Help us make Cynthia von Buhler's hit noir comic book series, The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini into an interactive play. The play will run from September 26 - November 10, 2018, Wednesday - Thursday at Theatre 80 (and it's environs in Manhattan). Yes, that means we are running during NY Comic Con!
The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini from Hard Case Crime/Titan Comics is a 1920's mystery involving the world-famous escape artist, Harry Houdini! Written and iIlustrated by acclaimed artist, author, director, and playwright Cynthia von Buhler.
The series featured variant covers by David Mack (Daredevil, Kabuki), Robert McGinnis - famous for classic movie posters for James Bond and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Emmy award-winning comic artist Dean Haspiel.
Cynthia von Buhler is an American artist, performer, playwright and author. Hailed by the press as “multitalented and eccentric” (Boston Globe), "a creative genius" (Forbes), and “one of the top contemporary surrealists” (Art & Antiques), Cynthia von Buhler has made a name for herself as award-winning artist, author, and illustrator. Her illustration work has won the gold, bronze and silver medals from the Society of Illustrators and has repeatedly appeared in American Illustration, Communication Arts and the Society of Illustrator annuals of the best illustration in America.
Von Buhler's paintings have been displayed in galleries and museums around the world, and have been featured in books, newspapers and magazines from Rolling Stone to The New Yorker. The New York Times has written four features on her in the last five years. Von Buhler has collaborated on art projects with Steven Spielberg, Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker. Her sculptures have appeared on NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and she was a recurring character on Discovery Channel’s Oddities. Von Buhler also writes, directs and produces immersive theater.
Her comic work includes Evelyn Evelyn: A Terrible Tale in Two Tomes with Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley, An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer, Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Bloody Beginning and Emily and The Strangers.
An immersive play allows you to experience a story by living inside it and moving among the actors in an elaborate environment.
In The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini you'll be will be transported back to 1926 to experience a world of mysterious speakeasies, backstage intrigue, and hotel room affairs.
You'll follow private investigator Minky Woodcock as she uncovers bizarre secrets about the magician and the people who wanted him dead. You'll cross paths with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who believes Houdini is not merely a magician but has supernatural powers, and Bess Houdini, who suspects her husband is cheating on her.
This will all unfold throughout three floors of a historic East Village townhouse, which is home today to a still operating speakeasy where the New York City Council drank during Prohibition, and a gorgeous old theater. We will transform the upper floors of the townhouse into a Prohibition-era time capsule featuring a detective office in New York and a hotel in Montreal.
You will be assigned a character to follow and then experience events through that character’s point of view. You might find yourself assisting the magician backstage, sipping absinthe in a speakeasy, spying on an affair in a hotel room, witnessing an attempted murder, attending a séance, or visiting Houdini in his hospital room.
You'll watch incredible magic tricks and take part in spiritualist demonstrations. Experience a meticulously detailed slice of Houdini history, including a performance of his iconic Water Torture Chamber act.
You are encouraged to come back again to follow other key players and see alternate facets of what actually led to Houdini’s fateful death. Evidence is revealed, but the truth is left up to you to decide.
Cynthia von Buhler created Speakeasy Dollhouse in 2011 (with funding from Kickstarter) to explore the murder of her own Italian immigrant grandfather, a speakeasy owner named Frank Spano, who was shot and killed on a New York City street in 1935. Long haunted by the mystery of his death, von Buhler obtained news articles, autopsy reports, police records, and court documents, and recreated the crime scene in an elaborate dollhouse diorama. The Bloody Beginning, which ran for five years, soon became a hot underground theater ticket. Von Buhler followed The Bloody Beginning with two other immersive plays, The Brothers Booth (2014), an investigation of the Lincoln assassination staged at his assassin’s brother’s mansion on Gramercy Park, and Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic (2015), an exploration of the death of Ziegfeld Girl and silent film star Olive Thomas staged at a long-hidden Broadway theater uncovered in Times Square. More recently, Speakeasy Dollhouse has been staging The Illuminati Ball which Time Out New York called "one of the top 100 things to do in NYC before you die."
All Speakeasy Dollhouse immersive productions are paid for with ticket sales. We are entirely funded by our audience. By supporting this Kickstarter you'll help us defray some of our upfront costs such as having a Water Torture Chamber fabricated, actor rehearsals, props, venue rental, costumes, insurance, and publicity.
Starring Pearls Daily (burlesque star and actress who recently appeared on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) as Minky Woodcock, Vincent Cinque (the star of our shows, The Illuminati Ball and Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic) as Harry Houdini and Robyn Adele Anderson (singer from Postmodern Jukebox) as Bess Houdini.
Also starring: Lord Kat (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), Delysia La Chatte (Nurse La Chatte), Luka Fric (Bennie Woodcock), E. James Ford (J. Gordon Whitehead), Eden Atencio (Mina Crandon aka Margery of Boston), Ryan Salvato (Sam Smiley), Rolls Andre (Lawyer), Celeste Hudson (Lady Marler), Mat Leonard (Jim Collins), Tess Richie (Maid), Tony Noto (Doctor), Audrey Allen (Lady Allan) and Will Davis (Jack Price).
Was Houdini murdered? You be the judge! See the evidence here.
View more art from the comic book series on our official website.
Cynthia von Buhler created Speakeasy Dollhouse in 2011 (with funding from Kickstarter) to explore the murder of her own Italian immigrant grandfather, a speakeasy owner named Frank Spano, who was shot and killed on a New York City street in 1935. Long haunted by the mystery of his death, von Buhler obtained news articles, autopsy reports, police records, and court documents, and recreated the crime scene in an elaborate dollhouse diorama. The Bloody Beginning, which ran for five years, soon became a hot underground theater ticket. Von Buhler followed The Bloody Beginning with two other immersive plays, The Brothers Booth (2014), an investigation of the Lincoln assassination staged at his assassin’s brother’s mansion on Gramercy Park, and Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic (2015), an exploration of the death of Ziegfeld Girl and silent film star Olive Thomas staged at a long-hidden Broadway theater uncovered in Times Square. More recently, Speakeasy Dollhouse has been staging The Illuminati Ball at Weylin and The Illuminati Ball Immersive Excursion at a secret estate outside of Manhattan.
Art Blog Access. Exclusive access to Cynthia von Buhler's working blog on her next episode in the Minky Woodcock series with sketches, photos and discussions with her editor. All levels receive this as well. $1
Handcuff Keychain. A working handcuff keychain with tiny key. We gave these out at Comic Con NY last year. If you want more than one keychain increase the price accordingly. $10 plus shipping.
The hardcover, graphic novel, artist edition compilation signed by Cynthia von Buhler. If you want more than one book increase the price accordingly. $25 plus shipping (or pickup at the show).
Cynthia von Buhler's children's book, The Cat Who Wouldn't Come Inside (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). See! We have kid friendly items on here! This is the first children's book where I was the writer and artist. The dolls and sets were made by hand. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
A ticket to the book party dress rehearsal on Friday, September 21st. You'll be the first to see the show in a test run. Expect a little chaos. We will have a short discussion on what we need to improve afterwards in the theater. If you want more than one ticket increase the price accordingly. $38.
New! Special Edition Love Witch Spell Bottle Necklace by Veronica Varlow. Veronica will be playing Margery in our show. Each Divination Love Spell Bottle Necklace is completely unique and handcrafted with love and magic. A magic card is in each one with a scroll of love boosting vibes. Inside, there is galangal powder as a foundation for deep love , protection and a door opener for passion in your world. Tiny rosebuds call in love and connection. Calendula calls in the sunshine to your love and positivity and truth. Jasmine calls in the goddess vibes of love, creativity and beauty. $75.
We supported Logan Riley's Dark Art Tarot here on Kickstarter. He's sending us some for you. This is the most beautiful tarot deck I've ever seen -- and I've seen a lot. $80.
Nurse la Chatte aka Delysia La Chatte is a handbag designer as well as an amazing dancer and actress. She's offering one of her glamorous La Chatte's Meow heart bags. Choose from black or red. A 13" computer fits perfectly inside it. $155.
Play tickets! Choose from Spirtualist (you believe in the supernatural, ghosts and tarot), Pragmatist (you are firmly based in reality), Ticket Bundles, or Houdini's Favored Guests (VIP). Includes a signed copy of the hardcover book. If you want more than one ticket increase the price accordingly. $100, $138 (dress rehearsal/ticket bundle), $200 (VIP), or $400 (three show bundle - experience spiritualist, pragmatist and VIP).
New! I illustrated Evelyn Evelyn (Darkhorse) which was written by Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley. I have a big stack of pencil drawings from it. It's a grab bag choice although if there's a page from the book you love I can see if I still have it. I'll send you a signed pencil sketch (no color) for a pledge of $100 or 5 sketches for $500.
New! Receive a full one hour session of tarot with Veronica by phone or in person. Divination can also include crystal ball reading and spirit writing. Will occur before our show in "The Mansion Room" at Theatre 80 in Manhattan. $200.
Be drawn as a portrait of noir character by Cynthia. Use it on your social media page or print a copy to hang on your wall. $250. ONLY ONE LEFT!
Another show we promoting is The Illuminati Ball on New Year's Even at the gorgeous Weylin. Open bar all night. If you double the amount at $400 we will upgrade you to VIP which allows entry to secret rooms, no waiting in line and you'll be part of the inner circle during the initiation ceremony. If you want two or more tickets of general admission or VIP adjust accordingly. We stay in good contact with our supporters here on Kickstarter and we'll message you right away to make sure you receive what you are looking for. $200 regular/$400 VIP
My dear friend Logan Riley has made two gorgeous oil portraits of Pearls Daily as Minky Woodcock. He's offering one here (he gave the other one to Pearls - I think he's smitten) to our supporters. Oil on thick paper. 11" X 14". Unframed. You'll also receive his Dark Arts Tarot deck which is stunningly beautiful. $300.
David Mack and Dean Haspiel, dear friends of mine, were cover artists for the Minky Woodcock comic series. A few years ago I curated a show call Lilliput. Each artist had to make a small work of art in a 3" X 2 1/2" frame I sent them.These works were exhibited in Milan, Italy and afterwards were placed in the permanent collection of The Dollhouse Museum. David and Dean have kindly offered their pieces for a reward level of $425 each, frame included. This is your rare opportunity to own an original piece of artwork by an icon in the comic book world. David's image "The Cat" (SOLD!) is on the left and Dean'd image, "The Lovers" (SOLD!) is on the right.
New! I found a portfolio of oil paintings on canvas from my They Called Her Molly Pitcher (Penguin Random House) children's book in my attic. If you remember your history, Molly Pitcher was a woman who fought during the revolutionary war. This feminist children's book has brought me more royalties than any other of my books. I'm offering them inexpensively here as part of a last minute attic sale. If you are interested message us and we'll send you choices. Many of them feature Molly with George Washington and winter scenes of war with horses. There are also two canvases featuring hand-painted portions of the Constitution. I painted these in oils and delicately cracked the finish to make them look authentically old. They are all approximately 17" x 20" on canvas suitable for stretching and framing. $600 each or $500 each if you buy two.
Be immortalized as a supporting character in Cynthia's next comic episode for Hard Case Crime/Titan Comics. Includes a copy of the comic and a drawing suitable for framing. $800 plus shipping. These are my friends Erin Orr (left) and Chris Green (right) as characters. ONLY ONE LEFT!
New! Love Witch Group Ritual by Veronica Varlow, our actress playing Margery. A sensory group ritual of exotic oils, candles, rose petals, magic and sound for you and a group of your friends. Each guest receives a blessing with oils on the lines of their palms, a tradition passed down from Veronica's Grandma Helen. This ritual is done to boost your own personal "magnet" to draw the very best to you and manifest it into your life. The ritual experience is a full 30 minutes. Limited to 30 guests. Will occur before our show in "The Mansion Room" at Theatre 80 in Manhattan. $1000.
New! Sir Reptitious. This sculpture-painting-rat cage I made years ago is taking up space in my art studio and I no longer have pet rats so I'm selling it for a steal. You'll have to figure out how to pick it up from my art studio in the greater NYC area, but I'll try to help out. Oil on canvas, pipes, wire. Approximately 7' tall and 1' deep (on wheels). Suitable for housing 2 live rats. Back has wire with an door opening. Train them to climb the pipes to get treats from the trachea opening. Local greater NYC-area pickup only! $2,500 (local pickup only - rats not included).
Sponsor the Water Torture Chamber. We are having an authentic chamber built in Canada by Richard Sherry. Houdini will thank you from the stage at every single show. $5,000. (SOLD!)
Be our Co-Producer. You get the title for this run of the show and a front row seat whenever requested beforehand. We will list you on our website and all promotional materials -- or stay anonymous if you prefer. The Art Gods will thank you. $10,000. (1 SOLD, 1 LEFT!)
Risks and challenges
Speakeasy Dollhouse is 100% ticket driven which means our audience makes our shows happen. We do not rely on outside investors. We have a strong following and our tickets sell well, but we need a certain amount of money to defray upfront costs.
Financial transparency: What does it cost to create a show like this? $240,000.
Immersive theater is expensive. It's like putting on eight different plays all at once because there are eight scenes running simultaneously in different locations inside the venue. This means we need a massive space to create in, more actors, more facilitators, gorgeous twenties-era props, and a ton of set design. We believe in paying our team equity level salaries even though we are Off-Broadway. This show will cost us $40,000 a week to produce and will run four nights a week for six weeks. We have to pay for performers, ushers, rehearsals, stage manager, assistant stage manager, stage hands, front of house manager, sound, light, ticketing fees, and office expenses. We can use money from ticket sales to pay for many of these things, but before we can even start working on the show we need to pay upfront for our venue, rehearsals, rehearsal space rental, choreographer, books, publicity, marketing, books, insurance, costumes, and props -- such as the Water Torture Chamber we are having built by Richard Sherry up in Canada.
The reason we are doing this Kickstarter is to defray our upfront costs. We are offering rewards which are worth what you pledge. We don't believe in taking money for nothing. We are hoping to obtain at least $50,000 here, but if we get more we can make the production even more fantastic by adding more interaction and perks. We want to reward our backers because you make this art possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (25 days)