Go Go Me

Shiver those timbers.

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater, is known for the weird and the wonderful, the morbid and the macabre. A prime example is their current smash hit: Joe Russo‘s world premiere play Blood Water about love, lust, and betrayal in Katrina-ravaged New Orleans.

Kind of a recap of Ms. Go Go’s Mardi Gras 2012…but I digress.

ZJU continues the tradition of delightfully grim entertainment on Friday, February 24th, with a one-night-only-benefit for the Red Cross.  Haunted House Calls by magician and mentalist Micah Cover blends history, theater, magic, and mentalism into a uniquely compelling — and unsettling — mix.

Ms. Go Go was lucky to snag Micah for an email interview but don’t count on luck to get tix for Haunted House Calls.  Reserve NOW at (818) 202-4120.

Ms. Go Go: Haunted House Calls seems very different from other magic shows.  Can you tell Go Go’ers what to expect?
Micah Cover/Haunted House Calls: First, let me thank you, Ms. Go Go, for the opportunity to talk about my show.  I’m really flattered!
You’re right – Haunted House Calls is very different from other magic shows.  For one thing, it’s one of the only magic shows in existence that tells an actual story from beginning to middle to end, and every magical effect is organic to the story.  Also, it’s one of the most (if not the most!) interactive magic shows out there.  The audience gets to participate in the magic and even control many of the outcomes.  Many of those outcomes will have something to do with the audience themselves – the name of their best friend will appear in a surprising way, their own memories will play a part in the effects and more.  And in some cases, the magic will literally happen in their own hands.
MGG:  The post World War II era is unusual to see in a magic show.  Does that era hold a special attraction for you and if so, why?
MC/HHC: Yes, that era certainly does hold an attraction for me.  The majority of the story takes place at the tail end of World War II, which was a fascinating and very mysterious time in American history.  Countless planes vanished over the Bermuda Triangle during that time.  American General Henry Arnold told the public that the military had developed “secret weapons” so powerful that there “may not be any more wars.” Twelve days after Hiroshima and nine days after Nagasaki, he apparently was referring to something other than atomic weapons (true story)!  Finally, it marked the 100th anniversary of the publication of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.  Haunted House Calls weaves all of these elements and more together and makes the argument – through magic – that everything is connected.
MGG: Your bio indicates that you’ve trained as a mentalist as well as a magician.  Can you talk about the differences between the two and why mentalism is an integral part of Haunted House Calls?
MC/HHC: Sure!  While there’s often an overlap with general magic, mentalism is a specific branch of magic where the magician attempts to make magic happen with the power of his or her mind.  This can include reading the audience’s minds, accurately predicting outcomes despite impossible conditions, telekinesis, clairvoyance and more.  Mentalism often feels more supernatural and mysterious than sleight of hand or big stage illusions because it’s often harder to explain.  Since Haunted House Calls is the story about two people who disappeared years ago under very mysterious circumstances, the use of mentalism seemed a natural fit.  In the show, the audience gets to play the part of The Bermuda Triangle, participates in predictions, witness telekinesis, pulse control, levitations and more.
MGG: Friday night’s show at Zombie Joe’s Underground is a rare public performance of Haunted House Calls, which seems like a very intimate experience.  How do you keep the intimacy with a larger group?
MC/HCC: Yeah, usually I do this show in people’s living rooms with a small group.  ZJU gives me the opportunity to perform for a wider range of people.  But I do make sure everyone in the audience feels like it’s an intimate experience.  It’s highly interactive, and I communicate with the audience a lot more than most magicians.  This creates a much more informal and (hopefully!) conversational atmosphere.  And since the audience plays such an important role in the story and the show, the format relies heavily on improvisation anyway, so I continue to improvise with the audience even between effects.  And there is no fourth wall in Haunted House Calls.  The audience is ALWAYS a part of it.
MGG: I’ve read testimonials that indicate audience members are not just entertained but quite spooked!  Is there an age limit for the performance?  Should people with heart conditions avoid the show?!
MC/HCC: Ha!  Thanks!  Yeah, some people do have a genuine visceral reaction to what happens.  In general, since it’s a sophisticated and sometimes spooky show, I prefer to do it for teenagers and up.  But I’m sure people with heart conditions will still be okay!  While I’d love the audience to be freaked out, my goal is to leave them with a magical story that will haunt them long after the show is over.
MGG: Finally, can you talk about why you chose the Red Cross as your charity?
MC/HHC: Sure.  Zombie Joe and I decided that Haunted House Calls created a unique opportunity to give back to people in need.  And if the “benefit” angle increased ticket sales, it would be a win-win anyway.  I do a lot of charity work already, whether performing for the Shriner’s Hospital each month, or the VA each month or producing my annual benefit at the Magic Castle called The Night of the Raven.  I had toyed with the idea of sending Haunted House Calls proceeds to a charity, and when the Red Cross asked for help with the victims of the recent disasters in Japan, I knew who should get the money.  Haunted House Calls has been a benefit for the Red Cross ever since.
I’m so grateful to any GoGo’ers who have read this, and I’d LOVE to see you at the show on Friday, 2/24/12 @ 8:30 PM @ ZJU Theatre @ 4850 Lankershim in NoHo.  Thank you!

For more information about Micah Cover and Haunted House Calls go to: www.hauntedhousecalls.com

Make it a double bill night of theater!  As an appropriate end to Mardi Gras week, catch the final night of Blood Water at 11:00 pm.

Haunted House Calls — Fri, Feb 24th @ 8:30 pm. — ONE NIGHT ONLY

Blood Water – Fri, Feb 24th @ 11:00 p.m. — FINAL NIGHT

To RESERVE TICKETS call: 818.202.4120

ZJU Theater Group, 4850 Lankersham Blvd, North Hollywood (located north of Camarillo and the 101/134 Fwys and across from KFC) www.zombiejoes.com 

The Edwardian Ball Producers: Justin Katz (Paradox Media) and Mike Gaines (Vau de Vire Society) Photo by Neil Girling @ theblight.net

Ordinarily, it would be shocking to hear two men enthuse over a child drowned in an icy pond.

In this case, however, the men are the producers of the Edwardian Ball: a celebration of illustrator/poet Edward Gorey and the Edwardian era he brought to gleefully ghastly life.  The “drowned child” is actually a sartorial representation of “W is for Winnie embedded in ice” from The Gashlycrumb Tinies: the alphabet Gorey illustrated with images of children dying untimely deaths.

Note: no children were harmed in the making of this Ball.

The Edwardian Ball has been a San Francisco institution for a dozen years, growing from a tiny club night to a multi-faceted event featuring music, dance, oddities, and cirque and always anchored by a theatrical adaptation of one of Gorey’s books: this year, The Iron Tonic.

Sunday, February 19th, Edwardian Ball founder Justin Katz of Paradox Media/Rosin Coven and co-presenter Mike Gaines of the Vau de Vire Society will bring The Edwardian Ball to Los Angeles for the third year.  Originally booked into The Music Box, which closed its doors abruptly due to an internal business kerfuffle, the Edwardian Ball has landed at the gorgeous Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles and the producers are ready to welcome Edwardian enthusiasts of all persuasions.

Given the producers’ challenge to mount the production at a new venue, Ms. Go Go is pleased to have snagged an interview via email with the very gracious Messrs. Katz and Gaines.

Ms. Go Go: Gentlemen, thank you for offering L.A.’s Edwardian enthusiasts and Gorey aficionados an advance chance to fan themselves with excitement over the oh-so-imminent Third Annual Edwardian Ball in Los Angeles!  What prompted the expansion to Los Angeles in the first place?

Justin Katz/Mike Gaines: Simply put, the demand for it!  We started getting calls for the event starting in about 2006, when enough people were traveling up from LA to want this in their hometown as well.

MGG: Why do you think the Edwardian era and Edward Gorey continue to hold such appeal in this oh-so-modern day and age?

"W is for Winnie embedded in ice" (Photo by dav1d)

JK/MG: I appreciate the opportunity to make the distinction between the Edwards, as they hold a very different place but co-mingled place in the culture of the event.  Edward Gorey’s work brings a whimsical narrative to costume and character – absurdity, talking insects, children meeting ill-timed fates, dark humor.  King Edward’s era, in contrast, brings an elegance, decadence, and worldliness, as did the decade of his rule.  Put it all together and you have a wonderfully broad canvas in which everyone creates their own reality.

MGG: Do you think interest in the Edwardian era has increased since Rosin Coven and Vau de Vire Society have been producing the Edwardian Ball? Or do you think the Edwardian Ball has provided an outlet for Edwardian enthusiasts to explore their submerged and simmering passion for the era…and Gorey?

JK/MG: I think nostalgia for an elegant past, or for an imagined version of that past, is increasing as modern times become more challenging, fractured, and  chaotic. People yearn for an environment that is civil and peaceful, yet exciting, where people are at their best, and on best behavior.  That being said, I think our event has boosted the usage of the term “Edwardian” in a certain sense.  I think our reach is farther than we even know!

Vau de Vire Society in Edward Gorey's "The Iron Tonic" - Edwardian Ball, SF 2012

MGG: It’s tres unusual for an extravaganza of this type to feature a literary component such as the yearly dramatic adaptation of one of Gorey’s literary offerings.  How do you approach the material?  And can you talk a little about why and how Gorey has been an inspiration?

JK/MG: Gorey’s work is intriguing and inviting. He shows you nothing, but implies everything.  This is a great perspective to start with, for dramatic and stage interpretation.  I love that Gorey’s work is at the heart of our event.  In that sense it keeps it from being a period-recreation event, and thus open to more interpretation and creativity.  He is dark but hilarious, he illustrates the energy of life by nearly removing it from his work, leaving it up to the reader to surmise why.

MGG: Can the two of you talk about your respective backgrounds, how the partnership came about, and what each producing entity brings to the event?

JK/MG: My [Katz’s] background is in live music and event production. As the bassist and a founding member of Rosin Coven, my role in the band and production has grown over time along with this event.  I don’t recall exactly how it happened, but our group invited Vau de Vire to take over the staging and dramatic presentation of the annual Gorey story in our fifth year, 2005, our last year at the Cat Club.  It’s been a delightful and runaway partnership since then.

MGG: The Edwardian Ball has grown from an intime lounge event with slides shown of Gorey’s work to — in San Francisco — a weekend-long extravaganza with multiple events.   Despite the curveballs thrown at you by L.A. venues (!), do you foresee expanding the Los Angeles event in the same fashion?

JK/MG: We’ll see how it goes with this year, the biggest curveball to date.  But I don’t see why not.

MGG: In addition to the Edwardian Ball extravaganza, do you produce other events during the year in San Francisco (and, hint, hint) Los Angeles?

Vau de Vire gets Gorey at the Edwardian Ball 2011

JK/MG: As well as creating commissioned circus/variety shows for a range of high profile clients/events, the Vau de Vire Society produces festival environments and hosts live-performance stages at music festivals far and wide.

MGG: What can Edwardian Ball attendees look forward to in terms of liquid refreshment?

JK/MG: We are very fortunate to have St. George Spirits, creators of St. George Absinthe Verte, as partners in this year’s Edwardian Ball events. We will be featuring several absinthe cocktails in addition to traditional serving – my favorite is “The Root of All Evil”, absinthe and root beer.  It’s delicious!

Thank you, Justin and Mike, and cheers!

Tickets for The Edwardian Ball can be purchased online at the link below:

The Edwardian Ball Los Angeles – Friday February 19th at The Belasco Theater, 1050 S. Hill Street, Los Angeles 

Or in person at:

7414 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 655-0105
Hours: 1-8pm every day
$1/ticket fee

Edwardian Ball recommended Costume Resources in L.A.: http://edwardianball.com/resources

Ready?  U Know U Want 2 Go Go…. 

Not the terrible twos....

Go Go’ers, sometimes you have to bow down to the inevitable.  Cocktails are king. Chocolate cures everything.  And this weekend, Eagle Rock is your one-hop-stop for  culture and fun.

You might want to bring a toothbrush and spend the night.

Drinking at a Toddler Celebration

The first brewery to set up shop taproom in Los Angeles in over 60 years, Eagle Rock Brewery is celebrating  two years of beer, brew awards, beer, ladies beer forum, beer, growlers, and beer this Saturday, January 28 from noon to 4:00 p.m.

Clearly, this two-year-old birthday party is not for kids.

Last year’s first anni celebration was at the ERB taproom but this year’s event is taking off at the nearby Verdugo Bar with its spacious, beer garden patio, sinuously curved OG bar, and extensive,  alcoholic, grandfathered-in “To-Go” menu.

You won’t get a goodie bag at this “toddler” party (although seriously, NO kids or pets) but your $12 ticket does get you four drink tickets — many of the Brewery’s special beers will be on tap — plus a commemorative glass.  (Sooo much more fun than a cheap kazoo and some glitter stickers)

There won’t be goldfish crackers or a Toy Story cake but the Mandoline Grille and Grill ‘Em Up will be parked in the lot and dishing the no-host delish for you and your fellow beer revelers.

You should definitely not expect pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, a pinata, confetti or a clown at this birthday bash.

Ms. Go Go thinks that somehow, you’ll still manage to have fun.

(EAGLE ROCK BREWERY TURNS 2! — Sat, Jan 28, noon-4pm; $12; 21+ — the Verdugo, 3408 Verdugo Rd, LA, 90065, 323.257.3408 (Verdugo); http://verdugobar.com/.  For more info: http://eaglerockbrewery.com/events)

Don't try this at home.

Killing Me Softly….

Think about it.  What did people do back in the day before horror movies gave the id an outlet to act out, twist and shout?

Beserkers not included.

According to singer/songwriter Dudley Saunders, the answer is murder ballads —  think love-gone-wrong tales like Frankie and Johnny.   Saunders, who’s presenting Murder Music: A Night of Songs About Killing  with and at Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday night,  believes songs about the tragic and the terrible “let us walk in the devil’s footsteps without risking going to hell.”

Ms. Go Go is getting out her devil-walking boots right now.

Joining Saunders are nine other songwriters — David Serby, David Poe, Brian Wright, Phil Krohnengold, Carla Werner, Amy Raasch, Vivek Maddala, Edward Tree and Sara Lov  — who will be giving modern voice to emotions as old as Cain and Abel…

…who presumably didn’t yet have the outlet of murder ballads at their disposal.

Saunders has been working for weeks with video artists Gray and Carpentier on images and videos, both interstitial and backdrop, to be projected behind the performers.  Actual L.A. crime footage will add verite and authenticity.

Are you ready, boots?  Start walkin’….

(MURDER MUSIC: A NIGHT OF MUSIC ABOUT KILLING — Sat, Jan 28, 8-11pm; 18+/$10 atd —  Center for the Arts Eagle Rock, 2225 Colorado Blvd, Eagle Rock, 90041; 323.226.1617; www.cfaer.org)

"Members of the Los Angeles Free Music Society Testing Pyramid Headphones, 1976." (Photo by Fredrik Nilsen)

Use Your Car to Time Travel

Time travel.  Love the idea but really, still so risky.  What if you stepped on a butterfly and  changed the course of  history?

Now, making visiting the past safe for life as we know it: the Welcome Inn Time Machine  presented by The Society for the Activation of Social Space Through Art and Sound (SASSAS).  The latter, a non-profit that mix/matches experimental music with unconventional venues, is transforming a humdrum Eagle Rock hostelry into a multiplicity of  motel room micro concerts featuring experimental music compositions created between 1949 and 1977.

Coincidentally, the precise decades you’d most like to visit.

Part of the city-wide, months-long Pacific Standard Time Public Art and Performance Festival, the free concert on Sunday, January 29th from 4:00 to 10:00 p.m.,will feature works by or inspired by artists such as John Cage, Ornette  Coleman, James Tenney, and Bob Wilhite performed simultaneously and sequentially.  Highlights include music played by a violin tuned to D.E.A.D. and a concert you experience by calling one hotel room from another.

Bonus: no danger of time-space-continuum headaches.

(WELCOME INN TIME MACHINE Sun, Jan 29, 4-10pm; Free — Welcome Inn, 1840 Colorado Boulevard, LA 90041. For more info: on SASSAS and this event please call 323-960-5723 or visit http://www.sassas.org/welcomeinn.)

Ready?  U Know U Want 2 Go Go….

Parental joke telling by kids.

Reader Pat wrote to Ms. Go Go asking for help with a birthday destination involving young adults and their dad.  Ms. Go Go is sharing her response  as part of  the occasional feature called Go Go Me! in which Ms. Go Go helps YOU plan the perfect outing.

Pat writes:

You are always in the know–any ideas for this weekend? The kids are looking for something fun to do with their dad on Saturday and/or Sunday? A concert? Something fun for a celebration….”

Ms. Go Go replies:

It’s a rare singer/group that can appeal to such a wide age range and sadly, Pat, that singer/group is not performing anywhere near Los Angeles this weekend.  If it’s a Really Significant Birthday and dad is happy to foot the bill, there’s always the Beatles/Cirque du Soleil hybrid “Love” in Las Vegas for a real celebration!

For a less extravagant, but no less fun outing, think comedy, which is more likely to bridge the generational divide.   The 10:00PM Saturday night show at fave comedy club Upright Citizens Brigade in Hollywood has the perfect pick for this particular occasion: You Should Use This!  Comedy Pitched by Our Parents. The UCB website characterizes the show as  “bits pitched to [comedians] by their families during phone calls home and at Thanksgiving dinner tables.”  Throw in a talented cast (including Kate Micucci of Scrubs and Garfunkel and Oates comedy duo fame), company founders with serious comedy cred (such as SNL alum Amy Poehler),  and an all ages admittance policy (unlike the 21+ of many comedy clubs), and you have a venue trifecta.  And if the kids are footing the bill, admission is only $8.  The club may not be big or fancy but the intimacy adds immeasurably to the experience (and makes early reservations a must); many of the audience members come several times a week so the birthday bunch may feel more like they’ve come to a party rather than a show…appropriate considering the occasion.

For a celebratory pre-show dinner, there are several big-ticket restaurants-with-a-view in the Hollywood and Highland area but generally, atmosphere trumps food.   Instead, consider the ever fun and charming Cat and Fiddle.  There’s a great, first-come, first served outdoor patio (which translates to instant party in the summer), a dark and cozy interior if there’s a chill factor, and a menu that leans towards delish Brit pub grub with plenty of veggie options.  (The restaurant was started 20+ years ago by the late Brit rocker and Ron Stewart/Ronnie Wood cohort  Kim Gardner.)

Make a birthday wish on the vanilla bean wishbone! (Photo courtesy of Milk)

The gang can opt for a candle-topped Apple Crumble or Bread and Butter Custard at Cat and Fiddle but if the birthday boy has more of a sweet tooth and there’s time before the show (Parking around UCB can be challenging.), the celebrants should take the short drive down to the open-’til-late  Milk.   Everyone can indulge in their decadently delicious dessert of choice here, whether it’s a Warm Ooey Gooey Chocolate Sundae made with coconut ice cream and the shop’s signature Ooey Gooey cookies, a specialty cake such as Vanilla Bean Tres Leches or Blue Velvet, or the Coffee Toffee Crunch Shake made with coffee ice cream with toffee crunch and espresso.

Because watching a thoroughly awake dad laugh at parental jokes on his birthday?   Priceless….

Ready?  U Know U Want 2 Go Go….


U.S. staged premiere of Wagner's "Die Feen" at the Pasadena Playhouse.


Reader Pamela wrote to Ms. Go Go asking for help with a birthday destination involving opera.  Ms. Go Go is sharing her response with all Go Go’ers as part of a new, occasional feature called Go Go Me! (Check out upcoming U Want 2 Go Go posts to learn how Ms. Go Go can help YOU have  more fun.)  

Speaking of fun, congratulations to the winners of the  EAT: Los Angeles contest:  Lisa Dupuy, Margaret Finnegan, and Connie Rohman.   Each will receive an autographed copy of  EAT: Los Angeles, published and edited by Colleen Dunn Bates with the help of her crack team of food journalists.  Thanks, Colleen, and thanks Go Go’ers for the great restaurant suggestions!  (Link to Ms. Go Go’s interview with Colleen is below the jump.)  


And now, GO GO ME! 

Pamela writes:  

“Kim aGoGo: It’s Kevin’s B-Day. What opera is in town and good for novice opera goers? His B-Day is tomorrow, 5/21, anything I can buy tickets for today for future use? How much fun your blog is!”  

Ms. Go Go replies:  

In terms of an actual opera performance on Kevin’s birhday, Pamela, you’re out of luck, unfortunately, and this is why….  

Brilliant (but controversial) German composer Richard Wagner’s mythic (Norse gods, dwarves, mermaids, giants, Valkyries and a Ring of Gold…no relation to Lord of the RingsRing Cycle (Der Ring des Nibelungen) is about to open on May 29th at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with performances through the end of June.   It’s the first time the complete series of four operas is being staged in Los Angeles and as such, is a hugely anticipated event that has spawned its own artistic cottage industry with ongoing lectures, a festival, art events, even a special show at the Griffith Observatory.  (There’s a performance of The Light of the Valkyries tonight, May 21st, wink, wink!)   The LA Opera‘s spectacular show is getting rave advance reviews but with the premiere a week away, it’s wall-to-wall Wagner in Los Angeles.  

However, any opera lover would be THRILLED to have tickets to the Ring Cycle!   Here is the link to All Things Ring! http://www.laoperaring.com/index.php  

Also, as an adjunct to the Ring Cycle, The Lyric Opera of Los Angeles is performing the U.S. staged premiere of The Fairies (Die Feen), Wagner’s first completed opera (written when he was 20!) at the Pasadena Playhouse.  Four performances only starting on June 11th! http://www.lyricoperala.org/  

Thanks for reading U Want 2 Go Go, Pamela!   And “Happy birthday” to Kevin!  

Ready? U Know U Want 2 Go Go!