Archive for the News Category

A special announcement from Dark Follies

Posted in News on August 7, 2018 by joie

Dear performers, friends, and fans of Dark Follies,

Dark Follies began a decade ago with what was meant to be a one-time event. Bringing together a love of street theater and a desire to create a space to showcase the performance talent present in Portland’s goth community, Dark Follies first performed in Monument Square during the 2008 September First Friday Art Walk.  Most of these performers were from Plague, Portland’s beloved and long running goth/industrial dance night held at what was then Asylum, now Aura.

The show went so well that we were asked to do it again and in 2009 Dark Follies began performing street shows on First Fridays from June to September every summer.

A lot has changed over these ten years.  The Art Walk has blossomed into an event that attracts thousands to Portland each month.  Monument Square, once mostly quiet during these First Friday nights, has become filled with artists, musicians, and performers.   Two years ago, due to an installation being presented in Monument Square, our show was moved for one night to Congress Square.  We fell in love with the location and for the past two summers it has been our First Friday home.

This once simple street show has gone places we never expected it to.  We’ve had five stage shows (and another on the way) and appeared at a multitude of music and art festivals around New England.  In 2010 we added a full band to our lineup and it has become an integral part of our show.  We have worked with numerous talented performers that have helped Dark Follies be a true variety show.  We also like to think that we have helped to show that those subjects and aesthetics that some consider to be dark, are not as scary as they might seem.

Dark Follies’ focus has also changed, or perhaps in some ways has gone back to its roots.  We were created to help give a platform to performers who did not have a place to share their talents.  During this past year we brought back our Parlor Show, a performance format that is immersive for the audience and gives our performers an opportunity to share innovative works more suited to a smaller setting.  We have begun to create performance art more suited to the stage than the street.  We are in the process of recording an album of music from these shows; music which simply can’t be shared in a street show format.

It’s been an amazing ten years, and so it is with very mixed feelings that we are announcing that September 7, 2018 will be Dark Follies final regular First Friday Art Walk performance.

There are numerous reasons for reaching the decision to stop doing our regular street shows.  As noted above our focus has changed greatly over the past few years, and we find are unable to share many of our new works in the street format.  We are being booked more often for weekend events and in the future, we are simply less likely to be available for First Fridays.   There is also the issue of time and cost for our performers who often drive an hour or more to be a part of our street shows.

We have loved our time performing at First Fridays and we will always remember it fondly as it is where we began.  Thank you to everyone who has been a part of Dark Follies’ street shows – the performers and musicians; the organizations that have supported us – Creative Portland, the City of Portland, and Friends of Congress Square;  and most of all the wonderful audience who has turned out time and again in all kinds of weather to show us their love and support.

We are not going far.  We will still be performing around Portland, Maine, New England, and beyond in new and different venues.  And yes, we may from time to time, turn up for a street show or two.

Thank you for all your love and support.  We hope to see you at our final street show on September 7th in Congress square.


Dark Follies



Dark Follies Parlor Show! March 9th & 17th (Portland Maine)

Posted in News on February 18, 2018 by joie

Two unique shows.
Two enchanting nights.

Dates:  March 9th at Bright Star World Dance – Presales for this date have ended.  A few tickets are available on a first come, first served basis beginning at 7:30.

            March 17th at The Portland New Church (40 seats)

Time: 8:00PM

Tickets: $15 advance, $20 at the door

When the lights go down, Dark Follies comes to life…
On the evening of March 9th you are invited to enter into our parlor and become immersed in the sights and sounds of Dark Follies. In this intimate and otherworldly show Dark Follies will surround you with stories of the night and visions from world of dreams.
Welcome to the show. Take your seat, quiet yourself and prepare to enter a world of shadow and mystery…
…as the drums begin their rhythm and the melody rises, a sparkling cabaret of light, dance, and music takes place before your eyes…
Performances by: Anathema Steele, Fanny Pearl, Heretica, Lord Maxwell, Mafalda, Nornir, Selcouth, and live music from the Dark Follies band.
This show is a special seating, doors open at 7:30 and close at 8:00PM. This show may not be suitable for young children.
 Purchase:  March 9  or March 17

Vaudeville Vignettes: Moulin Rouge

Posted in News on February 2, 2016 by joie

Moulin Rouge Photo by: Oliver Brucchez, Wikicommons

Over a century ago, a small cabaret was built in Paris. Located in Montmartre, this artistic landscape gave rise to what is now known as the world famous Moulin Rouge. Widely considered to be the birthplace of the Can-can dance this spot also gave inspiration to many artists. Painter Henri Toulouse-Lautrec was commissioned to make a series of posters for the venue and in exchange he was given a reserved a seat for the nightly shows. He continued to paint the dancers, the patrons, and the endless entertainment of those evenings. His vivid paintings still stand the test of time and provide a small glimpse of what the nightlife was like in the turn of the century.  (

The success of the Moulin Rouge is owed in large part to its founders, Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler, who envisioned a way to create a unique performance venue while attracting patrons from multiple social levels. The building was designed to accommodate multiple changes to the interior over a short period of time which allowed for a continuous flow of entertainment. When renovations to the building were conducted, the innovative design of the interior was at the forefront of the architect’s minds. In 1962, a giant aquarium was installed leading to Moulin Rouge presenting the first ever aquatic ballet.

Everyone from famous classical dancers to the Queen of jazz have graced the stage at the Moulin Rouge.The Moulin Rogue is still in operation today and maintains itself as a entertainment venue like no other. At over 125 years old, there is still life and energy in the walls. Performances run nightly and with a constant need for entertainers, maybe you too can one day grace the stage.

During a visit to Paris, a Dark Follies troupe member was able to attend a show in the famous cabaret house. Below, they reflect on their experiences.

When a boa constrictor slithers out of a tank three feet away to look you right in the eyes, the typical response usually isn’t laughter and childish delight. This is just one example of how a show at the Moulin Rouge is unlike anything else in the world. Not only is there a woman who swims in a tank with boa constrictors, there are ventriloquists, a roller-skating duo with death-defying stunts, miniature ponies, comedy skits, and of course, the spectacular sequin-adored dancers. While the Moulin Rouge is a high end entertainment venue these days, the more humble variety show style and often bawdy origins of the show and venue are not forgotten, which gives the shows at the Moulin Rouge the uniquely anachronistic entertainment value which we Dark Follies seek to embody in our performances.

Back on his Feet: Silent Auction Items

Posted in News on August 19, 2015 by joie

We have some amazing items up for bid at the Back on his Feet benefit for Stephen Carpenter – take a look!  There is more to come…

Silent Auction Items2-page-001 Silent Auction Items2-page-002Silent Auction Items2-page-003Silent Auction Items2-page-006Silent Auction Items2-page-007Silent Auction Items2-page-008Silent Auction Items2-page-009Silent Auction Items2-page-010Silent Auction Items2-page-004Silent Auction Items2-page-005Silent Auction Items2-page-011

Back on his Feet: A benefit for Stephen Carpenter

Posted in News on August 3, 2015 by joie

There is a magic maker in need of our help…

Date:  August 21, 2015 6:00pm – 10:00pm

Location:  Mayo Street Arts, 10 Mayo Street, Portland, ME

Tickets:  $20.00 – Click Here to Purchase


Stephen Carpenter, Dark Follies’ music director, talented musician & carpenter, friend and person of generous heart was struck by a motor vehicle while out running on July 30th.  He was rushed to Maine Medical Center with life threatening injuries.  He has always been there to lend an hand, share his knowledge and extend his friendship.  He has touched so many in the music and dance world and now he needs our help.

On August 21st musicians, artists, dancers, performers, and more from around New England are coming together at Mayo Street Arts to host this fundraiser to help cover his medical bills and lost wages.

Come for an evening or art, music, dance and a silent auction to support this amazing man.

What a night this is going to be:

6:00pm – Doors Open! Get your first silent auction bids in!

6:30 – 7:15 (Act 1) – Some Acoustic, Some Eclectic

Emma & Laura – Argentine Tango
Jonathan Cooper
Anabee – masked dance
Eddy Dyer – acoustic awesomeness
Skatha – dark theatrical belly dance

7:15 – 7:45 Break – check on your bids! Have a drink! Munch some tasty treats!

7:45 – 8:30 PM (Act 2) – Middle Eastern Journey

Naya’s Trance Belly Dance
“We Love Steve!” Percussion Ensemble w/Rosa Noreen
Belleme – Cabaret Belly Dance
Spoonmakers Diamond w/Baseema
Zapion w/Heather Powers & Nabintu
We Got This (Joie & Stephen student belly dance troupe)

8:30 – 9PM- Break – Get those final bids in!

9:00 – 9:45 -(Act 3) Dark Follies

With performances by:

Calamity Cait, Miss Polly, Lord Maxwell, Solange. Madam Sinclair, Moria
Magdalene, Lady Selcouth, Bella Lisa and the Dark Follies (not just) Rhythm Orchestra!

9:45 – 10:00 – Announcement of Silent Auction winners


“Steve is always there with a smile to help–in fact he’s helped with ALL of the Bright Star studio moves, installed our mirrors multiple times, made our dressing room, put up our ballet barre, and more… As a musician, he always helps make the dancers’ jobs easier, being a welcoming presence who knows how to make a dancer shine. So let’s shine bright for him!”  – R. Noreen

Steampunk: A brief history…

Posted in News on May 4, 2015 by joie

You may have seen Steampunk elements around and not been entirely sure of what you were looking at. Maybe you saw a person dressed up in goggles and a top hat covered in gears and thought it looked cool, but didn’t know more than the look may have been aesthetically pleasing to you. The style is heavily inspired by the steam powered machinery found in the 19th century. Many of the gadgets, outfits, and stories revolve around the idea of steam power being used to power the objects the way electricity is currently used. Instead of machines being plugged in, Steampunk crafters redesign common items imagining them being powered by alternative means.

The term “Steampunk” was coined in the 1980’s by a science fiction author named K. W. Jeter to describe his work. Other authors began working with the term and the word began to pick up steam, pun intended. For those familiar with the works of H.G. Wells or Jules Verne, both of those classic authors are often referenced as steampunk ideals. Before they even had the word, both wrote of fictional and fantastical machinery now common to the genre.

Steampunk is also an all encompassing term which can be narrowed to specific niches. When it comes to time periods and setting, steampunk can transcend limits. There is everything from Western influenced steampunk to post-apocalyptic. Although rooted in science fiction, steampunk has also crossed into both the horror and fantasy genres. Common elements uniting different aspects of steampunk involve using metals such as brass or iron. This helps give steampunk a certain “look” of being polished while still having a gritty edge to it.

Recently, there have been events popping up all across the globe to celebrate Steampunk. Events boast everything from steampunk musicians, vendors and artisans inspired by the era, different activities such as balls or facial hair competitions, to professionals trained in classic sword-work. Dark Follies is proud to join in the festivities at Watch City this coming weekend in Waltham, MA. This all day event returns filled with interactive activities and entertainment for the whole family. Dark Follies will be performing at Embassy Park at Noon, so brush off your top hat and come say “Hi”. More information can be found at



~ Madame Sinclair

May 16th – Dark Follies Community Variety Show

Posted in News on April 2, 2015 by joie

Photo – Dr. Payne

Date: May 16, 2015 – 8PM

Location: Mayo Street Arts, 10 May Street, Portland, Maine

Tickets: $15 advance/$20 door


Dark Follies is emerging from its winter hibernation to bring a new show to you!  We’ve been working very hard through those long, cold and dark nights. We are delighted to share this community variety show with you.

Joining us will be special guests:

Lexi GoGo

The Mighty Scavenger


Vivian Vice vintage belly dance

Musical guest Barbara Truex

And of course some of your Follies favorites Lady Selcouth, Solange, Madam Sinclair, PJ Buster. The Dark Follies Fairy Tale Players and music by the Dark Follies Not Just Rhythm Orchestra.

There will be flow, comedy, swords, choose your own fairy tales, dance, juggling and more of what makes Dark Follies the show you have come to love.

Vaudeville Vingettes: The Original Rabbit’s Foot Company

Posted in News on March 5, 2015 by joie

The Original Rabbits Foot Company

        A very specific Vaudeville show toured the south in Vaudeville’s golden age. This company toured all throughout the south and was responsible for paving the way for future entertainers. Pat Chappelle was an African-America performer and businessman from Jacksonville, Florida. With his background in entertainment, he opened the first black-owned theater in the South which was called Excelsior Hall and sat 500 audience members.

With his partner R.S. Donaldson, they came up with an idea to create a traveling vaudeville show

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

with all African-American performers. In an age where hotels would sometimes not allow a person of color to stay the night even if they were a member of a traveling show, this was a bold mission. The partners commissioned a writer, Frank Dumont, and set to accomplish this feat on their own terms. What they hoped to accomplish was also no small show.

With up to 75 performers of all ages, the company traveled with their own train cars and performed both on stages as well as in tents across the south. The traveling circuit ran between 12-14 weeks a year and would sometimes draw parades in the cities they visited. The shows later would include week long performances in a major cities and also created another traveling company called the Funny Folks Comedy Company. Performers would flow between the two shows leading to variety for every show.

The performers included a wide variety of acts and skill levels. From opera singers to aerialists to dancers, there were acts to entertain everyone.

The show encountered several setbacks in their years, including an instance where a horse’s stray kick began a fire destroying several carriages. With the show traveling from the southwest all the way to Coney Island, The Rabbit’s Foot was a resounding success. The traveling show lasted until 1911, when Chappelle passed away from illness.

An Evening with Shayfer James, Dark Follies & Friends

Posted in News on February 25, 2015 by joie

ShayferWhen: Monday, March 9th at 8:00pm (doors 7:30)
Where: Bull Feeney’s, 375 Fore Street, Portland
Cost: No cover. Donations to support independent artists will be gratefully received


We are absolutely tickled to announce that Shayfer James is coming to Maine and will be making a stop in Portland to share his music and charm with all of us!!!

The evening will also feature performances by members of Portland’s street vaudeville troupe Dark Follies and spoken word by Portland poet Samuel Hunter Mercer. There may a few more surprises too!

This evening will have something for everyone!

Shayfer James: 

“Shayfer James weaves surprisingly genuine musical landscapes that evoke the gauzy, sweaty sexuality of gulf-coast barrooms but also the fantastical, narcotic mysticism of a Lewis Carroll-inspired three-ring circus. The swill and splashy barroom pound of the ivories is central here, along with clattering percussion, and of course, James’s own wildly theatrical vocals..” – Never Learned To Swim – 2/2012

Dark Follies: 

Dark Follies is an award winning vaudeville style variety show based in Portland, Maine. Family friendly while still keeping an edge, Dark Follies features the live music of the Dark Follies Rhythm Orchestra, dancing, juggling, side show acts, fire performers and more.

Born of a love of street theater, vaudeville and a desire to create a space to showcase the performance talent present in Portland’s goth community, Dark Follies began bringing its special brand of street Vaudeville to life in the dark hours of Portland’s summer First Friday Art Walk nights in the Autumn of 2008.

Sam Mercer: 

Sam Mercer is an Ohio raised, Maine based poet. He writes about depression, superheroes, and sobriety. He drinks too much coffee, smokes too many cigarettes, and dreams of dinosaurs. He has competed at the National Poetry Slam with Slam Free or Die and Port Veritas, and represented Portland at the 2013 Individual World Poetry Slam. He’d love to talk to you about nuclear bombs, dragons, or the expanse of nothingness that is the universe.


Vaudeville Vignettes: Working Through the Winter

Posted in News on February 3, 2015 by joie
Photo by Dreamcatcher Photography ME

Vaudeville Vignettes: Working Through the Winter
by Madame Sinclair

Through the magic of winter, i.e., stuck inside because of a blizzard, we’ve been busy working on new material for our upcoming performances. Some members of Dark Follies also made time to work on a variety of interesting side projects during these frigid winter months. Let’s take a peek behind the veil and see what some of the Follies have been up to.

Nikki Starcat Shields is three-quarters of the way through writing an urban fantasy/mystery novel called “Patterns in the Void.” It’s about what happens when members of a performance troupe begin to go missing…

Solange traveled the world in 80 days!! She got hung up for about 40 days in Spain. It’s a long story…..

Stephen Carpenter spent the winter doing facial hair intensive workshops. With daily practice, his facial hair is now able to play the Dumbek by itself allowing Stephen to play a second instrument at the same time.

Miss Polly‘s cousin Bunny the Stage Mime made a couple appearances with Vivid Motion’s Burlesque shows.

Scavenger may or may not have sailed aboard a dirigible into the jungles of the hollow earth. He is currently looking for sausage recipes and eyeing his meat grinder lovingly.

Madame Sinclair traveled great distances in her time machine/Prius this winter to meet up with the wild kittens of the Midwest.

Mistress Selcouth spent her winter in a far away arctic artist’s retreat writing new acts for the show, learning to shiver in rhythm and contemplating the sound of one zil ringing.