The surreal and macabre, yet ghoulishly playful art of storyteller Edward Gorey will continue to serve as inspiration for the 13th Annual Edwardian Ball and World’s Faire starting January 18.
The two-day festival sees guests come together to celebrate a blend of all things vintage, steampunk, gothic, circus, saloon, victorian and, above all else, the works of the late Edward Gorey himself—a stark contrast from the hub of technological innovation in which it is held.
This year’s attractions guarantee to captivate guests in even more deep and wonderful ways, said founder and organizer Justin Katz.
“One of the delights of last year’s event was adding an entire additional floor to the event at the Regency Center,” said Katz. “We turned it into the Museum of Wonders and brought a lot of art and installations and experiential attractions. This year, now that we understand our canvas, we’re going to be filling that in new ways, creating more zones for your self guided tour to get lost in and wander.”
The theme for 2013 is Gorey’s “The Doubtful Guest.”
“This year’s story is colorful, playful, silly, engaging and people will really have fun with it,” said Katz. “It’s one of his more well known pieces and it’s relatively straightforward, simply and mischievous. Last year was really fun and challenging, but abstract and obscure. This year I wanted to bring it back to a fun and playful narrative. I think a lot of people can get into the character and the story and flow along.”
While the performance artists, musicians and vendors are typically local, fellow organizer Mike Gaines says that guests arrive from around the world.
“We’re notorious for having all spots filled,” said Gaines, “We’re gluttons for punishment. If we’re excited about it and we want to showcase it, we’re going to. That’s why every nook and cranny is occupied. There’s a plethora of worlds created both by our intention and simple by the guests themselves.”
“We’re reminded to get on it when we have someone from Australia purchasing their tickets eight months in advance,” added Katz.
This year’s lineup includes the likes of Delachaux, a musician who blends bass, crousel and vintage samples; DJ Miz Margo, everything from cabaret and indie pop to electro and deathrock; the radical stimulation of the Flynn Creek Circus Co.; host Rosin Craven and co-host Vau de Vire Society; and craftsmen providing for all your Edwardian needs.
What began 13 years ago as a handful of Edward Gorey fans at a martini happy hour, evolved into hundreds of enthusiasts crammed into the Cat Club—complete with suspended performers dangling from 11-foot ceilings, in 2005; and finally evolving into today’s events San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Gaines credits the guests for the event’s evolutions over the last decade.
“The patrons have taken this event onto themselves, they take ownership of it,” said Gaines. “It was originally focused on Edwardian costuming with more of a Gorey focus, but then we jump over to the Great American music hall and we introduced steam power, which I think was one of the instigators of this massive steampunk movement in our city.
“It’s such a free spirited, safe place to express the artist in you. It crosses so many genres. That’s what I dig about San Francisco in and of itself, it’s so accepting and cross pollinating,” said Gaines.
“There’s never been any rules or critique of how to dress, but I think there’s still an underlying theme,” added Katz. “Some people come with a real attachment to Edward Gorey and some have no idea who he is. They’ll try something one year, then, the next year, they outdo themselves and that process of continually outdoing themselves, in a personal way, not in a competitive way, is what keeps the costumes blowing us away.”
The 13th Annual Edwardian Ball and Faire is January 18 and January 19 at the Regency Ballroom. Tickets are $45 to $85. The Edwardian Ball is also held in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 23 at The Fonda Theatre. Tickets are $40 general admission and $85 VIP.