“Let me tell you about the weirdness on the stage,” said Joseph Daniels.
I was at The Dark Cabaret, a one-night only event for the Holy City, but a regular attraction in its hometown, Columbia. The show came to the Pulp Gallery this past Saturday, and I made sure to get a front row seat in the venue’s black box. Pulp Gallery, located on Upper King, opened earlier this year and has been hosting a flurry of events showcasing all the weirdness it can muster.
Full disclaimer, I’m a massive skeptic. I have a lot of trouble believing in anything that can’t be put into a hypothesis and tested and then retested hundreds of times. And let’s not forget about a relative scientific consensus, because at the end of the day, data is just data. We need intelligent minds analyzing and thinking about that data and communicating it to the public in an effective manner. Where was I? Oh right, The Dark Cabaret.
The show started off with Tiffany Allen, a mesmerist and hypnotist in the gallery’s lobby. Allen gathered us all and proceeded to call on a few male volunteers and take their strength away with her mesmerist powers.
In the black box, I took a front row seat to the next act, mentalist Joey Vasquez, who was different from the other two acts in his transparency. Vasquez maintains no mask of illusion or magic; he narrates the mechanics of what he’s doing throughout the performance. Whether judging handwriting or picking up body language to detect liars Vasquez makes no secret in his work (I was one of the liars. He got me. Good. My date was a much better liar — a bit scary to tell you the truth).
Daniels, the creator and MC of The Dark Cabaret, brought the mystery including a series of ghost stories from his family’s past, mind reading, odes to Charleston resident Edgar Allen Poe, and good ol’ fashioned magic show.
I, unfortunately, spent a lot of my time trying to see through Daniels' tricks or figure out what fantastical stories about his family’s many brushes with paranormal were true. Daniels true mastery is his ability to jump from fact to fiction, real to imaginary, without ever even slightly changing disposition.
For me, PULP gallery is the real star of the show. This wonderful little space is packing its schedule with everything from fashion shows, to illusionist shows like The Dark Cabaret, to movie screenings. Charleston could use a little more weird in its veins and the great people at PULP are succeeding one weekend at a time.