Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Monsignor’s Confessional: Darkness that exists just for you, By: Jackie Em

Many people in the Seattle area have at one time or another walked through a Confessional nightclub threshold wondering what Monsignor has in store for them tonight. Those who have yet to experience a Confessional have no idea what waits beyond those entrance doors.

Upon arrival you can hear the music pounding from inside the venue as you fight your way through a group of dark looking individuals that are blocking your way in while they smoke.

Once you get passed the front door, show your ID, pay your cover and enter the world of a private underground party filled with freaks that parade sexuality, wear horrid outfits, engage in sinful activities, and appear to have no shame about it--“a disgrace,” you say to yourself.

Then you go to the bar, get a drink, and suddenly, you’re having picture taken. You are startled by the bright flash as a man dressed in a Catholic cassock, peeks his head from behind a disposable camera. He introduces himself as Monsignor and your anxiety level plummets. In his elegant voice, he speaks kindly to you and, before you know it, you are following him around asking him when his next Confessional is. Monsignor rules his Confessional night with an undeniable charisma that has allowed him to charm his way into becoming the Seattle goth/industrial scene’s most notorious club promoter.

Although Monsignor wasn’t born Seattle’s darkest local celebrity, his upbringing was quite the opposite from the goth/industrial lifestyle that he cherishes today. In high school, he was a proud athlete who loved to play sports and date cheerleaders. He is also a graduate of the University of Washington. Shortly after his graduation, Monsignor was introduced to an unfamiliar lifestyle that would forever change his life: Christianity.

Although Monsignor was not raised with a Christian upbringing, this type of spirituality interested him immensely. In a short period of time, Monsignor had become a devoted man of God and as he strengthened his spirituality, he came upon another compelling interest: the dark aspects of the Christian religion. Never swaying from his loyalty to God, he recognized the evil that accompanies the worship of the Christian God and researched it as a new found interest. Feeling a great level of confidence in his own faith, Monsignor knew that allowing himself an exploration into the dark realm of Christianity would have no impact on his love for God.

As life would have it, in 1995, a Christian friend of Monsignor’s took him to his very first goth/industrial dance club. He knew right away that he had found his scene. He felt a comfortable fusion in dark Christian iconography, goth/industrial music, the atmosphere and the people that accompanied it. The more he frequented these clubs, the more he felt a deep connection with the people who came to understand him without judgment, offering genuine friendship from the start.

It took Monsignor no time at all to develop some degree of popularity among the goth/industrial scene. In July, 2004, he wanted to return the kindness he had received from his new club friends by throwing a private party at Merchant's Cafe in Seattle's Pioneer Square. This party was constructed, organized, and hosted by Monsignor, who happened to be the son of the café’s owners.

The modus operandi of the party was to celebrate the special comradeship he shared with each guest and new friend as a way of saying “thank you” for filling him with a certain type of inner happiness that could only be achieved in their company. He wanted to exhibit his gratitude to the same individuals that would soon pave the way to his notoriety and stardom within Seattle’s goth/industrial sub-culture.

His friendly little get-together ended up larger than expected with over 100 guests in attendance. Monsignor asked his favorite local goth/industrial DJ, JQ, if she would be interested in managing the play list for this special evening to which she accepted enthusiastically. Food and drinks were served to each guest while others danced to the music spinning in the DJ booth. The party’s merriment exuded a profound atmosphere of friendship and graciousness. Witnessing the glee around him, Monsignor thought to himself, “This should continue. I want to throw more private parties that cater to the happiness and friendly nature of the Seattle goth/industrial community, a place they can go and be themselves without the worry of harassment, embarrassment, or judgment.” With this epiphany, Monsignor’s Confessional was born.

Merchant’s Café allowed Monsignor to throw one Confessional a month throughout the summer of 2004. With each passing party, the attendance grew larger and larger, forcing Monsignor to hunt for a new venue that featured better accommodations. After a short search, Monsignor was invited by venue owners, Monty and Shawna, to throw his monthly party at one of Seattle’s premier music venues: The Vogue. By the end of the summer, Confessional had become so well received by the community that the move to The Vogue provoked gratitude rather than inconvenience, from the crowd that usually attended Confessional at Merchant’s Café.

Once a month, The Vogue would fill with people who joyfully attended the famous party. It provided them sanctuary and freedom, it was a place they could feel safe and comfortable while expressing themselves in any way they saw fit. The outfits ranged from fetish wear to costumes, pony falls to dread falls, bright colored hair to black hair, large amounts of make-up on both women and men. It was not uncommon to see guests dressed in corsets, dog collars, chains, or any variation thereof.

In order to allow his guests to enter without any worries of harassment or judgment from outsiders, Monsignor enforced a strict dress-code policy. Only people wearing costumes, dark clothing, or fetish gear, were allowed to attend; this rule hit people the wrong way at times.

Sometimes, people would bring friends that were not allowed in due to their attire. On one occasion, a guest tried to host a birthday party at Confessional only to have an invitee turned away for wearing blue jeans. To some, the strict dress-code policy seemed snobby and rude but it was never intended to be so. Monsignor’s main concern was the happiness of his guests. He felt that if anyone could come in, it could risk the comfort of his guests. Confessional loves and welcomes newcomers but I have to stick by my dress code. One night, two girls showed up wearing blue jeans and white t-shirts, I told them about the dress code and apologized as they were then forced to leave. About twenty minutes later, both girls came back wearing dresses that they had made out of black garbage bags! We let them in right away!”

Confessional has always had three very distinct traditions that accompany every party: the food platter, the prizes, and the disposable camera. Monsignor spoils his guests with food platters at every party. His biggest concern during the event is to ensure that everyone feels at home. He feels that the food platters symbolize being in the comfort of home; as though everyone is a personal guest in his own home.

Monsignor is rarely seen without a disposable camera in front of his face. He obsessively takes pictures of all the sexy men and woman, as well as the naughty behavior which Confessional is notorious for. When asked about the disposable camera obsession he replies, “I have to use a disposable camera because I spill too many drinks. If I had a nice camera it would be ruined within minutes. I take a lot of pictures during Confessional because I like to record the enjoyment people are having.” At Confessional people bring out there inner self and walk proudly knowing who they are. Confessional encourages the macabre and the dark. Monsignor walks around dressed as a priest while he spanks girls with his Bible. Confessional is a safe place to release your sexuality, creativity, and most importantly, your individuality.

After a two-year run at The Vogue, Confessional, along with many other themed nights, was forced to either discontinue or relocate. Due to a lease renewal discrepancy, The Vogue was forced to close its doors for good. The last Confessional at The Vogue was a Christmas party, an extra special evening due in part to the large amount of sentiment from the holiday as well as saying “farewell” to The Vogue and its unforgettable owners: Monty and Shawna.

Since The Vogue closure, Monsignor has moved his Confessional to other venues which have resulted in stale parties that hardly resemble the decadence of past Confessionals. Confessional no longer had the proper aesthetics which it required in order to maintain its identity. People did not receive the new Confessional as happily as they once did. Certain policies from new venues had forced Monsignor to make changes that contradicted the very purpose of creating Confessional. Following a brief stay at two different venues, Monsignor, like so many other club promoters in this town, had to put his Confessional on hiatus. Unsatisfied with the idea that Confessional was homeless, Monsignor’s motivation and commitment to his night led him to resurrect it at The Mercury.

Monsignor is an admirable example of staying true to your art and upholding a perfect reputation. Confessional nights receive few complaints and always excite the patrons whose steadfast loyalty to the goth/industrial scene has made it what it is today. Not only is he a great friend to those around him but an enigma amid Seattle’s local celebrities.

Confessional Resurrection:Thursday July 30th at Mercury $5 cover, non-smoking event, doors at 9pm

For more info about Monsignor's Confessional visit: