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.