At Last, Something Completely Different! Saint-at-Large’s ’Nightmare Before Xmas’ Party
For those of us -- and I suspect we are legion -- who are sick of the same-old-same-old party scene, the ever-inventive evil little elves at the Saint-at-Large have taken the magic of Christmas and turned it into a nightmare.
Yes, kiddies: The 1993 Tim Burton movie that managed to slap the ghoulish pleasures of Halloween on top of the saccharine, cloying, child-loving, sanctimonious (shall I go on?) sickening sweetness that makes some of us have to wear permanent mouth guards to keep from gnashing our teeth every December is the inspiration for this one-time-only, not-to-be-missed cabaret-dance party.
Whew, that’s a lot of adjectives! But then, this party defies easy description. According to Stephen Pevner, who heads the Saint-at-Large’s creative team, the party began with the huge off-off-Broadway hit, "Sleep No More." A modern adaptation of "Macbeth," this is the show that began the whole "on-site installation" trend in New York theater.
The show ranges over the warehouses where the legendary West Chelsea dance palaces Twilo and Sound Factory once stood. The show retells Shakespeare’s "Scottish play" (as it’s known among theater folk, who consider "Macbeth" bad luck) as a late 1950s movie. Think Orson Welles’ "Touch of Evil" meets Hitchcock’s "Psycho" and add some really, really bad vibes.
The "Sleep" producers hit on the idea of doing some weird cabaret after-hours installations leading up to Halloween, but a real-live horror came along by the sugar sweet name of Sandy, and Chelsea had its own nightmare to contend with. The Saint-at-Large’s planned queer night was shelved.
Shelved, but not forgotten. "In the spirit of New York never taking ’No’ for an answer," Pevner relates, "we’re doing Halloween during Christmas." Hey, works for me!
Total Environment Party
Combining cabaret, dancing and decor, this is a hell of a lot more than your standard-issue party.
Le Poisson Rouge, the gem of a nightclub in Greenwich Village (Susan Morabito and other DJs have told me that the club has, hands down, the best sound system in town) will be decked out in boughs of ... well boughs. The "total environment’ concept will, Pevner hopes, extend to the audience.
Sean Templar, a DJ known for his Goth styling and following, will open the party. Following him will be a "Who’s Who" of the Downtown cabaret scene: Joey Arias (if you’ve never seen -- or heard -- him, you’re in for a treat); John Kelly, Lee Chappell with master puppeteer Basil Twist (whose work with Arias is one of the heights of the New York theater scene over the last decade), and much, much more.
*We’re working with some extremely talented underground/countercultural performers that a gay audience isn’t really all that familiar with," says the Saint-at-Large’s Mike Peyton. "We’re really happy to be making that introduction."
Honey Dijon then takes over the turntables until the party ends around 4:30 a.m. When asked about her DJing skills, Peyton informed me, "The bitch can match a mean beat and give some serious eyelash while doing it." She must be banging out the beats, because she brings in the crowds at her weekly Hiro Ballroom residency (and those fashionistas expect a DJ to work) as well gigs at fabled big rooms like Montreal’s Stereo.
Pevner hopes that people dress up in seasonally appropriate ghoulish attire. Think real, real Bad Santa on crystal meth after three days in a batthouse (my suggestion).
Benjamin Ickies is bringing his 18-piece orchestra, and Met Opera choreographer Allison Jones will be presenting some very -- she we say -- interesting burlesque and boylesque go-go dancers.
It’s all very Brooklyn-meets-Downtown-meets-Hellsea. Pevner expects the audience will be as eclectic as the performers. Put on the black lipstick, tie the laces on your dancing shoes, but leave the attitude at home.
The spectacle "A Nightmare Before Xmas" will begin at 11 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 22. Tickets are only $25 (cheap!) at Le Poisson Rouge. For more information, go there or to the Saint-at-Large website.
Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early '80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).