The time is nigh when we shall unify in His hallowed halls for a most sacred sacrament. Let His name be spoken, and once again be hailed. Let us prepare our vestments for his resurrection. Arise, Saint Zombo! Templum Balatro has prepared a most blasphemous bacchanal to celebrate His glory returned. The Unholy Anointment of Saint Zombo shall soon fall upon us!
Rise, one and all.
You have shown great reverence when our world was threatened by a wretched charlatan. Soon, we shall be gathered back to the ritual site in a grand veneration. As the world around us begins to rot once more in the cool autumnal air, we beseech your presence. Don your vestments and remember these dates, dearest disciples. This year, we shall chant His praise…
Revel, and be anointed.
Step right up, and feast your eyes on the newest art piece from Theatre Bizarre creator and artistic mastermind - John Dunivant! Following the wild success of his sci-fi side venture - the immersive Star Wars party, Space Dive - he’s sending May the Fourth out with a bang, bringing you a limited run of his new Star Wars inspired art piece exclusively through 1xRun. With less than 10 prints remaining and only 3 days left to grab one we sat down with John Dunivant for a brief interview about “Saint Luke and the Dragon”. (Click here for the link and get one while you still can.)
"The mythology and world-building that I learned from Star Wars, lead directly to the creation of Theatre Bizarre." - John Dunivant
- Why did you pick this piece thematically?
JD: I was asked by 1xRun to participate in their "May the 4th Be With You" print series and jumped at the chance, due to my love for Star Wars. Thematically, I chose to create this piece because I wanted to play with the mythos and the religious allegory.
- What was your inspiration for this piece?
JD: The Peter Paul Rubens painting "Saint George and the Dragon" from the early Fifteenth century, plus a Burger Chef Star Wars poster by Boris Vallejo that I had when I was 9. It hung in my basement and became this holy depiction to me, like an illustration from the Stations of the Cross. It seemed like a natural match-up.
("Saint George and the Dragon", Peter Paul Rubens, 1605)
("Saint Luke and the Dragon" - Work In Progress Shot)
- How long did it take to complete?
JD: About 3 weeks
- What tools did you use to create the piece?
JD: Paint brushes and palette knives. The medium is acrylic and oil on wood. The print will have hand-painted gold accents for Luke's halo. I'll be finishing the gold on the original painting with spray-paint.
- What’s your background with Star Wars?
JD: I saw Star Wars on its original run in 77, when I was 6 years old, and even then I knew it would have a massive impact on my life. I became obsessed. In 1981, I traded a bunch of toys (including my Godzilla with rocket firing fists, and my Paul Stanley 12 inch KISS figure) for the book The Art of The Empire Strikes Back with my next door neighbor. This book changed my life and taught me so much. The mythology and world-building that I learned from Star Wars lead directly to the creation of Theatre Bizarre.
(Above: John Dunivant on his 10th birthday with a Star Wars cake and the Boris Vallejo poster behind him.)
(Right:Boris Vallejo's "Empire Strikes Back" poster which influenced Dunivant's tauntaun design.)
If you follow the Theatre Bizarre Facebook or Instagram pages, you're undoubtedly familiar with the photography of Trever Long. His incomparable work has been featured countless times on our website, our social media pages, in flyers, postcards, and everywhere in between. For the last 10 years, he has used his otherworldly eye to capture truly breathtaking and utterly unbelievable photos inside the halls of Theatre Bizarre.
Now, his talents are being brought to light once more in a must-read exclusive interview with The Metropolitan that covers his storied past, and his present experience at our event. Below are just a few exciting snippets from his feature -
Ten consecutive years! What do you recall most from your very first photographic experience at Theatre Bizarre? This would be (we presume) 2008?
Yes, this year was my 10-year anniversary of shooting the event. The first time I attended was in 2008, back when it was on the original grounds on State Fair and I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. I’d been asked by Friends of Dennis Wilson (a band I was close with that was playing that year) if I’d be interested in shooting them at a “backyard Halloween party.” I saw the flyer for the event (which features a beautiful illustration by the creative visionary behind Theatre Bizarre, John Dunivant) and I was sold.
I went to the party alone that night and was pretty unfamiliar with the area, so when I walked up to a line of people standing in front of what appeared to be an abandoned building in a burned out desolate neighborhood, I felt a bit uneasy. Honestly, my first
thought was that I went to the wrong address, but the people there were wearing costumes and I could hear music beyond the houses. For those who don’t know, I should mention that in order to enter the party at that time you had to walk through this house, which had been converted into a full-scale haunted mansion. After pushing thru body bags and passing by a rotting pig’s head in the kitchen, I found myself feeling my way through a nearly pitch black underground tunnel that was plastered with a child’s drawings of murder scenes, until finally emerging into a cloud of fog.
Once it cleared, my vision focused and I realized I was suddenly standing in the middle of a bustling 19th century carnival midway, complete with banners for sideshow freaks. So yeah, it made a pretty strong first impression. It felt like I’d walked into a dream. It was incredible, it was dangerous, it was beautiful. That night would be the first time I’d photograph and see performances by acts like Snakeout, Satori Circus, and of course, the Queen of the Cooch herself, Roxi D’lite. I was hooked.
A question suggested by several other photographers who envy your yearly task and admire your work: What are the principal obstacles/problems arising from an assignment like this? That is to say: lighting, perspective, positioning, etc.
The biggest challenge is just dealing with the scale of the event. It’s massive, constantly changing, and doesn’t slow down until night’s end. Theatre Bizarre is, by design, complete sensory overload. A piece of advice I give to anyone attending for the first time is to follow your gut.
No matter what, you’ll be missing something else, so find the things that are interesting to you. This is my same strategy when photographing the event. Sure, I may have a rough idea of when certain events are scheduled, but it’s not uncommon to get swept away by something else completely. I’ve found it’s best to capture the things that unfold in front of me, rather than planning my night — If you’re always thinking ahead, you’re never truly in the present.
We implore you all to uncover The Metropolitan's full interview with Trever Long about his experiences at Theatre Bizarre here to discover more about him, and what it’s like being one of the many photographers that help showcase the sights of our grand masquerade. You won't regret it.
Hallowe’en. Samhain. All Saint’s Day. Dia de los Muertos. Pangangaluluwa. Wherever you’re from, and whatever you call it - today is a day of remembrance.
From deep within the halls of Templum Balatro, we certainly remember. We remember the power that Zombo always held within the realm of Theatre Bizarre, and we remember the cursed day in this very year where the self proclaimed “King” stepped forward to take the crown for himself. A vile and selfish creature, fueled only by narcissism and greed. His reign, much like his life, did not last long...as anyone who attended ‘The Great Deception’ can attest to. Zombo hath returned - refusing to sit idly by while his Kingdom was usurped. The rightful ruler has reclaimed the the kingdom, and so too, the throne... That is something we will all remember.
So now, as the leaves fall from the trees on this crisp autumn night, as the candles flicker within the pumpkins inside the cold air, and as the urchin retreat from the streets as the rest of the wicked ones celebrate the divine Memento Mori - we here at Theatre Bizarre wish one and all a Happy Halloween. Join us tonight in revelry and remembrance. Hail Zombo.
What a magnificently prolific and dissolute year we’ve had at Theatre Bizarre. An unprecedented series of events emerged, and with them, the emergence of the many secrets and many lies of The Great Deception. We trust you all enjoyed the ride.
After a long week of aiding in the ethereal escape of Theatre Bizarre back into the shadows, we have finally marked an end to another great year (Well… almost. Some crews are still in the building; cleaning, storing and inventorying, along with our Controller, who will be sorting this mess until the end of the year.). The lights have all dimmed, the walls have all fallen, and Zombo slumbers once more. Now, with another chapter closed for Theatre Bizarre, we would like to take a moment to acknowledge each and every person, beast, creature, and otherwise who have aided in creating the inconceivable. From the performers on the stages, in the halls, and throughout the many rooms of the Temple, to those behind the curtain to ensure all the gears are turning, and also to all those who have joined us to see another year of our unholy masquerade - this show would not exist without you.
The incomprehensible amount of folks to thank is difficult to sum up quickly, and the scale of our performers and crew is as large as their dedication, a mere thanks never quite seems like enough. There were so many changes behind the scenes this year - with new spaces, new managers, new crew, and in some cases, a new approach. A lot of department changes happened and were handled so beautifully: the costume department, the volunteer leads, credentials, the hair stylists and make-up team, the audio crews, the lighting department, the fabric team, the pumpkin masters, gatherers, and carvers, everyone that kept the office running smooth and the coffee flowing, the cabinet makers and painters, the candy jar fillers, candy corn wranglers, the candle lighters, the soundscape designers, the smoke machine operators, the projectionists, the Zombo prize sewers, the parking attendants, stagers, flip crew, fire & safety, the merch crew, our security leads, the fixer, and those who put their heart and soul into changing thousands of light bulbs, and solving thousands of problems…
Our installation crews working tirelessly, and poring themselves into every detail in every corner of the building. Our on-site managers and logistic princess toiling away to make sure everything runs smoothly. The stage managers and stagehands, the tech crews, the pa's, the ones hanging floor signs and concealing coke machines, the first-aid crew and EMTs, the photographers and videographers, all of the people that fed us when we had no time to feed ourselves - craft services, the caterers, and the folks that dropped off food for our workers, just to name a few. The Masonic Temple, for trusting us to honor such a historic and unparalleled building that is as much of the atmosphere of the new Theatre Bizarre as any set dressing. The clowns and devils, the trick-or-treaters, the acrobats and cats, and all of the performers and their impeccable safeties, the MC's, the suspension crews, the infernal guard, the go-go dancers, the facility ghouls cleaning up after drunks, elevator operators as our lifeline in the building, ticket takers, game carnies, fortune tellers, wandering musicians and stationary musical ensembles made for their stages in the halls, the doormen, ushers and popcorn girls, the ice cream servers and soda jerks, the train conductors, the tortured souls and the green fairies - all attending countless hours of orientations, fittings, training, rehearsals, not to mention the time in the makeup chair leading up to the physical and mental exhaustion of performing for such a long stretch and covering so much ground, running several marathons through brutal terrain. And also all the performers throughout the world who may not attend months and months of prep for our event alone, but who lend us the skills they've spent a lifetime developing to create special moments in every room throughout the temple. The burlesque performers, the bands, the freaks and geeks and everyone in between. The lists could go on forever, and we’re sorry if we missed anyone in trying to highlight the incredible scope of this event and the gratitude we have for every single person involved.
This also wouldn't be complete without acknowledging all those who spread the unholy word of Theatre Bizarre to their friends and families, year after year. The people who spend months and months hand crafting some of the most exquisite costumes we've ever seen to add to the elegance and curiosity of our event. The people who return every passing year to see the new talent coming to our show, or to see the new acts of imagination and insanity from our returning performers. The people who enter inside, eager to have an indescribable adventure, engaging and adding to the grand revelry.
All of this would only be possible through the blood, sweat and tears of every person, giving everything they have to pull off the extraordinary. We can't thank you enough. We extend our sincerest gratitude to everyone who has allowed us to continue our procession into the curious and unknown. From all of us to all of you.... cheers to another year, and for more to come... Thank you all.
The castrophony heard through the unholy halls of Theatre Bizarre is loud enough to wake the dead, sweet creatures. Get ready to experience a most eclectic and enchanting array of bands and performers to satisfy your every need. May we introduce to you just a taste of our band line-up...
Goober & The Peas
The Theatre Bizarre Orchestra
Willa Rae & The Minor Arcana
Black Jake & the Carnies
Gabriel Brass Band
The Oscillating Fan Club
Krillin vs. SpaceSkull
Caveman & Bam Bam Detroit
Ghost City Searchlight
Sold Only As Curio
....and more still to come!
Welcome to the Dirty Devil’s Peepshow, where our debauched host shall inundate you in immoral indulgence with every act. May we introduce to you our full Theatre Bizarre 2018 Burlesque Line-up...
Kristina Nekyia: Showgrrrl
Musette "The Mistress of Mischief"
Julie Atlas Muz
Lou Henry Hoover
Eva Mae Garnet Burly-q
Dee Dee Starr
Laura Desiree Burlesque
Dolly Berlin Burlesque
Samantha D Siren
Lou Lou la Duchesse de Rière
Tana the Tattooed Lady
Enjoy the view, sweet creatures. We sure will...
Welcome to the Greatest Masquerade On Earth! Theatre Bizarre will transport you to another world of mystery and mischief. A sordid soirée of unbelievable sights and sounds awaits you, dear creatures… and if you’re lucky, so does a glimpse at what’s in store. We'll have a tantalizing peak for you tomorrow, so be sure to hurry back...