Monday, October 15, 2012

My Devil's Carnival Experience/Review

(Note: The main body of this post is a piece of writing I've recently done for my Literary Arts class. I wrote it to not focus on the Devil's Carnival as much as my experience afterwards, I've added parts to round out the experience but I'm using the piece because I really wanted to focus on the two parts, both The Devil's Carnival, and my experience, but also a lot about the after experience which I think might be relate-able to many of the bloggers and maybe I can get some personal advice out of it.)

Today was the first day that I’ve listened to the Devil’s Carnival soundtrack since seeing it this summer. For those who aren’t aware, the Devil’s Carnival is a movie series created by Terrance Zdunich (Zuh-doon-itch) and Darren Bousman, the same pair who came together to write and direct Repo! (Exclamation point). Darren also directed Saw II, Saw III and Saw IV.  

 The first episode came out this summer. We went to the encore tour viewing because we missed the original. The ‘we’ being my father and I, and I’ve already said that we don’t much get along. The event ran for 10pm to 2am and expectedly, we got in a fight before we left because I was running late. It’s hard to tie corset laces tight enough by yourself but I am usually to stubborn to ask for help until the clock strikes ‘desperate.’ The amazing thing was however that after we got in the car we stopped fighting. We got along quite well in-fact, although there wasn’t much talking. It didn’t matter much anyway, we were greeted by a long line that I'm not convinced would be much shorter or less enjoyable had we gotten there earlier. A young woman dressed in a deliciously Victorianeque carnie outfit walked up and down the line, chatting, breathing fire, taking piggy back rides and various combinations of all three at one time; making sure that we would not have one dull moment while there. 

The line moved quickly once it got started and we stood, waiting for the doors to open, in the foyer of the theater. It was one of the most amazing things for me, as I don't get to spend time with many other alternatives, to see everyone so different, so unique and interesting hanging out in one place. The snack counter was open, although my father and I didn't get anything. Soon we were ushered into the theater seats. 
As we sat down, another lovely woman, similarly dressed called to our attention "Hey!" she said, "The movie isn't starting until every one of these signed soundtracks are sold. There's only five thousand total so get them while you can!" Everyone laughed and we threw money at her and got CD thrown back. When there was another calm moment I urged  my father to move over to seats to the side of the theater. He obliged but not full-heartedly, "Is it a play? A movie?" he asked. And I shrugged,  I went in with no expectations, I hardly knew what it was about. I refused to look at the promo, or hear songs before I saw the movie. I wanted to go in completely open minded with the experience of just being there.
"Well if a play then these seats will be fine, but if its a movie the other seats we had were the best in the house." 
"For you," I said, laughing, "You're tall, I can't see over the top hats and hair thingies! And they are awfully pretty but not exactly why I'm here."
The girl who sold the CDs went up on stage and introduced new items, entertained us during downtimes and just had fun. The production also hired a local sideshow from whatever city they stopped in and while I don't remember the name of the pair that preformed for us, I remember me, my father, and everyone else wincing. Especially when he slapped his hands on a board with mousetraps on every finger. 
There was a Repo! sing along, which I laughed delightedly at and watched, but I've never watched Repo! so I sadly couldn't participate. (I have it, just haven't gotten around to watching it.) 
Then we were introduced to Darren and Terrance, and took our oaths to sinfully be on our best behavior and not record parts of the movie (etc. etc.) Then it finally started!
The movie is amazing. I don't want to say to much, but, music is beautiful, even in the parts where its not suppose to be. The set, characters, costumes, camera work... all amazing. Honestly, the best way to describe it is that its something you watch and then wish actually existed so that you might actually get to go and be a carnie.  The basic plot-line of this episode is that three souls ("a conniving kleptomaniac, a gullible teenager and an obsessed father") die and find themselves being tested in Lucifer's playground--The Devil's Carnival. The stories are loosely based off of Aesop's Fables with a twist (of a knife.)

The two masterminds came back after the movie for Q/A. There were serious questions, funny questions and a multitude of entertaining answers. At one point one of them was talking about how before such sessions they sat down and thought about some questions that could pop up and  how they could answer them, and you could definitely tell when someone asked something unexpected. (One person asked "if you had to get a tattoo of someones face who would it be, why, and on what part of your body?" and they passed the microphone six times before answering. Another great thing about it was that the lovely lady who was up on stage and selling disks also answered questions from her perspective to.  And by that point the crowd of strangers was very intimate, like an odd family. 

After questions died down we were instructed that we could leave along the left aisle or wait in the right aisle to buy merchandise and meet Terrance and Darren. We were also advised to "boo"  at the people leaving, which we amusingly enough did. (One quit-wit shouting "go to heaven!"). We waited in line for what felt like ever, although it was not entirely boring. I spent a good chunk of my cash pouncing on things that went on a "half price for the next three minutes while Darren and Terrance go on a quick potty break" I ended up with a signed soundtrack (4009 out of 5000), two pre-signed posters that my father and I got with our tickets, a Painted Doll (Emilie Autumn) poster that I got signed and a deck of artistic poster cards for each of the characters. 

I'm one of those people who, if I can't think of anything to say, am perfectly happy to not say anything rather than flail for random words. I was still in happy shock at the evening, which was nothing like I've ever been to. (all the concerts recently are 18+). But they seemed like normal people and I didn't feel the need, (or on principle want to) fawn and fluster at Terrance and Darren's feet when I walked up to get my poster signed. That and it was one thirty in the morning and my brain was dying. But I think they might have felt slightly awkward as they introduced themselves to me, which made me laugh because I was there for their autograph and already a fan of them both just by the movie. I didn’t see them as ‘amazing Mr. Zdunich and the incredible Sir Bousman.’ Rather I saw them as, like I’ve been writing, Darren and Terrance: warm and friendly, and probably cool to hang out with. 
Plus I was so tired that by that point, the evening was becoming less of a moment and more of a memory. And though it will eventually be a happy memory, and I suppose even now is, the evening left me nearly debilitated in pain for the next week-- pain so strongly psychological that it became a physical ache. Surely I could point to the spot inside of me that hurt and contemplated, nay plotted for days of how to cut it out as if that would solve the problem. You see, the event seemed to be something that should be life changing. It felt important, like things would never been the same after-- and then it threw me back into a tortuously normal life that I had never before questioned. But I did now (which I suppose, in actuality, should make it an important moment), I asked “am I happy?” and the pain in my near my heart screamed, “No! You’re not happy!” Because I was envious of them; not so much even of Terrance or Darren, but of the burlesque fire-breathers who laughed in entertained in stripy gartered tights, bustled skirts and tight stringed corsets. They were living! Not stably or easily I’m sure but fully, in the moment with what made them happy, even if they risked falling off the wire with no safety net below.

                That’s where I want to be when I get out of school but I just live. And the life set up for me is filled with just living. Set up to walk a staircase of perfectly parallel steps in a color not offensive to my family, guard railings on either side of me. But I have no clue how to break into where ever they are, living so vivaciously. And, being brought up so practical, I don’t know if I’d allow myself the chance if it was offered to me. So for a week I lounged about, doing everything I could to rid my head of the memory but feeling utterly trapped all the same. 
After a while it subsided which brings me back to today, where for the first time I’ve listened to the CD. Pain flares through me with every beautifully sharpened note and recalled memory, and I feel trapped all over again, hiding from the life I just live and cradling the aching spot. I once again push it all away so that I might be happy with all the same that I live in. The songs sing through my head uncontrollably, teasingly and I shove them off with another catching tune of incredibly different taste. But this song just enforces my prison.
“Olly, Olly Oxen Free,” It mocks in my ear
“All the people you will never be.”
 I struggle, hapless in my cell, throw myself pointlessly at the fail-safe walls my mind created without permission. Finally I fall to the floor and glare at the teasing voices running through my head. I appeal to the manipulative side of me who enjoys such games, irony and small amusements by responding with more lyrics.
“Olly ollly olly olly
Higher than the king can
See no evil
Hear no evil
Capture me
And throw the key.”
I’m daring it, sarcastically, disdainfully but it certainly doesn’t seem to see it like that. The lyrics, the walls hug me tightly as if given permission. Chipping away at all the barricades until finally I’m forced to succumb and listen to them, sitting there with the ache, knowing that it’d still be there no matter how many different pairs of scissors I’d use to cut it out. For all my fail-safes I’ve forgotten for leave myself a way out of the ‘normal’ I thought I’d be happy in. I fall asleep singing desperately along to the song.
“See no evil,
Hear no evil,
Capture me and throw the key away.”

I'm writing this post now because the DVD is available for pre-order, and yes, in spite of my melodramatic response I've pre-ordered it. According to their website the DVD is available October 23. I'd high recommend getting it whether you were able to see it during its tour or not. I'd also recommend going to any future episodes. 

On a personal bit, the experience has me thinking of what I want to do with my life. I know many of the bloggers are artists, crafters, street-performers and otherwise partakers in otherwise eclectic hobbies and occupations; so I ask of you: What do you do? How did you get into an artistic scene, any tips or experiences to share? Might be a good future blog-post to think about. ;D

*Lyrics: Olly Olly Oxen Free--Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra. 
**Pictures of characters from the Devil's Carnival Website (Link posted above.)

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