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The devil steps out: “Josh” having fun at the Corpse Cabaret.

PHOTO: Leif Zurmuhlen

Dance of the Undead

Almost every nightspot around offered a Halloween party last weekend, but Ballinger’s, located in the historic Ogden’s building in downtown Albany, had more to offer than most Saturday night (Oct. 27): With three floors of romping room and a décor that can be described as a mix of High Victorian salon and louche hookah parlor, it had a built-in advantage. By the stroke of midnight, the club was comfortably crowded; the first floor bar was two-deep, the cellar was stocked with dancers, and the plushly upholstered lounge areas of the second floor were filled with schmoozing clots of partiers. Almost everyone was in costume, and of a quality that made garb-gazing one of the evening’s most enjoyable activities.

Seated with friends on settees and couches, Josh was a Devil’s Advocate-style devil, his face mask sculpted in latex and foam with evil expression lines and horned protuberances painted a hellish red. Surprisingly, it was his first attempt at making a mask. He bought materials at the Costumer and free-styled his creation, he says. “I wanted to be a devil, and I thought it would look cool to wear a suit.” He made a pact for the evening with Ballinger’s, he says, because he wanted to go somewhere “low key but fun,” adding, “I’ve never been here before, it’s awesome.”

Corpse Cabaret, as the party was dubbed, also featured performance models and an art exhibit that included works by Nina Tucciarelli (one of the zombie vamp models), Daniel Wilder, musicians Dan Neet and Kevin McKrell (the party was organized by Kate Neet and Katie McKrell), and Rebecca Lefevre. Dressed in an Elizabethan gown cut-off at the knee, a black wig with chopped bangs, and a bone-white plaster mask, Lefevre was one of the party’s eeriest creations. “I’m a spooky doll,” she says of her character. “Like a doll you would find in an abandoned house in a horror movie, with a cracked face, and one eye broken.” Lefevre was even more chilling than the legion of zombie vampires who let loose occasional screams and draped themselves in death throes over the balustrades.

If there had been a prize for cinematic elegance, Kate Dorwaldt, a hairstylist from Albany, would’ve taken the cake for her Marie Antoinette. Dorwaldt’s inspiration didn’t come from the recent movie of the same name, however, but from a dress she bought at Special FX several years ago for a punk-rock prom. She changed its era by adding hoops and ribbons, and she remodeled a wig into a towering pink confection. Her boyfriend was at her side in a musketeer shirt and cape. “He’s my serving boy,” Dorwaldt joked.

Another tower of hair seen bobbing through the crowd was the blue stack atop Marge Simpson, aka Hilary Goldman. Goldman made the wig from poster board, cotton balls, and spray paint, she says, and hand-sewed the dress. Her boyfriend, whose skin was a matching shade of cartoon yellow, was playing Homer on the dance floor. “We went over a list of couples’ costumes,” she says of their choice of disguise. And why did they decide on Ballinger’s for a hallowed night out? “We’re regulars here,” she enthuses. “We’re having a great time.”

—Ann Morrow

30 Days of Reich

As a big fan of comic illustrator Ben Templesmith, I was excited to see his aesthetic come alive in the big-screen adaptation of 30 Days of Night. I was looking forward to seeing the Oct. 18 sneak preview at Regal Mega-ginormous-plex Crossgates with my boyfriend Dave and fellow Metroland staffer David King, both comic buffs. I would love to say what I thought of the film, but the moviegoing experience turned out more horrifying than the movie itself.

We arrived with plenty of time to spare, and, to our surprise, they were letting people in already. By “they” I mean a special unit of uniformed, gun-toting security guards hired specifically for the event—gatekeepers of the escalator. A middle-age redhead in a light blue uniform threw her arm out in a crossing-guard-style halt: “No one will be allowed in the theater with a cell phone that takes pictures.” She repeated it like a mantra. “If you have a phone that takes pictures you must return it to your car or you will not be allowed in the theater.”

So I took my phone back out to the car.

I finally reached the theater door, where each person was security-wanded to electronically ferret out hidden cell phones. Every bag was searched. I overheard a theater manager say, “We need to get more officers up here or these people are going to miss their movie.”

Dave had snagged exceptional seats. Well, except for the fact that the man in front of us, who identified himself as David McBride, was drinking. Despite the intense presence of Cell Phone Security Squad Alpha, the man had smuggled three cans of Schlitz into the theater, wearing only shorts and a Miller Light T-shirt. He was sitting smack in front of us with a Schlitz in each cup holder, being loud, when David King finally made it into the theater and up to our seats.

Maybe we would have let the drinking slide. Maybe the loudness. But when the beer drinker adamantly decreed that David King could not sit with us, because those seats were being held (They were being held. By us. For David.), we were done. We discreetly reported him to a security guard, who escorted him out of the theater after a brief altercation.

We finally settled in, and made it until day 28 (of the 30 days of night) when a pair of officers came in and took away the two guys sitting behind us. We watched about 23 more seconds of movie. Then the lights came on, the movie went off, and we were told to evacuate the theater due to a “technical emergency.”

We seemed to be the only theater being evacuated. No one would explain what was happening, if we should wait it out, if we should go home, if we were in danger. I attempted to hand my Metroland business card to the theater manager, who was standing a few feet from me, but I was physically blocked by three security guards. It was made extremely clear that no one was going talk to me.

A few phone calls the next day revealed the details: Two bomb threats were called into the theater between 7 and 7:30 PM. None-other-than our theater neighbor, David McBride, had been charged for calling in false threats (as well as driving while intoxicated, and disturbing the peace). Curiously, the theater was not evacuated until after 8:30 PM.

I’m still looking forward to seeing the movie. Kind of. I doubt it will be more thrilling than this night of cine-madness.

—Kathryn Lange

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