Phoenix Fashion Week features standout designers

Every year, Phoenix Fashion Week brings more than 20 emerging and established designers to the runway, and I checked out some new fashion this past Thursday and Friday at Scottsdale’s Talking Stick Resort.

Phoenix Fashion Week

Phoenix Fashion Week

There were definitely some standouts. I’ve already been a fan of local casualwear line State Forty Eight for about the past year. The line features hoodies, polos, off-the-shoulder long sleeve shirts, hats and more, all donning a cool Arizona-branded, “State Forty Eight” logo. Check out some styles below, get to know founder and designer Nicholas Polando here, and find their styles, starting at $22 for adult garments, here.

State Forty Eight

StateFortyEight1

I was really impressed with Scottsdale-based designer Misha Mendicino, a designer with a great cause. Her resortwear line heavily features elephant prints, and 5 percent of the profits go towards David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which focuses on wildlife preservation and anti-poaching efforts.

Her colorful styles were beachy and breezy, looking oh-so-comfortable while making a statement with bold patterns. I would have worn any of her garments and am excited there’s such great talent right here in Scottsdale. Check out some of her styles, with sales starting at $35, below, and purchase here.

Misha Mendicino

Misha Mendicino

Misha Mendicino

Albert Andrada brought stunning couture gowns. His works were ornate, one featuring feathery shoulder pads, and many Asian-inspired styles with bold sleeves. There were studded jackets, 3D skirts, sequins and toga-like styles. It was a beautiful show to watch and included dresses perfect for a red carpet affair. See some styles below, and visit his collections here.

Albert Andrada

Albert Andrada

Albert Andrada

Bri Seeley, from Los Angeles, brought soft and feminine styles. Many of her dresses reminded me of something Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine would wear. While some styles were a little conservative, most of the pieces seemed like they could fit in perfectly in any woman’s closet. Find her here, and check out some styles below.

Bri Seeley

Bri Seeley

Bri Seeley

Dolcessa, from Las Vegas, brought sexy swimwear to the catwalk. The wraps and bikinis were gorgeous — it’s easy to see why they’ve been featured extensively in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue for the past four years. See some below, and purchase here.

Dolcessa

Dolcessa

Dolcessa

Phoenix Fashion Week concludes tonight. Find more information here.

Scandalesque performs Sexy Sci-Fi at Phoenix Center for the Arts

Local burlesque troupe Scandalesque created nerdvana heaven this past weekend when they took the Phoenix Center for the Arts stage for their Sexy Sci-Fi show. Characters such as Yoda, Flash Gordon and Barbarella came back to life in a very sexy style, as Scandalesque’s talented troupe of dancers, aerialists and singers donned provocative costumes to give sexy twists to beloved names in science fiction.

Scandalesque at Phoenix Center for the Arts

With sassy drag queen hostess Aimee Justice, the troupe, which also featured some studly guys, powered through two hours of song-and-dance performances, showing off why the art of the tease is so scintillating and giving a diverse audience glimpses of pasties, tummies and fishnet stockings throughout.

Scandalesque at Phoenix Center for the Arts

I love how the burlesque troupe reinvents classics in a hip way, and the acrobatics and fire play are always impressive. They’re a hard-working group who strives to put on a professional, well-rounded show, so check them out if you never have for a unique form of entertainment in the Valley.

Scandalesque at Phoenix Center for the Arts

See more photos from the show below. The troupe performs in Vegas for the October 31 Fetish & Fantasy Halloween Ball. Learn more here.

Scandalesque performs at Phoenix Center for the Arts

Scandalesque at Phoenix Center for the Arts

Scandalesque at the Phoenix Center for the Arts

Scandalesque at the Phoenix Center for the Arts

Bad Water Brewing Tap Room in Scottsdale serves exclusive beers

There’s a new bar with a speakeasy feel in Old Town Scottsdale.

Bad Water Brewing  in Old Town ScottsdaleWalk along Brown Avenue and peek in the salon-filled street to find Bad Water Brewing, a bar that balances its beers with fancy charcuterie boards and sleek, masculine furnishings that are part upscale sports bar, part minimalist hangout for those simply looking for a tasty brewskie.

Bad Water Brewing  in Old Town ScottsdaleThe spot serves three craft beers, only distributed in Arizona: a lighter-than-usual IPA; a strong in alcohol, light-in-taste saison; and a caramely Western lager that was probably my favorite of the three (all $5 each). IPAs usually scare me because of their strong taste, though I’m attracted to the high alcohol content, so it’s great this fruit-forward IPA went down smoothly and still hit the spot at 5.5 percent alcohol. The saison, with an orange spice tinge, had a whopping 6 percent alcohol percentage, while the lager with a smooth finish had 5 percent. I was impressed with all these local brews, and our knowledgeable server did a great job at explaining the nuances.

Bad Water Brewing  in Old Town ScottsdaleWe ordered a vegetarian Noble Stave charcuterie board (there’s also a vegan one, sans meats and cheeses), normally $15. It came with a scrumptious blueberry goat cheese, brie, gorgonzola, pistachios, almonds, olives, peppers, artichokes and more. It was definitely artfully presented and included some fancy cheeses, but I was disappointed there were only three flat lavash crackers. It came with three long, hard grissini crackers that were difficult to spread anything on, and overall, the offerings were a little sparser than I’d expect for the price.

Bad Water Brewing  in Old Town ScottsdaleMy favorite part of the board was definitely the blueberry goat cheese. I’ve never had anything like it and would have enjoyed an appetizer featuring just that. The ingredients all went well together, though I would have loved more lavash.

As for atmosphere, the vibe was relaxed and would make for a great spot for industry folk looking to unwind after working in the area. I just wish there were some purse hooks on the high-tops, since there was nowhere to put mine except for on my lap, on the floor or on the table.

Bad Water Brewing  in Old Town ScottsdaleI wouldn’t say I would go there just for the appetizers, but the cheap-in-price, high-in-quality local brews are attractive, and it’s nice to have the charcuterie boards (six to choose from, starting at $11), to whet your palate before heading to dinner.

The spot features a 16-seater private room that will be used for educational beer events and that can be reserved for parties, a cool aspect to the venue.

Bad Water Brewing  in Old Town ScottsdaleThe thing I enjoyed most about Bad Water was its unique beer selection, also including seven drafts and 10 bottled beers from guest breweries, including a favorite of mine, the Lumberyard Pale Ale from Lumberyard Brewing Company in Flagstaff ($6.) Learn more about Bad Water Brewing here.

Your Art Party in Phoenix a unique painting party

I am really, REALLY loving public painting parties. It’s great to use your brain when you go out, and it’s neat to have something so cool to take home with you when you’re done.

I’ve hit up The Brush Bar in Scottsdale, and I recently discovered Your Art Party in downtown Phoenix. The space is super-intimate, with a capacity of 14 people, and it’s BYOB, so you can bring as much beer and wine as you want to imbibe while you’re painting.

I had a blast when I went to paint this sunset recently.

Your Art Party in Phoenix, AZ

Everyone in the class was super-friendly and chatty and made you feel like your friends instantly. Our teacher, Mandie, was absolutely hysterical, and the painting was simple enough for everyone in the room, even a pre-teen in our group, to paint successfully.

I’m excited for a private party I’m hosting there next month and think it’s so cool you’re able to fill the space yourself for only $25 a person. Find more information on Your Art Party here.

Topgolf in Scottsdale fun for non-golfers, dogs

If you ever wanted to golf with Fido by your side, Topgolf in Scottsdale is your place.

Topgolf in Scottsdale

The recently opened driving range lets you bring your canines along for the ride, who can relax on cushioned couches as you bounce off balls into targets throughout the range.

Its dog-friendliness isn’t its only draw. Anyone will have fun at Topgolf, whether you’re a pro with the sticks or not. Each hole has its own misted and fanned lounge area, with servers delivering drinks and food as you compete against your friends.

Topgolf in Scottsdale

There are full bars on both golfing levels, as well as a rooftop bar, and fire pits and extra lounging areas give a great view of Valley sunsets, making it a bonafide Scottsdale rooftop bar contender.

Topgolf in Scottsdale

For those who do golf, up to six people can compete against each other to score points by hitting balls into one of the netted areas. Rates are hourly, after you pay a $5 membership fee. It’s $25/hour between open-noon, $35/hour between noon-5 p.m. and $45/hour between 5 p.m.-close. Divided by a group of six, that’s not too bad, and I loved it as a new fun alternative to group bowling.

Something I wasn’t a fan of was that woods and drivers are not allowed, only irons. A driving range where you can’t use your driver?! Yep.

Apparently too many people were hitting the ball over the fence into Talking Stick Resort area. Bummer.

Still, it’s pretty darn awesome to hit balls in cool air to Top 40 music. Learn more about Topgolf here.

Scandalesque brings the sexy to The Pressroom

Local burlesque troupe Scandalesque has been going strong for 10 years now, and for good reason. The highly entertaining show, which includes everything from acrobatics and fire twirling, to sexy striptease and song-and-dance, features talented performers who craft carefully choreographed, polished acts for a highly professional performance.

Scandalesque at The Pressroom

I’ve been a fan of the troupe since I first saw them at the now-closed Paper Heart in Phoenix around seven years ago, and when I checked them out at The Pressroom in downtown Phoenix this past weekend, I was thrilled with how their Madonna/Marilyn Monroe-themed show turned out.

Scandalesque at The Press Room

Founders Pyrrha (Christy Zandlo) and Lady Fonatyne (Julianna Curtis) are the anchors of the show, performing many of the songs and getting the crowd pumped up for their supporting cast members. The ladies are both stellar singers with uber-hot bodies, and they draw inspiration from classic burlesque performances to put together their shows. A feisty host kept the action moving, with songs alternating between the two legendary singers.

Scandalesque at The Press Room

Each song included dazzling costumes, and there was always something cool to watch, whether it was feather fans covering up a nearly naked upper-half, or a performer climbing up and flipping around fabric high off the ground. Sure, there was a ton of skin being shown off, but the moves were classy.

Paired with live art, cigarette gals mingling in the crowd, a full bar and a ton of audience participation (including lucky guys who received lap dances), the event was captivating all around.

Find more on Scandalesque here.

Courtney Cotter King brings sunshine and happiness to Rogue Bar

Courtney Cotter King is a breath of fresh air in the Valley music scene. The cutie pie is a talented singer/pianist with powerhouse vocals and melodies that will leave you dancing and smiling.

Courtney Cotter King at Rogue Bar

I checked her out at Rogue Bar this week, a dive bar that provided a cool contrasting background to her poppy tunes. She played tracks off her current album, Rooftops, deftly tinkling the keys with a full backing band. I would definitely say Cotter King is one artist to watch out for in the Arizona music scene — learn more about her here, and watch some videos from the show below.

Cold Beer & Cheeseburgers a stellar Old Town Scottsdale sports bar

Sports bars with great service are bank in my book. Often, I visit ones where the rowdy action that’s happening on TV and throughout the bar gives servers an excuse to neglect your dining needs or act hurried in their interactions, but I’m pleased to say Cold Beer & Cheeseburgers in Old Town Scottsdale is a great exception to this rule.

Cold Beer & Cheeseburgers in Old Town Scottsdale

I went there recently to watch the Indiana Pacers beat the Miami Heat (woo!) and had a great time chilling out on the mister-filled patio. We had prime seating in front of a large flat-screen television and a cool view of Old Town Scottsdale. Now I know why the patio is constantly packed whenever I drive by – the place has great food, a killer happy hour, 25 TVs and service with a smile.

One of the things that’s greatest about Cold Beer & Cheeseburgers is that their happy hour lasts until 7 p.m., and starts at 3 p.m. It features great specials, including $3 domestic pints and $5 appetizers.

As the restaurant name implies, the beer list is huge, but my favorite part about the meal was the delicious grilled cheese sandwich and side salad. The sandwich comes with fries or chips for $8, and with my salad, it was only $10. This was great bar food, a huge portion, with three types of cheeses and tomato. I added avocado, which is my favorite way to have it. I was impressed with the fresh salad, and left taking half my sandwich home.

Cold Beer & Cheeseburgers in Old Town Scottsdale

My companion’s Turkey Burger ($12) also looked generous, and he said it tasted graet. I stole some of his sweet potato tots (an extra $2), and they were worth the splurge – perfectly crispy and, again, a massive portion that had him taking half the meal home.

Cold Beer & Cheeseburgers in Old Town Scottsdale

Throughout the night, I was pleasantly surprised any server that passed by our table checked on us. Servers should work as a team, helping out each other’s tables with whatever they need, and that’s the philosophy here – really impressive.

The atmosphere was fun, with friendly banter and cheering among tables for the games. It’s casual and unpretentious, yet you’ll feel valued and have a great meal. Also, be sure to “check in” on Yelp, Facebook or Twitter to score 10 percent off your bill.

Learn more about Cold Beer & Cheeseburgers here.

Phoenix Improv Festival 13 brings clean comedy to the Herberger stage

Yesterday’s matinee show of the Phoenix Improv Festival 13 at the Herberger Theater in downtown Phoenix proved you don’t have to be dirty to be funny. Three awesome clean troupes took the stage, and their sets were super-impressive and brought some diversity to the otherwise raunchy festival.

First up was Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed from Tucson. The group played games and took lots of suggestions from the audience, and each member was super-strong when it came to devising unique characters. I especially loved the ladies in the group and would check them out if you’re ever down South and looking for something fun to do.

Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed

Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed

Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed

Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed

Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed

Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed

The Torch Theatre troupe Apollo 12 was up next. They’re not normally clean, so I was really happy to see them stretch a bit outside their comfort zone and still put on a great longform show that veered away from what you normally see at The Torch. Their set was really physical and injected a lot of energy into the show.

Apollo 12

Apollo 12

Apollo 12

Apollo 12

Apollo 12

Apollo 12

Apollo 12

Apollo 12

Apollo 12

And, closing out the show with an amazing set, was Jester’Z, a shortform troupe from Scottsdale I’ve had the pleasure of performing with. Their musical chops blew me away! They performed several scenes Broadway-style, and it was some of the best musical improv I’ve ever seen! Definitely see them when you have a chance, since every show they do is consistently great. Learn about founder Jef Rawls here on Phoenix People.

Jesterz

Jesterz

Jesterz

Jesterz

Jesterz

And keep up on news for next year’s Phoenix Improv Festival here.

The Brush Bar in Old Town my new favorite Scottsdale spot

O…M…G. I found my new favorite thing to do in Scottsdale when I’m not eating or drinking yummy food and cocktails – painting at The Brush Bar!

This Old Town Scottsdale painting studio is one of those trendy wine-and-paint places, where an instructor leads attendees through painting an acrylic work of art, as painters may sip vino or their beverage of choice. I went last weekend with my friend Arian who so graciously took me as her guest, and we painted these panda masterpieces.

The Brush Bar painting class in Old Town Scottsdale

The class was about two-and-a-half hours long, and each painter got a canvas and plenty of paint and brushes to work with. A microphoned instructor broke down the painting stroke by stroke, and we were in a family class filled with little kids who were able to deftly recreate the panda because of the excellent instruction.

Painting at The Brush Bar in Old Town Scottsdale

When I walked in and saw what we’d be painting, I had doubts I’d be able to turn out something similar, even though I’ve always loved painting as a hobby. Because the instructor divided the painting into easy-to-replicate shapes, it wasn’t difficult to follow along, and I was thrilled with how my painting turned out.

The instructor played music throughout the class, and it was a lot of fun to paint and chat with my friend in-between the instructions. Even though we were in the family class (only $25 a class, compared to some classes that are $40 each), none of the kids were annoying, since everyone had their own little work station. It was seriously the most fun I’ve had in awhile, and I’d highly recommend a class. Plus, each one includes a complimentary glass of wine — fun!

The Brush Bar offers happy hour classes at a discounted rate, as well as open studio time where you’re free to grab a blank canvas and paint whatever you want. I think it’d be a super-fun date idea, and you can learn more about The Brush Bar here.