THEATRE BIZARRE and BOOM BOOM BURLESQUE (part 2 of 2)
A giant party in the largest Masonic temple in the world
In the middle of our continent lies a city that has seen better days- and that city is Detroit. Crossing the bridge and the border from Windsor to a once booming city was a bit of a shock- I’ve seen photos and documentaries for sure about the deterioration and the attempts to resuscitate, but it didn’t prepare me for the hollowed out and broken down buildings that were at one time glorious. The streets are quiet- not many people driving or walking, which is a major difference from my home in Seattle or my recent trip to New York, I almost feel like I’m waiting for something to happen. However- there are signs of rebuilding and hope sprinkled around, P-patches and the remodeling of houses, a couple of murals here and there. Hipsters have been relocating recently, hoping to breathe life into this dying city and chances are they’re going to do it.
In what seems like the center of the city lies a MASSIVE Masonic temple. It’s where our gig is tonight- Theatre Bizarre, and I’m overwhelmed by the structure of the building- the molding decorating everything, the Latin phrases on ceremonial chairs and stands, labyrinthine hallways, locked doors, marble floors….and then of course the incredible art that has been hosted by the building, the art that beckons to carnies and dark revelers everywhere. Around 5,000 people are projected to attend this party, spanning over 6 floors and who knows how many rooms. The burlesque portion is nestled on the 5th floor in the Peepshow- across from the ominously named: FISTATORIUM. But more on the Fistatorium later…
The dressing room winds behind the devil-mouthed stage- a long line of suitcases, makeup stations and strip-artists litter the room. It’s a journey just to get in and out of the backstage to get to the party, happily tripping over ladies and gents telling stories of their travels, cackling laughter, naked bodies being adorned in glitter and fishnets, and some rehearsing quietly to themselves.
There’s 6 sets consisting of around 6 performers in each for the night in the peepshow and it runs like a well-oiled train, teaser after pleaser exiting the mouth of the devil, dancing up to the ramp to the platform in the center of a room teeming with costumed party-goers. When you’re up there you especially feel like you’re on museum display being THISCLOSE to a man dressed as a vampire and a lady dressed as Leeloo (there’s always one!) taking in your performance. By the end of the night, the room will be sweaty and filled to the brim- packed like sardines that desire to stare at flesh.
Before the crowds really start to arrive in droves though- I donned my catsuit (all performers had to be in costume too) and placed myself in one of the Masonic thrones conveniently stationed front and center to the devil’s mouth and was able to enjoy an entire set before doing some quick exploring while the party was happening (we got to explore earlier in the day without guests being about, which I was thankful for) and then popping back to the backstage to prepare myself for my first show.
A performance that I must tell you about is by the man called Sexy Mark Brown from Toronto- I watched from behind the curtain, and even from the back, it was incredible! All of the talent at this show was top notch to be certain, but there’s a certain spark of awesome that happened when Sexy Mark stepped onstage as a preacher and left the crowd quaking- a frenzy of well laid energy, a true pro, entertainment at it’s best. A fantastic performance by a very fascinating man indeed!
I have to tell you, being at a venue for 12 hours can be exhausting, for sure, but I never felt that way at Theatre Bizarre- I think because it wasn’t just a show, and there was always something to go look at, some strange oddity to discover- fire performers, suspension, bands, dancing, intricate art, and wandering people. After the sets were over and there was still a couple of hours left in the night, we formed a big group and went to Ghost Train- which stands as my favorite part of the evening.
Picture this- walking through doors into darkness and fog all you hear is heavy metal and you lay eyes on a line of costumed people, standing in line for what- you can’t tell. Roxi and D’arcy arranged for us all to take a ride on this “Ghost Train”, walking through the fog you finally come up to a miniature train with many cars, like the one you rode on as a child, driven by someone who is clearly having way too much fun at their job for the evening. Weaving in and out, doing donuts (in what HAS to be a giant auditorium) we screamed and laughed as we were whipped through the fog. The crazy thing to me is that for all of those people standing in line- they never heard us! The crew at Theatre Bizarre had set up a perfect illusion that I only hope to encounter again at some point. We then headed back to the Fistatorium to see if the show we were promised was going to begin- a man was to meet his match with someone else’s foot, and we were all dying to see it.
It is with disappointment that I have to admit that we missed the “foosting” (what we affectionately called it), but somehow I feel it might have been to my benefit as some things cannot be unseen. It was a secret thrill to explain what BDSM and the Fistatorium were all about to a “virgin”- though it made it very clear that I’ve read and seen some very strange things in my 20 some odd years on this planet. C’est la vie! It is both to my pleasure and detriment that I’m curious about everyone’s sexual proclivities and the Fistatorium was certainly host to a few unconventional desires.
Our last adventure for the night was to get ourselves back over the border BY TAXI to Roxi’s house. It was a bit of a shock to find out that taxi’s do indeed go back and forth over the border and with hilarious results sometimes- a car full of made-up and costumed creatures asking to be let into another country. I don’t think I’ve laughed as hard or been as amused by a car ride in years- it really is all about the company that you keep, and thank goodness my company is delightful and strange.
My visit with Roxi and D’arcy ended too quickly- they were the loveliest of hosts! Eating homemade cupcakes made to look like brains (super cute and delicious!), walking by a river, watching Tigger! climb a train, 2 fantastic show experiences and at the end eating takeout and watching “Burlesque” in our jammies (what a ridiculous movie- but I’ll always love Cher), I can’t wait to get back to Windsor to play with them again!