Want to get in touch with your inner Little Red Riding Hood or let loose the Gandalf trapped inside your routine self?Don't wait around for a fairy godmother to help. Instead, check out some of the dozens of costume stores in the Denver area. And while this isn't a complete list, here are a few fantasy factories that Westword tricksters sampled to give Halloween procrastinators some direction -- and maybe inspiration.
"Movie costumes are always really big, and this year, Pirates of the Caribbean and Chicago are both huge. I've already run out of pirate shirts twice," says Marilyn Vranka, manager at the Ritz in Boulder. "And The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix are still really popular."
Located at 959 Walnut Street, the Ritz carries the works -- from sassy flapper dresses to white platform boots with goldfish in the heels. Call 303-443-2850 for further information.
Another stop is the Wizard's Chest, at 230 Fillmore Street in Cherry Creek North. Packed to the gills with wigs, wings and scary vinyl masks, the Wizard's Chest also features a huge tiara collection and an extensive makeup counter. "You can put together a good costume for $5 or $1,000; it all depends on how much you want to spend," says costume manager Rona Gates. Call 303-321-4304 for more info.
American Costume, 1526 Blake Street, has a smaller retail section but a huge inventory of over 10,000 rental costumes -- everything from blue-velvet suits to intricate period pieces. For details, visit www.americancostume.com or call 303-893-8899.
Looking for something a little more "adult" for the big night? Hit All American Vogue, 10 South Broadway, to pick up a sexy sequined mermaid costume or a naughty nurse uniform in tight white vinyl.
"What we're going for is the trampy look -- I guess you can call it fun and flirty," says All American's James Elliott. "We sell everything from storybook girls to Elvira to pimp costumes. Every man always wants to be a pimp." Call 303-733-4140 for more dirty details.
Whatever you decide to be this Halloween, leave yourself plenty of time to shop. "We always get a line of people out the door at the last minute," warns Gates. "It's a true madhouse." -- Julie Dunn
Roadshow values collectible toys
You've heard the stories: "Man finds antique tin wind-up toy in attic, gets $12,000!" "Mint-condition Barbie collection nets $17,000!" And the thing is, the stories are true: There's a whole network of collectors out there who are desperate to own these things; many of them are members of the International Toy Collectors Association, an Illinois-based organization of toy experts who search out collectibles and maintain a warehouse filled with choice finds and parts for restoration. Since 1995, the group has hosted the ITCA Toy Roadshow, a traveling search unit that sets up shop in cities across the nation and pays money on the spot to locals with desirable items to sell. "All the really good antiques are hiding in people's basements and attics," says ITCA vice president Neil McCutchan. The toy roadshow will roll into the Denver area this weekend for the very first time.
McCutchan says the hottest collectible toys right now (those dating from the mid-1800s to 1970) include baby-boomer favorites such as Barbies, Hot Wheels cars, '50s-era tin robots and space toys, signature Western toys and especially old train sets -- the kind Grandpa used to take out for a few weeks every Christmas season. Bring yours to sell at the Holiday Inn Lakewood, 7390 West Hampden Avenue, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday. And cross your fingers: You may leave richer than you came. Admission is free; call 1-212-636-8012 for details. -- Susan Froyd
During the early '90s, when Kurt Ohlen and his wife, Karen, were Wax Trax employees, they realized that there hadn't been a local record show for several years. "We thought, heck, we can put that together," Kurt remembers. The couple staged their inaugural bazaar at the Regency Hotel in a room that was far too small for the turnout. "It's grown from there," Kurt says. "It had to."Appropriately, the Denver Record Collectors Fall Expo 2003 is bigger than the original in every respect. More than forty dealers from across the country are expected to attend, offering music memorabilia and recordings that employ both new and old formats. "We'll have everything from CDs and DVDs to tapes and vinyl," Kurt notes. He adds that bargains can be found in the most unexpected places: "There might be a guy selling '50s rock who's got a rare hip-hop twelve-inch, and he has no idea what it's worth. That kind of thing happens all the time."
Gobble up a locally flavored holiday treat
Tired of commercial Halloween celebrations with overpriced admission and frightfully cliched fare? Then snatch up your broomstick and soar over to the historic Oriental Theatre, 4355 West 44th Avenue, where Mod Productions' Halloween Bash 2003 is scaring up some local love. Five metro-area artists will hang their artwork, the Denver-produced gothic-horror picture show Torsion Trinity will flicker, and rockers will electrify the haunted happening from 7 p.m. to midnight. The first few freaks to enter will get KISS action figures; boys and ghouls will be allowed to climb into the back of an authentic hearse to be shot (okay, photographed) in the casket; and the winner of the contest for the best beastly garb will become one hundred bones richer.
"It's a night of locally produced art, music and fun," says pop artist Jack Jensen, who will perform at the Bash.
The $12 admission price at the door gets each reveler two free cups of grisly grog (beer). The event is for culture vultures 21 and over only. Advance tickets, $10, are available at www.modproductions.com. Call 720-366-8384 for more information. Howling holidays! -- Kity Ironton