Inspired by the legendary, ultra-exclusive surrealist party at a Rothschild’s mansion in France in 1972 attended by such influential stars as Audrey Hepburn and Salvador Dali, a new deluxe hardbound graphic novel by author, illustrator, and performance artist Cynthia von Buhler (Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini) is set to waltz into the marketplace on October 16, just in time for Halloween — and SYFY WIRE has a special invitation inside.
The Illuminati Ball is based on the hit New York City theater experience that revisits that erotic masked gala nearly 50 years ago and explores the myth and mystery of the Illuminati in an environment where guests are involved in esoteric ritual ceremonies featuring "eclectic music, devilish dance and daring performers." This decadent graphic novel from Titan Comics is a gorgeously illustrated iteration of the surreal soiree and perfectly captures the essence of the revelry in 88 provocative pages.
In von Buhler's titillating tale, attendees arrive at a secretive gathering where they find themselves guests of the revolutionary Pig King and his ensemble of fellow gene-spliced hybrids. The Illuminati Ball fuses engaging artwork with a mythic narrative to tell an indelible story about power, cruelty, deceit, and insatiable hunger for freedom.
In addition to making books, von Buhler produces immersive theater in New York via Speakeasy Dollhouse, and as inspiration for this project, her choreographer sent photographs of the Rothschild’s Surrealist Illuminati Ball.
"Audrey Hepburn, one of the attendees, wore a birdcage over her head, and the Baroness de Rothschild wore a stag head mask with diamond tears," she tells SYFY WIRE. "These images made me think about the sadness of animals. I thought about global warming, factory farming, vivisection, hunting, and so many other ways humans hurt animals. I decided to create an immersive play combining a surrealist Eyes Wide Shut-type party with a story about non-human animals."
"We have been holding Illuminati Balls of varying sizes for the past four years," von Buhler adds. "Guests need to apply in order to attend. They take part in a variety of rituals, anthropomorphic escapades, and morality tests. Now with CRISPR technology a new species of animal-human chimeras are being created. It’s like The Island of Doctor Moreau come to life. The science I mention in my book is real. I’m packaging my message in a thrilling, sexual orgy of beauty and excitement. My goal is to raise awareness, entertain, and enlighten."
For The Illuminati Ball OGN, von Buhler staged the play first, allowing the story to morph and be finessed.
"I watched and interacted with my actors, and that helped me when I had to translate them to drawings," she explains. "I believe that this gives more movement and emotion to my drawings, because I remember their expressions and body language. With my last graphic novel, The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini, the book came first. That allowed me to show the actors my vision through my pictures. Immersive theater is a bit of a surreal fever dream. You don’t see everything, because scenes are happening all over an expansive environment."
Check out our exclusive look at Titan Comics' The Illuminati Ball in the gallery below and tell us if you'll invite a copy into your life. Speakeasy Dollhouse will host The Illuminati Ball live theater event on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, in Manhattan during the week of New York Comic Con.