The bodies pile up in Brookline
Feast of Flesh is slowly lurking its way to Coolidge Corner for the 12th time, combining horror, burlesque, rock ‘n’ roll, zombie costumes, gallons of fake blood—and that’s before the screening of Re-Animator. DigBoston sat down with Black Cat Burlesque cofounders J. Cannibal and Mary Widow (Boston’s King and Queen of Horror Burlesque) to get the low down on what to expect, what to wear, and how to make it out alive.
What is Feast of Flesh for the uninitiated?
J. Cannibal: I started Feast of Flesh because there wasn’t anything like it in Boston. It’s part burlesque show, part costume contest, part rock concert, part midnight movie--the kind of event I always dreamed of attending. Apparently I wasn’t the only one: Each year it draws over 350 people. It’s a spectacle, a celebration, and a midnight bacchanalia rolled into one.
It’s a Zombie-Burlesque-Midnight Movie-Rock-N-Roll Extravaganza! There’s nothing else like it.
What makes horror and burlesque such natural bedfellows (or casketfellows)?
JC: There are elements of camp, tease, and collective hysteria that tie the two together, but what it really comes down to is their foundations in the male gaze.
MW: It’s not just about the male gaze. We don’t make our acts to appeal strictly to men. In fact, you’ll notice that the women in our acts are never the victim for very long without turning it upside down in some way. It’s important to us that the women in our acts are just as powerful—if not more powerful—than the men.
Horror and burlesque are natural bedfellows because sex and death are bedfellows. They are the two most powerful, terrifying, driving forces in our world.
What’s the secret to FoF’s Michael Myers-like longevity? Did you ever expect to make it to 12?
JC: I never even expected to make it to two, but the virgins we’ve sacrificed backstage at the start of show each year have ensured us success lasting beyond our darkest dreams.
Have there been any costumes, performances, films, or crowd interactions that particularly stand out?
MW: Zombie Elvis is probably my favorite costume, or Zombie Steve Irwin, like, a day after he actually died. The guy who won the first year was covered in blood from head to toe, in a Speedo, with Bernie from Weekend at Bernie’s.
JC: You never forget your first time … an hour before doors, the 200-seat theater [we booked] was already sold out and there were still about another 200 people lined up. The Coolidge worked some miracles and helped us switch to the 400-seat theater at the last minute. I remember feeling like something important was happening.
Re-Animator is such a perfect choice that it’s almost surprising you haven’t done it before.
Yeah, you can’t really go wrong with H.P. Lovecraft, a decapitated head, and oral sex.
If you were stranded on a rooftop surrounded by a sea of zombies with no way off, and you could bring only one horror movie and props for only one burlesque act, what would they be?
JC: I feel like I could make a pretty great horror-movie-burlesque-act in that situation … and with adrenaline pumping I bet I could decapitate a number of zombies with the tripod.
MW: Well, since J. Cannibal and I are impervious to zombie attacks, we’d just all chill out. I’d perform my Jareth act, and then we’d all settle down with popcorn and brains and watch Wild Zero.
J. CANNIBAL’S FEAST OF FLESH XII PRESENTS:
COOLIDGE CORNER THEATRE
290 HARVARD ST.,
MIDNIGHT/18+/$10 ADV., $12 DOS