Arts & Entertainment
5 min

Hell’s Belles

The delicious horrors of Halloweek

BEAUTY & THE BEAST. One of the many costumed cuties of Church St's Halloweens past. Credit: RJ Martin

We queers staked our claim on Halloween when the first prehistoric drag queen ripped the veil from between the worlds of the living and the dead and refashioned it into a drop-dead gorgeous outfit.

This year the Church-Wellesley Village Business Improvement Area (CWVBIA) will be taking the freaky fun further than ever before with Halloweek, a weeklong celebration culminating in fright night itself. The CWVBIA has teamed up with Tourism Toronto in an attempt to turn Church St on Halloween into an event to rival Pride itself, says CWVBIA’s Larry Peloso.

Although heteros have been gawking at (though no longer egging) homos’ Halloween celebrations for years Tourism Toronto’s marketing efforts are aimed directly at the home team away from home with the slogan “Gay as it Gets.”

Peloso calls this first foray a dress rehearsal for 2009 when Halloween will fall on a Friday. He says he anticipates the crowds that year will far exceed this year’s 15,000 anticipated revellers (for more on the makings of Halloweek turn to page 12).

Show up on Church St any time from Fri, Oct 26 to Wed, Oct 31 and you’ll be guaranteed a frightfully good time, but a bit of planning will help you maximize your Halloween horror and hilarity quotient. In the spooky spirit of the season here are some suggestions, spotlights and shockers.

Howling highs and lurid lows
Best bets for highlow culture

For those who crave an intellectual component to their Halloween activities Buddies will be a hotbed of creepy creativity on Fri, Oct 26. Strange Sisters kicks off the night — and the women-themed theatre festival Hysteria, curated by our fiendishly fetching cover model Moynan King — with selections from a new rock opera, The Amphi-theatre of Homosexuality, by beloved electro-rockers Lesbians on Ecstasy. It is unlikely that there will be a horned Brünnhilde on hand (though it is a popular costume) but heavy doses of unsettling irony and brutal beats are guaranteed (turn to page 35 for more Hysteria).

There is a post-show party in the mainspace but it will compete with gutter culture as two former Queens of Halloween team up in Tallulah’s Cabaret for the truly terrifying Kraft Dinner Theatre Halloween Edition. No one vivisects diva culture as demonically as Donnarama and Miss Conception who will dig into their tortured psyches to splatter the stage with their blood-curdling best. KD Theatre is followed by yet another party, Boo Bitch, with the big costume prize being for “sluttiest.” Expect Donnarama to stick around to win that one with ease ($10; 11:30pm doors).

Saturday night’s alright for frightin
Best bets for a wild weekend

This year Halloween falls on a Wednesday and while showing up at work early Thursday morning with smudges of makeup, smears of chocolate and a bit of hangover is to be expected, the bars of Church St are catering to weekend warriors by throwing their big parties on the Saturday preceding. The official Orange Balls connected to Halloweek happen at Buddies with a frightful full-facility frolic ($7; 10:30pm doors) and the Hell Ball at Fly ($15 before 11pm, $20 after; 10pm doors). If you prefer your balls tucked DJ Blackcat hosts a Hall-O-Queen at Harlem with big prizes for best amateur drag ($10, 10pm doors).

For haute couture horror check out Rue Morgue’s 10th-anniversary Masque of Red Death party. The most outlandish apparel shows up here with detailed drapings that have been in the works since Nov 1 of last year. You will be sneered at if you dare to show up in anything less ($21; 10pm doors).

If kooky and creative is more your mood Foxhole becomes Foxhowl at the Gladstone with artfags and fagettes sewing and stitching stylish yet revealing ensembles at the “sexy singles dance and ghoulish gay mixer” ($7, 10pm doors).

Show me the money
Best bets for costume contests

Got a prize-wining costume and need new shoes? On Oct 31 most bars on Church St will be offering prizes in the $250 range with liquor and beer company swag thrown in for the runners-up. Woody’s manager Dean Odorico, who refers to the festivities as “gay Christmas,” freely admits that he reconnoitres the other bars’ prizes to make sure that winnings at Woody’s are always a little more lucrative, in this case $500. But that also tends to makes the competition more cutthroat. You’ve been warned.

The biggest bucks are to be found out on the street at the Boo Block Party. Organizers are claiming that more than $10,000 in prizes are up for grabs. Church St will be closed to cars from 6pm to 11pm and there will be four-foot-high catwalks ranging up and down the street for contestants to strut their stuff. You must be in costume to mount the runway and strike a pose.

Afraid your costume just doesn’t cut it? Rip it in half and go for the booty bonanza at Zelda’s Cheap Show’s Halloween edition best ass contest.

Spooky sex
Best bets for getting laid

Man cannot live on candy alone. Boys who like to get scared stiff will find it easiest to get laid at the Black Eagle where promoter Joe promises that the “tons of pumpkins” will still leave lots of dark corners for groping and grappling with the ghoul of your dreams. The theme this year is “trick or treat,” emphasis on trick.

Alternatively you can check out the notorious Diamond Rooms at Goodhandy’s. On Oct 31 the pansexual playground celebrates the season with its patented mix of nude wrestling and live porn shoots. Coowner Todd Klinck says he’s not a Halloween fan but relishes the orgiastic aspect of the occasion.

“Costumes are welcome but not required,” says Klinck. “Hey, clothing is not really even required.”

Women planning to be wanton by the witching hour are advised to visit Voglie for Snatch. The Sat, Oct 27’s Halloween party will be packed with the usual luscious, lusty lesbians in full raunchy regalia. The Friday before seduces with the Rocky Horror Picture Show-themed Night at the Frankenfurters where Janets can ditch Brads for Magentas.

Sufficiently Scary
Best bets for screams

Camp and cuteness have begun to dominate Halloween but what about those who truly embrace the darkness? Where are the real scares? The violent visage of a first-time drag queen can temporarily stop your heart but if you want to be reduced to a shaking mass of nerves Wonderland’s Halloween Haunt boasts eight horrific attractions amidst the thrill rides. Massacre Manor and the Slaughter Mill are genuinely unnerving and crawling through the bowels of the Blood Shed, where gutted chickens hang from the rafters and rabid animals scuttle underfoot, will elicit high-pitched screams from even the most stouthearted (see Fearfest.canadaswonderland.com for details).

The multiple masked maniacs at Wonderland are armed with only rubber implements. The real knives come out on the sidewalks of Church St (blood at Baskin-Robbins!) on Sun, Oct 28 when the Out and Out Club challenges the city’s queer sports and recreation groups to a Jack O’Competition. Each team gets an hour to hack their pumpkin into a Jack O’Lantern which will then be judged on scariness, carving technique and “best use of a wart, witch or scary motif.” The gourd bloodbath runs from noon till 5pm with spectators invited to cheer on the carnage.

Raising the undead
Best chance of seeing a ghost

Ghosts of Halloween past will lurk and lurch in the corner of your eye all week but only Woody’s dares to invite them onstage. The bar’s University of Hell Pep Rally (Sat, Oct 27 and 31) will be interrupted temporarily on the eve of Sun, Oct 28 for the Old School Drag Show honouring the deceased divas who haunt our memories. Georgie Girl and Donnarama headline an all-star cast who will resuscitate Judy and Barbra and Liza (who lives on, despite qualifying as artistically dead). Odorico promises the night will be a slice of homo history and entertaining as hell.