29 June 2004

Pretty in Pink

Collaboraction hosts a prom. With plushies.

CALL IT site-specific revenge.

Arriving 10ish Friday night, I ask my friend where the Logan Square Auditorium is, the location of Prom: Just Like Heaven, the Collaboraction theater group's latest think-and-drink happening. "Look up. Above Lula," she says, pointing. The sky's alight. Smokers in mint-green and Pepto-pink taffeta gray the entrance air. The block-long building is topped with another cloud, a Lucy-in-the-sky nimbus, an itchy pink haze the color of a criminal kind of punch. All along the block, formal dresses come and go. Two women, all eyes, drink white wine in the warm night on Lula Café's sidewalk.

Upstairs, an imaginary 1980s are in full effect. Deadly clumps of hair gel dot the room. Houndstooth proliferates. Thirtysomething cool kids who've paid for tickets or wended their way onto the list are remembering the prom they never had and helping themselves to the open vodka bar to be real grownups and forget all over again. Visions of sugary John Hughes sequels dance in every head.

Several Collaboraction members are wreathed in minimal sheer gauze, and barebacked with angel wings stenciled onto shoulder blades, pale, bony ligatures against the spine. A tall angelette in stilettos circulates with a plate of clear gelatin shots. (She is a flock of hairdressers all by herself.) The rest of the dress is a mess: keeper of the Collaboraction Kool-Aid Anthony Moseley has it in spades in several loud costume changes and a mullet that could have been calculated in a prison metal shop.

The hep-geek cover band roars into "Let's Dance." Twenty-one-year-olds dance twerpily like the first time they heard the song when they were 4. One tall man throws his eyes around the room as he hands me an unsolicited vodka-cranberry: "It's a honey hole! Did you get laid at your prom?"

Haze grows. There's a heavy hand at the smoke machines, gusts ripe with the smell of a closet full of long-abandoned dry-cleaning.

Against a cloud backdrop, the photographer's dressed as fluffy pink swine, encouraging the smoochiest of group shots while tending to loaner wings and handout halos. The "Effen Heaven," a double-entendre on the vodka sponsor's name, is littered with stuffed animals, hula hoops, buffets of dark, gooey chocolate and a half dozen kinds of cheesecake. The door to the 7 Minutes of Heaven Make-out Room is closely guarded.

Those without pale pastel evening garb were encouraged to kit themselves out in plushie gear. One company member smirked behind a fat fuzzy dog nose, and a tall pink bunny worked his way on the dance floor amid women dancing to "Hungry Like the Wolf." Reddi-wip hickeys circuit the room: lots of squirting and licking from a half dozen canisters. And the bartenders, like the music, do not stop: I know this much is truuuuuuuuuuue... is a perfect exit note.

[Newcity, 29 June 2004]