I was 17 years old when I saw my first dissected body at a chiropractic school of medicine just outside of Chicago. Since then, I’ve seen thousands more, some more disturbing than others. There have been disembodied body parts floating in jars; whole bodies splayed open, covered in shellac and nailed to wooden platforms; even corrosion casts uncovering the tiniest details of the human vascular system. Each one has provoked a reaction inside me. Each one has deepened my resolve to share the stories of the people who died and the anatomists who cut open and preserved their bodies in earlier centuries.
On Friday, October 18th I’ll be talking about some of the more unsettling specimens I’ve encountered in my research at the Death Salon Cabaret in Los Angeles. The night will be hosted by Lord Whimsy, and will consist of fast-paced talks interspersed with artistic performances focusing on ‘the idea of the rare corpse that will not simply fade into the background of history…the bodies that were not lost to the ground or the pyre but insisted on staying longer and forcing the living to face their mortality.’
Speakers include Paul Koudounaris, author of The Empire of Death and Heavenly Bodies—two books which explore Europe’s catacombs and ossuaries with lavish photographs (see right); Jeff Jorgenson, owner of Elemental Cremation & Burial and advocate for green death practices; Bess Lovejoy, author of Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses; Sarah Troop, host of The Cabinet of Curiosities Podcast; Joy Nash, Los Angeles-based actor; and Christine Colby, managing editor of Penthouse.
So if you find yourself in LA next month—and you aren’t faint of heart—come to the Death Salon Cabaret at the Bootleg Theatre. I promise you won’t be disappointed…though you may be advised not to eat before my presentation!
Rumour has it that even the Grim Reaper will be there for photos… I just hope he’s taller than me.
Click here to book your tickets