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The Black Mass

One of my favorite parts of the Morbid Curiosity reading at the Hypnodrome was to see what the performers chose to wear.  Russell Blackwood sported an exquisite black on black smoking jacket, which imparted a nice sense of decadence to the evening.  Dana Fredsti went with courtesan chic to read about being an exotic dancer.  Jill Tracy was sleek and self-contained in black to convey her sense of loss as she read her ghost story.  Bill Selby chose a Hawaiian shirt covered in little animals to read about being buried in roadkill.  Will McMichael worked a pinstripe suit, which simultaneously added gravitas to a story about making snuff films and underlined the author's metamorphosis to from sideshow geek to university professor.

I bought myself a top at Dark Garden Corsets, because I didn't feel like my usual reading attire of t-shirt, tattoos, and jeans/velvet button-down blouse and silver Docs struck the right tone.  I pulled out a layered skirt I bought years ago at In the Shadow of the Gargoyle on Haight Street.  I don't get many opportunities to wear it these days.  It was surprisingly fun to dress up.  Maybe I ought to do it more often.

My favorite costume that night was Gravity's outfit for reading "The Black Mass."  She chose a tan trench coat, which she kept tightly belted throughout the evening.  She wore a black cloche hat, too.  The juxtaposition of concealment of her body and the abandonment she recorded in her memoir created an air of mystery that completely fascinated me.

Gravity submitted a handful of stories to Morbid Curiosity over the years, but when it came to putting the book together, I selected "The Black Mass" because it came from the first issue.  That issue had been out of print forever, which I wanted to honor.  Also, I love the way that Gravity put herself into a situation without much forethought, then dissected the experience afterward with a self-effacing laser-sharp curiosity.

Here's a shortened version of the story: