If you were to tell me a few weeks ago that I would be attending a secret speakeasy pop-up, hosted by a slew of R-rated puppets, I would have laughed. Fast forward to yesterday where I found myself in the heart of Hollywood outside an establishment called, The InkHole. I’m sure you are wondering, what do puppets have to do with any of this, well, I’m here to blow your mind, because what I was about to experience was a pop-up in conjunction with the upcoming comedy THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS.
Before I get into my experience, it’s best that you understand what the film is about so that you can pain a very clear picture in your mind of what this movie entails. “No Sesame. All Street. THE HAPPY TIME MURDERS is a filthy comedy set in the underbelly of Los Angeles where puppets and humans co-exist. Two clashing detectives with a shared secret, one human (Melissa McCarthy) and one puppet, are forced to work together again to solve the brutal murders of the former cast of a beloved classic puppet television show.”
Now that you have an idea of what the movie is about, let’s dive into this pop-up. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it would be like to party with puppets, now is your chance! Located at Madame Siam in Hollywood, The InkHole is a pop-up tattoo parlor with a secret speakeasy that allows guests, 21 and older, a chance to get an early peek into the seedy underground puppet pleasures that take place at The InkHole. Upon entering the establishment, guests are led down a set of stairs into an area that resembles a basement tattoo parlor, where we meet the manager, an extremely talkative puppet that loves to have a good time, and his bevy of beautiful ladies that graciously welcome us to his place of business. It’s here that I decided to get an air-brush tattoo of one of the puppets on my arm, as I thought it would be fun to make my mom freak-out over the thought of me getting a puppet tattoo.
At this point, our new puppet friend and his cohorts ask if we were given anything special before entering, in which I looked down and realized I was holding a postcard. I raised my hand and passed one of the women the card, which had a special message that would lead us into a secret passageway. This passage brought us to the speakeasy, where upon entering, the atmosphere completely changed to one of non-stop partying and indulgence of any and all pleasures. Designed by the creative forces at Mycotoo, this speakeasy was filled to the brim with all sorts of pervasive puppet activities ranging from “The Pupp Show” (get it, a peep show but instead of people, it’s puppets), games of Blackjack, a porn shot, burlesque entertainers, and the infamous Sugar Fix room. The space was enveloped in bright lights, laughter, copious amounts of alcohol, puppet strippers, and seedy individuals looking for their next sugar fix… Oh, and we can’t forget the elephant in the room, the brutal slayings of the former cast of “The Happytime Gang.”
As I’m sure you can tell, there is a lot to take in at this pop-up, but my favorite experience was definitely visiting the Sugar Fix room. That’s where all the hard sugar drugs go down and were we get to meet the Sugar Trap Queen, Midge, who gave us some of her best samples to try. I also really appreciated how even though this was a promotional event to drum up buzz and hype for THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS, it never felt like it was in your face, instead using subtle design tactics and interactions that brought guests into the folds of the story. Most importantly, the puppets were a riot! Whoever decided to mic them to the speakers gets an A+ because there was never a moment where we didn’t understand what the puppets were saying. Also, none of their interactions was pre-recorded, everything was happening in real time which made the experience that much more enjoyable.
For those who love being immersed in a story, you will absolutely love The InkHole. There is an important storyline threaded among all the glitz, glamour, and sexual thematics, so pay attention and be on the lookout for some undercover cops. If you find them, interact with them as they have an important role and you may be just the person they need to break open this case of puppet slayings. Immediately upon entering, I was taken aside by someone who I thought was a guest, only to find out that he had some secret information about the murders and that I should be very, very careful. This continued on for the remainder of the night with different actors and was one of the highlights of the evening. For those who are brand-new to the immersive scene, this experience is the perfect ice-breaker as it’ll give you a taste of what to expect from immersive but without any of the extreme elements.
With all that said, The InkHole is a definite must-see if you are in and around the LA area. Because this is a pop-up event, it’ll only be open-to-the-public from August 10-13, from 8pm to 12am, so I suggest RSVPing HERE (tickets are free!!) before the event sells out. I hope in the future we continue to get more types of these events put on by studios to promote their films as it’s a great way for fans to truly immerse themselves in a movie that they are excited for. And make sure to check out THE HAPPYTIMES MURDER when it’s released in theaters on August 24th.