to be there getting some tiki photos done in the polynesian paradise, and we shared a cab back to the hotel.

frankies tiki room


Food is always a big part of the trip of course, and the Orleans Hotel in which the VIVA event takes place has a nice selection of restaurants, buffet, and of course many many bars. There's even a full time hotdog stand INSIDE the casino, for some cheap eats when lady luck isn't at your table. Always a shrimp lover, Julie Ann was sure to get her fix at Al's Oyster Bar.

als oyster bar in the orleans hotel las vegas


On Thursday the VIVA event officially kicks off. In the vendor area is where we actually have to do some work: talk to our existing and potential vendors. This is our 3rd year attending the event and we have made many friends over the years. One example is Angela, the owner of Mode Merr.  She is one darling we have enjoyed seeing year after year. Many of you know how well her garments are made, but its another thing to meet and enjoy the maker of them. It's just fun to meet the people you work with long distance!


The VLV fashion show is always Friday. And this year Nicole Katherine was nice enough to get us front row seats! How exciting! AND to our surprise the organizers and Nicole Katherine had our postcards and stickers lining the seats as people came in to the fashion show. We really felt like VIPs! It was also great to see Switchblade Stiletto showcased, since Lisa is new to the production.  The after party was mobbed so I hope lots of clothes that were featured got bought up. Afterall they work so hard to create these items, it’s wonderful to see people supporting them.

nicole katherine at the vlv fashion show

We were also able to checkout the Charles Phoenix slideshow in the evening. If you don’t know who he is, shame on you! He collects vintage slides from the 1930s-1970s that capture odd snippets of time and strings them together with his own story line that he just happens to present with witty dialog. He’s very funny, and Julie Ann said, "after studying Art History for so long I never thought looking at slides could be so pop culture. It’s quite entertaining."

charles phoenix and hos slide show at VLV 2011


Saturday was a pretty busy day for us. The now-famous VLV car show always happens Saturday. The show has a premium display of classic cars and hot rods, really some of the best of the best anywhere. 


Lots goes on at the car show besides just the cars, including vendors tables, bands, and celebrity appearances. We are not big car heads, although we do appreciate the beauty, engineering and inginuity, Julie Ann was more excited about the guest appearance of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark at the car show. She was so excited, in fact, that we STARTED the line an hour and a half before she was scheduled to appear. Julie Ann wants to add that Elvira was amazing and very concerned about her getting sunburned. She was just too giddy to meet her idol to care about her left foot getting fried and burnt.

elvira mistress of the dark at VLV2010

If you've never been to Las Vegas, one thing I will say is that it is HOT. I guess I mean that the sun is hot. Coming from Buffalo, we are definitely not used to the Nevada sun, and that wimpy SPF30 Panama Jack I was wearing definitely didn't cut it--I got burned waiting for Elvira at the car show.

We were able to meet up with Mandie Bee of Heartbreaker, Holden of Tiki Farm, Mary of Suits by Mary, Richard Cheese, Charles Phoenix and then some. It just goes to show how diverse and fun this group is!


Late afternoon was the car show performance of Jerry Lee Jewis (yes THE Jerry Lee Jewis) and let me tell you he can still play. He was a little shaky between songs but he certainly knows how to rock and roll. I hope I look so good!


In the evening we checked out The Hillbilly Hellcats (who, if you don't know -wrote the song "Cats Like Us" which we used as our store name.) They rocked.

the hillbilly hellcats at vlv2010


We got to meet Chuck Hughes of the Hillbilly Hellcats Saturday afternoon in the Orleans lobby. What a gracious and nice guy. 


One big change at VLV this year was that the pool party went from Friday->Sunday. This was a great change, as it eased some of the normal Sunday congestion. Also a new feature was the vintage swimsuit competition that we sponsored. Wow those gals were knockouts!


And on Monday it was on the way home to dreary Buffalo, energized and to looking forward to next year!




PS Special thanks to Zombetty, we used some of her photos here...

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