The inspiration for Alwun House's hedonistic horror-pop party Monster's Ball was Hieronymus Bosch's 16th-century painting Garden of Earthly Delights, or, as Alwun House co-owner Kim Moody describes it: "that painting with all the obscene little characters with flutes up their butts."
Hmm . . . that gives a whole new meaning to the term "wind instrument." Luckily, Alwun House's annual spooky spectacular mimics the excessive carnal revelries of the painting without the butt trumpets. Moody and partner Dana Johnson have packed the night with performances on two outdoor stages, as well as a massive indoor art exhibit. And while Bosch's canvas bacchanal inspired the evening's incorrigible vibe, the newest addition to the performance roster was inspired by a trip through Arizona State University's manuscript archives, where Moody and Johnson found a French "Mass to Darkness" from the 1500s.
"I don't know why anybody would have a 'Mass to Darkness,' but a creepy Mass sounded interesting," says Johnson.
So they made an altar depicting images from Garden of Earthly Delightsand brought in harpsichord player The Divine Marquis (a.k.a. Michael Cooper), who plays a blend of "opera-electronica" and "baroque techno."
"He's fabulous. He gets all dressed up in court attire," Johnson says. "He'll be doing a Mass inside."
There will also be a complimentary buffet of "Horror d'Oeuvres" inside, as well as the "Monster's Menagerie" art exhibit, which features the wicked works of artists such as Robert Anderson (whose artwork is pictured), April Anderson, Brian Cummings, Baron Dixon, Steve Gompf, M.B. Hanrahan, Landy Headly, Larry LoPresti, Mel Rose, and Charles Rubadou.
The works on display are provocative, but Moody says they're nothing like the types of pieces at the "Exotic Art Show," Alwun House's other big fund raiser that's held every February. "This show is not erotic," he says. "There are some spooky elements, and there's some really fine art with a twisted sense of message."
After perusing the art, festivalgoers can huddle around fire pots outside and enjoy eye-candy performers like Satan's All Girl Review, a barely dressed burlesque troupe whose repertoire includes "Devil With a Blue Dress On." There's also a "psychedelic black-light juggling show" by Mysterious Manipulator, Poe readings by Robert X. Planet and Roxanne DeWinter, "ambient camp horror videos," and a cash bar featuring drinks made with Hypnotiq and Wheeler's Rum.
In addition, Opendance will perform an "intramedia dance production" of Masque of the Red Death, which culminates with a bogeyman boogie-down to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," where everyone turns into monsters at the end.
For those who want to do their own depraved dances, DJ Mischievous Mixter will spin a trance and house mix, while David Diagonal pours his "Absinthe House Mix" over woozy ears.
Attendees are encouraged to dress in costume or fetish attire. Moody himself will be dressed as the ringmaster of the decadent three-ring circus. But since Alwun House will probably be packed, Johnson cautions costumed carousers against wearing certain large add-on appendages.
"It's not a rave where people are sloppy drunk and hitting each other, but last year, we got people with all sorts of wings -- bat wings, fairy wings, angel wings -- and if it gets too crushed, those poor people will get their wings smashed."