Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Theatre Bizarre - The Gimpy Review

Jane Hash and Green Beard
photo by Alternative Noise Productions
My small and fragile frame is home to a ridiculously adventurous personality. This leads to many internal arguments when presented with an exciting yet risky new opportunity. Generally, I agree to this compromise with myself – I’ll try almost anything that sounds fun…once. If it turns out to be too dangerous though, I’m in and out like a cheap date and never return to the scene of the crime. However, when it turns out wickedly successful, I’ll likely do it again.

The most recent of my wickedly successful adventures took place last Friday in Detroit, Michigan at the largest Masonic Temple in the world. The venue – Theatre Bizarre! This event has been described as an art installation first and a party second. I agree. The following is a list of reasons why I will return to Theatre Bizarre (hopefully as a performer.)

The staff is truly helpful - When my entourage pulled into the parking lot and made it known to the parking attendants and security folk that a disabled person was on board, they all sprang into action. Not only did they know where the entrance ramp and stair lift was but they also knew how to work the lift! Many times I have been in situations where I was expected to know how to work an establishment’s stair lift. Sorry, I must have skipped that section of the Gimp Handbook.

The ambiance – When I first wheeled into the event, I thought, “This must be what a party would look like at Count Dracula’s castle.” The dim lighting, moving fog, and indescribable characters creeping out of the shadows kept me on my toes – figuratively speaking.

The mind fucking – Every person in attendance was actually part of the overall performance, whether they realized it or not. I was even slow on the uptake myself. Once I found my groove though, I started to play my part. When I sat perfectly still for a few minutes, I could tell that passersby were uncertain if I was a real person or just a prop. Then I would say “hello” and giggle when they’d jump. 

photo by Alternative Noise Productions

The elevators provided opportunities for such mind fuckery as well. I generally rode with my back to the door because it was just too crowded for me to turn my wheelchair around without breaking everyone’s toes. On one occasion though, a woman popped on and rested her ample booty upon my head. I don’t think she was trying to be rude. Her hands were full of beverages so her focus was on trying not to spill them. She just didn’t see me down bellow…I’m pretty damn short. So, I decided to give her booty a backward motorboat. It’s like the backward cowgirl but different. Then I told her that I usually charge for such services but I’d let her slide because she is cute. She was speechless.

Accessibility – I saw at least five other wheelchair-users there! Most of the time, when I participate in a non-mainstream event, I am the only wheelchair-user in attendance. Lack of accessibility is a factor. Every disabled person doesn’t have the luxury of being small and portable like me. Stairs can be a deal breaker for gimpsters. This Masonic Temple where Theatre Bizarre has made its home though has ramps, lifts, and elevators in all the right places.

Variety – Theatre Bizarre is such a large and action packed event, it isn’t possible to see it all. At the same time though, it is impossible to feel like you’ve actually missed anything at all. For example, I was really looking forward to The Dirty Devil’s Peep Show but I just didn’t make it there. However, I did get to see a solo performance of Miss Roxi D’Lite…as well as a singing zombie, rope bondage, flesh hook suspension, The Devil’s Tight Rope, and a few other things that I’m still processing.
Jane Hash & Flec S. Mindscape
The details – Holy visual stimulation Batman! There were absolutely no holes or flaws in this over the top masquerade theme. Everywhere I looked, there was something or someone so captivatingly creepy, strange, and beautiful that it was hard to keep moving. I found myself getting stuck on one intense image after another. Amazing!

Body diversity – Anyone who is shying away from being a performer because they don’t fit pop culture’s mold of what is attractive needs to attend Theatre Bizarre. I have never seen so many talented, professional, and beautiful performers under one roof before! They came in every shape, size, color, gender, and physical ability. It was particularly endearing for me to see a small statured, wheelchair-user play a guitar and dedicate his song to all the “cripples” out there.

The characters – Aside of the amazingly talented headlining acts, there were plenty of other performers who deserve recognition. The Elevator Attendants were great comedic peacekeepers. Keeping the elevators from getting full beyond capacity while staying in character had to be a challenge, especially after drunk-o-clock. Then, there were other characters that mingled with the crowd to maintain the creepy cool vibe throughout the night. I confess…the scary devil woman made me scream like a little girl.

This is a magnificent event that I am fortunate enough to have experienced. Thank you Theatre Bizarre family for putting on a show that compares to no other. See you all next year!
Jane Hash and Tutu Twin
photo by Alternative Noise Productions

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