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Sunday, May 4, 2014

The weird and wonderful Hauntopolis launch in Oshawa

So last night, I ended up in Oshawa to visit my friend Paul Koidis who put on a concert by Canadian guitar legend Liona Boyd.

Paul is an Associate Dean at the University of Ontario, and an extraordinary impresario (it's too Euro-pretentious to call him an "impresario extraordinaire").

The concert was a great success from what I understand, with a full house of Ms Boyd's elderly fans having got a show that left them thoroughly satisfied.

I have to say "from what I understand," since I showed up quite late in the performance and came to attend the after party. Rather than walk into the show of Liona Boyd's contemporary compositions for the last few minutes, I decided to grab a couple of drinks at the bar across the street from Oshawa's Regent Theatre.

From the outside, The Atria looks like your run-of-the-mill small town bar, but what was going on inside was anything but ordinary. Standing at the doorway, a cute, trashy-looking (in a good way) frazzled-haired blond said I had to go to the "fantastic party upstairs" in the bar's Diezel Room. Since I almost always do what I'm told by cute, trashy-looking blond women, there didn't seem to be much alternative but to check things out.

The scene that greeted us in the Diezel Room wasn't at all what I expected. It was way, way better than I could have ever hoped for.

The room had different sections, all filled with smoke from a fog machine and black lights casting an eerie pallor that gave people's teeth an odd bluish hue. In the corner of one section was a grotesque skeletal figure in a tattered dress, moving back-and-forth in a rocking chair while nursing a baby. A few feet away from her stood a hideous zombie with a ruptured, bloody face from which a snake was emerging.

In the next room, pulsating industrial techno-pop was blasting away, performed by a metallically-clad man with the head of a squid playing a portable synthesizer and a lithe, sultry-voiced nymph with a death's head mask.

I had stumbled into the launch party for the 'Scare Culture' magazine Hauntopolis and it was indeed absolutely fantastic.

According to Chris, one of the masterminds behind Hauntopolis, his magazine is something different than the passive horror experience reflected in magazines like Fangoria. The 'Scare Culture' that Hauntopolis represents is less like sitting back and watching a scary movie and more like being in the middle of a house of horrors, with the monsters reaching out to grab, and maybe sometimes bite you.

There was a lot of biting going on at the Hauntopolis launch with unnervingly realistic-looking marshmallow brain cakes and other edible body parts being gobbled up from the buffet table.

I had heard that Oshawa has a booming alternative music scene but nothing prepared me for the show put on by Squid Lid in the Diezel Room. Going to see Liona Boyd and ending up with a drawn-out, sexy version of The Beatles' I Want You (She's So Heavy) sung by a sensual specter in a bikini top was an unforeseen marvel that helped make the whole night really wonderful.

Hauntopolis magazine is going to be available soon and remarkably, it's Oshawa-based, so Canadians can be proud that this type of innovation is occurring in their country in some unanticipated places.

You can find out more about the magazine from their website at Hauntopolis.com.

And I did finally make it back across the street for the tail-end of the Liona Boyd after-party. It was quite pleasant, but as I'm sure you've guessed, considerably more sedate.


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