9th Annual

Edward Gorey House

at the
Cape Cod

GoreyFest card
Andreas Brown's calling card

Gorey's Fur Coats on Auction Dec 9

Jonas Plöger in fur
Jonas Plöger in fur

from the Listing Attic

Bradford, Skee Morton, Plöger
L to R: Edward Bradford, Skee Morton, and Jonas Plöger

Rick Jones, ringmaster
Rick Jones, Master of Ceremonies

Images by Jonas Plöger and Goreyography
Copyright 2010

15 Nov 2010      Special to Goreyography

My hotel room sits next to the Pine Grove Cemetary in South Yarmouth. Interesting, I think as I unlock the door and bring in the goodies I took to wear to the 9th Annual GoreyFest & Gala, just an hour or so away. It was Halloween weekend and it was already getting dark under cold and windy, gloomy skies. I chose this hotel because it was only two blocks away from the Cultural Center of Cape Cod where the gala was to be held, in case I thought it wiser to walk home as midnight approached. Clever, but I didn't count on the cemetary. I felt this was a sign. A sign of something unexpected.

19th Century Black & White was the order of the night, but that turned out to be the least entertaining part of the evening. A living mannequin up on a pedestal, in bowler, wearing black-on-white stripes, tries to discreetly dislodge feathers and tophats as guests survey the floor after crossing the threshold. Within minutes, Andreas Brown approaches in a dark messenger's coat and tophat. He pulls a card out of his dark messenger bag, handing over a small black & white card. 'Beware the evening' is the implied message, I summize. I notice the living mannequin for the first time, or rather that the mannequin was a living one, as she unexpectly turned, and mischievously half-smiled. Promising, I say to myself as I plunge into the evening.

9th Gala guests
Just before nightfall, Morgan and Duncan (far right)

After several glasses of wine, the intervening hours betwixt hello and good night produced a trumpet-wielding chanteuse, a tallish femme fatale in long slinky black dress in necklaces drooped inches from the floor, a mysterious and entrancing dancer performs an homage to Fritz Lang's Metropolis, set props from Mystery! Theatre decorates every corner and an assemblage of fur coats enrobes a small detachment of non-living mannequins. A skull falls from the first mannequin and breaks into bits on the floor sometime in the last half of the evening. The tall woman wearing long necklaces glances at the empty hors d'oeuvres table. The wine glass on the piano is whisked away. The silent auction closes quietly.

The fifteen fur coats once belonged to Edward Gorey, representing the last of his furry wardrobe. Originally over twenty such relics from another era graced Gorey's closets, now they are to be sold on the 8th of December by Bloomsbury Auctions in NYC, and upon its close the collection passes into history. This was the jacket collection's last public appearance ensemble ex situ. The Edward Gorey House is keeping Gorey's iconic raccoon greatcoat, so easily associated with so many illustrations.

9th Gala guests
L to R: Sam Spiegle, Tom Michalak, and Edward Bradford

What made the night remarkable, however were the guests. Shaking hands with Gorey aficionados from around the globe, as well as from up and down the Eastern seaboard. Rick Jones, smartly dressed in ringmaster's kit manages to find the right words, Duncan Gibson as festive as can be, Tom Michalak garbed in producer's black, and a remarkable pair, the Rather Odd Couple from Herts [from the Listing Attic] turns out to be librarian and Gorey bibliographer Edward Bradford and guest Jonas Plöger from Dusseldorf. Rob Wyke has come across from the other side as well, the UK. Gorey's extended family were well represented, Skee Morton [cousin] was effervescent and Ken [Skee's son and Gorey's nephew] prowled the floor for memorable shots. Helen Pond, a neighbor and friend of Gorey's, was in gracious form, fresh from hosting last year's memorable Gorey soiree.

After Kami Lyle's Monster Mash and Tempest's final danse exotique quickened the pulse for the final time, and the last photograph of a fur admirer wearing a favorite coat had been taken, this extraordinary evening was returned to the night. The wind reinstated its chill, the Halloween sky pushed haunting gusts against the clapboards on the Cape, and the gala ended. New memories were made into old. Sights blended into sound, and what was once spoken was written into stone. And the Pine Grove Cemetary chalked up another night in silence.

-- Glen Emil, 30 Oct 2010

Many thanks to Rick Jones, Director of the Edward Gorey House, Andreas Brown of the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, the many EGH volunteers, Edward Bradford, and Jonas Plöger for their kind assistance.

Kami Lyle Tempest