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Bella’s musical puppet show

All summer families have gathered under the Linden Tree in Vineyard Haven on Saturday evenings to enjoy a musical puppet show by Bella, a Brazilian-born performer who now lives on the Island.

There will be one last free performance this Saturday, Sept. 3, starting at 6 pm. Bella presents five five-minute “musical collages” featuring her inventive puppets and live music. She entertains audiences with both original songs in English and Portuguese and love songs from classic American movies.

“Love is happiness,” said Bella in an email. “Whatever it is, without humor there is no fun.” The Linden Tree is next to the Capawock Theatre on Main Street, Vineyard Haven. The show is appropriate for all ages.

Last call for “I Am Hamlet”

A frenzied one-man production of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” has been rocking audiences at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury all summer. The innovative musical adaptation of the Bard’s classic drama will be wrapping up its season with its last four performances this weekend and next.

Actor/singer Brian Morey brings to the stage the one man tour de force “I Am Hamlet,” written and directed by Joe Siracusa tonight, Sept. 1, Sunday, Sept. 4, and next Thursday and Friday, Sept. 8 and 9. Shakespeare’s text is unaltered but the drama is punctuated by song, video, sound effects, puppets, and lightning fast costume changes. The family friendly shows at the Grange start at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $15, available at the door or on

Free Bluefish

Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish are one of the most popular and enduring bands on the Vineyard. For 20 years the band has been performing its blend of blues and roadhouse rock for audiences from venues as diverse as local dives and barn raisings to high end weddings and parties for presidents.

On Saturday, Sept. 3, the much-in-demand band will play a free sunset concert on Memorial Wharf in Edgartown. The Bluefish have been offering these open air shows a couple of times each summer for the past two years but this summer, scheduling difficulties have limited the band to this one appearance at the wharf.

Bass player Jeremy Berlin calls it a family-oriented event and says that people can bring pizzas or picnics, including wine and beer (alcohol is allowed).

He says, “It’s a way for us to play for people who don’t ordinarily get a chance to hear us — people who don’t go to bars or clubs. Playing next to the water with the boats coming by, it’s a really special feel of the water and the music coming together. There are no boundaries, it’s for all ages and types. It’s just kind of a good feeling from us to the people, and from the people to us.”

Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish free outdoor concert Saturday, Sept. 3 from 7–10 pm, Memorial Wharf next to the Chappy ferry landing, Edgartown.

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Mr. Blakeman performs his political humor from a liberal Jewish point of view around the world. His next stop is the Grange Hall in West Tisbury. — Photo courtesy of Scott Blakeman

Scott Blakeman has a way with words.

“It took the Egyptian people 18 days to bring down a dictator. It took me 18 days to decide which coffeemaker to buy on Talk about using your time productively,” he says in a blog post.

Simple. Telling. Funny. Politics, current issues, and everyday life are the stuff of Mr. Blakeman’s comic work, on display at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury Friday and Saturday evenings, Sept. 2 and 3.

The shows begin at 8 pm. Tickets are $25, and are available at and at the door.

“I’ll incorporate stuff from the week I’ve had on the Vineyard. The President was just there, so that’s good. But also explaining how to eat on the Island late at night without a car — and some stuff I haven’t thought of yet. But the majority of the show will be political humor from a liberal Jewish point of view. Which means asking a lot of questions,” he deadpanned.

The Brooklyn-born comic is different. He’ll be returning to the Island for the second year and he’ll spend the entire week living at the youth hostel in West Tisbury. “I get to hear people talk in their sleep in five different languages,” he said in a phone interview this week.

Not that his budget demands it. In addition to his comic performance career, Mr. Blakeman has a steady gig as a “Jewish liberal from Brooklyn on Fox News. It’s a great way to get your heart rate up,” he said of his forays into TV’s heartbeat of conservatism.

He’s also an instructor in stand-up comedy at the New School, has opened the “Late Show with David Letterman,” and has done a documentary about the ups and downs of The Comic Strip, the New York club which nurtured Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, and Adam Sandler. He numbers Jon Stewart and Caroline Rhea as personalities who cut their comic teeth as his New School Students.

Mr. Blakeman performs his political humor from a liberal Jewish point of view around the world, including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, and the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam.
He was featured on MSNBC’s live coverage of the 2010 and 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, and is also one of the few liberal pundits to appear regularly. He is an original member of and currently featured in the Off-Broadway political comedy show “Laughing Liberally: This Ain’t No Tea Party.”

He’s also got an edgy performance on tour with Palestinian-American comedian Dean Obeidallah in Standup for Peace: the Two Comedian Solution to Middle East peace.

So he’s got the chops and is descended from a line of comic social commentators, including Robert Klein, his personal hero, and from Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce, lefty comic saints of the Sixties.

Mr. Blakeman has a prime perch from which to view the twists and turns of the comedy business. “I’ve noticed tremendous growth in age and ethnic diversity in my classes. Black, Latino, many different Asian cultures and students now range from high school students to people in their 70s and 80s. That’s different from the young, white mostly Jewish kids years ago,” he said.

The stereotypes of audiences are not as comfortably predictable as they may have been a generation ago. ” I played Kutshers, a kosher resort in the Catskills and told a mild Seder [ritual Passover meal] joke and they sat there with their arms folded. Then Dean and I did our Jew and Palestinian show in Gainesville, Florida. Little apprehensive but it was one of the best-received shows on the tour,” he said. “The red and blue state thing isn’t accurate [for comedy]. It doesn’t really work,” he said, adding that college audiences “are not buying all the conflict. They don’t understand why people can’t just get along,” he said.

A journalism major at Northwestern University, “I was a news junkie, loved to follow media, and I always liked to get in front of people. As a kid, I used to interview my parents at the kitchen table,” he said.

“You need to have experienced what you’re talking about today to sell it, so for me mostly that’s news, politics, family, Jewish, and Brooklyn,” he said, noting that diversity in comedy has created more niche audiences and authenticity is a requirement for performers.

“It evolves, you have to be ready to talk about a lot of things. But at the core, it’s amazing how many issues drag on, just the names change. Media coverage is a constant. Gays in the military have come back around in the last couple of months. We’ve been talking about Libya and Gaddafi for years. He’s the only guy I know of who spells his name 45 different ways,” he said.

In that vein, Mr. Blakeman said he asks each new class for their favorite comics. “You get Jon Stewart and Bill Maher and Chris Rock. But you also get a lot of Jack Benny and Bob Hope. The fundamentals of comedy don’t change,” he said. “You still need a setup and a punchline.”

Comedy with Scott Blakeman, 8 pm, Sept. 2 and 3, Grange Hall, West Tisbury. $25.

Jack Shea, of Vineyard Haven, is a regular contributor to The Times.

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Kites will fly in Ocean Park this Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Martha's Vineyard Wind Festival, which starts at 11 am. — File photo by Danielle Zerbonne

Update: The M.V. Wind Festival has been postponed until Saturday, Sept. 3.

There’s something about the sight of a kite soaring high above Ocean Park — a speck of color against an azure sky — that summons pleasant thoughts: the joys of childhood, the carefree pleasures of a Vineyard vacation, a seagull’s sense of freedom, the cooling effect of a sea breeze on a hot summer day. On Saturday afternoon, Aug. 27, the first Martha’s Vineyard Wind Festival will feature a day-long kite flying contest, along with other family events.

Activities will be split between two ocean-facing parks in Oak Bluffs. While the kites are flying at Ocean Park, a frisbee expo and fair will be going on just a couple of blocks away at Waban/Alley Park. Nonprofits have been invited to set up information tables at Waban Park, along with artisans and other vendors showing their wares. Jake Gifford, owner of The Lazy Frog game store in Oak Bluffs, will host an interactive frisbee golf demonstration in the hopes of introducing the popular game to kids and uninitiated adults. The Vineyard Gazette will have a spot in the park where people can make kites out of the newspaper, and there will also be areas for kite decorating.

A hot air balloon was considered but that plan was deflated before it took off the ground because of security issues surrounding the presidential visit. Instead, the first annual hot air award will be presented to Marty Nadler at a Friday evening launch party. Co-organizer Holly Alaimo says that she has secured promises from a number of kite surfers and windsurfers to demonstrate their skills off of the Oak Bluffs Town Beach during the event.

On Friday, Aug. 26, Featherstone Center for the Arts (the event’s beneficiary) will host a launch party with hors d’oeuvres by Tea Lane Caterers, wine and beer, a silent auction, and music by a jazz trio made up of John Alaimo, Michael Tinus, and Michael Albarice. On display will be kites constructed and decorated by a number of local artists. The winner of a watercolor painting honoring the event by local artist Leslie Baker will be drawn at the launch party. Raffle tickets and posters have been on sale all summer, with the money from these sales going to Featherstone.

How it started

Ms. Alaimo had been mulling over the idea of a kite flying contest for a few years now. By recruiting veteran organizer, Joan Hewson, she has managed to have her dream take flight after months of planning. Ms. Hewson is a coordinator for Boston’s Head of the Charles Regatta. Says Ms. Alaimo, “She’s the counterpart to my ‘Let’s put on a show.’ She said, ‘OK. Let’s do it this way.'”

The two women decided to add other elements to the day and make it a celebration of wind, and an end-of-summer family-friendly gathering. Ms. Alaimo and Ms. Hewson chose the date because, as Ms. Alaimo says, “There’s that lull between the big Fair weekend and Labor Day. It’s also the time of year that the winds pick up a bit.

“We want to do it right and make it feel like a real family fun event,” she continues. She encourages people to bring picnics, lawn chairs, blankets, and little boats to sail in Ocean Park’s pond. “It will be a great thing to do with your kids — slow down, decompress, and think about the summer and how wonderful it is here on the Island.”

Ms. Alaimo was inspired in part by stories she had heard of a previous kite festival that started in the ’70s. Sherman Goldstein, who along with his wife Susie currently owns The Mansion House in Vineyard Haven, was working as an agency head for Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) when he launched the original kite festival. It ran from the early ’70s to early ’80s as a fundraiser for MVCS. “It was just a magical, beautiful day,” Mr. Goldstein recalls.

Says Ms. Alaimo, “The wind is what got us here to the Island. Without wind the area wouldn’t be settled.” She lists the threefold benefits of wind as “transportation, relaxation, and inspiration.” Ms. Alaimo stresses that the festival is in no way connected with the wind farm initiative. “It’s just about having fun and celebrating the fact that we live by the sea,” she says.

The organizers hope to make the Wind Festival an annual event and plan to make it bigger every year. “It’s starting small but its going to grow. Every year we’re going to add another component,” she says. “As they say, ideas fly.”

M.V. Wind Festival Launch Party, Friday, Aug. 26, 6–8 pm, Featherstone, Oak Bluffs. $50.

M.V. Wind Festival, Saturday, Sept. 3, 11 am–dusk, Waban and Ocean parks, Oak Bluffs.

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— Photo by Yoojin Cho

Nectar’s stage often prepares for a musician to bring in drumsets and sound systems, but Thursday night, the venue set up a cat walk for Martha’s Vineyard Fashion Week.

MV Fashion Week, along with Avalon Magazine, invited well-known local designers and stores, such as Laughing Bear, Red Mannequin and Lorraine Parish, to show off the latest fashion trends and at the same time, to raise money for Angel Flight Northeast.

Angel Flight NE provides free flights to patients and their families who need transportation to and from their medical appointments.

Angel Flight’s Corporate Development and Community Outreach Director Keith D’Entremont said, in the last 15 years, the organization has made over 8,000 flights to and from Martha’s Vineyard. In the process, they helped many people who needed to get to hospitals or doctors’ appointments but couldn’t afford to pay for everything on their own.

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Some must-read stories and must-attend events from this week’s paper:

Fashion Takes Flight

Fashion show to raise money for Angel Flight Northeast. MV Fashion Week and Avalon Magazine will host this event at Nectar’s on Thursday. Doors open at 9 pm.


Do you have an idea for a novel? Do you want your story published? Then come pitch your book ideas at Bunch of Grapes Books in Vineyard Haven on Saturday. Pitchapalooza begins at 7:30 pm, and the winner will have the honor to meet an agent or a publisher who can help him or her go from having just an idea to being a published author.

Good Dog Goods Martha’s Vineyard Dog Parade

Come for a walk in the park with your dogs. The parade starts at 6:30 pm at Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs.

Ballroom Dancing

Cha cha with your friends at Oak Bluffs Senior Center from 6 to 9 pm on Sunday.

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Chrysal Parrot, self-taught fashion designer who just opened Demi Monde, in Vineyard Haven. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

This might very well be a breakout year for fashion designer/dressmaker Chrysal Parrot. Although she’s only just opened her own boutique on State Road in Vineyard Haven, she has been doing custom designs and alterations for a private clientele for years, and her designs have been the focus of much attention recently.

Last year, Ms. Parrot (pronounced like Ross Perot’s last name) and her styles were the cover feature in the first issue of the new magazine Avalon. This past spring Ms. Parrot’s designs, along with clothes from the store PIKNIK Art and Apparel, graced the catwalk for the preview event for next month’s Martha’s Vineyard Fashion Week. Earlier this month, her custom-made mother/daughter outfits were part of an item at the Possible Dreams Auction for Martha’s Vineyard Community Services. Last week the designer did a fashion shoot for the 2012 issue of Martha’s Vineyard Wedding Magazine.

Ms. Parrot’s store, Demi Monde, located two doors up from Educomp in Vineyard Haven, features the designer’s styles for women and girls. There are feminine sundresses in single or combination vintage-inspired prints and detail-rich costume-like pieces in lush fabrics with a nod to earlier eras. A rack of vibrantly colored cocktail dresses in iridescent silk dupioni with cummerbund sections in complementary colors and glimpses of tulle peeking from under the hem attest to the designer’s eye for texture and color and her love of small surprising details. The most labor-intensive piece — an Edwardian wedding gown constructed from a variety of antique lace and muslin in ivories and pale sepia tints, hangs against one wall like the centerpiece work of art that it is. Prices start at $185.

Browsing through the lovely store is like sorting through a box of exquisite antique jewelry, where each piece instantly becomes your momentary favorite — until the charm of another grabs your attention. Nothing on display could be described as trendy. The pieces are all unique designs drawn from some of fashion history’s most feminine and flattering styles. Ms. Parrot, who also designed the store’s Art Nouveau style logo, says that she is inspired by everything, including costume dramas, which she is admittedly addicted to, but she has also recently designed some pieces using African print fabric that her father brought her back from Gambia. “Ideas just come to me in my sleep,” she says, “or I see a piece of fabric and it just pops into my head.”

Says Ms. Parrot, “I do a lot of stuff based on historical clothing. It’s just an aesthetic that I love. I love the look of the London of Oscar Wilde. That lush epicurean over-indulgence. Almost overwhelming the senses.” The period looks include corsets, fitted vests, and bustle skirts — not everyday pieces but contemporary and comfortable enough to be very wearable. The unique fabrics are gathered through tireless perusing of fabric stores in New York and elsewhere. Ms. Parrot uses imported silks and luxe velvets and has even been known to create fashions from upholstery fabric or anything else that catches her eye.

In the store’s front windows and on the small balcony, mannequins display clothes that could easily have come from a fashion museum or the costume collection for a period movie, but the designs have been simplified somewhat from their ancestral inspirations and benefit from sturdy fabrics and construction, and ease of movement. Ms. Parrot demonstrates the latter by donning a gorgeous Edwardian-style fitted velvet jacket and wind-milling her arms to show that the design offers the freedom not usually associated with such form-fitting pieces. “I’ve spent countless hours refining the fit of a sleeve,” she says. “I can’t stand being bound.”

Another inspiration for Ms. Parrot is the feminine fashions of the 50s and 60s, which are reflected in her sundresses and cocktail dresses. “Women’s clothing veered so far away from femininity with the hippy era and the power suit of the 80s,” she says. “We lost so much of what is beautiful about the female figure. We got the idea that you couldn’t be beautiful and feminine and comfortable at the same time.”

The store itself is opulent and inviting. The small space is reminiscent of a richly decorated Victorian parlor. Ms. Parrot’s husband, P.J. Woodford, is responsible for creating a sensuous, luxurious environment that features teal and gold lace print accent painting offset by striking mustardy gold walls, Oriental carpets, plush Victorian couches, and other ornate antique pieces.

Like Ms. Parrot’s designs, closer inspection reveals charming details. A marble Romeo and Juliet statue is tucked into a corner, intricately carved silver serving pieces are artfully placed, a few beautifully bound books grace an antique table, and two vintage sewing machines show off the beauty of design that typified earlier eras.

More about Chrysal

Ms. Parrot is self-taught. She has been designing and crafting her own clothes since she was a child. She majored in Italian and French at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. After moving to the Vineyard part time in 1993 to drive a tour bus, she started creating pieces for friends who coveted the designs she and her daughter Chloe were wearing. She eventually gained a clientele through showing at the Artisans Festivals and briefly had a studio above the former Che’s Lounge, which was owned and operated by Mr. Woodford.

The couple has two daughters, Chloe, 12, and 7-year-old Emmanuelle. The two lovely girls are invariably seen in their mother’s fashions, which range from simple sundresses to gorgeous Edwardian velvet tunics. Ms. Parrot creates custom designs for children and women and has designed both wedding gowns and bridesmaid’s dresses for a number of clients. Ms. Parrot and Mr. Woodford — who does furniture restoration and reinvention, among other things — will soon be opening an offshoot upholstery business called the Recovery Room, specializing in older pieces.

Demi Monde is currently open seven days a week. Ms. Parrot is planning a grand opening party for next weekend, the date still to be announced. The evening will include a grand opening party with music, refreshments, and activities for children. For more information, call 774-521-8058.

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From left: Peter Farrelly, Peter Gills, and Bob Mone, out for an evening to support the MV Arena. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The annual benefit for the Martha’s Vineyard Arena brought approximately 150 people to the Dreamland building in Oak Bluffs, above Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company, last Friday, Aug. 12. Rick Mello, along with help from funny man Lenny Clarke, auctioned off eight package deals, including the Go Green: rounds of golf at the four Vineyard golf clubs; and the Red Sox Getaway: two tickets to a game, a night’s stay at The Liberty Hotel, and a $100 gift card to The Back Bay Restaurant Group, which includes spots such as Abe & Louie’s and Atlantic Fish.

The Boston Bruins Tickets package sold for a whopping $9,000 to Peter Gillis, and includes two club seat tickets for the October 6 game versus Philadelphia, in which the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Banner will be unveiled.

According to Beth O’Connor, Ice Savours fundraising chairman and arena vice president, more than $20,000 was raised for the rink.

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Damon Williams's accolades include appearances on BET's "Comicview" and Comedy Central's "Premium Blend."

If you’re not laughing this summer, you haven’t been getting out much.

For example, The Martha’s Vineyard Comedy Fest, sponsored by HBO, will present Damon Williams and Rudy Rush at the Katharine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven Friday and Saturday nights, Aug. 18 and 19, with two shows each evening.

Knock-Knock Productions, a Chicago-based producer of corporate and performance live stand-up comedy events, has produced shows at the Katharine Cornell this season and will return for a second season in 2012, president Steve Capers told The Times last week. “HBO has signed on again as our sponsor, based on results from our first season on the Island.”

Mr. Williams is a former Subway sandwich shop owner from Chicago whose numerous contributions include writing for and appearing on BET’s “Comicview,” including his own one-hour special. He’s been featured on BET LIVE, Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend,” “The Tom Joyner Skyshow” on TV ONE, and HBO’s “P Diddy Presents the Bad Boys of Comedy.” Mr. Williams also hosted several episodes of the popular “Showtime at the Apollo,” the longest running African-American syndicated show.

In 1999, Mr. Williams performed for more than 300,000 fans as the opening act for the highly successful Kings of Comedy Tour establishing him as one of the elite comics in the nation. He is a veteran of the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, and he headlined the Cedric the Entertainer Comedy Revue. He is a crowd favorite on the college, club, and concert circuit and also performs internationally with regular appearances in Canada with stops in Vancouver, Montreal, and Edmonton.

He gears his material for universal appeal and for all ages. Mr. Williams’ appeal has provided him the opportunity to work with some of the biggest stars in the business and to host a campaign brunch for then-U.S. Senator Obama. He has worked with Aretha Franklin, Pattie Labelle, Luther Vandross, Ray Charles, Harry Belafonte, Chris Rock, James Brown, Jamie Foxx, and even Little Richard.

A 15-year comedy tour veteran, Rudy Rush has experienced the full spectrum of the entertainment business, from colleges and clubs, and he became the youngest host of “Showtime at the Apollo.”

Mr. Rush has worked with Dave Chappelle and Martin Lawrence on major projects while also appearing on shows featuring up-and-coming comics such as “Def Comedy Jam,” Jamie Foxx’s “Laff-A-Palooza,” and “Premium Blend.”

Mr. Rush appears every weekday afternoon on “The Ride” with Doug & Dede on the syndicated Doug Banks Show.

Tickets for the 7:30 and 9 pm shows range from $27.50 and $40 and are available online at or at the door. Mr. Capers recommends the online route. “We started slowly, but once word got out the shows have been filling up. We expect sellouts this weekend,” he said.

More laughs…

So it’s been a laughable summer for comedy on the Island. Earlier this month, Tim Conway and Louise DuArt did a one-night show at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School to benefit the Network of Neighbors service group. The Boston Comedy Festival launched its own Island comedy tour last week, culminating in an award presentation on Monday night in the name of John Belushi to his widow and Island resident Judy Belushi-Pisano. The comedy group plans to present the award annually to the comedian who best represents Mr. Belushi’s contribution to the comic form.

But wait … there’s more.

Island resident Lenny Clarke will return this Sunday, Aug. 21, to Seasons Restaurant and Pub on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs for his second appearance of the season. Mr. Clarke then heads to Los Angeles to begin filming a new sitcom, “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea,” based on the book by Chelsea Handler.

Comedians Tony V. and Paul D’Angelo will appear with Mr. Clarke. Prepared by a UMass master’s degree in psychology, Tony V has a string of major movie and TV series credits in addition to major club work. Mr. D’Angelo was a successful Massachusetts criminal prosecutor for more than 10 years before going in front of the mike full-time. Tickets for the 9:30 pm show are available at Seasons or by calling 508-693-7129.

Nectar’s got a case of the ha-ha’s as well, featuring a comedy show earlier in the season and serving as one of the venues for the Boston Comedy Festival tour.

Even Shakespeare’s on the bus. The Vineyard Playhouse staged “The Comedy of Errors” at the Tisbury Amphitheater for three weeks in July and August.

Could be that comedy today, like the lavish Depression-era Hollywood musicals, has struck a responsive chord in difficult times. Funny, isn’t it?

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One of Basia Jaworska's fashion images, silhouettes of women, clothing, and accessories transformed to a sheet through solar power. — Photo courtesy of MV Fashion Week

On Thursday, Aug. 18, at 9 pm, a preview party for Martha’s Vineyard Fashion Week will take place at Nectar’s at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport. Local clothing designer/boutique owner Lorraine Parish will be the star designer for the show, which will also feature clothing from Laughing Bear, and sister stores Pandora and Suka, and Bananas, Red Mannequin, and Blue Moon.

The event, Fashion Takes Flight, sponsored jointly by Avalon Magazine and M.V. Fashion Week, is a benefit for Angel Flight Northeast, an organization that provides free flights for those requiring transportation for medical care. On display for the first time will be a new series of fashion images by artist Basia Jaworska. The images, which were specially created as an installation for Fashion Week, are silhouettes of women, clothing and accessories created from life utilizing an innovative solar technique.

Tickets are $30; $50 for premium seating. Visit for more information.

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Johnny Earle, founder of Johnny Cupcakes, posed with his signature expression outside Dock Street Diner last Saturday. — Photo by Susan Safford

From a joke to a multi-million dollar business, Johnny Cupcakes has returned, temporarily, to owner Johnny Earle’s childhood playground. Johnny Cupcakes, a tee-shirt and accessories shop that sells mainly limited edition styles, has taken up a brief evening residence at Dock Street Diner in Edgartown. Opening again tonight at 6 pm for its second and last weekend of the season, you find out for yourself the reason many people travel far and wide to visit.

Johnny, 29, best explains why, in spite of his four extremely successful physical stores along with his online store, he decided to open a two weekend long Pop-Up Shop here on Martha’s Vineyard.

“My mom [Lorraine Earle] was a New Year’s Baby that was born and raised on the Vineyard, so it is also a place where my uncles and cousins are. I thought it would be a nice way to pay homage to my childhood memories and give my loyal customers a great place to visit. We have people here who came from as far away as Hawaii to Florida, New York, DC and Ohio.”

What you will find when you visit is that Johnny Cupcakes is not just a retail tee-shirt and accessories store designed as a bakery, but an actual experience that is not to be missed. When you arrive on Dock Street, you arrive to a welcoming Johnny Cupcake crew including Johnny himself, out on the street. They will hand you a menu, explain that you can preview the items in the menu and in turn enter the store to place your order, which is then wrapped and packaged for you in a food box for your trip home.

On this year’s menu, along with the newest versions of pins, belts, hats, stickers, snapback baseball hats, tee shirts and more, Johnny shares the Island-derived menu additions.

“We have eight special MV themed shirts this year that are limited editions, so once they are gone, they are gone. We will sell them only on the Vineyard.” Keep in mind that almost all of the items are limited editions, so if you see it and want it, you better buy or you might regret it.

For a business that was unknowingly started when, according to founder Johnny Earle, “I was working in a record shop and had gotten many nicknames, including Johnny Cupcakes,” to it’s inception in 2001 when he wore his original Johnny Cupcakes tee-shirt to his then pin business and, according to his website story, “caused quite a commotion. Not only did everyone I work with want a tee-shirt but most of the customers wanted one as well! While at work, I’d get heaps of compliments, questions, smiles, and requests for my tee-shirt (even from the slightly miserable or quiet regulars!).”

He then made a couple dozen tee-shirts that sold out the day he took them off the press, and an empire was born.

It is quite an amazing feat that Johnny is able to say, “We just opened a new store in London and we expect sales to grow 20 percent this year, which will have us reach the $5 million mark,” considering he began by selling tees from the back of his van, and especially in light of the current economy. Johnny simply states their recipe for success: “We accomplished our growth by taking risks, having fun, being passionate, doing something that has not been done before, then keeping it fresh and getting our customers excited by giving them an experience.”

This is a model Mr. Earle says can be successfully applied to any hobby or passion, a message he likes to pass on to kids such as Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School students, to whom he has given two lectures on the topic. In these sessions, he also likes to pass on another important message that he feels very strongly about, and that is the importance of not using drugs or alcohol. He himself shares, “I am 29 years old and have never tasted alcohol nor spent time partying. I saved that time and money, as time is money, and put it into something I am passionate about. I encourage kids to live a more positive lifestyle, based on staying positive, teamwork, innovation, solving problems, along with managing their time and money.”

Johnny Cupcakes Pop Up Show is open Wednesday through Saturday, Aug. 17-20, 6–11 pm, Dock Street Diner, Edgartown.

To learn more about Johnny Cupcakes and Johnny Earle himself, you can visit him at, follow him on Twitter @JohnnyCupcakes, or visit him on Facebook via Johnny Cupcakes.