Talking Shop

Silvana Vukadin-Hoitt is a woman of the world. The German-born Bosnian speaks four languages and has been there, done that, and still hasn't grown tired of it all. For Vukadin-Hoitt, every day, even the quiet ones spent overseeing her neighborhood boutique, Silvana L'Amour, promises adventure of some sort. Her enthusiasm for life rubs off on anyone who enters the store, which is stocked with whatever she likes: handmade jewelry strung with semi-precious stones (much of it made by local artisans), sexy sequined undies that fit in your pocket, diaphanous Indian scarves, sparkly toe rings, boxes made of shells, sweet-smelling and long-lasting Votivo candles, and anything "goddess," for starters. The ever-morphing inventory currently includes a gorgeous display of museum-quality Hindu Kush ceremonial dresses that have been meticulously stitched and encrusted with buttons, coins and other adornments.

"It's a real girlie store," Vukadin-Hoitt admits. "Women seem to identify with the extravagant and ethnic mishmash I've got in here. But I feel sorry for the guys."

While her women customers spend what seems like hours oohing and aahing over one sweet little thing after another, the men start to walk in, size the place up and quickly leave with nervous looks on their faces, she says. Their loss: Anyone's sweetheart would surely appreciate a trinket from this place. Men have got a lot to learn.

Hopefully, they'll learn a lot of patience, too, because upstairs is the shop's newest outgrowth: a low-lighted, pink-hued spa where visitors can extend their shopping excursions with a chair massage or cosmetic acupuncture treatment. Vukadin-Hoitt herself is already on her fourth treatment, which she credits with helping preserve her beautifully smooth skin.

Silvana L'Amour is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, at 3939 Tennyson Street; spa hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. For information or appointments, call 303-433-0742. -- Susan Froyd

Tasty Eats
Hella Chili Cook-Off
SAT, 7/31

So you say your chili burns down the house, melding both heat and flavor. Well, prove it.

The Maxfund Animal Adoption Center is hosting a chili cook-off fundraiser today at the High Street Speakeasy, 3862 High Street, from noon to 4 p.m. For $20, you can enter your killer chili in one of three categories -- red, green or vegetarian -- and the winner of each will take home a C-note. So bring your friends, bring your family -- hell, bring your enemies to vote for your concoction; $5 gets them in the door and buys a tasting kit and ballot; $10 buys all that plus burgers and brats. There will also be a silent auction and raffle, with prizes ranging from a night at the Hotel Monaco to dinner at Mikey's Italian Bistro to a reading with astrologer John Joseph to a pet portrait from Scout Dog Studios. For information and entry forms, e-mail [email protected]

Keep rocking at the Speakeasy post-chili-coma with the Sol System, WackyShack and move*mental Burning Moon Party/full-moon celebration. There's a $10 cover, and DJs Nutmeg, dis=co!, MadWax, SchmidE, Chris Irvin and Drile will spin all night long. Tres Flambé will do fire performances, and one lucky winner will go home with a ticket to the Burning Man festival. Be sure to dress "celestial."

Magic Christian
FRI, 7/30

Pit Finn predicted today's Denver Post headlines.

The obvious -- "Rockies Lose" and "Economy Stinks" -- probably weren't what the Colorado Springs illusionist and mentalist penned and then put in a sealed envelope inside a locked, transparent box over a week ago. But Finn (the stage name of German-born Peter Tögel) believes his act will entertain. That's part of his mission.

The other part involves his Christian faith. Finn will join other divine magicians, puppeteers, ventriloquists and jugglers -- all members in the Fellowship of Christian Magicians -- in a free Explore the Magic show tonight. Don't expect him to pull a Bible out of a hat, though. Finn invents his own tricks and once made a Porsche appear on stage. "All of these things are illusions," he says. "I'm not pretending to have supernatural powers."

While on stage, he'll display what he believes are God-given talents as he unveils his front-page prophecy. "God gave us creativity; I chose to use my creativity to promote God," he explains.

Still, audience members don't have to be religious truth-seekers -- just fun-seekers. The show begins at 7 p.m. at Mission Hills Church, 5859 South University Boulevard, Greenwood Village. To conjure up tickets, visit -- Ernie Tucker

Supersized Splash
Dragon boats roar from their lairs
SAT, 7/31

"The key to the dragon-boat races is to have good women rowers," says Will Wagonlander, a former Colorado Dragon Boat Festival racer. "We had this one fat girl on our team who was literally not pulling her weight. She killed us."

Despite taking fifth place in the coed races, Wagonlander and his team were able to enjoy the annual pan-Asian sports and cultural event by reveling in the performance arts and the popular Asian Marketplace, which features crafts, gifts and food. "There was plenty to see there, and the sushi was great."

This year's family-friendly festival takes place this weekend at Sloan's Lake, 25th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard. The gala beckons with more races, performances and vendors than ever in its four-year history. Grand-opening ceremonies start at 5 p.m. today and will combine special musical entertainment, a team parade and the traditional Buddhist Eye-Dotting ceremony, during which monks chant while dignitaries paint eyes on the dragon boats. Tomorrow, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., 48 teams will take turns racing for the title of Dragon Cup Winner, with plenty of diversions available for the losers back on shore.

Free parking is available at Invesco Field, with shuttle buses running to the festival site every few minutes. For more information, call 303-722-6852 or go to -- Adam Cayton-Holland

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Adam Cayton-Holland
Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd
Ernie Tucker
Contact: Ernie Tucker

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