From the upcoming album Miss Helen’s Weird West Cabaret. I would mention that this song is definitely a homage of sorts to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
I am still fidgeting with it, but i really want to share it, so here it is.
From the upcoming album Miss Helen’s Weird West Cabaret. I would mention that this song is definitely a homage of sorts to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
I am still fidgeting with it, but i really want to share it, so here it is.
We’ve got a bunch of awesome new artwork by Sarah de Buck including the Saloon, whihc i particularly love. She also included some stuff centered around Miss Helen’s song. I sent her all the songs i have so far. She seemed to rather like that one a lot and thus a bunch of art from it.
Here it is folks. There’s a second video coming that features Lauren actually singing her take.
Featuring Lauren Osborn.
Artwork by Sarah de Buck.
Sophia Suarez is the town herbalist. This puts her practically on par with the Doctor, Doc Svendsen. The town of Lost Hallow does not have a drugstore nor a pharmacy, there is just Sophia’s Herb Shop, which has the cure for most anything that ails you. Anything, that is, that you at least stand a chance of coming out the other side of alive.
There was a feller some years ago who did try to open a pharmacy and he stayed open a little over a year. Fact is, he couldn’t do near the job Sophia does and he specialized in pills and needles. Reglar folk don’t like pills and needles. Sophia’s got herbs and teas. Folks like herbs and tea. And she doesn’t just have stuff for curing your sickness, she’s got herbs for pep, herbs for relaxation, herbs for a cheery disposition, herbs for concentration, herbs for alleviating existential dread, herbs that’ll make music sound like a choir of gawdam angels, herbs that will make you giggle til you spit your drink up all over the table and for the discriminating connoisseur, herbs that will trip your balls off til next tues.
Sophia can mix up the most incredible concoctions to help with the oddest things imaginable. It’s a true talent, although when asked about it she claims she communicates with the plants themselves who tell her how they can be used and mixed with others, and sometimes communes with the Green Man who discusses primal and arcane botanical philosophies with her.
Once every season Sophia goes away for a weekend, so to speak. She’s got a place on the mountain that shes goes to where she grows a lot of what’s in the store, and she consumes a very special little something she grows and mixes herself. You could say that she trips her face off, but looky here, we’re not talking about some thrill seeking young collegian out to drool at the pretty colors. She is deadly serious and personally, i have no doubt she goes to some kind of sub reality and talks directly to the plant spirits.
As to how this all started, pull up a seat.
I don’t know who you are or how much you know or remember, but some years ago, back when Sophia was just a teenager, there was this real popular series of books by Michael Mendelson in which he meets some kind of aboriginal shaman and learns all about all sorts of strange native sorcery and magic and using all kinds of weird drugs to open the mind’s hidden powers…and stuff like that. You kids probably don’t know much about it these days, but they were huge back in the day. That Mendelson fellow made a killin’ and all kinds of spiritual seekers and just plain outright flakes were singin’ his praises there for awhile.
Well little teenage Sophia got ahold of a few of them books. She didn’t have no one to talk about them with ’til she started hangin’ around Fenna O’Kelly a few years later, and certainly no access to anyone who would show her any of them rituals or drugs or nothing, so she did it all by herself. She went out to the mountain and picked all sorts of herbs and stuff and tried to recreate them magic rituals and over the course of a few years from about 17 to 22 just taught herself all this crazy stuff. She became able to pull off some weird shit. She also started actually… well…. peeling down the layers of the onion of reality which eventually got her communicatin’ to the plants and Green Man, but that came a little later.
So Sophia learned to smoke and eat a bunch of strange plants and do a heap of magical kind of stuff. And she decides now that she’s a grown woman, being 22 and all, that she should learn at the feet of the master. So she goes and tracks down ol’ Michael Mendelson himself. Takes her a heck of an effort to travel to him but she finally gets there and announces herself. She thinks maybe he might remember her from the letters she sent him, but seein’ as he never wrote back and gets a whole heap of mail, it wasn’t any great surprise he didn’t know her or expect her.
But he’s got some disciples who hang about, mostly women, and he tells her she’s welcome too and off he takes her to interview her and see where she is spiritually. And by “interview her and see where she is spiritually” i mean off he goes to get her somewhere where he can set about parting her from her clothing. You know, take…. a real personal inventory.
So he’s doing this “interview” as he often does with these doe eyed girls who come flocking round, and from the way she worships him he is all but ripping his clothes off in expectation. She however keeps wanting to discuss minutia about the rituals in the books. He just smiles and nods and says some very vague, platitude kind of stuff as he’s working the buttons off her blouse. Finally, getting a little frustrated at his not answering her questions before he boffs her (she’s okay with the boffing in theory, but she really, really wanted some of these questions answered) she tells him to hang on, she’s gonna show him where her trouble is directly and proceeds to perform one of them reality bending spells which works for a minute, but then falls apart. Then she looks at him to ask what is she messing up that she can’t keep it going.
Except, Mr. Mendelson’s erection has shriveled to a dead shrimp and his mouth is hanging open and he’s got this look of… well somewhere between “wtf” and outright horror. He’s sort of sitting on the floor but crawling away at the same time. And Sophia is real confused. I mean, she knows she fucked up the spell, but how bad could she possibly have fucked it up? She looks around to make sure she didn’t damage or curse anything or summon an elder god or something, but everything seems fine. So she keeps asking him What? What? What did she do? She wants to know what she did wrong. She’s been trying to fix it for months.
He asks her to do it again. She does and this time she even keeps the ball of bent reality going for a couple minutes, a new record for her. But Michael is just white as a ghost. He asks what other stuff she can do and she goes down some of his spells, performing them, and apologizing and explaining to him what she had to do differently since she didn’t have access to the same stuff he did. Afterwards he mumbles through some more vague platitudes but he has real trouble putting words together.
She sticks around a little bit, about a week, enough to figure out this:
Michael Mendelson was more full of shit than the Danbury’s outhouse that time last summer they threw that chili cookoff. He had never met an aboriginal shaman, he had never learned all those spiritual secrets, he had never actually had any spell or ritual produce any result ever. He had written the first book as a college paper, making up the encounter but filling out the ritual details with random stuff he had gotten out of old occultish library books and botanical tombs that showed how to make psychoactive compounds from various plants. He hadn’t expected the book to be sold to a general public much less make a shitload of money, but when it did, he repeated this winning formula for the next two books. By now he was wealthy and gettin’ laid like a king.
Then Sophia came along and actually had enough God given raw talent that she made it work. It helped that the occult books Mendelson had copied turned out to be relatively on the level. And what had kick started Sophia’s talents and abilities was ingesting the herbal brews she had concocted.
Thus Sophia left that flabbergasted douchebag and returned to Lost Hallow where she began a dedicated course of self study. She and Feena O’Kelly worked together a lot in those day, Feena exploring her own esoteric interests which make her such a competent seer. It was about this time that those rumors started up about how the two of them are sleeping together, rumors which pop up every few years, but not only do i not know if this is true or not, i reckon it ain’t anybody’s business but theirs.
Sophia’s psychoactive endeavors finally hit an epiphany when she achieved communication with certain plants. It was the beginning of a whole new world. However, they were very clear to her: if she wanted to develop a relationship, continue communing with them and set down a path that would lead to, among other things, meeting the Green Man, she had to quit with that sorcery crap she had picked up from Mendelson’s books. Non reality is abhorrent to plants. Human consciousness is non real enough and the stink of human consciousness mucking about in sorcery they likened to trying to hold a conversation with a pig who’s rolling in his own feces, masturbating. You know, good luck and all pig, but they ain’t stickin’ around to watch.
It was a no brainer for Sophia.
Thus have them years passed. Sophia has collected herbs from all over the world. Stuff folks claim cannot grow in the climate of Lost Hallow Sophia can grow. Sometimes. She’ll be the first to tell you she’s failed a lot more than causal customers will ever know and there’s things that should never be taken outside of its native region. Wise she has become, and like i said, you got something that ails you physically or maybe mentally or even in some cases spiritually, go by Sophia’s Herb Store. If she can’t cured what ails you, well son… then you got yourself a problem.
Out of the two genres i’m currently subsuming the most, it’s Gothic Western that has me the most excited. I knew about and have listened to Dark Cabaret, but Gothic Western is a new candyland of music i really like, really inspires me, and is basically untapped.
Oh sure, the genre has roots in things i already love, like Tom Waits and some of Johnny Cash’s (especially later) work as well as bits and dollops of things i pick up here and there. But as a whole the genre is until now just outside my radar and the artists currently working it unknown to me and i’ve been playing this in the car more than anything else. The mood is just wonderful and combining this with Dark Cabaret… the possibilities are legion.
I’m almost done with the first song of the Gothic Western Steampunk Cabaret. We’re forgoing overtures this time around. Cabarets do not have overture, they cut right to the chase. So while i putter away, here are 5 tracks from the Western Gothic genre that i particularly enjoy:
I Am Oak
Most character sketches by the wonderful Sarah de Buck, this one the Mistress of Ceremonies for the Cabaret, Miss Hannah herself. Currently i’m toying with the Cabaret having her name in it, (Miss Hannah’s something and something appropriately descriptive Cabaret) but it’s not… quite… coming to me. We’ll see.
I got Miss Hannah’s backstory down while writing that Carnival bit the other day, the jist of which i think you can garner, but i can’t publish the full bit since it’s an entire song in the Cabaret and i’m very intentionally not publishing anything that’s contained in the album online. There’s plenty of other details and more to come.
There’s some talk of doing a map of Lost Hallow, some sketches of Miss Hannah in performance attire, and i might add one more character to Cabaret as possible guest spot. You know, like a The Miller’s Son bit where someone comes out of nowhere and sings a little fun guest song. I don’t know if i’ll be able to fit it in, but since i need a stage hand for the Cabaret and they might as well have some moment to shine as long as they’re technically up there, this would solve that. My current thoughts are either a guest song by the Bartender of Sophia Suarez, who only existed as an off the top of the head concoction of the Notes On Lost Hallow, but who i’m kind of becoming really enamored with and may have a slight crush on.
In any case, here are the latest sketched by Sarah de Buck. You can also check out her deviant art page at http://saraah11.deviantart.com
We’re going to pause a second from the stream of consciousness creative writing spree. I mostly needed to create stories for the 4 (maybe 5) characters who are in the Cabaret and give the setting some life, so i set myself the task of sitting down everyday and writing on the Town of Lost Hallow. I did not post everything i wrote, as the full story of the Sheriff and Miss Hannah is best served in the Cabaret itself, but all this other stuff has served to create a much more real place in my head and set out lots of other details to work with should i need.
There are 4 characters in the Cabaret. It’s possible to throw in a 5th. There’s Miss Hannah, Han-Mi, The Sheriff, and an unnamed other male. I asked Sarah de Buck to go ahead and make some character concept art on this 4th male and i would come up with the character story based on looking at her drawings. Which seems a fun idea.
So she has sent me art. And i present it to you. Cause it’s kind of totally awesome and utterly fun.
Miss Hannah runs the cabaret and acts as the MC. Hannah comes from a theatrical family. Her father and mother used to be on the vaudeville circuit for some years before some troubles convinced them to take their two girls, Hannah and her paternal twin sister Shira, and settle down in the isolated town of Lost Hallow. Apparently a few other members of their troupe decided the same thing as they all moved to Lost Hallow together and on occasion would still all meet and gather in the basement of Hannah’s parents. During these meetings Hannah and her sister would be told to stay upstairs.
Sometimes, far out on the horizon of the desert one can see a travelling carnival moving across the landscape. It is a caravan with banner and flags and long carriages you can just make out if you try. Rumors abound regarding the caravan, but these rumors are only told in whispers. If you want to hear the entire saloon go quiet in a just a few seconds, bring up the carnival.
Most folks say the carnival has never actually come to Lost Hallow, and that’s how it should be kept. Some other folks say that while that’s technically true, the carnival did come to the town that stood on this spot before Lost Hallow. You can ask what that town was and what exactly happened to it, but you’ll find the conversation ended by the time you could spit out the question.
A few folks say the Carnival is attracted to Lost Hallow like a lustful man to a pretty, enticing girl he spies sitting all alone in the park. It cannot forget the town, and though it may move on, it will always come back. Most everyone agrees it cannot ever be invited and it cannot ever be allowed to arrive.
If you’re having this conversation at this point, you are not in the saloon. You’re likely at a fire on the outskirts of the town, or one of the underground leisure rooms in bewteen the gambling basement and the opium basement, a stretch of underground rooms offering certain vice activities which are owned and run by Han-Mi. One would assume you could get to this underground stretch of illicit nightlife through the saloon, but you cannot. Han-Mi can, there is a secret entrance, but it is secret and not open to the public. Instead there are two entrances in the rear stormceller of two of the storefronts. This is where you can engage in narcotics, gambling and to a degree prositution. It is assumed that Han-Mi runs a prostitution ring in addition to the gamlbing and opium den, but you should try telling this to her face. She will give you a piece of her mind on this one, but to sum it up for you, she does not in any way shape or form condone or support prostitution. All girls who choose of their own volition to hang out in the vice cellars and offer their sexual services for money are independent operators and not associated with Han-Mi.
Probably the reason that Han-Mi is assumed to be runnig them, other than the fact that they’re operating in her basements, is that every now and then some sneering knife man comes along and decides that pimping is a pretty good career choice. Han-Mi, whose knife skills are legendary and according to Dawson Calico who has seen them first hand, deservedly so, has been known to gut pimps. And by gut, i mean if you’ve ever seen someone’s stomach sliced from side to side so their guts spill out, you already know what the verb “to gut” means. It ain’t pretty. Lost Hallow does not have pimps and if it does, it is for a very short time.
Han-Mi states she is a dedicated libertarian, and if a girl has an uncoerced desire to pick up a few bucks by offering a service to a willing, uncoerced client, than she is free to do so and it is none of Han-Mi’s business. She will not stop it, she will not condone it, but she will gut herself any self styled pimps who pop up to leech off of it. But hang on you say, what about them girls needing protection from a rowdy client? Oh hell son, if you think getting gutted is bad, just try getting violent with a girl down in any of Han-Mi’s places of business. Just try it. I’d even say try it and then come back here and tell me how it went, only i know damn well you ain’t coming back here.
Anyway, getting back to business, all i’m saying is that there are certain taboo topics where the only place you might get a slight bit more conversation about, is down in the vice cellar. And even then, no one likes to talk about the carnival. But you might hear something along the lines of it needing to be fed in order to be kept away.
There is a line of thought that states that you should pay attention when the carnival starts getting seen on the horizon. Someone will always go. Someone might go missing, someone might decide to leave by their own decision, but someone ALways goes. The carnival gets fed and it leaves for a time. They say most of time someone willingly runs off to join it. Someone whose will is on the weaker side, or who is… susceptible to the siren song it silently sings which maybe only they can hear. Maybe there’s been a time or two where no one has gone willingly and the carnival starts circling ever closer to the town and it’s been necessary to… send someone less willing. A little sacrifice for the common good. Maybe. If this has indeed happened it’s certainly very rare and who knows if the mayor knows about this or not, although it’s kind of hard to see how she’s wouldn’t be in on it. But hey, tough decisions need to be made sometimes for the common interest.
There are however other lines of thought.
Feena O-Kelly, the town tarot reader is not a frequent visitor to the vice cellar. She certainly does not like to gamble. But she loves her some of the wacky tobacky and on occasion is known to indulge in stronger stuff. Usually she gets said stronger stuff from Sophia Suarez’s herbal talents, but every now and again she comes down to the opium den, claiming there are certain specific visionary insights that are best achieved with opium.
When Feena is high as a kite, before she’s had enough opium to render her incapacitated, she is a gawdamn hoot, and a mind blowing one at that. Let her talk long enough and i guarantee you she will say something that will make your brain explode with one of them “Holy fuck” moments. Anyway, she has an interesting thought or two about the carnival.
She says the carnival does have a lustful tie with Lost Hallow, but that it runs both ways. The carnival not only comes sniffing around of its own accord, it gets called, however unwittingly by unsuspecting residents. Sometimes the one who called it will run off to it, sometimes not, and sometimes it is far, far more than a single resident sending out a beacon attracting it. She tells you to think about whether carnival sightings went up or down after Miss Hannah’s Cabaret got started. You in reply will note that carnival sightings went down. She will in turn will give you that subtle little “uh huh” look. If pressed, you might wring out of her that there was a big series of discussions between her, Miss Hannah, Sophia Suarez and the librarian (what IS her name. I swear it’s on the tip of my tongue…) which culminated in the agreement that Miss Hannah running a cabaret in Han-Mi’s saloon was in fact a very, very good idea.
Last thing Feena’ll tell you is that Hannah herself would probably have some extra thoughts on it on account of what happened to Shira… but Hannah isn’t likely to say much outside the cabaret itself, so make sure to get out and check it out next Saturday night.
After that…. Well damn child, shouldn’t you be getting to bed? How long have you been down here? You found out what you wanted. You don’t need no opium, you got stuff to do tomorrow and for heaven’s sake you do not need to throw good money away at the gambling table. And don’t even think about a prostitute. I didn’t bring you down here to get all sleazy and i’m sure you can do just fine on your own for free. You just get goin’ now, and i’ll see you next time.
Carlos Valencia knows a secret however that saloon gossip would find most interesting. However Carlos is a very intelligent man. Intelligent in ways most folks aren’t. He knows why to keep his mouth shut, when to keep his mouth shut, and most importantly how to keep his mouth shut, so it’s unlikely another one is going to find out about some of the things he knows. For instance, he knows that Miss Nelson’s mother is the witch everyone thinks lives on the mountain and who does in fact have a cabin up there for solitude and performing the kind of borderline type arcane spellcraft one might want some privacy for.
He knows this because his own mama was a witch and a member of the same coven that Miss Nelson’s mama Viola was part of. Being the son of a witch and hanging around your mama’s coven as a boy is a great way to learn the enormously helpful art of keeping your mouth shut. Carlos’ mama isn’t around anymore, nor is most of the coven, although he knows Viola is keeping a stern watch for the day they make it back and once again knock at the door of this reality at which point she’ll let them in, close that door, and gratefully give up the task of guarding that rift.
There are a few interesting things Carlos does not know, which would blow his mind if he were to. Such as: Viola never had any daughters. Glenda Nelson is not Viola’s daughter. She IS Viola. She is Gretchen too. All three are the same person caught in a recursive age loop. She is young, she is old, she is middle aged… and she uses very powerful magik to keep some sort of control over the chaotic looping of her lifecycle.
As to her erotic life, while it is true she does not engage in sexual activity when she is Miss Nelson, and frankly couldn’t find any takers when she is Viola, she has a hearty sexual appetite that she indulges in as Gretchen. The reason that no one at the saloon has bedded her in years is because her taste has grown quite refined over the years and honestly, men don’t just cut it no more.
She likes to have sex with gods.
Now, finding an all out god is usually not so easy for mortals on this here plain, even though throughout the continent, most territories do in fact contain a set of twin gods who preside over the territory, or at least think they do. And there’s a bunch of different type spirits running around below them, and that’s just in our dimension, outside of that you can find all manner of weirdness. If bangin’ spiritual entities is your thing, you got plenty of choice, assuming you know how to access and seduce them.
Well i can’t speak to Gretchen’s seducing skills, although according to Dawson Calico they are airtight, but seeing as how she guards a gateway between dimensions, i.e. that old well that’s up there on her mountain property, she definitely has access to some funky places where some funky things live. So Glenda/Gretchen/Viola has her social life as far as she wants it, and while it’s probably best most of Lost Hallow doesn’t know much about it, she is a wonderful and beloved teacher, adored by her students. In fact the only class who ever misbehaved on her got Viola substituting for a few days. They say most of that class spent those school days in cages as the class frogs, hamsters and goldfish and afterwards it has been a long tradition to not get out of line in dear Miss Nelson’s classroom.
Of course you cannot bring back the dead and that’s not what happened with the butcher here. It’s actually a hair more complicated.
The butcher was Bobby Diaz, brother of the Mayor, Carmen. Most folks round here know a bit of his checkered past, but all you need to know right now is that damn fool or not, he was a hell of a gunslinger. Well one day he was drinking his face off in town when who should be right there drinking their face off next to him, other than Salle Awn Mbutu, herself one of the most notorious gunslingers round these parts, although not actually from Lost Hallow. Anyways, she was passing by, came to town, was drinking up a storm and of course within a matter of time the place was not big enough to hold them two egos.
So drunker ‘n that worm at the bottom of a tequila bottle, off they go into the street to have themselves a duel. To their credit, they really, really were great shots, because even though they couldn’t walk a straight line, they managed to shoot each other right on target.
As they lay there dying, folks were running around trying to get help and of course someone went and got the mayor. The mayor wanted to save her brother of course, but Doc Svendsen was out delivering a baby at the Razor’s Edge Ranch. Sophia Suarez, the herbalist, had a bed above her herbal shop she slept in sometimes and fortunately she was there. So they brought Bobby to her and she tried a whole heap of tricks to help him and that Salle woman. After a spell, she told those standing around that she simply could not keep both of them from slipping into death and that honestly, her brother’s best chance was to get a witch.
Now there is a witch who lives on the mountain behind town, but everyone is poop your drawers scared of her and absolutely no one wanted to go there and seek her out. Not to mention it would take an enormous amount of time that Bobby didn’t have. (Or Salle for that matter, but she wasn’t quite at the top of the priority line). So someone ran and got Feena O’Kelly, the town tarot reader, who arrived, assessed the situation and promptly asked what the hell anybody thought a gawdamn tarot card reader could do to help.
The next suggestion was to get the Queen of Crime here in Lost Hallow, Han-Mi, who it is rumored knows a bunch of ancient and arcane oriental black magic. Now Han-Mi and the law don’t see eye to eye all the time, but in she came, and when she heard the bit about how she’s supposed to know said ancient and arcane oriental black magic proceeded to call Dawson Calico a half brained racist numbnut. She did however proceed to outline what might the best plan Bobby was likely to have if we were indeed down to requiring occultish type aid.
Thus did Han-Mi bring everybody to the library in the middle of the night. The librarian is always there and while not particularly pleased to see so many visitors after hours, was courteous enough to let them in, dragging the bodies of Bobby and Salle. They carried them down to the basement where the librarian fetched a few books that were then turned over to Feena and Sophia, who despite having made clear they were utterly unqualified for this type of thing, proceeded to track down a spell and try to perform it.
The issue was that Bobby did not have enough life force to keep him going. However, they decided that although Salle was a lovely girl and truth be told they preferred her company to that of Bobby, Bobby was after all a local and the mayor’s blood to boot, so they would use Salle’s remaining life force to kick start Bobby’s.
Dawson Calico, who was there for the whole thing from the saloon to the library, assured me that the spell, although taking a real long time to cast, was really, really impressive once it got going. He says it got whistles of awe from just about everyone, ‘cept the mayor of course, and Han-Mi who is just not the “whistle of awe” kind. When it was all said and done, the spell did have an effect, just not quite the one they were going for.
Bobby was kicked back to life and Salle croacked deader ‘n a sack of roadkill that’s been ground up into a doorknob and thrown in a casket and buried for a week, but… but they had indeed given Salle’s life essence to Bobby. Hell, they actually put Salle into Bobby.
So best anybody figures is Bobby got put into Salle’s now thoroughly dead body, so she/he was buried with all proper props and Bobby, who now is actually Salle in Bobby’s body, stuck around and became the town butcher. Salle never really got the hang of working Bobby’s body completely, or she’s just stuck in there a little too loosely, cause Bobby just doesn’t move about quite right and talks a bit funny too, but Salle as Bobby is a way more enjoyable drinking partner than ol’ Bobby ever was so all’s well that ends well i guess.