John Dunivant, the creative force behind Theatre Bizarre, has been quoted calling the once-a-year Halloween party an immersive, participatory art installation, and I think he’s exactly right. Wealthy people attend parties like this — with elaborate decorating, entertainment and the like — all the time, but all it takes is a $70 ticket in the fall, and anyone can become a part of this show, now in its third year at Detroit’s Masonic Temple.

Alan and I attended in 2011, skipped last year and went back Saturday, sort of spur of the moment. We wore the same costumes as last time — those masks were too good not to wear a second time — but the growth in the event was noticeable. They were awarded a $100,000 Knight Foundation arts grant this year, and it looks like it went into the event. Six floors, dozens of acts, ranging from freak-show stuff (suspension artists) to fun-show stuff (burlesque) to your basic local rock bands. And lots of atmosphere, mostly Dunivant’s own artwork, including his wonderful carnival banners, which set the tone:


Theatre Bizarre is staged like a gone-to-seed ’30s carnival, before they became family-friendly. So, fire:




My date, standing against one detail of many in the overall decor:


Click any of those pictures to enlarge. A short video gives you a glimpse of just one room. There were many, many more:

I think my favorite this year was the burlesque. These aren’t pole dancers gyrating through three songs and twerking for tips, but intelligent, amusing, self-aware acts performed by women who owe more to their yoga instructors than their plastic surgeons. For example: One dancer hit the stage covered with pink balloons, wearing a pinhead mask. After a few opening moves, the music changed to “The Stripper,” she extracted a pin from her head, and broke the balloons, one by one, in time with the music.

And Roxi D’Lite was there. She was the main draw on the burlesque stage, and gives a pretty good explanation of TB at that link.

You can find people all over Detroit who mourn the old Theatre Bizarre, when it was an entirely underground, renegade event held in a bombed-out neighborhood by the fairgrounds. One told me how “sad” it was to attend at the Masonic. Well, I guess everyone has their own definition of that word, but based on what we saw this weekend, I’d say success has hardly spoiled them.

Otherwise, it was a fine weekend. Saw “Carrie,” made my first butterflied roast chicken, did laundry — the usual. And now it’s Monday again, another trudge ahead of us. Let’s pick up our burdens joyfully, eh?

Posted at 8:01 am in Detroit life |

21 responses to “Immersed.”

  1. brian stouder said on October 21, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Looks like a marvelous time!

    Fort Wayne had zombies all over downtown this past weekend, which (I bet) drives the small businesses around there just a little batty, as this or that made-up person walks in (are we about to be robbed?)

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  2. brian stouder said on October 21, 2013 at 9:19 am

    …and by the way, don’t miss Jeff’s eloquent sermon at the end of the last thread.

    Rather a nice bookend to the attractive spankers, above!

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  3. brian stouder said on October 21, 2013 at 9:33 am

    OK – one more and I’ll stop for the day. This CNN article made me laugh out loud, not just for photos of the faux-concerned look on the visage of Raphael “Penguin” Cruz, but for the way he quite honestly answered a question.

    Some argue Cruz’s strategy was taken in part to raise money for conservative groups that back primary challengers. One group, the Senate Conservatives Fund, which supported Cruz last year, raised $2.1 million in September–a large amount for a nonelection year.

    Asked if his effort was a money-making enterprise, Cruz said: “Not remotely.” [emphasis added by me]

    Not “remotely”, indeed; but front-and-center, in screaming bold-face capital letters!

    That guy is really and truly a piece of work

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  4. velvet goldmine said on October 21, 2013 at 10:13 am

    I think it all looks fantastic, and I get that outside funding makes it more accessible, but $70-per isn’t quite the proletariat picnic. (Granted, this is coming from someone in the braces-and-college stage of raisin’ younguns.)

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  5. Charlotte said on October 21, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Chicken Crapudine! (“Crapaud” = toad, so Chicken Flattened Toad) — one of my all-time favorites. Elwood and Nina Reid do their Thanksgiving turkey this way every year (it helps to have someone as big as Elwood to flatten the turkey breastbone) and it’s incredibly delicious — roasted over the stuffing.

    The big excitement of my weekend was the hunt to kill Pantry Mouse. Brazen thing was showing up during the day. Apparently because, as my Himself pointed out, I was setting the traps wrong and turning them into peanut-butter-delivery devices. This morning, Pantry Mouse is Compost Mouse.

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  6. Jolene said on October 21, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Is butterflied the same as spatchcocked?

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  7. LAMary said on October 21, 2013 at 11:28 am

    I will rent my cat, Albert, to anyone with rodent issues. He’s been scoring errant tree rats who think my garage looks interesting on a regular basis. He’s also a very handsome and affectionate cat. He’s got all the positive cat attributes.
    I had never seen a tree rat until I moved to LA. They live in palm trees or yuccas, and they run along the power lines at dusk, which is creepy. Sometimes they venture indoors looking for snacks like plastic containers, old sofa cushions, and bits of dog kibble someone dropped when filling the dog dishes.

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  8. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 21, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Jolene, I didn’t know that word until watching Primal Grill on Saturday with the vaguely creepy Steven Reichlin (sp?). Glad to have the word reinforced in my brain, maybe it’ll stick now.

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  9. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 21, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Raichlin. Oh well.

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  10. mark said on October 21, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    nice party

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  11. Deborah said on October 21, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    That event in Detroit looks fantastic.

    My husband and I got back from a car camping trip on our land in Abiquiu, wonderful. After we woke up late this morning we went out for a soak at Ojo Caliente, a natural hot springs “spa”. I feel like a wet noodle but I have tons to do to get ready to head back to Chicago tomorrow. The weather here is still fabulous but I see that Weds in Chicago will be cold and wet. Blah.

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  12. Deborah said on October 21, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Oh and tree rats… shudder.

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  13. MarkH said on October 21, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Where is everybody today…

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  14. Joe K said on October 21, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Wondering the same thing Mark
    Pilot Joe

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  15. brian stouder said on October 21, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Well, I’ve been absolutely gobsmacked (so to speak) by Nancy’s excellent link to Roxy D’Lite, which I got to read this evening.

    an excerpt –

    I don’t often get hate mail but I can’t say it never happens. I do get a lot of weird fan mail and I love it. By weird I mean there are proposals with penis measurements and other sexual abilities. I don’t respond but I take screenshots and save it in a folder so I can sometime in the future read it for a laugh. Every so often I will receive some hate mail and I feel the need to respond. One thing that’s consistent with all the weird messages is that they are all written in terrible English. Make of that what you will. Sometimes it’s just silly and other times it’s a little concerning.

    Recently a man sent me a religious diatribe about how I should repent from fornication and how fornicators will burn in a lake of fire and brimstone. This is clearly laughable but it is nice to know fornicators get their own lake of fire. I took a screenshot and shared it on Facebook and Twitter and received a ton of positive feedback and shared many laughs with people. Later on I took a photo from one of my darker performances with a baphomet and pentagrams and I was topless. It was the perfect trifecta for this guy to flip his lid. I photoshopped the word “REPENT!” across my nipples and posted it for him. I feel that’s the best way to deal with absurdity–expose it to the world and mock it for what it really is.

    No kidding or sarcasm; this is one interesting person, who clearly has lots of brain-power to go with her powerful allure. She’s playing the game like a master

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  16. coozledad said on October 21, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    I’ve been scraping lead based paint off my house today. Can’t get oxygen to bind to my hemoglobin.

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  17. Suzanne said on October 21, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    I am here and tired. Woopie. It’s Monday.

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  18. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 21, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    There once was a pastor who needed to get his old country clapboard church painted. He hired a fellow who offered a good price, but once the job was done, the next rain shower revealed that the materials were inferior and much of the coating sluiced off the building and into the lawn. The preacher went in search of the erstwhile young tradesman, found him at a local hostelry fending off dehydration, and stood before him, pointed a long, bony finger, and said in a rolling, stentorious voice:

    “Repaint, and thin no more.”

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  19. nancy said on October 21, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Brian, Roxi’s not only smart, but she really is a dish. Don’t go googling for her picture at a work computer. She really walks the line between dancer-strong and fleshy. A throwback bod that you wonder how it ever went out of style. She made one exit through the house, and passed by one of the guys we went to the party with. The sight of her breasts passing 12 inches away probably made the whole ticket price worth it.

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  20. brian stouder said on October 21, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Don’t go googling for her picture at a work computer.

    That’s what took me so long; waiting for the end of the workday! And indeed, the link has a few pretty interesting images; nothing over the line, but definitely arresting.

    A throwback bod that you wonder how it ever went out of style

    Indeed. I suppose it becomes a discussion of ‘style’, on the one hand, and what will turn one’s head, on the other.

    If you’re walking down the street or through a mall, a well put together person (man or woman) will catch one’s eye, and turn one’s head – whether it’s 1953 or 1983 or 2013.

    Emaciated people and/or lollipop people (copyright by LA Mary) can pull off the “allure illusion” in the controlled and restricted view of movies – but Roxy D’Lite (et al); her beauty is as timeless as the Shenandoah Valley in October.

    And add to that her wry wit in intelligence (she knows the game she’s in, and she’s a free agent), and you have all the elements of a classically beautiful woman

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  21. brian stouder said on October 21, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    I’d have bought tix for that event, but I’ve no idea what I’d have worn. (and if I was rude, the question I’d ask is ‘so where’s the picture of Alan’s date?’….but as a rule, I try not to be rude!)

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