Alhambra native Matt Dorado has been obsessed with Halloween and haunted houses since he was a little boy. When he was in high school, he went to Universal Studios for Halloween Horror Nights and had nightmares for two weeks. Then one night he woke up and realized that he didn’t want to be scared, he wanted to scare others! He wanted to make haunted houses himself, and he did, creating his first as a teen inside a friend’s basement and, later, in his college dorm room. He produced his first public haunted house while still in college in Santa Barbara more than a decade ago, and then moved back to L.A. and brought his passion for eerie experiences with him.
Over the years, his houses turned into hedonistic happenings not for the kiddies, full-on ragers with booze to amplify the boo’s. His events company, Drunken Devil, was born out of this menacing meld. His creepy concept wasn’t a hell-raising hit right away, though. “Our first show, The Sinner’s Soiree, was a financial flop, and there were tons of horrible reviews," Dorado recalls. “It just wasn’t the success that I wanted it to be, and I nearly quit producing events. The one positive from that experience was that The Sinner’s Soiree ended in a bar, and had interactive characters, craft cocktails and burlesque dancers. People raved about the bar and I knew I had something on my hands — spooky immersive experiences with a vaudevillean/cabaret angle."
After the haunted-bar bash, Dorado produced his first “horror party” in a Skid Row warehouse. It was a cross between Studio 54 and Cabaret L’Enfer, the infamous hell-themed bar in Paris' Montmartre. From there he started producing bigger and more elaborate shows, such as Curse of the Jungle Drums (which took place in a cursed 1950s tiki bar), Night of 1,000 Devils (a Hitchcockian Halloween party where guests were immersed in a cult) and a horror Mardi Gras bash called Bloody Gras. Most recently he threw Sin-a-Rama, a grindhouse-themed party. As an attendee at a few of his events, which offer free drinks with your ticket, I'll say this: The "drunken" aspect is big, with themed drinks at the bar.
To Live and Di(n)e in L.A., a true crime–themed supper club where guests sit down with the ghosts of famous serial killers and victims (e.g., the Black Dahlia, Charles Manson, Susan Atkins, Richard Ramirez), pops up every few months or so, and it might be Dorado's most immersive and creepy idea. “[It] sees about 30 people interacting with deceased serial killers,” he says. “It’s a structured narrative with interactive elements with each course and cocktail pairing inspired by a different serial killer.”
His only daytime event, Deviled Eggs, which takes place Sunday, July 23, is one of his less spooky events but it may be his sexiest. The bawdy burlesque brunch is held every month at Brack Shop Tavern, and Dorado created it as an alternative to his darker nighttime events. "I’ve always wanted to do something light-hearted, where I could combine dining and live entertainment, all while retaining some elements of our larger-scale events like burlesque, immersive theater and themed environments," he explains. The first Deviled Eggs, a sold-out event at D’Vine Lounge, was a Prohibition-themed experience where guests found themselves eating in a speakeasy. "In addition to the burlesque and the food, we had several characters, including a gangster-type bouncer, a charismatic, jazzy MC, and the owner of the speakeasy," Dorado says. "All three of these characters interacted with the audience throughout the event and added a new level to what could’ve been just a run-of-the-mill variety show or cabaret."
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Dorado decided to take that model and do different themes each month. He moved the event to Brack Shop Tavern in September and never left, conjuring different themes each time, including a midcentury kitschy Christmas in December, a New Orleans voodoo Halloween and, most recently, a nerd-themed brunch. This Sunday's show will be a ’50s sock-hop inspired by Grease and featuring acts based on 1950s pop culture.
Next month will be the burlesque brunch's one-year anniversary, and Dorado says he's planning his biggest lineup yet.The next Drunken Devil "mainstage" event, as he calls it, is scheduled for Oct. 13, and he promises the most decadent and dark party ever for his favorite holiday, Halloween.
"I enjoy creating wild, outlandish places for people to let loose in," Dorado says. "Drunken Devil is based in escapism, much like a lot of themed entertainment, theater and film, and I enjoy crafting environments where people can escape the true horrors of the world and party with the ghouls of mine.”"
Drunken Devil's Deviled Eggs is Sunday, July 22, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., at Brack Shop Tavern, 525 W. Seventh St., downtown. More info at drukendevil.com.