By Jessica Carreras
Have a few dollar bills lying around? Bring them to the Michigan International Women’s Show at 7 p.m. May 4 at the Rock Financial Showplace in Novi, where a dozen firemen from the Novi Fire Department will heat things up on the runway for a Firefighter Fashion Show.
Audience participation is encouraged and visitors can show their approval by tipping the gorgeous guys. Although last year’s tips came from an all-female crowd, the fashionable fighters say they’d be receptive to loot from men, too. “I don’t think it would really bother me,” fireman Zahi Kassab said.
Yellow fire boots will be placed around the stage for collecting tips during the show. Afterwards, the men will drift through the audience with their own boots.
The show, now in its second year, spawned from fashion shows put on in other cities by Southern Shows, which has been running the Michigan’s Women’s Show since its inception 12 years ago. Using their connections to Macy’s, Show Manager Beth Anderson contacted the Novi Fire Department to ask them to flaunt some spring fashions.
All proceeds from the show will benefit the University of Michigan Trauma Burn Center and the Kids Burn Camp. The camp, which is held at the YMCA’s Camp Manitou-Lin in Middleton, gives children with burn injuries the chance to build their self-esteem while participating in regular camp activities.
Last year, the fashion show raised about $1,000. Anderson and Josh Bunse, the Novi fireman who is helping to coordinate the event, said that they hope to double or triple their profit this year.
“It was a really neat experience,” said Kassab, who participated in last year’s show. “We got a lot of attention.”
“At first, not too many people seemed to know what was going on,” he continued. However, when the firefighters began to strut their stuff, the audience responded with cheers and the crowd grew.
“We had tremendous support from the community,” Anderson said of last year’s group, which totaled about 400. “We hope to grow in attendance this year.”
Kassab, who said he enjoyed being a part of an event that raised money for a good cause, will be blazing down the runway again. This year, although fewer men will be participating, fire-loving fans can get their pictures with the hunks at their booth. Next year, said Bunse, expect a calendar with 12 months of sexy men in uniforms.
“I’m looking forward to having a good time,” said fireman William Buckinger, who is breaking out onto the runway for the first time.
After the scorching show, attendees can lower their temperatures by visiting the rest of the exhibits. “The show could appeal to any type of person,” Anderson said, although the visitors to the Women’s Show in the past have been mostly women. But with everything from upscale shopping, luxurious facials and expert health advice to gourmet food demonstrations and scorching fire fighters, “it’s really like a magazine come to life.”