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Hazel Park

Z-Show returns to Phoenix Café with even more variety

April 18 show has art, music, dancers, fire performers and more

April 16, 2014

» click to enlarge «
Phoenix Café co-owner Steven Gamburd and gallery director Brian Lewandowski hold up some works-in-progress that will among more than 50 pieces on display at the upcoming Z-Show.

HAZEL PARK — Where else can you dress up as a zombie and see fire performers, burlesque dancers, chilling artwork and a variety of bands in undead getup?

The Phoenix Café hopes to answer that question and fill that niche with the fantastical Zombie Art and Variety Show, or Z-Show, for short.

The café, located at 24918 John R, on the east side of John R just south of 10 Mile, will hold the Z-Show on Friday, April 18.

Now in its second year, the Z-Show will open its door for the art reception at 7 p.m., featuring more than 50 pieces on display, hung from chains in the gallery space.

Then at 8 p.m., the live music starts with five local and regional bands delivering appropriately undead music, sometimes in costume and/or with special effects, making for a memorable experience. The show runs until at least 1 a.m.  There is an $8 cover charge. Food and refreshments (coffee, tea, water and soda) are available for a donation. No alcohol is allowed inside, and parental discretion is advised due to the potentially graphic nature of the content.

“Last year’s show was the first where we really had a variety of stuff here at the Phoenix, so this year, we’ve added even more, with the fire performer and the dancers,” said Brian Lewandowski, the gallery director. “Everyone seems excited about doing their act in the zombie theme.”

Among the artists are “Intrinsic” Joe Sawyer and Liz “Octopiarts” Teifer, returning from last year, and newcomers Sergio Mazzotta, Hal Loo, Stephen Czapiewski, Crystal Mielcarek, Shadia “The Artist” Zayed and Candi Randazzo-Boik, among others.

Lewandowski himself will have art in the gallery, under his “Weirdartist” moniker, and gallery co-owner Steven Gamburd will also contribute art.

For the live entertainment, Mickey Mandrake will serve as master of ceremonies, delivering standup comedy between introducing the different acts.

The opening act is The Free Life, “a folk/punk/indie band,” Gamburd said, “very upbeat and charismatic, with fun lyrics and a song about monsters.”

The second act is Zombie Jesus and the Chocolate Sunshine Band.

“I’d describe them as sort of a melodic psychedelic Americana,” Gamburd said.

They’re followed by the indie art rock band, Richard Zombie, which Gamburd said has a flair for the theatrics. They’re better known by their normal name, Richard Gumby, but they tweaked their act for the Z-Show.

Richard Zombie is followed by the hip-hop act Wood Zombie, “which has some soul and jazz measures, as well,” Gamburd said, “and a lot of funk.”

Rounding out the musical lineup is Freak Ache, described as a percussion-heavy instrumental rock group with two drummers — including one electric — and a keyboardist and bass guitarist. 

“No acoustic,” Gamburd said. “And they will have a film playing footage behind them while they perform. These guys always come dressed up for these shows. I think all of the bands will come in costume.”

Guests are encouraged to do the same, wearing tattered and torn clothing, and covering themselves in fake blood to attend the Z-Show in character. Lewandowski said he has also reached out to all of the Zombie Walk groups in Southeast Michigan.

“Hopefully, we’ll see them out and about in costume,” Lewandowki said. “I know I’ll be dressed up!” 

One new act at this year’s Z-Show is the fire performer, Kady Bug. She juggles flaming objects and whirls a hoop with torches spraying fire.

“We’ve actually had a couple of fire performers at the Phoenix this year, and no one has gone up in flames so far,” Lewandowski said with a laugh. “We’re confident it will be a safe and fun show.”

And then there are the dance numbers: Stella Rothe Wilfinger will engage in a dark interpretive dance, set to a moody soundtrack, while Magenta DeMure will present a burlesque dance with a horror twist.  Local actress and alternative model Kimberly Sinical will close out the evening with a dance that promises to be both provocative and possibly gory. Lewandowski said her past performances at the Phoenix received standing ovations.

There will also be a backdrop painted by one of the artists, where people can get their picture taken with zombies, and an artisan area with vendors selling handmade art.

“We try to make it a show that has something for everyone,” Lewandowski said. “It’s a chance to see a very eclectic show.”

The Zombie Art and Variety Show, or Z-Show, will take place at the Phoenix Café, 24918 John R, on the east side of John R just south of 10 Mile, from 7 p.m. April 18 to at least 1 a.m. April 19. Music starts at 8 p.m. There is an $8 cover charge. Food and drink is available for a donation. No alcohol is allowed. Parental discretion is advised. For more information, call the Phoenix Café at (248) 667-8817.

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