This is a terribly unfair recommendation as there’s no way you can experience — or even watch this — but my blog, my rules.

Chicago-based burlesque performer Red Rum is rather singular in that she marries burlesque with horror. Her acts are often creepy, often unsettling, sometimes bloody, but always enthralling. For example: she once programmed an entire night of performers around TWILIGHT ZONE episodes and it was a twisted blast.

In 2018 I attended the second SATANIC PANIC FESTIVAL, a phantasmagoric horror-centric burlesque gala, wrangled by Red Rum. It took place in Chicago’s School of the Art Institute’s ballroom which is an open two-story space and — as you can see by the photo above — they needed it.

The event was bewildering, all spectacle and darkness and it was spooky and creepy and sexy and it was amazing. The highlight — in more ways than one — was the above. Yes, your eyes do not deceive you: those folks are holding buzzsaws to their metal-ensconced crotches and yes, the sparks flew two stories to the ceiling.

Red Rum only programmed two of these momentous, over-packed events, the first of which I missed — which I regret — but at least I was able to attend this one. I treasure the card pack that was handed to me. It resides on a shelf to the right of me, and I see it every day.

Why am I posting this? Obviously, you have no hope of attending these events as the SATANIC PANIC FEST is no longer.

First and foremost, Red Rum is an amazing performer and she does show up in cities other than Chicago, so keep an eye out for her!

Second, there’s more to enjoying horror than just watching scary movies or TV.

There are so many ways to celebrate confronting the darker sides of humanity than just watching a screen. These events are communal. You intermingle with like-minded individuals and you can simply revel in the experience and know that you are in a safe space where folks want to have fun while acknowledging the terrible potential of human or supernatural or otherworldly behavior.

It’s a way to be thrilled, to be safely scared, to feel like you’re living, and there’s no better way to do so than with others while watching someone living in front of you, writhing and reveling in your reactions. Hopefully you live in an area with folks that provide such an experience and, hell, if no one else is doing it? Do it yourself. Red Rum willed this event into existence. She did it herself. You can too.