Rich Howells

Bazaar of the Bizarre gathers horror, punk, and tattoo culture at Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre on Oct. 18

Bazaar of the Bizarre gathers horror, punk, and tattoo culture at Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre on Oct. 18
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While most summer gatherings have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, it seems like people can still look forward to the fall and the unique events it will bring as Northeastern Pennsylvania transitions into the yellow and green phases of reopening.

One such event is Bazaar of the Bizarre, which is set for Sunday, Oct. 18 at the F.M. Kirby Center (71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre). According to the Facebook event page:

We are bringing together the style of horror, punk rock, oddities, and tattoo culture. Local and national artists will be featuring their handmade goods, vintage collectibles, one-of-a-kind obscurities, art, punk rock memorabilia, and a tattoo flash day by Electric City Tattoo. Enjoy live entertainment, a guest horror celebrity, gourmet food, classic horror films, and imported boutique wines.

Running from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., tickets to enter the bazaar are $15 at the door. It will be presented by The Strange and Unusual Oddities Parlor owner and former Motionless In White member Josh Balz, tattoo artist and Electric City Tattoo co-owner Nick Frenchko, and Amy Frenchko, national sales director of The Northeast Wine Company. Interested vendors can receive more information by emailing amyfrenchkobazaar@gmail.com.

With 2,773 cases and 156 deaths according to the Pennsylvania National Electronic Disease Surveillance System, Luzerne County was among the Top 10 counties in the state with its number of confirmed COVID-19 cases before it moved into the yellow phase of reopening on May 29.

The 11th annual Electric City Tattoo Convention at the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center was canceled after it was postponed in April because of COVID-19, and both Electric City Tattoo locations are still temporarily closed under current state restrictions. In addition to bringing in over 180 tattoo artists from across the country, the Electric City Tattoo Convention typically features tattoo and pinup contests, a burlesque circus sideshow, sword swallowing, live music, various vendors, haircuts and straight razor shaves, food, and a beer sampling/competition, so Bazaar of the Bizarre may be a nice, albeit smaller substitute for the convention this year.

The Strange and Unusual in Kingston was able to reopen on May 30, though Josh Balz hasn’t been able to host his popular Noir Nights at Stage West in Scranton since the last masquerade party on Dec. 31, 2019. Stage West has been takeout only since the shutdown and recently opened for outdoor dining on June 5.

After spending years collecting weird and creepy things as he toured the world as the keyboardist of Scranton metal band Motionless In White, Balz founded The Strange and Unusual in 2013 using pieces from his own collection before expanding into a bigger building in Kingston and opening a second location in Philadelphia in 2015.

Balz played on the band’s first three albums on Fearless Records and their 2017 Roadrunner Records debut, “Graveyard Shift,” before leaving the group in early 2017. His continues to create music with his solo project, Strange Kids, while organizing events like Noir Nights.

From masquerade parties to a dark circus, these exclusive gatherings require attendees to dress all in black and leave their cameras and inhibitions at the door. The first was held on Halloween in 2018, and the 30-year-old entrepreneur has continued to sell out each event on Black Friday, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, and Devil’s Night, the night before Halloween.

See NEPA Scene’s photos of Balz performing with MIW at the 2016 Vans Warped Tour in Scranton here. Listen to him talk about The Strange and Unusual, Noir Nights, 10 years of playing all over the world with MIW, his private oddities collection, Strange Kids, and more in Episode 81 of the NEPA Scene Podcast:

Artwork by Nate Kaschak