Dana Cain creates her own fun -- and makes Denver fun for creators

Dana Cain is an Enneagram Social 7: The Enthusiast. And then some. Social 7s, according to the nine-pointed Enneagram personality system, run away from pain and have a passion for gluttony. And while too much is never enough in Dana Cain's universe, the beauty of it is that she's more than happy to share with the rest of the world.

Dana promotes events. She plans parties. She's an avid collector, a lover of the arcane and the metaphysical, and has published several books and guides for others of a like mind. In the '90s she co-owned Atomic Antiques and Collectibles on South Broadway. She's worked eBay. She even took a job in the corporate world for a while. Fascinated by geology and science (her brother is a geologist), she's served as editor of the World Geophysical News for decades.

More recently, she's become a rare aficionado in the local art community, growing an impressive Colorado-centric art collection that fills her Littleton home; when she's not planning shows, she sits on the board of the Art District on Santa Fe and hosts that district's annual Best of the Art District exhibition and awards. It's an ever-upward route she's picking out as the years go by, and 2011 is shaping up to be her biggest year ever, with the addition to her roster of the inaugural Denver Style Expo in April and the crowning achievement of her career, the Denver County Fair, in July.

But on this day, Dana is running behind. She's working from a home office, keeping track of too many irons in the fire: planning hourly fashion shows and high-profile special guests for the two-day Style Expo; filling themed pavilions for the Denver County Fair; registering vendors for the Vintage Voltage Expo, chocolatiers for the Colorado Chocolate Festival and authors for the Rocky Mountain Book & Paper Fair. Down the road a little further is the Denver Modernism Show, which she's grown from a basement affair to a national event. For the first time she can remember, with a looming schedule of major events that — boom, boom, boom — almost piggyback one another on the planning table, the work's almost gotten the better of her. But she'll pull through; it's what she does. Remember, she's a Social 7.

"I have promotion in my blood," Dana says. One of her favorite stories is about the time a handwriting analyst pegged her script as a ringer for P.T. Barnum's. She owes this grandiosity, she notes, in part to her mother, Dorothy Adams, also a party planner of extraordinary talent, as well as a collector of Raggedy Ann dolls, Christmas villages and more. Ditto, then, for the so-called collector gene. It started when her grandma gave her a Breyer horse for her ninth birthday, the beginning of an eventual collection of more than 500 steeds. In the years since, she's racked up collections of everything from unicorns and sock monkeys to Godzilla and vintage science-fiction movie posters.

And Dana's always been on the move. "I was born a young hillbilly in the foothills of the Ozarks in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and I grew up in the South: New Orleans; Pensacola, Florida; Brewton, Alabama; Oklahoma. My father worked for Exxon, so I was an oil brat. We never lived in the same place for more then a few years." But schooling brought Dana to Denver, where she completed a degree in mass communications at the University of Denver. Her love affair with the city began immediately. "I moved to Denver in 1980, and I've been here ever since and have no plans to ever leave it," she explains. "I'm just too in love with this city."

What makes Denver so cool? Surprisingly, Dana thinks it's the town's geographic isolation. "I used to hate it," she says. "But now, I see that its isolation is what makes Denver appreciate all of the events that go on in town. It's up to us to create our own fun. We can't drive an hour and be in another big city like Chicago, and the effect is like a vortex. There's a tornado going on here."

Her ascent through that vortex always seemed star-crossed. "I spent my first decade immersed in the sci-fi community here. My first event experience was MileHiCon. I chaired two in the early 1980s. It was all volunteer stuff, because they were my peeps. I'm a nerd at heart, a total Trekkie. Gene Roddenberry is my absolute total mentor. Then I had this crazy-ass idea: What if I ran an event on my own that was all mine?"

That first event was the Twilight Zone Festival in the late '80s, which coincided with the new Twilight Zone show that came out at that time. "I was so naive. I called the L.A. guys from the show, and they ended up coming out and showing the first episode before it even aired on on TV." That stirred up a lot of press, from the cover of the Rocky Mountain News entertainment section to an interview in USA Today. "After that," she says, "I was hooked."

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Susan Foyd