Each year, the Pittsburgh-based group Morose and Macabre’s House of Oddities gathers artists from across the country to take part in The Atrocity Exhibition, a night noted for its mix of sideshow, cabaret, and bizarre burlesque performances, as well as its Artisan Market that features one-of-a-kind handmade art for those of a darker sensibility. Last May, the event celebrated its fifth anniversary with Commedia Dell’Morte: Carnivale, a 360-degree living art installation showcasing a “monstrous cavalcade of the beautiful and grotesque.” Over the course of the evening, one local filmmaker immortalized the unusual production for his work House of Oddities: The Story of The Atrocity Exhibition.
Brian Cottington of DaggerVision Films captured Commedia Dell’Morte: Carnivale on film as it unfolded on the stage of South Side’s Rex Theater. His footage features exclusive performances by local cabaret virtuoso Phat Man Dee, sideshow drag act Lilith DeVille, Rev. Decay, Andrew The Impaled, Gypsy, and Macabre Noir, as well as burlesque by Penny De La Poison, The Countess Von Tella, and Cherry Von Bomb. Also present is odd instrumentuer Rob Gray, the world’s longest striptease by Lita D’Vargas, and a memorial for Jaded Jade, a veteran Atrocity performer who was lost to leukemia last February.
The feature-length documentary also exposes all the make-up, costuming, and other behind-the-scene workings that go into executing such an event. This includes interviews with Atrocity Exhibition founders Macabre Noir and Dr. Morose, core performers Kabarett Vulgare, and various traveling “dark artists” that contribute to this immersive art collective.
Cottington is in the process of raising funds to help with the promotion and distribution of the film, which is anticipated to release on October 5th at the Hollywood Theater. Donations for House of Oddities are now being accepted at the film’s Kickstarter page.