Richmond, VA: witches are the nicest people

July 8, 2018

Where can you book a traveling magic show? As it turns out, in an incredible variety of places. On this tour, I’ll be performing “Truth Assassin” at punk clubs, a circus school, two drag venues, a bowling alley, a house, some theaters, and here in Richmond, at a goth club, Fallout RVA.

I loaded my props for this first official tour show into a space that at first seemed “dungeon-like”, but then I realized that it’s an actual dungeon, black and smoky, with chains and cages and no hint of outside light (but also, sweet photos of the club regulars on the back walls). Jackie, the owner, explained that it’s also a fetish club, and that’s why it’s normally members-only (the vicissitudes of running a goth and fetish scene under the decency laws of a Southern state).

Jackie chatted while I set up; we figured out that we had some mutual acquaintances and noted how closely intertwined the goth/industrial and circus scenes are. Then she got a call: Lady Octavia, the snakecharmer and sideshow artist who was going to open for me, had had an enormous personal setback that day. Would she still perform? Absolutely, she answered.

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With Lady Octavia

Lady Octavia bellydanced while her snake Orriana writhed around her, and had a concrete block smashed on her stomach while she lay on a bed of nails. It turned out she was witchy not only in performance, but an actual witch. Her sisters in the craft came out not only for the show, but to support her emotionally and discuss the curses they were going to put on the guilty party.

Besides the folks with the facial jewelry and black outfits, there were some audience members in khaki shorts – Jackie had opened the club to the public for the night. I also got to real-life meet an Instagram friend with whom I’d bonded over love of Alfred Jarry, and posed for a photo on his Ubu Roi-themed motorcycle, the Phynancial Whorse.

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With Monty Cantsin and the Phynancial Whorse

I felt at home performing for this audience, and they expressed a lot of love for the show – while simultaneously comforting Lady Octavia. Her determination to perform on one of the roughest days of her life brought home the reality of the “show must go on” ethic. And speaking of showmanship, Stormy* nailed his trick, appearing in an empty cage, and worked the room getting adoration from his fans.

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Stormy appears from the ether. Photo courtesy of @inagoudadavito

After the show, I was spoiled rotten by Libby and Todd Sentz, Brooklyn friends who’d relocated to raise their daughter in Richmond. The 4-year-old girl, apropos of nothing, ran around the house cackling like a witch and putting spells on Stormy. I hope she takes this witch thing far, because witches really are the nicest people.

*Stormy, in case it’s not obvious from the photos, is a dog. My dog. He’s been my dog for a little over a year, and before that, he’d been sitting in a rescue cage for two years waiting for his forever home. I intended to just foster him, but fell for him, and then had to figure out how I was going to manage touring as the owner of a 70-lb. hound. I couldn’t leave him behind – he had gained so much confidence since adoption, transitioning from a traumatized stressball who couldn’t walk with a leash into a genuine Good Dog. It dawned on me not only that he had turned out to be a surprisingly gifted travel dog, but that he might be able to learn to perform an illusion. And he did: he now plays the role of a Ferocious White Tiger, appearing in a cage under impossible conditions at the end of my show. So technically, this is not a solo tour…I just wish he was better at driving.

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