Las Vegas artists to converge in costume for overnight faerie ball

It’s never a good idea to anger a faerie, goblin, gremlin or any of the fae folk. They can’t be reasoned with, and you might be stuck with faeries, their friends and their shenanigans forever — and end up with something like the Bad Faerie Ball.

“It’s a debaucherously good time,” said Suzanne Lugano, the ball’s organizer. “It’s an otherworldly cosplay kind of event where adults can get all dressed up and and enjoy amazing music and art and just let their freak flag fly — or rather, their faerie flag.”

The annual event may have never gotten underway if the faeries hadn’t run into forces far more frightening than orcs, ogres or even muggles: paperwork and bureaucracy.

“We were planning on doing an all-ages Fairy Festival out at Cactus Joe’s in Blue Diamond and have a 21-and-older Fairy Ball at night,” Lugano said. “Two days before the event, the county shut us down. We didn’t get all the permits we were supposed to, but we didn’t think we needed to because it was going to be a small community event, not much of anything, really.”

Several of her friends had worked hard trying to put the event together. The night the event was supposed to happen, they sat around a campfire drinking absinthe and stewing.

“We were the rebel faeries, the naughty ones, the anarchists, and we were going to camp on that land anyway,” Lugano said. “We decided then and there to have the first Bad Faerie Ball, and instead of trying to go through all of the hoops, we would have it at the establishments I like to frequent and help them out by bringing a bunch of fun people and create an event that happens yearly that people look forward to.”

Because faeries are a capricious lot, the event doesn’t take place at the same time each year. It happens whenever Lugano feels the whim and has the time. For several years, it took place at Artifice, 1025 S. First St., but this year, it will take place at a new venue — or rather, an old venue that has been given a new life.

“We’re celebrating it at the newly renovated Thunderbird (Lounge and Bar),” Lugano said, referring to the complex of hotel rooms with a lounge at 1215 Las Vegas Blvd. South, that was, until recently, the Aruba. “Wes (Myles) and the owners have been wonderful. They’ve offered us a two-night deal for people who want to spend the night for a real bargain.”

The Thunderbird has undergone a major renovation by project designer Myles, former owner of The Arts Factory, who turned that building from an industrial structure into an arts center with outdoor seating and a bar. Likewise, he has opened the former low-ceiling bar area up to the street, raising the ceiling, taking out small, underused rooms and creating access and a view to the Strip side outdoor seating.

“We took everything that was in here and took it out,” Myles said. “We exposed the infrastructure and cleaned it up and polished it all up. It’s been rewired, replumbed; we’ve got a new roof, a new air conditioner and and new bar. It’s made of American walnut. I built it myself.”

He describes the building as “tough” prior to the yearlong renovation that is still underway. The bathrooms each had a single stall, and everything was more than a little cramped and dingy.

Plans include live music four or five nights a week and a new sign featuring the revived Thunderbird name. Until that comes together, the Bad Faerie Ball may be the first time many people see the changes to the location.

The plans are still in flux, but many performers are set to return to the ball this year. Lugano is also expecting a lot of performers who are new to the event.

“We’re going to have The Lounge Orphans and a local viola player named Sarah Zimmerman,” Lugano said. “I’ve reached out to a drag show, a dance show and some burlesque performers.”

The event is also set to include belly dancers, wandering minstrels, hoop performers, at least two mermaids and perhaps a merman and art installations and displays, including artists from Opia Gallery, Manny Rubio, DeArdis Hurts, Roman Alexei and more, including James Henninger, who plans to do a live painting that will be auctioned during the night.

“We’re also holding a second auction for the daughter of Erica McKenna, one of our mermaids,” Lugano said. “Her husband and her daughter were in a car accident, and it was pretty touch-and-go for a while. She almost lost both of them. They have bills up the wazoo now.”

Costumes are required for the event, but you don’t have to wear faerie wings. Lugano said revelers have shown up as all manner of fantasy characters from devils and imps to elves and unicorns.

“It’s a liberating experience,” Lugano said. “There’s a lot of things in faerieland you can draw on. When you put a costume on a whole bunch of people, fun stuff just starts to happen. They become these otherworldly beings surrounded by other crazy freaks. They become a part of the scene. I love the creativity.”

The Bad Faerie Ball is scheduled from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. or later June 4 at the Thunderbird. Tickets for the 21-or-older event are $10 each or $15 for a couple. The Bad Faerie Hangover pool party is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 5 at the pool at the same location. Admission is $5. A package deal is available for a two-night stay on Friday and Saturday for two guests, which includes admission for two to both events and two drinks for $180. Visit tinyurl.com/bfball16.

To reach East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor, email ataylor@viewnews.com or call 702-380-4532.

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