Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Study of Dreams.

Ricky Brigante contacted me about sketching what I assumed was a haunted house experience. He and Sarah Elger had produced a warehouse interactive experience called Catharsis which was beautifully designed and a joy to sketch. This production was built around the idea of being a dream world. Sigmund Freud considered dreams as wish fulfillment and this production pushed that concept to the edge.

Tickets for this show sold out within hours of going on sale. Groups are limited to ten guests at a time. The experience was a beta test for a bar concept that the producers are considering. They used the home as a way to work out the kinks of a possible ongoing  interactive experience. Were they able to bring the idea to International Drive, it might very well take off.

I paused at the entrance to the home, afraid to ring the doorbell. Something was off. It was a small unassuming house in Thornton Park. The front windows were all covered with plush red fabric. Ricky met me outside and escorted me through dark corridors to the living room area. This was the heart of the show where much of the action would take place. I set to work immediately. Sarah asked if I could execute a sketch in 5 minutes. I didn't want to abandon what I had already started. Ricky showed me a photo of the scene she was considering. A beautiful nude woman stood in the shower bathed in red light. Bloody hell I thought, I need to figure out how to sketch faster, but I most certainly would be an odd addition to the bathroom. Ricky smiled and said, "I forgot to mention, this is a 21 and up show."

A flat screen TV next to the bar had abstract images in motion. An actor looking at the screen prior to the show suddenly realized that the images were pornographic. Once you could see the images, it couldn't be unseen. Sarah explained that guests were essentially kidnapped from a local park and then transported by van to the site. I had about 20 minutes to work before guests would get to the living room area. Odd cubist painting hung from the ceiling along with translucent gauze fabric. A spinning store rack had black mannequin heads with white strips of paper taped to the foreheads. Guests would take the strip with their name on it to find out what dream wish fulfillment awaited them. Menus also defined the delights that awaited.

A married couple had come to the experience. He wanted to experience the dreams as a way to get rid of his wife's nightmares. She was shy and afraid that others were watching her, even desiring her. She was pulled away and he encouraged her to go alone. That wasn't a great decision. The dream world was built by a doctor who was obsessed with phrenology, the study of skull shapes. The doctor, dressed all in black sat next to me on the couch. He had a drink and his hand shook. He was mumbling to himself that everyone should escape while they still could. The dreams didn't all function as wish fulfillments, sometime there were darker unexpected consequences.

The wife returned while her husband was off in another room. She was transformed, sensual and ravenous for interaction and pleasure. A woman seated next to referred to her as a succubus. She sat on the arm of the couch next to me and asked what my greatest desire was. I was a bit flummoxed. My desire at that moment was strictly to finish the sketch I has started. A man entered the room dressed only in his underwear, holding his crumpled clothes to his chest. He had just come from the bathroom and apparently had taken a shower with the sensual woman inside.

A red glow emanated from the next room. Red icicles dripped light from the ceiling. I could hear the moans of a woman the entire time I sketched. One guest rifled through all the papers looking for clues about what was happening. I couldn't avoid being part of the experience. Guests were curious about what I was doing. My sketch might be a vital clue. I simply explained that I was sketching the dream and kept working.

A semi-nude woman pulled a man down onto the mattresses on the floor to my right. They embraced passionately and kissed, but these moments happened so quickly that I didn't manage to catch them in the sketch. The husband was approached by the doctor who was holding a large drill. He said it was time to wake up, just before drilling into the husband's head in a horrific violent moment. The dreamers just watched in amazement. I imagine this was some barbaric form of lobotomy.

Towards the end of the evening, the disheveled husband was held in a chair by other women and his wife undressed in front of him. In a black garter she teased him and then strangled him. Pleasure always seemed laced with pain in his dreams. I finished my sketch after the guests had been called back to their waking life and responsibilities. I slipped out before the next guests began their dream. My dream had been fulfilled.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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