Photography by Greg Autry
copyright 2014 Greg Autry ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Imported from far away exotic, San Francisco, The Edwardian Ball is now in its Fifth year in Los Angeles. As the new year begins, buzz begins to build around Parties and Balls such as the Golden Globes and Oscar's. You can watch those on TV and see the myriad of couture dresses and movie-stars. For those who need to express their creativity in a more personal manner, we have a myriad of Masquerade and Costume Balls which begin anew each year.
The First of the Year, The Edwardian Ball comes to LA from San Francisco, where it has held court for 14 years. I spoke with the two Producers, also performers, Justin Katz [Rosin Coven] and Mike Gaines [Vau de Vire Society] who told me that the Edwardian Ball started as Club Event in San Francisco, and has grown to a epic two day event each year in San Francisco, and one day in Los Angeles, with hundreds involved in the Production.
There is period music, dance and theatre. And More ! Almost as soon as the doors open there were acts and performers on stage. The performances continued all through the evening, until the lights flashed in the wee morning hours, to tell everyone to "go home".
This year the Edwardian Ball returned this year to the old Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, on Hollywood Boulevard. Formerly known as The Music Box, it a gracious and old theatre beautifully restored and maintained, that holds many Events during the year. I particularly loved the old Balcony, and the rooftop where all the Vendors held court.
Drinks flowed freely and Absinthe seemed to be the drink of choice for the evening. There was never any hint of rowdiness as the crowd seemed exalted in the free flow of creativity, music, and the performers on stage. Music was in kept in perpetual motion by Shakti Bliss and Delachaux throughout the night, whether in the Grand Ballroom, or up on the rooftop.
The performers of 'Circus Art' certainly garnered attention. Whether twirling through the air wrapped in ropes and fabric, Elliot Gittelsohn contorting his body in ways I still cannot comprehend,
or Raphaele Daubois seductively undulating with what looked like a million hula-hoops, there was never NEVER a dull minute.
The Ball is definitely a celebration of all things turn of the century. Dark Garden put on a fantasy Fashion Show within a skit titled `A Weekend at the Manor'. Written by Elizabeth Myrddin and M. Bat.
Performed as only it could be by the Dark Garden coven of ladies and gents, It was delightfully naughty and fun. Dark Garden Corsetry and Edwardian Costumes were designed for the show by Kalico Delafey. I spoke to Autumn Adamme, the Owner of Dark Garden, who was a wealth of information about the Ball, and the nights theme story, `The Curious Sofa. It was Autumn who confided to me with a little giggle, that the Edward Gorey book 'The Curious Sofa' , was based on the book of erotica, `The Story of `O'.
The Victorian Era is the late 1800's and the Edwardian Period is the early 1900's. The Ball is structured to really represent the Edwardian period. With no less creativity or freedom for self expression than any other Balls the costumes of the patrons and attendees were just amazing. Steampunk was a big winner in total numbers. And yes there were costumes more intricate and some less. No one is turned away because of their costume.
A lot of the party-goers say that they started modestly and add creative touches and flourishes of detail each year. I love love love taking pics of all the folks attending the Party. Whether catching them in candid snaps, or letting them "pose", each in their own way each. There is a real sense of community among the party goers. And I think it's all about the freedom to create and to be individualistic in the expression of "Self".
So I'm taking pics and talking to people all night. Photographing performers on stage, and folks in the crowd. Then Midnight rolls around and we're just getting started. Edward Gorey wrote The Curious Sofa in 1961, under the Pen name Ogdred Weary, as it was highly promoted as a work of Pornography. The Book, and the story of The Curious Sofa, is the Edwardian Balls main theme of the night. And it will be performed on stage in all is Pornographic Wicked Debauchery [let the laughing commence].
In fact, The Curious Sofa is a Ribald Tale of the somewhat erotic, and was in fact written as a Satire of `The Story of `O', as Autumn Adamme had told me. Performed tonight by Rosin Covin and Vau de Vire Society, By today's standards the story is fun, somewhat suggestive and oh so naughty. Hardly Pornographic ! The book is full with illustrations and I was delighted to see the Stage performance at the Edwardian Ball recreate, and incorporate, these illustrations with the stage performance.
Other performers I would be remiss in not mentioning are; Emcee Vegas, The Bell Hop, Diva Mari86sa. The Klown, Shovelman, The John Brothers, Tall Paul, and The German Callers. I'd like to name all of the individual performers in tribute, but space here does not allow. Know that I salute you all.
As amazing as the Ball was, the Producer's told me that the LA version is really the `Cliff note' version of the San Francisco Event. I hope you enjoy the images I captured as much as I enjoyed taking them. Perhaps next year The Edwardian Ball in LA will expand to two days! I'll be going to both San Fran, and LA .