“Durango Horror Story” brings a spooky variety show to the Fairgrounds

by Nick Gonzales

With an invisible (and microscopic and pathogenic) killer on the loose, Halloween 2020 is bound to be a bit muted. The Four Corners Alliance for Diversity is doing everything it can, though, to liven up the spooky season.

The organization is hosting “Durango Horror Story: Haunted Haus,” a Halloween variety show that will be held at 6:45 p.m. Oct. 30 at the La Plata County Fairgrounds.

“We’ll have everything from drag to musicians to dancers to comedians,” said host Kyle Finnell. “I mean, it’s just kind of a melting pot of talent.”

The premise of the show, he said, is that these ghostly performers haunt the Fairgrounds exhibit hall. Performers include Ddlilah, J.R. Smith, and Ivana Foreskin among others.

“The idea is to have each performer have their own kind of like backstory about what their character is doing in this haunted house or why they’re in this haunted house. So it’s kind of been left up to the performers’ interpretation as to what they really want to do,” said drag queen Aria Pettyone, the event’s other host. “I think it’s been really exciting for people to kind of play around with the theme.”

As you’ve probably guessed by its name, the show is very loosely based on “American Horror Story” and its first season plotline, “Murder House.” The Alliance for Diversity has hosted Halloween events before, but Finnell said Durango Horror Story could become a recurring event. If this is the case and the group decides to continue with AHS themes, we’re looking forward to what they pull off with “Asylum,” “Coven,” “Freak Show,” “Roanoke,” “Cult,” “Apocalypse,” and “1984.” (Yeah, we skipped “Hotel” — it has the least creepy name; though that season of the show is set in the Hotel Cortez, and Durangoans know a thing or two about being creeped out by Cortez — we’re just kidding, Cortez *winking, kissing face emoji.*)

“We kind of landed on that theme just because it was kind of the first season and it would be very, very easy to give the performers a little bit more freedom and creativity,” Finnell said.

The Alliance does four annual events a year. In addition to its October event, it hosts Durango Pride in June, Dragrango in March, and Winter Pride in January. This year has been a bit odd in that Dragrango was canceled, and Durango Pride was online-only, but the city has not been without LGBTQ events – drag performers like Pettyone have been hosting events in Durango on an almost weekly basis for months now. That said, some of the performers are excited to perform in front of a larger crowd again.

“We’re lucky to have some people like myself and other queens in town that are willing to work during the pandemic and organize — so I think it’s been great that we still have queer events now on a weekly basis, which is awesome,” she said. “But we do miss having these larger crowds for the different monthly and quarterly events that the Alliance does.”

Having an event like this is important to the community Finnell said.

“Especially after this year, I think unifying our community and bringing everyone together is very needed right now. That was, I think, what started the idea of if we were going to even do a show or not,” he said. “I think that’s what prompted us to be like, ‘No, I think we should do this.’ At the end of the day, the message we’re wanting is to bring our community together.”

Beyond just the show, the event will have food and drinks, prizes, and a photo room. That last item is like a photo booth, but bigger and following current safety guidelines. People can go in and take a photo acting out something spooky with others from their table.

Speaking of tables, the event is following COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines, so instead of buying individual tickets, you purchase tables of four. Those are available at durangohorrorstory.eventbrite.com and range from $100 to $200. (The $250 seats have already sold out.)

“Come in costume, have fun, enjoy yourselves,” Pettyone said. “Let’s try to forget about the world ending and the election coming up, and let’s just have a fun little day.”

Nick Gonzales

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