Tuesday, January 21, 2014

**Queen of the Night @ The Diamond Horseshoe**

Deep below the bustling streets of New York City's Times Square theater district, in the nether regions of the Paramount Hotel lays a glittering world that pays tribute to the ghosts of theater and showgirls past. In its hey day, the Diamond Horseshoe was the "It" caberat club of the 1930s and 1940s that catered to New York City's fashionable set. The club shuttered its doors in the 1950s and remained dormant for 60 years until NOW. After many months of extensive renovations the Diamond Horseshoe has been revived and transformed into a labyrynth of spectacle that is home to an exciting new show. *Queen of the Night* is brought to you by a powerhouse team of internationally renowned producers and creative directors from the immersive theater, subversive nightlife, and fashion world. The cast of characters include playwright and producer Randy Weiner of the smash hit 'Sleep No More', Tony winner director Christine Jones, Thom Brown costume design, fashion maven Giovanna Batagllia as art director, and Douglas Little set design. The show boldly weaves theater, circus, fetish, and fine dining, while guests are immersed in opulent decor and sensual experiences. The evening is presented as a “dark debutante ball” given by the Marchesa, played by the striking Martha Graham dancer Katherine Crockett, with a supporting cast headed up by the Montreal circus troupe 'Les 7 Doigts de la Main.' Set designer Douglas Little brought me on to work as a scenic artist on his specialty installations at the Diamond Horseshoe. He is my creative soul mate, a very compatible blend of Scorpio glamorous, macabre, sex, magic. Executing his concepts is currently one of my greatest passions. My days were spent covered in beetles, butterfly wings, crystals, shells, glitter, and hot wax. I am deeply grateful for this dream job experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.

When I went on a site visit to the Diamond Horseshoe back in September it was not much more then a dry wall construction sight. I spent my first few weeks working out of a sprawling design lab on Park Ave sourcing materials, making samples, and hitting the pavement. HARD. There I was happily reunited with one of my favorite art partners in crime Jessie Flynn, who spent the last year building out the set for the highly acclaimed show ‘Sleep No More.’ As production got underway, the fabulous corset designer Paloma Soledad took on the role of Douglas’s daily assistant, and Jessie and I were sent over to the Diamond Horseshoe to work on the first of many secret rooms. We spent nearly 3 weeks COVERED in hot wax. 2013 was the year of the HOT. WAX. SITUATION. Just when I thought we might actually die from hot wax poisoning, our boxes containing 15,000 butterflies arrived from Thailand. Let the mandala’s begin!! Jessie and I took turns managing a small team of artisans, while simultaneously executing our own intricate butterfly wing mandala designs. I had fantasies about creating art with these delicate wings in a silent monestary on a mountain top, when in fact we were doing a site specific installation in the middle of high traffic construction site. The process was extremely arduous, but the final outcome is divine :)

2013 held a shocking revelation in that hot wax rivaled my love for sparkles! Nothing has ever rivaled sparkles before... Set design by Douglas Little


 My teammate Jessie Flynn is one of the most talented, hardworking gals that I know. She has a sharp eye, a steady hand, and she is NOT afraid to get dirty.

 The 'power gingers' Douglas and Paloma working through the wee hours, conjuring magic in the Park Ave design lab.

Upon finishing the wall of butterfly wing mandalas, we took a 2 week hiatus while Douglas went on a design job in Korea. I took that time to recover from severe sleep deprivation and a self imposed latte withdrawl. When Douglas got back from Korea, I embarked on another round of specialty installations. This time without the other assistants. My role morphed into the next level of personal assistant, project manager, and art installer. The ability to multitask reached unprecedented levels! My projects included extensive work on three of the secret rooms, embellish a sirens lair laden with thousands of iridescent shells, the Queen's molten wax chamber, adding beetle wings to compliment the butterfly mandala wall treatment, jewel encrusting columns in the main room, styling a dilapidated crystal chandelier installation, and numerous other extravagant details. While managing the different teams of freelancers, I would remind the new people that a big part of creating the magic is the installation must be seamless. Nobody should be able to tell whats underneath it or how you did it.


A Sparkles and Jessie Flynn collaboration on the first butterfly mandala template and team leaders of the installation of the wall treatment. So grateful for our solid comradery and good flow. Thank you Jessie Flynn!

                               Custom bejeweling by Sparkles for column in main ballroom

After the Bergdorf holiday windows went up, my teammate of the last 8 year Sean Slaney joined us at the Diamond Horseshoe to style out multiple specialty installations including the 'Mad Distillery' bar. Sean and I have collaborated on a few wild installations so far this year, including this vintage chandelier falling through the champagne tower.

                              Sparkles heading up custom design beetle treatment for dining table.

Fabulous beetle table assistant Cherish rocked it!!!

With the show scheduled to open on New Years Eve, 12-15 hour days became the norm, often starting with 7am call times. At this point everyone involved was pushing themselves to the max, pouring their entire being into creating this show. The performers rehearsed so intensely. All the designers, directors, and producers were in meetings around the clock. The carp and scenic team hadn't seen daylight in weeks. It was exhilarating to be surrounded by people who are so deeply passionate about what they are doing. It became very clear to me that this line of work is an endurance sport. It takes just about everything you have, so you do it because you love it. As the days went on, everything was becoming increasingly surreal. My ability to concentrate on making very meticulous, detailed art was supremely tested as the performers were running tech, contorting, tumbling, writhing, and hanging from the ceiling, the director periodically yelling “orgy from the top!” being invited to try newly designed pearlescent cocktails at the Mad Distillery bar, or being tied up and whisked off by the performers so they could practice their one on one encounters with me. On  the final day before opening night, the director Christine excitedly pulled me up on stage to test out the audience participation elements. One minute I'm meticulously gluing beetle wings to the wall (40,000 of them!), and the next I am on stage being robed with rubber gloves, goggles, and a mallet... All in a days werk! Such a dream job, so very grateful!! The show is now open in previews getting great press, including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, and more. If you are interested in attending the show, tickets are available on the Diamond Horseshoe's website.

                                                              TADA!!!!!!!! <3 <3 <3
                                       Installation by Sarah Sparkles, Jessie Flynn and crew
             Set Design by Douglas Little for 'Queen of the Night' at the Diamond Horseshoe