In 1971, Ron Sweed took up the lab coat and fake beard of the absurdist late-night horror host Ernie Anderson’s Ghoulardi, becoming the Ghoul. Sweed would put his own scorched mark on B-movie night, blowing up action figures and tormenting a rubber Froggy during between-commercials sketches.
Chicago-based graphic and tattoo artist Mitch O’Connell grew up outside Ann Arbor, Michigan, but followed the witching-hour antics of Cleveland’s chief creep when the show played in syndication. Now, in collaboration with Cleveland Height’s Kollective Gallery, O’Connell and other Midwest artists influenced/ruined by Sweed pay tribute to his persona in Ghoul Power, a group exhibit of painting and sculpture with a year-round Halloween vibe.
The Ghoul himself has said he will attend the show’s September 8 opening — fright wig and glasses and all — but left us in suspense as to whether or not he would ignite the poster O’Connell made for the event and framed with 4,000 firecrackers.
“Personally, I’m doing this for me," says O'Connell. "But it should be fun for everyone who was a fan. It suddenly clicked in my head that it could be a lot of fun to put on a Ghoul show with the hope of having him show up, and now it’s happening.”
The tributes won’t only be on the walls. Burlesque circuit headliners like Auora Sans, Constantinople, Carmen Monoxide, and Twiggy Stardust will debut as the Ghoul Girls, a supergroup of vampiraic vixens called up just for this one-night-only performance. It should be a night the Eerie Coast will never forget.
The opening reception begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 8. The show runs through October 6 at 1908 South Taylor Rd., Cleveland Heights. Call 216-862-0799 or go to kollectivegallery.com for more information. — Joseph Clark
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