Kat Sheridan, Claire Smitty, C.j. Canne and Yevgen Ivanov

Labyrinth Of Jareth Masquerade Ball – Early Saturday Night (Part 1)

[UPDATED: With a new understanding of the Zundri* – 9/7/15]

The Labyrinth Of Jareth Masquerade Ball (LOJ) is billed as the largest masquerade ball in the United States. In it’s 18th year, the gala event has been known for flair in the historic Park Plaza Hotel Los Angeles. Due to renovations at the Plaza, with very short notice, the event moved this year to another historic landmark in downtown Los Angeles, the Millennium Biltmore Hotel.

Built in 1923, for this photographer, I have to say the architecture and decor of the Biltmore, combined with the fantastic light show for the ball, turned the venue into a feature character of this photo shoot. That was evident as soon as I walked in the door and met my first revelers of the evening!

The dress code is strictly enforced as many of the attendees spend months, some even years, working on their elaborate costumes, like Yevgen Ivanov and his friends. This was Yevgen’s first LOJ, but as you can see, he and his friends were well prepared. This is what I encountered when first. entering. the. hotel! 🙂

Kat Sheridan, Claire Smitty, C.j. Canne and Yevgen Ivanov
(L-R) Kat Sheridan, Claire Smitty, C.j. Canne and Yevgen Ivanov

LOJ is an immersive event produced by Lord Shawn Strider and his Sypher Knights from Sypher Arts Studio. With the gala’s close proximity to Hollywood, this is an event where every makeup artist, hair stylist, wardrobe stylist, costume designer and special effects technician in town does their best to show their stuff. But it’s not all locals here. Performers and guests come in from all over. And special props to the lighting crew at Quantum Laser. What you guys do makes what I do so. much. more. fun! 😀

You know you have arrived in a different world as soon as you step into the “Mermaid Room” and are greeted by the likes of Mermaids Virginia Hankins and Alisa RQ of Sheroes Entertainment.

Mermaids Alisa RQ and Virginia Hankins of Sheroes Entertainment
(L-R) Mermaids Alisa RQ and Virginia Hankins of Sheroes Entertainment

People watching quickly becomes a delight as costumed characters of all kinds fill the rooms. After just a few minutes, you quickly adjust to a world full of fantasy where street clothes are nowhere to be seen. In fact, they are strictly prohibited. No costume? No admittance! NO exceptions!

18th Annual Labyrinth Of Jareth Masquerade Ball
18th Annual Labyrinth Of Jareth Masquerade Ball

Performers beckon from stages swirling in colors and texture.

Bellydancer Aubre Hill of the Lumina Bellydance Company performs at the 18th Annual Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball
Bellydancer Aubre Hill of the Lumina Bellydance Company

Which can get even a land-locked Mermaid Katie Hume to give her own gown a whirl!

Mermaid Katie Hume of Sheroes Entertainment
Mermaid Katie Hume of Sheroes Entertainment

As well as launch chaos right among the guests at the gala, like when the Zundri show up at a moments notice, cause general mayhem, then abduct a random guest or two and haul them off to a secret lair backstage … full of all kinds of fun fantasy SWAG!* [UPDATE: It seems this author, in the haze of the aftermath, confused the mischievous and benevolent Zundri with the more ominous intentions of the Talisk! Check our Part 3 coverage for clarification.]

The Zundri make mischief and kidnap guests throughout the event
The Zundri make mischief and kidnap guests throughout the event

In this realm, the surreal quickly becomes the real …

Jennifer Addams attends 18th Annual Labyrinth Of Jareth Masquerade Ball
Jennifer Addams attends 18th Annual Labyrinth Of Jareth Masquerade Ball

… and reality is … exhilarating!

(L-R) Belly Dancers Aubre Hill, Belen Garibaldi, Shana Raqs, Chloe Vanderhaven and Jenn Aguilar of the Limina Bellydance Co.
(L-R) Belly Dancers Aubre Hill, Belen Garibaldi, Shana Raqs, Chloe Vanderhaven and Jenn Aguilar of the Lumina Bellydance Co.

… until it surprises you again as the Talisk arrive in the forms of G. Allen Smith and Kevin Kelley to terrorize the innocent!

Talisks G. Allen Smith and Kevin Kelley perform in the "Mermaid Room" at the 18th Annual Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball
(L-R) Talisks G. Allen Smith and Kevin Kelley perform in the “Mermaid Room”

Yet, it seems Mermaid Rachel Smith was perhaps not so much an unwilling participant!

Mermaids Rachel Smith and Jennifer Elizabeth with Talisk Kevin Kelley
(L-R) Mermaids Rachel Smith and Jennifer Elizabeth with Talisk Kevin Kelley

Everywhere you look, in constant motion, the dedication to immersion surrounds you as Dave and Emily Ruckman stroll by in their Steampunk finery.

Dave and Emily Ruckman attend the 18th Annual Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball
Dave and Emily Ruckman attend the 18th Annual Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball

And then, the acrobats of EMCirque show up, led by Alan Ascensio!

Acrobat Alan Ascencio of EMCirque
Acrobat Alan Ascencio of EMCirque

The timing, stamina and physical preparation by this troupe of professionals is evident in their every move.

Acrobats Mod Plank (front), Alan Ascensio (center) and Alexander Plank (top) of EMCirque
Acrobats Mod Plank (front), Alan Ascensio (center) and Alexander Plank (top) of EMCirque

They are a joy to watch!

Acrobats Alan Asencio, Jenay Espinoza, Ariel Steel, Mod Plank, Alexander Plank, Morgan Gerhard and Leah Russell of EMCirque
(L-R) Acrobats Alan Asencio, Jenay Espinoza, Ariel Steel, Mod Plank, Alexander Plank, Morgan Gerhard and Leah Russell of EMCirque

And in case you are wondering, yes, I was costumed too. This is how REAL photographers take a selfie! 😉

18th Annual Labyrinth Of Jareth Masquerade Ball
18th Annual Labyrinth Of Jareth Masquerade Ball

Yes, those are feathers! 😀

As the acrobats leave, I turn to see yet another fair lady in a long flowing dress timidly eyeing the newly vacated performance area. And you expect me not to encourage her? “Go for it,” I said! 😉

18th Annual Labyrinth Of Jareth Masquerade Ball
18th Annual Labyrinth Of Jareth Masquerade Ball

What you are seeing in this blog, and in the photo gallery below, took place in a single room, in a single hour, in the order that it happened. And the night has only just begun! Let’s take a break in the lobby and maybe grab a cocktail. I promise you will make friends while in line … before …

18th Annual Labyrinth Of Jareth Masquerade Ball
18th Annual Labyrinth Of Jareth Masquerade Ball

Part 2 – Wandering the Corridorsis online … Yay! 😀

Click the thumbnails below to view full-size photos.
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