Shannon Talks THE WITCHES’ BALL With Drunken Devil Founder Matt Dorado
As Halloween steadily approaches, you may be wondering what to do to celebrate this wonderful holiday. There are so many fun events in the Los Angeles and Southern California that it can be hard to chose that one special thing, but have no fear, I have found the perfect event; “The Witches’ Ball: Halloween Bacchanal” presented by Drunken Devil. To prepare for this spooky and entertaining evening, I spoke with owner Matt Dorado to find out more about his newest event and learn where the Drunken Devil came from.
Hi Matt! Thanks so much for speaking with me today! To start things off, can you tell us a little bit about how “Drunken Devil” came to be and where you get your inspiration for the type of events that you do?
I grew up always loving Halloween and horror, I was always one of those kids. When I was fourteen I went to Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood, just after it had reopened again in 2006, and afterwards I had nightmares for two week because I had never been to such a larger-scale Halloween event. Then just one day, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, this is what I want to do, I’m not scared, this is exactly what I want to do. I did my first haunted house in high school in my friend’s basement and since then that friend has always been involved in my Halloween events. We made this haunt in her parent’s basement in South Pasadena and scared the neighborhood kids – it was basically a haunted room but it was cute. Then while in college I did a couple haunts in my dorm and then I opened my first public haunted house in Santa Barbara in 2013. After that, I moved back down to LA and at this point decided I wanted to start my own company. I didn’t know what I was doing or how to even start a company but I just did it anyways. Before Drunken Devil, it was originally called “Black Magic Creative Arts” and that didn’t really go anywhere, obviously (laughs). Then one day, I was at my favorite bar, Villains Tavern in downtown Los Angeles, and I was really drunk and I was thinking about new names for my company and “Drunken Devil” just popped into my head and that’s how that started. When a lot of people hear the name “Drunken Devil” they ask if that’s what I am and I’m like yeah, essentially (laughs). The name sort of represents that mysterious spirit, of opening up that last bottle of champagne, and to keep moving and going and dancing.
I did my first haunted house (under “Drunken Devil“) last year, called “The Sinner’s Soiree” in LA and I was just not satisfied with the outcome and was a little bit depressed afterwards because there were a lot of trials that came with that haunted house and I lost a lot of money. After that happened, I kind of fell into the nightlife world of Los Angeles, and I think that’s where “Drunken Devil” really became what it’s supposed to be, these haunted immersive horror parties that are only going to grow as we continue. So that’s kind of the long-winded story of how “Drunken Devil” became what it is now.
Your latest event is “The Witches Ball”, which will be happening the weekend of Halloween. What inspired you to do that theme?
“Drunken Devil” started as this New Orleans 1920’s sort of Devil/Voodoo stuff but I’ve always been interested in the occult and witchcraft as a thematic subject. We moved from 1920’s New Orleans with “The Sinner’s Soiree” to 1970’s disco with our last show “L’Enfer” so I thought, you know what, I really would like to do something that’s based on something more ancient than I’ve done before and I took this as an opportunity to sort of really dig into the culture of ancient Pagan witchcraft and witch culture. I wanted to delve into the mythology surrounding what went on many many many years ago leading up to the Salem Witch Trials. I also have a really deep love for 1960’s/1970’s witch themed films like SUSPIRIA and BLACK SUNDAY. I figured I would just combined the beautiful aesthetics of the films and with the ancient secret gatherings of witches and that’s how “The Witches Ball” came to be.
What is the process like when it comes time for one of your events? Do you do a lot of research on a certain time period or do you kind of already what you are going to be doing in mind?
I have a ton of ideas that I have written down and I have it on a board in my home office. I have at least 15 ideas for different parties, elements of different parties, and what the themes could be, based off of everything I’ve been interested in as I’ve grown as a person and learned about different cultures, practices, themes, performances, and art. There’s no real rhyme or reason to it, it’s just about what I want to explore next and whatever is talking to me or speaking to me as an idea. Of course there’s a lot of research that is done going into them and especially now that we are growing I want there to be more scenic design and more elements of a haunted house as we grow these parties. For instance, “The Witches Ball“, I was doing research for it cause I really wanted to do a witch themed event. I have been really digging deep into the old medieval artwork and reading a lot of texts about witchcraft and what people would do to these “witches” as well as the mythology around who witches were and designing a situation or an atmosphere based off of that. I have people that I”m working with that have been in contact, people that have worked on “L’Enfer“, people that have approached me after “L’Enfer” that want to work with “Drunken Devil” so we are sort of building this show up.
So yeah, there’s a lot of research (laughs). We have all 5 of the events themes planned out for next year, of course subject to me being fickle.
What sets “Drunken Devil” apart from other events in Los Angeles, other than than the horror aspect?
There are a couple of things like us around but the mission of “Drunken Devil” has gone from being a scary experience to now being turned into a sort of “drink with the Devil” and accept your inner vices. I think that the Drunken Devil is different in that it encourages a little bit of mischief making and that sounds terrible but I think the more that people give in to themselves, and accept themselves, they can move into a free space and dance and drink as much as they want and not feel bad about wanting to do that. I grew up Christian, in a really religious household, and I’ve told my family that I’m not doing this to spite them. My family is always so concerned and would ask, “why did you name it ‘Drunken Devil‘” and I’m like, “it’s nothing Satanic.” I mean, I do have really dark themes in some of my things but it’s based out of an interest of what would happen if we were told not to hold back, if we were not told to not accept parts of ourselves. What “Drunken Devil” ultimately is is yes, it has a Halloween vibe, it has the horror, it has the drink and dance till you drop sort of thing, but it really is more of an invitation to open yourself up to whatever you would like to do and be yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that and I think it should be encouraged because more people should feel like they can be themselves and dance like no one cares and drink and let loose for a night. I actually think that’s pretty healthy.
From having experienced your shows in the past, I can say without a doubt that it’s a night to remember. Thank you so much Matt for talking with me today and I cannot wait to experience your latest show, “The Witches Ball!”
“The Witches’ Ball: A Halloween Bacchanal” will be on Sat, Oct. 29 at 9pm. Tickets are $60 and include an open bar, tarot card readings, horror installations, and performances from top Los Angeles talent. Tickets are limited and can be purchased at http://thedrunkendevil.com/events/. Also, make sure to follow Drunken Devil on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thedrunkendevil/?fref=ts, Twitter: https://twitter.com/drunkendevil_ca and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/thedrunkendevil/