BEYOND BOOKS: The 12th Annual Edwardian Ball

Beyond Books is based on the premise that “leading a literary life” is not only about reading and writing and editing and solitude; it’s about complete cultural immersion and exploring the language of every lived experience.

San Francisco freaks and geeks who like to play dress-up and waltz beyond the midnight hour celebrated the macabre cartoon fantasies of Edward Gorey this past weekend at the 12th Annual Edwardian Ball. This year’s spectacular multidisciplinary tribute — featuring music, dance, theater, video, painting, sculpture, fashion, installation art, aerial acrobatics and absinthe-rootbeer cocktails(!!!) — was inspired by the cult author-illustrator’s The Iron Tonic (Or, A Winter Afternoon in Lonely Valley). What follows is a parody of the Gorey text with photos from the show.

The Eternal Balm
(Or, A Winter Night in San Francisco)

The tinies at the Gorey Ball
Danced brightly till they hit the wall.

Those who could not twirl stood upright,
Leather corsets binding most tight.

The lights blacked out and darkness reigned.
Upon her lips, the heathen stained.

The dance floor bounced with bursting busts,
Which cast a shadow on our trust.

A waltzing woman did decry,
“My hair is tall! My bosoms fly!”

Creepy crawling on their backs
Were centipedes and old ear wax.

A mellow voice came from above:
“Hey you, kind sir, is this your glove?”

Whack whack! It smacked across his face,
And thus he plummeted from grace.

His waltzing woman watched him fall
Then threw herself against the wall

Where children with their heads lopped off
Pined like dead butterflies on cloth.

Long rope, blue light, white ruffled skirt,
She left her soulmate in the dirt.

She tied the rope around her neck,
Asked her best friend to pay the check.

She climbed up high and bound the knot,
Her headless body soon to rot.

A noxious cloud then smeared the room
With absinthe-laced nightmare perfume.

See for yourself.

Check out the original Gorey story set to music by Schumann.

— Jesús Ángel García is a writer, musician, filmmaker, singer, dancer, whiskey drinker, sushi chef and discreet lover who will not post stories about you with jpegs of your cream on his face if you sleep with him. Some of his work may be found here.

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