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Art Break: Halloween in May

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vampwineAre you the kind of person who wishes Halloween came more than once a year? If so, consider your wish granted. For the price of an entry ticket to “You Oughta Be in Fangs,” ThreeWalls’ benefit extravaganza this Friday, May 29, you can be part of an elaborately conceived, fully immersive environment where 1920s-era vampires party the night away at the International Museum of Surgical Science, a four-story lakefront mansion filled with all manner of exotic, flesh-piercing objects.

Over a year in the making, this one-night-only event is written and directed by Death by Design Co., an artistic collaboration-cum-business run by Teena McClelland and Michelle Maynard, who’ve carved out a specialty niche by creating fantasy death scenes for all-too-willing victims. Their clients star in custom-made horror movies by acting out their own (inevitably grisly) deaths for the camera. 

“You Oughta Be in Fangs” is Death By Design’s biggest production yet. Guests will be greeted by a six-foot tall Vampyress. Inside, they can hop into a casket photo booth for a post-mortem snapshot. DJ Coffin Banger gets the dancing going upstairs while Gretchen Holmes and Ross Moreno a.k.a. Sister Wendy and Father Carl offer karaoke and “hymen deconstruction service” (shudder). There will be a magician, a medicine show by Sanjula Vamana, burlesque performers, roving cigarette girls and ThreeWalls staffer Shannon Stratton spinning old 78s in the “Make-out Room.” McClelland and Maynard will also be there in the form of conjoined vampire twins the Whisper Sisters. (Don’t worry if you feel shy about showing up in costume; undead bathroom attendants will be on hand to provide fake fangs, bite-mark tattoos and white makeup to get you in the proper spirit.)

The party’s Roaring Twenties setting adds an historical layer to the blood-sucking theme. “We went back and forth about whether the party should be set in the 1920s or 1930s,” Maynard explains. “There was something about the decadence of the 1920s, right before the stock market crashed, [that resonated with] the decadent world of vampires while offering a little nudge to our economic situation.”

General admission tickets are 50 bucks; $150 will get you VIP status, an extra hour of dedicated performances and delectable treats from Bleeding Heart Bakery (think deviled eggs, coagulated blood shots, tasty vials of gazpacho goo and asparagus and prosciutto fingers). Chodos says they hope to raise $15,000-$20,000 in order to move ThreeWalls towards long-term sustainability, noting that fundraisers like these provide the organization’s “lifeblood.”  If you’re willing to spill a little of your own, you too can join in the fun while supporting one of Chicago’s most innovative spaces for contemporary art. (Claudine Isé)

Friday, May 29th at The International Museum of Surgical Science, 1524 N Lake Shore Drive. Tickets can be purchased online at

One Response to “Art Break: Halloween in May”

  1. The International Museum of Surgical Science : Bad at Sports Says:

    […] this year ThreeWalls held its annual fundraiser at the IMSS, a vampire-themed, interactive production created by Death by Design for which the Museum’s […]

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