The dead walked again at Benders Tavern.
On March 13th, the popular Denver bar sponsored Summer Jackson’s March of the Zombies II, an Indy clothing fashion show. The event was a unique mix of multi-media, including hardcore music, zombie art and literature, and fashion design, worn by some of the most beautiful models to ever shamble the catwalk.
Summer Jackson—model, clothing designer and entrepreneur—envisioned the multi-media horror extravaganza to celebrate her husband Willy’s birthday. (Willy, also a clothing designer, is a zombie enthusiast.)
So why not have a fun event that promotes small local business while celebrating the dark side of the arts, from zombie body painting to cutting-edge fashion, all played to the sound of hardcore bands? The crowd certainly complied, arriving in costume, a wound-to-wound mass of dancing corpses that must have tested the limits of the fire code.
And did I mention the models? Dusted in colors of the grave, decorated with latex burns and blisters, these girls were absolutely gorgeous. One sported a flesh zipper that opened to more flesh beneath; a bit of inspired special effects makeup, courtesy of Denver’s Aaron Spriggs.
There were guy models as well. One wore a long-sleeved shirt that reminded me of Freddy Krueger in the alleyway, telescoping arms extended in the original Nightmare on Elm Street. Another, staggering with the practiced shamble of a Romero zombie, suddenly broke into dance, backed by the DJ/Drummer combo of MF KAAOS.
I was there, of course, selling copies of “Dead Beyond the Fence.” I probably would have been a model if I hadn’t been busy with the book…
The fashions were tense and wonderful, nothing that you’d find in a chain store. And that was point, really. Designs by Summer Jackson LLC, Jackson Ink, Broken, BLK MTL/A.D.D., Whorebath Clothing, Studio Yoshidaand Kimono Dragons are Indy art, with a nod to fantasy and horror. This is genre clothing.
The crowd was completely in sync with the event. One ghostly woman wore a noir zombie outfit, right out of a forties detective movie. Another sported a dangling eye socket. Others wore elaborate voodoo face paint.
March of the Zombies II was the second annual zombie fashion show, and Jackson vows to continue the tradition. Given the enthusiastic audience response, show can only continue to grow.
-Visit Brian Kaufman's blog at Food, Politics and Zombies
"Dread Media" the multi-media horror podcast out of Canada, has listeners all over the world (but primarily in the U.S.). The host, Desmond Reddick, is an award-winning podcaster who read my Brian Kaufman's review of M.O.T.Z. II in episode 134. Most listeners subscribe through iTunes, but you can catch the show from the Dread Media Web site directly.
And Dark Silo Press featured the event as well.
March of the Zombies: Bender’s Tavern
In the movies, zombies have overrun apartment buildings, suburban neighborhoods, malls, and even whole countries. Last Saturday in Denver, they overran the catwalk.
Entrepreneur Summer Jackson organized the first annual “March of the Zombies,” a fashion show that brought Indy clothing designers and local bands together for a night of walking corpses and couture. Jackson describes her clothing line, “Eropersona,” as punk erotica. Also in attendance were Jonathan Applegate’s “Broken.” Willy Jackson’s “Jackson Ink,” BLK MTL/A.D.D. and “Messy Cowgirl.” The clothing was original and outrageous, from tee shirts to punk cocktail dresses.
Jackson told Westword Magazine, “My inspiration came from our love for horror flicks,” but when I talked to her, she admitted that she’d chosen the theme as a favor to her husband, who is a huge zombie fan. The event was held at Bender’s Tavern, a fairly large neighborhood bar in Denver. Bender’s found itself unexpectedly packed to the fire code limit by the event. More patrons waited in a line that stretched for nearly a block outside the bar. “We’re definitely doing this every year,” Jackson promised.
The March of the Zombies turned out to be sheer marketing genius, bringing clothing designers together with zombie fans who share a certain fashion sensibility.
The show opened with “Shitwolf,” a local band that sounded like a cross between Rob Zombie and Buckethead. The band members came dressed as zombies, so they added to the general sense of anarchy. Meanwhile, “Dead Alive,” the classic zombie comedy, played on a huge screen in the back of the bar.
The fashion show came next. I counted six female and three male models. The guys were fun—one shambled, one lumbered and the third had a killer sagging-eye prosthetic. Phil MacLean, one of the makeup artists, was responsible for the latex work. MacLean has been doing zombies for five years. His masterwork was a Halloween depiction of a zombie that he crafted on himself, shirt off, with “exposed ribs” both in front and in back. MacLean said, “It took me five days to get that shit off of me. I had to make my roommate climb in the shower with me and scrub my back. That shit hurt!”
Aaron Spriggs is a new zombie enthusiast who connected with the fashion show through a Craig’s List ad. Spriggs applied some of the women’s makeup. “I think you’re going to like the girls,” he noted. He was so right. March of the Zombies featured the hottest dead girls since Linnea Quigley.
The bar was dark, with just a few strategically positioned lights highlighting the models and their outfits. Each model made their way to the end of the ramp, posed, and then returned, while the other models hurriedly changed outfits backstage. The crowd fascinated me. Some women came dressed to kill. Other guys and gals came dressed as zombies. They all showed their enthusiasm for the clothing and the models, shouting and applauding.
Meanwhile, out in the corridor, comic book artist Stan Yan drew custom “zombicatures,” depicting bar patrons as zombies. Robert Elrod, monster portrait artist, joined Yan for “dueling portraits” of each other.
Afterwards, Summer Jackson introduced the designers. The enthusiastic young man who called himself BLK MTL/A.D.D. shouted, “F*** the corporations! I do one-of-a-kind clothing and I’m FINANCIALLY VIABLE!” The crowd roared. I bought one of his tee shirts.
Next up was “Chainsaw Love Affair,” another hardcore Indy rock band. I had a long drive home ahead of me, so I struggled my way through the pretty dead people and headed out the door, past the waiting line.
As I walked to my car, it occurred to me that we won’t have to wait for the zombie apocalypse. As a cultural symbol, the zombies have already risen. They walk among us. And they’re selling cool stuff.