When doing posts, I naturally try to make my titles catchy. I regularly use the words “Amazing” and “Weirdest” and “JK Rowling” to grab attention. And those titles are subjectively not quite as amazing as expected. #exaggeration
This past weekend, I went to Detroit and attended Theatre Bizarre with a friend. I didn’t know that much about the event except it’s a “cool Halloween festival at a building downtown” That’s it. And based on those few words, I shelled out money for a plane ticket and Theatre Bizarre passes!
OK I had other reasons to go, but still! Remember what I said about exaggerating in posts. Let’s keep up, people!
OFF TOPIC STORY: Before heading to Downtown Detroit, I decided to make myself up as a plague doctor. I thought it would be fun to spray paint my hair a shiny silver. The idea was creepy cool to me. Except for the fact the paint turned out looking really natural so I just looked like an older version of myself. Behold:
I was tempted to wash it out, but then someone called me a silver fox. That’s something I’ve never heard before and I dug it, so I decided to stick with Gray Cody (TM) as we headed out 🙂
BACK TO BUSINESS: Now, I can finally say Theatre Bizarre turned out to be the most AMAZING Halloween event I’ve ever seen. Part performance-based, part freak show, part exhibitionism, and part NSFW, it was a real smorgasbord for the senses. Translation: I was utterly blown away. The production value and effort that went into Theatre Bizarre was truly amazing.
So, without further ado, I’m going to tell you why it’s so epic.
1. Location, Location, Location
When my friend said Theatre Bizarre was put on in a building downtown, I assumed it would be an abandoned warehouse or something. Honestly, I pictured a haunted house type setup, with a cheesy spinning room to make people dizzy. Then we pulled up and I saw this:
That’s THE Masonic Temple in downtown Detroit. Theatre Bizarre was held there. And by that, I mean the ENTIRE temple. Every floor and every room showcased some performance or concert or exhibition. And the natural architecture of the temple enhanced the creepiness. Stone carvings surrounded stages, giant chandeliers hung from the ceilings, intricate patters were carved into wall. It was stunning:
Everything was done up all fancy, even the table settings (or whatever they’re called):
2. My Face Was Stuck in “OMG” Mode All Night
The second we walked in the doors, my jaw dropped. And I didn’t pick it back up until we left 6 hours later. The costumes were grandiose, risque, and out of control. Often all at the same time. I actually saw a lot of other guys dressed as plague doctors. But whereas my mask was $10 dollars and came from the Spirit Store, some were intricately carved and decorated. One group of people came in, all dressed as zombie versions of the McDonald characters. Awesome! At that point, I knew I was in for an interesting ride. Then I walked into a room and saw this:
Yes, this woman is hanging upside down…from hooks in her knees!! And she wasn’t a stage performer or anything. She was just in a box, spinning around. After awhile, she climbed down, and another person – complete with skin holes in another part of his/her body – took her spot and started spinning around. It was insane. And “acts” like that were all over the place.
Even the bathrooms were crazy. Theatre Bizarre made them all unisex. But they weren’t like Starbucks bathrooms with one toilet. These were made to accommodate tons of people, so there were lines of stalls and urinals. To give some privacy, they hung massive red curtains on top of the urinals. So you had to feel your way to an empty spot, climb under the curtain, and pee. At any other venue, it would have been really odd. Actually, it was really odd. But it fit.
3. The Odditorium and Observatory
After walking around for awhile and exploring different areas, we came across the Odditorium. I wasn’t sure what to expect as we joined tons of people gathered in front of a stage. Then an elderly man, probably seventy, came out and took off his shirt. A young woman entered behind him, rubbed something all over him, and set him on fire.
That was the Odditorium.
It was a freak show stage. But a very well done freak show stage. With a TON of acts. We visited the room over and over throughout the night and never saw the same performance twice. The acts we did see included a sad clown stripper (seriously), a woman balancing swords all over her body, a hunched man singing (beautifully), and this gothic dancer:
In addition to the Odditorium, Theatre Bizarre had another performance stage called the Observatory. This one had an entirely different atmosphere. Whereas the Odditorium Oddience (see what I did there?) was loud and crass, me and my friend were shushed walking into the Observatory. We didn’t know exactly what was going to happen but we quieted down as we entered. Three druids sat on thrones watching a stage where a man was sensually tying up a woman. The only sounds issuing from the room were gongs, playing at even intervals.
No one spoke a word.
Because other druids paced around and, if they saw ANYBODY talking, they kicked them out. We saw it happen over and over. Additionally, if an audience member’s phone was visible, AT ALL, he/she was kicked out. So no talking or texting or pictures were allowed. It was just the sounds of the gongs and the performers. Talk about surreal.
Sooooooo I can’t write much about this, LOL! I want to keep this blog appropriate for most ages. But let me just say there were some performances that had me blushing. Big time. And I’ve seen a lot in my 41 short years.
5. Let Your Freak Flag Fly!
This was perhaps one of my favorite things about Theatre Bizarre. And it’s also a tie-in to a previous post about Comic Con. Look at me all cross linking! A couple summers ago, I mentioned that I loved Comic Con because it was so accepting of the nerds and freaks of the world. Theatre Bizarre was no different. The emcee for the Odditorium was a man who was born without forearms. Seriously. His hands sprouted out where his elbows should have been. And you know what? He was about the most popular person at the entire event.
And that was pretty awesome.
I must say, though, the extreme candy for all the senses was also exhausting. When me and my friend left, we went to a diner to eat and talk about everything we’d seen. At one point, we both said how tired we were. Curious, I pulled out my phone and took a selfie. Do you see how fresh-faced I am in the pic at the top? Well this is me and my friend at the end of the night:
I think that says everything 🙂 But if I have to sum up, I’ll say that, while I did other amazing things in Detroit, the trip would have worth it if I’d simply flown there, attended Theatre Bizarre, then flown home. For reals, yo.