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Night in Black Leather Variety Show

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A scene from Night in Black Leather 2012: (l–r) Jamie Guidry, Steve Carbone, Ann Marie Gill, Jason Sechrest, and Steve Oprea. Photo courtesy Steve Carbone.

The 19th annual “Night in Black Leather” (NIBL), at 6–9 p.m., Saturday, March 9, at Rich’s Houston, bewitches guests with mystery, magic, and illusion following this year’s theme inspired by Erin Morgenstern’s mesmerizing debut novel The Night Circus.

The variety show is a fundraiser for Lazarus House, whose location at 4106 Austin offers a unique multi-disciplinary program to promote the health of the chronically ill and help them live stronger and longer.

“You need not be into leather, or even wearing leather, to attend,” explained Steve Oprea of NIBL Houston. “It does give attendees a chance for people to dress in leather for one night and come together to raise money for a good cause.”

NIBL 2013 invites guests to surprise and astound, just as the book defies genres and expectations. Rachel Syme of NPR stated, “The world of The Night Circus is elaborately designed, fantastically imagined, and instantly intoxicating—as if the reader had downed a glass of absinthe and leapt into a hallucination.”

Jim Benton, chair of the NIBL board of directors, selected the theme after reading the book, said Oprea. “He thought it would add an air of mystery and make a unique event something even more special.

“The evening is a true variety show of different musical numbers, comedy, and a thrilling live auction featuring custom leather items, unique gift baskets, and special passes to the 2013 Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco,” added Oprea. “We do expect to raise several thousand dollars. The live auction of unique leather items really helps us hit that goal.”

Admission is $20 per person, with tickets available at the door, 2401 San Jacinto St. There will be a cash bar, with VIP packages available featuring reserved seating, a dedicated bar tender, and more benefits.

The official after-party is at Eagle Houston, 213 Milam St.

About the show format, Oprea said, “We’ll be drawing from elements of the novel. A review on amazon.com states, ‘The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.’”

The event was first hosted by Don Gill, whose Don Gill Productions organized an entertainment show each year to raise funds for local charities, often focusing on HIV/AIDS in the Houston community.

“Within the last two years, Don wanted to bring in some new blood,” Oprea explained. “Jim gathered a crew of folks who have a varied background from entertainment, marketing, and event planning.

“Lazarus House has and is wonderful about getting volunteers for the event. They are truly partners in this undertaking,” Oprea added. “Also, we are blessed to have the Misfits Houston helping out. NIBL and the Misfits have a long history of helping each other at fundraising events.”

The Lazarus House was once a fourplex apartment in need of much repair. Volunteers devoted hundreds of hours of labor and donated thousands of dollars to renovate it into a home where many cachectic clients have found hope, courage, strength, and happiness through an integrated program of exercise, nutrition, and spiritual awareness.

Last year’s event attracted about one hundred guests, said Oprea. “It makes it a fun event without being overwhelming.” —Donalevan Maines

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Don Maines

Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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