DarQness descends on Chicago bringing spooky and sexy fun

Thu. October 4, 2012 10:07 AM by Anthony Morgano

janitor by day... evil menace by night

photo credit // danpaternophotography.com

DarQness, a benefit for Heartland Health Outreach, is Sat., Oct. 13

Chicago, IL - The 2012 Halloween season in gay Chicago kicks off Saturday, October 13, with "DarQness," a spooky and sexy benefit that producers Keith Elliot, the creator of Dance for Life and Chicago Takes Off, Dan Paterno and Brandon Vejesli describe as "Houdini meets sideshow meets Blair Witch." DarQness is a one-night-only "macab-erotic" event that promises attendees a unique and unforgettable evening of eerie theatrical sensations with a sexy twist.

"It's not a Halloween party," Paterno told ChicagoPride.com. "It's an eerie, stylish, sexy event to help kick-off the season -- it'll certainly get you in the mood."

Dan Paterno and Keith Elliot first met in 1997 while working on "Who's That Girl," a female impersonation show benefiting Howard Brown Health Center. They continued working together as Paterno co-chaired Chicago Takes Off, the burlesque-style fundraiser that Elliot created to benefit the Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN). The two were searching for an event that was off the beaten path from their other fundraising endeavors, and after attending a "haunted attraction" trade show two years ago, the idea for DarQness was born. They quickly hooked up with Brandon Vejelsi, who had previously donated his video services to Chicago Takes Off, and together the three created what their website calls "a fiendishly fun and sinfully sexy evening of diabolical debauchery."

"Ours is not a haunted house that is meant to make you scream but more of a seductive haunted tour and performance that will make you think and react without screaming," Elliot said. "Seductive in the sense that it will pull you away from your daily life and into the world of sideshow performances and unnatural curiosities. We are looking forward to putting this type of underground performance art into perspective so everyone walks away realizing that this too can be alluring and entertaining with nothing to fear."

The main show, which starts at 10 p.m., is a sort of bizarre macabre variety show that utilizes the aforementioned unnatural curiosities. It combines elements like burlesque, singing and magic with those of sideshow carny acts, like the bed of nails and eating glass. Among the evening's varied "underworld headliners" are suspensionist and burlesque artist Maya Sinstress; Red Rum, an eerily sexy performance artist; and Sanjula Vamana, a contemporary sideshow performer, self-described as "The Sultan of Suffering," with a penchant for body piercings.

The evening will culminate in what the producers describe as "the world's largest group seance" revolving around the unspeakably vile acts of the late J. George Haigh. A haunting video posted at the event's website invites those who dare to journey into this man's lair next Saturday and learn his chilling story, which Elliot promises will make the hair on your neck stand straight up. He also warns that Haigh might make an appearance, as his spirit has been known to during October, the month of his untimely death.

"This culmination of eerie and sexy is sure to be Chicago's new favorite Fall-time benefit event!" Vejseli explained. "We're a really unique group of guys bringing our own special talents together — for a good cause!"

Proceeds from DarQness will benefit Heartland Health Outreach -- Vital Bridges Center on Chronic Care Food Pantry, who also request that all event attendees bring a personal care item with them to add to the donation bin. DarQness is being held at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N Dearborn, and is described by Elliot as a "mix and mingle" type fundraiser event with two tiers of tickets available.

General level tickets for $25 grant buyers access to the show starting at 10 p.m., but $50 buys a special VIP ticket. VIP ticket holders will arrive at the event at 8 p.m. for a special haunted walking tour that sets the tone for the evening and is followed by a wine and champagne reception before the evening's performance.

According to the organizers, only 200 tickets will be sold for the entire evening -- you can buy yours, see the chilling video about J. George Haigh and learn more about DarQness by visiting www.darqness.org.