Alice in Wonderland is one of the most colorful tales ever conjured. California-based Insomniac, America’s single largest dance music promoter, is keenly aware of the story’s uber-popularity, and has been milking inspiration from it for years. Beyond Wonderland’s debut last spring was seemingly timed to capitalize on the hype surrounding Tim Burton’s CGI interpretation. The strategy worked like clockwork, packing San Bernadino’s NOS Event Center with 42,000 plus Lewis Carroll groupies. Despite a slightly higher age restriction this time around, its sophomore odyssey was similarly sold to the gills. Team EZ, a Denver-based performance troupe led by Beta Entertainment Director Ms. Easy, is a staple at Insomniac’s signature events, and Beyond Wonderland is no exception. As many of you know, I have been a primarily stilt-walking member of the team for a minute now. This past Saturday presented an opportunity to channel a non-height-enhanced character, the Caterpillar.
The mostly foam costume, fabricated by Salvatore Salamone (who freelances for actual Hollywood effects shops), was designed to sit atop a mobile tea party set. The girthy, worm-like insect shared the table’s top with an extremely crooked unbirthday cake and a blue hookah loaded with watermelon shisha. In preparation to puppeteer the creature, my face was painted turquoise and purple by an airbrush gunslinger named Happy. When we discovered during a dress rehearsal that mere paint was easily chafed off by the built-in goggles and surrounding face-hole, latex was added to the mix–giving the makeup a metallic sheen-like quality that was otherworldly. Five o’clock rolled around. I crawled under the tablecloth, climbed back into the mold and was wheeled out to the event grounds to meet and greet party-goers–who insisted on having their pictures taken with me while toking on the hookah hose designated for general public use.