Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Click Here for More Articles on NEW YORK CITY

BWW Review: The Sweet & Sinister Wonders of the Illuminati Ball

BWW Review: The Sweet & Sinister Wonders of the Illuminati Ball

Williamsburg's gorgeous landmark venue, the Weylin, was transformed into the un/holy ground for the Illuminati Ball on October 20th, 2017. Created and written by Cynthia Von Buhler, curated by Delysia La Chatte and Jonah Levy and directed by PJ Mead, the ball is an ambitious, immersive theater experience inspired by the Rothschild's notorious, 1972 fête.

Walking into the lobby, we were immediately engrossed in a lavish and slightly anachronistic atmosphere. Vintage brass and the chatterings of splendidly-adorned socialites filled the soundscape. My guest and I allowed ourselves to be absorbed into a crowd of masked-revelers being escorted into an unknown area, by unknown forces. Most of the night was a game of simply discovering what to do next.

We eventually arrived at our destination: the mainstage area, crowned by the domed ceiling of the Main Rotunda. An initiation ritual commenced led by Baron Guy de Rothschild, The Pig King, and Baroness Helene de Rothschild (Vincent Cinque and Maria Rusculo.)

Guests were asked to don satin blindfolds and swear an oath of secrecy. Those closer to the stage received the added privilege of having a sword dragged across their palms; a nice, threatening touch to ensure their "loyalty" (I'm guessing I'm safe in writing this exposé, since I refrained from blindfolding or swearing myself to anything in order to write.)

Totemic figures, in animal masks, then chose candidates to follow them in order to give guidance for navigating the rest of the night. I caught up with Chumanzee (Travis Moore), a man in a monkey mask, to ask him what he told his followers. He replied minimally, "I told them how to get power."

After the initiation ritual, the mainstage area became a hub of non-stop performances. Elements of contemporary dance, burlesque, drag, BDSM aesthetic, aerial work, fire arts, tango, copious amounts of nudity and more were fused to create experimental rituals and decadent spectacles. Theme song "The Illuminati Ball" by the late Prodigy, of Mobb Deep, featuring singing by Katie Kat, rang between pieces throughout the night.

Acts were also installed throughout the venue. Some were easily accessible, such as "The Operating Theater" an eerie display of antiquated anatomy posters, eye charts and weird nurses (Jaclyn Atkinson and Psychic Surgery.) Others were reserved for VIPs, identified by a pricier ticket, such as "The Trustee Room" (helmed by mentalist, Vinny DePonto.)

Of the performances I actually saw, the more memorable among them epitomized sensuality and daring, in a unique way, without trying too hard. My favorite might have been the naked cow goddess, Kamadhenu (Eden Atencio), inviting audience members onstage to bathe her in a tub of milk.

An honorable mention in memorability, is the simple beauty of attendant Kirsten Louise Lewis eating blood orange from between her mistress, Katherine Crockett's, thighs (excited guests shoving their way into the tiny walkway, lengthy artist soliloquies, and the fact that I discovered the vignette randomly, after it'd already started, made the rest of the act a bit hard to absorb.)

One aspect of the tremendous artistic undertaking, which is the Illuminati Ball, that I must take the time to applaud, is the incredible amount of diversity among its performers. Artists of various ages, sizes, genders, colors and, I presume, orientations were chosen for its colorful cast of players.

Aside from a Hugh Hefner wannabe spilling his drink on me (after he moved in for an unsolicited hug) the only negatives I observed were that the venue staff occasionally seemed to be a bit overwhelmed by the massive crowds and may not have been totally sure, themselves, what was going on at times. A few revelers complained about long waits or aspects of this grand game-puzzle-performance that could've been communicated more clearly.

However, enough cannot be said in praise of the Illuminati Ball's ambitious scale. The wealth of lore, real or imagined, that has accumulated over centuries regarding the actual Illuminati is enough to cast shivering doubts in the minds of the most skeptical. That this was the inspiration behind an impressive theater project is indisputably brilliant. Aptly scheduled right before Halloween, the Illuminati Ball was definitely the creepiest theme for an event that I've seen in a long time.

Are you sad you missed this? Catch another Illuminati Ball in NYC, again at the Weylin, on February 23rd, 2018. Find more information at

Photo by Brittany NO FOMO

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes, and More from Your Favorite Broadway Stars

Related Articles

From This Author Olga El