In very recent years, the Heights has been home to an opulently stocked oddities shop called The Wilde Collection. Located at 1446 Yale Street, the building’s facade only hints at the wonders that wait to greet visitors inside. It is a visual feast, set to delight anyone with a taste that runs toward the beautiful and macabre, featuring medical oddities, taxidermy, spiritualist talking boards and a wealth of other rare artifacts.
After attending an interesting and entertaining talking-board event held there recently, I found the shop's enigmatic owners are hosting what may be this year’s most ambitious and exciting event of the Halloween season, a unique experience titled “Till Death Do Us Part, Halloween Masquerade 2017.”
Lawyer B. Douglas, who owns The Wilde Collection with longtime friend Tyler Zottarelle, was generous enough to answer a few questions about The Wilde Collection and its ambitious Halloween event. It all started, Douglas explains, with a mutual passion for collecting weird things.
"We were discussing our hobbies, and we started talking about how we both collect the same types of weird things," he says. "Over dinner he was talking about how he collects oddities, antique medical and taxidermy. A lot of our interests seemed to go together, because I collect a lot of the same sorts of items. At the time, we both had separate storage units with our collections, and after a buying excursion up north, we started talking about opening a shop to make these sorts of things available to other people.”
The store’s name came from something else Douglas and Zottarelle discovered they had in common — a passion for two of the 19th century's most flamboyant, influential literary giants. "I always loved Oscar Wilde and Tyler likes Edgar Allan Poe," says Douglas. "That's why it's called The Wilde Collection, and we use a raven in our logo. We wanted the store to look like the type of place that the ghosts of Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allan Poe could meet and talk and enjoy the environment."
With that in mind, it may not come as a huge shock that Douglas and Zottarelle know their way around throwing a Halloween party. Douglas notes that the two have thrown 17 such events, but Saturday's soiree will be their first under the official auspices of The Wilde Collection. Going first-class all the way, they've rented out Rockefeller Hall, one of Houston's most sumptuous events spaces.
"[It's] a beautiful venue, and was perfect for us," he says. "I'd always wanted to do something there, and after looking at other venues, we decided that it would fit the theme perfectly. I'm an interior designer as well, and I don't like it when things look forced. It's such a beautiful building that it will be great for the masquerade ball.”
If "Till Death Do Us Part" sounds more ambitious than most Halloween-themed parties you'll see this year, that's because Douglas says he and Zottarelle think hard about the themes of their parties well in advance. "We want to be sure that we’re not doing something that's been done before.
"We wanted to pique people’s curiosity and offer them something unique," Douglas continues. "We decided on a dark wedding theme, but it was important to me that it wasn't a Halloween wedding, but a haunted wedding…a wedding that never happened. So with the decor we’re not using any orange, any pumpkins, skeletons or anything like that. We wanted to set the mood as if there was a wedding that was supposed to take place a long long time ago, but something tragic happened that prevented this wedding and reception from ever taking place.
This, Douglas continues, is what visitors can expect to see when they walk into Rockefeller Hall Saturday.
“It's going to look like decades or centuries later, we opened up this building and realized that stuff is still there — broke, decaying and dusty," he says. "By opening the doors, we want it to feel like we’re summoning the ghosts of the guests who were supposed to be there originally, who will be our attendees — to come and gather, and finally watch the wedding that should've taken place and never did.
"We wanted to avoid things like disco lights and typical club stuff, and wanted the decor to be aged linens, spiderwebs, dead flowers and leaves. Things like that," Douglas explains. "We’re using a lot of special effects-decor, including projections, which will be very interesting. Two real couples will be getting married that evening too, which is one of the things I'm most excited about.”
That's right. Two real-life couples are actually getting married at the event.
"When we were discussing our theme, we realized the place is so fantastic that a lot of our customers might see this as a perfect place for a dream wedding," says Douglas, "so we decided to make that available for two couples.”
It wouldn't be much of a wedding without music and other entertainments, and Douglas says The Wilde Collection has hired the New York-based musician and songwriter Aurelio Voltaire, who will perform and preside over the evening's costume contest. All of the performances will go along with the evening's theme; actors (some as living statues), belly-dancing vampire brides from Belladonna Dance, and a troupe from the MET (as a dead wedding party) will all enhance the luxuriously macabre atmosphere. The latter, Douglas says, "will be instrumental in telling the story of how the original wedding didn't happen."
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"A string quartet from Two Star Symphony will be playing music for the dance troupe too," he adds. "There are also a few surprises that we’re very excited about.”
For those with darker leanings, “Till Death Do Us Part, Halloween Masquerade 2017” promises to be one of the most interesting events of the year. As tickets are nearly gone, interested parties are urged to visit the event’s website as soon as possible.
"Till Death Do Us Part, Halloween Masquerade 2017" starts at 9 p.m. Saturday, October 28, at Rockefeller Hall, 3620 Washington. General-admission tickets are $75 plus fees; early-bird and reserved balcony seating is sold out. For information or to buy tickets, visit eventbee.com.