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Velvet Monkey sets down roots in the Plaza District with stylish show

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If style is the lifeblood of beauty, few metro businesses can match the flair of the Velvet Monkey salons, which meld punk sensibilities with gritty rockabilly.

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STYLIZED EVENT

The salon's original location recently uprooted from 23rd Street and migrated to the Plaza District, at 1201 N.W. 16th. On Friday, the salon is throwing a two-tiered grand opening. The 7:30 p.m. party starts at the salon, and at 10:30 p.m., makes a night move to Bolero Spanish Grill and Tapas Bar, 200 S. Oklahoma.

Owner Estrella Evans was featured in a 2008 episode of "Split Ends" on the Style Network, and scissored in St. Louis, Kansas City and Las Vegas, before returning to Oklahoma City to open up the first Velvet Monkey eight years ago.

"I just got tired of the typical white-walled salon with pictures of hairstyles," she said. "We wanted to do something different. We started with the name, then bright colors, bringing in local artists, ticket sales "? just something that is different."

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Vintage clothes are also sold at Velvet Monkey salons and Evans will use retro selections for a Friday fashion show at Bolero featuring hair and makeup designs by the salon's own stylists.

She said the new Plaza location is dramatically bigger than the original salon and has room for a tanning booth, massage, nine cutting stations and an expanded space for clothing. Evans' home occupies the other half of the building, and it's just as lavishly eccentric as her salons.

Los Angeles-based artist Olivia Frisbie will debut selections from her new series, including her piece "Queen of Hearts, Queen of Tarts." She recently returned to Oklahoma on sabbatical.

"I've been living in Los Angeles for the last four or five years and rent is really expensive in L.A., so I had to have a full-time job to pay my bills," Frisbie said. "I wanted to take time to focus on building a body of work, so I quit my job and came back here and I've been working on my art for six months."

Her work has an illustrative, fairy tale quality and she sees the Velvet Monkey as a perfect gallery for her work.

"I really like the idea of having a show at a place people go to get a service. It fits into the L.A. lowbrow art movement, which is a lot more accessible to people," she said. "It's not art for a specific or elite crowd "? it's art for everybody. The lowbrow art movement stems from subcultures and outsiders, and I think the Velvet Monkey clientele are in that same mind set."

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Oklahoma City's banked track roller derby team, Brian Dunning & The Rock N Roll Trio and the Ratty Bastards Car Club will be on hand to extend the party's 1950s theme. A final touch to Friday's stylized event, Pseudodance Theatre will perform at the salon and later premiere the troupe's burlesque show at Bolero.

Leila Pourbabaee, the company's assistant director, said Pseudodance's show will combine traditional dance with burlesque styles of performance.

"I will be doing ballet and pointe-work in my piece, which is done to an old Peggy Lee song, where I will be dressed as a 1950s housewife and dancing with a laundry basket," she said.

"?Charles Martin

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