Every day is Halloween for Dee Snider. Whether gender-bending as the flamboyant front man of '80s hair-metal gods Twisted Sister, or helping create the band's zombie-filled music video "Be Chrool to Your Scuel" (banned from MTV because it was "too gory"), Snider mixes the macabre into his masterpieces.
So it's no surprise that he'll be among the ghoulish guests at this weekend's World Horror Convention 2004, an event for professionals and enthusiasts of the ghastly genre.
"I've always loved horror. The makeup and costumes of Twisted Sister were a natural extension of that shit," says Snider. "I never sang about drinking or getting high, because I didn't drink or get high. I dug horror movies, so I incorporated it into the music."
Snider, who says he's in negotiations to become a personality on cable TV's upstart Horror Channel when it launches later this year, will treat conventioneers to a screening of his 1998 cult flick Strangeland. It's one of the horrific highlights of the four-day conference geared toward evil authors and artists wishing to sharpen their poison pens and network with editors, publishers and agents. Scribes such as Douglas Clegg (The Priest of Blood) will give presentations on their works, while numerous workshops cover topics such as "the Psychology of Horror" and "the History of Graveyards."
Organizers say a representative from Dimension Films will be in attendance to dig up scary source material for use in a future film project. Other events include a flash fiction contest; a discussion on everyone's favorite demonic demigod, Cthulhu; and readings of various short stories.
While the convention is more mundane during the day, things get hairier after dark. Attendees usually flock to the many after-hours parties. Previous cons have seen much debauchery by cat-o'-nine-tails-wielding masqueraders, all of whom have a bloody good time.
The World Horror Convention runs Thursday, April 8, through Sunday, April 11, at the Embassy Suites, 2577 West Greenway Road. Admission at the door is $130 for the whole weekend or $35 daily. For more information, visit www.whc2004.org or call 602-375-1777. -- Benjamin Leatherman
Amistad author speaks at ASU
When ASU announced last September that its creative writing program, already one of the most competitive in the country, would be named for late Valley philanthropist Virginia G. Piper -- thanks to a $10 million endowment from the Piper Charitable Trust -- its heads hoped the program would achieve even greater artistic achievement and recognition. No doubt the department's high profile -- and fatter bankroll -- helped reel in Alexs Pate (pictured), author of five novels, including Amistad, to speak at ASU's Solo Voices lecture series on Friday, April 9. The other guest lecturers, Alberto Rios and Melissa Pritchard -- both ASU faculty members -- are award-winning authors of poetry and fiction, and have published more than a dozen books between them. The program begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets, $10 per person, can be purchased through 480-994-ARTS or www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org. -- Joe Watson
Indian Vaisakhi Festival celebrates spring
Follow the pounding of Punjabi feet to the third annual Vaisakhi Festival, where spring is celebrated Indian-style this Friday, April 9. Bhangra dancers curry favor from the crowd as they vigorously execute their energetic routines, accompanied by singing and Dhol drumbeats. Revelers won't be sari when savoring the simmering spices in the Indo-Chinese food from Goa Curry and Grill. While the bazaar peddles handicrafts such as embroidered pillow covers, hand-woven stoles and jewelry, children will enjoy rides and activities like dressing up in traditional clothing to have their pictures taken. The evening ends with an open dance floor and instruction in traditional Indian dance steps. This passage to India, hosted by Kiddan (formerly the Arizona Punjabi Youth Association), begins at 7 p.m. at Horizon High School, 5601 East Greenway Road in Scottsdale. Tickets are $8 (four for $25) for adults, $5 for students with ID; kids under 6 are admitted free. Visit www.kiddan.org or call 602-380-7900. Susan Tully
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Join the horse play in Cave Creek
Here's the thing about crazy: It doesn't play favorites. By way of example, we give you the world of rodeo, where the masochist riding that bucking bronco is just as likely to be a woman as a man. Call it equal opportunity thrill-seeking -- and chalk it up as another reason rodeo continues to build a fan base thirsty to watch others cowboy up in a real-life ring of fire.
Bucking, roping and riding make for a weekend's worth of cowboy-type fun at the 2004 Fiesta Days Rodeo, Thursday, April 8, through Sunday, April 11, at Cave Creek's Memorial Arena, 28th Street and Maddock. The ladies of the Women's Professional Rodeo Association saddle up at 10:30 a.m. Friday, April 9, to show the men how it's done (with proceeds to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation).
A weekend of nonstop action follows, including an appearance by the men of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy's Association, a Friday-night kickoff dance at the Buffalo Chip Saloon, a Saturday parade, and even mutton bustin' for all the prepubescent cowboys and cowgirls in tow. For details call 480-488-4043. -- Craig Wallach