Flying V Fights: The Secret History of the Unknown World

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5 Fast Facts About…Vlad Ash, Vampire Country Singer!

Flying V Fights

The critically acclaimed biopic “What’s At Stake?” has sparked a revival of interest in the life of singer Vlad Ash. With the sixtieth anniversary of his death approaching next month, let’s take a moment to explore the shadowy world of blood whiskey shots, vampire boogie woogie, and the tragic death of the Count Prince Of Bat Country!

1. He came from “Creature Music” royalty!

Did you know “Vlad Ash” was a stage name? Laurențiu Vasile Roșu began using it in the early 1950s, and it would come to define the vampire outlaw swagger of an entire generation of musicians!

Laurențiu was born on April 1st, 1930 in Chicago’s Tick Town district, a melting vial of monsters, ethereals, and other clandestine creatures of that dark time period. His parents were Gheorghe and Maria Roșu, Romanian immigrants and esteemed musicians in their own right! They were regulars with the Tick Town Terrors — an all-vampire house band at Chicago’s infamous freakeasy Daemonologie.

Laurențiu would have spent his nights witnessing a rogues’ gallery of influential — yet sadly, now lost to the ravages of time — underground creature musicians. His mother Maria even played drums on a number of seminal “creature albums,” including Jazz Snake’s Hissing Jazz and Lady Familiar’s Married To The Mob!

2. He struggled with substance abuse…but not the kind you think.

Laurențiu Roșu had a blood problem: He hated it!

As a child, he was frail and weak, going days without partaking in the red ambrosia. With the wealth of safe, synthetic blood substitutes on the market these days, it’s easy to forget that — not so long ago — vampires and other succubi had to rely on extremes to obtain their necessary vitamins, and blood alternatives were likely to be home-brewed or black market swill, made with now-illegal materials in unsanitary cellars.

When he changed his name, Ash embraced a fang-bearin’, blood-swillin’ persona in public… but notoriously avoided a single drop backstage and at home! Then, in early 1954, a musician friend introduced him to Plasmaleux (a hyperblood synthetic created by scientists at The Moreau Institute and banned in 1961’s Synthetics Act) and Ash quickly became addicted to its soothing — and occasionally hallucinogenic — properties.

(Editor’s note: In a sad twist of fate, he wouldn’t live long enough to develop any of the drug’s long-term side effects, which include plasmatooth, crippling obsessiveness, and Vengrat’s fangrot.)

3. He was a pioneer in his genre… but never lived to see its success.

Bat Country. Vampin’ Boogie Woogie. Cthulh’billy Swing. Today, it’s hard to imagine a world without the many subgenres of Creature Country, which rakes in millions of dollars a year in revenues and influences everywhere from Hollywood to Wall Street!

However, during Vlad’s time, creatures were still seen as taboo, and — outside of some fringe circles — creature musicians largely played to their own kind. Occasionally, a “de-fanged” cover of a creature tune would surface on the mainstream charts, recorded by savvy — and admittedly, problematic — artists like Clifton Beaugeard and Lilith Cheverly II. Until “Under Your Skin,” though, monster records had seen little success in the public ear.

The chart-topping record created a massive public interest in this thriving, “new” culture, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a single musician growing up in the ’60s who didn’t keep a well-worn copy of “Under Your Skin” close at hand!

4. His death was one of many in Tick Town’s worst decade on record.

On June 20th, 1957,  a 27-year-old Vlad Ash was riding high on the success of “Under Your Skin.” Released in May, the record was already gaining a stellar critical reception, and projected sales of the album were shaking the industry at the very core! Monster music was in the spotlight, and everything was going to change. But poor Vlad would never see it.

On this fateful day, Ash took a late lunch with some friends, and then headed to Jade Wasp Studios in the heart of Tick Town to begin recording the follow-up record, “What’s At Stake?”

Little did he know that as he was working, Tick Town was crumbling around him.

[Editor’s note: The final toll of the Sucker-Howler gang war of the 1950s is a staggering statistic… and no one death should stand out more than the next. For ten tragic years, the underbelly of creature society tore at its scabs with a desperate, blinding cruelty. The vampire and werewolf populations saw losses in the thousands, and so many lost were innocent bystanders, each with their own story.
Here, sadly, our Five Fast Facts About…page joins with that horrid menagerie of stake wounds and claw marks.]

As Ash was leaving the studio, a brawl broke out between two stray Howlers and a group of Suckers on the street. Caught in the fray, Ash attempted to calm tensions, but to no avail. As the fighting escalated and more Suckers and Howlers joined the battle, Ash barricaded himself inside the studio’s lobby. Windows shattered. Cars set aflame. The air reeked with blood, fur, and smoke. It was one of the most devastating days in the war’s bloodiest year.

5. But, it wouldn’t be a Howler or a Sucker that cut Vlad Ash’s life short…

At 5:31 PM, on a hot Tuesday afternoon as Tick Town burned, the CPD Paranormal Affairs Division deployed their Creature Response Force, newly equipped with Martian-grade weaponry and military tactics, to deal with the matter. They descended upon Tick Town with merciless force, subduing the riots with an inhumanity that would be hotly debated for decades as a cruel and irresponsible response to the situation.

As Vlad attempted to leave the studio, CRF arrived on the scene with tanks, silver stake rifles, and a license to kill. Vlad, caught in the crossfire, was hit by a stray stake fired by Officer Rick Poddelon, a recent graduate of the Paranormal Enforcement Academy. The stake pierced his aorta, killing him instantly. His body lay in the street (amongst the others) for hours as the city went into a state of martial law.

It would be two days before the fighting ceased.

Vlad Ash left no living relatives, and less than a suitcase’s worth of possessions. Over ten thousand people showed up to his funeral — a citywide holiday, and the symbolic anniversary of the Vampire Werewolf Peace Accords of 1960.

We can only imagine the shape of country music’s development had Vlad Ash lived to see the fruits of his work. Would we have finally gotten that fabled record, “What’s At Stake?” Collaborations with the next generation of Creature musicians? What else could this ephemeral artist have given to the cultural landscape?

Unfortunately we’ll never know.

Thanks for reading, and tune in next week when we explore the life of influential gonzo journalist Kermit D. Frog!

Check out more awesome characters (and fights) in Flying V Fights: The Secret History of the Unknown World. What if all your favorite stories were true? Taking inspiration from sources as diverse as Sherlock Holmes, HP Lovecraft, Indiana Jones and Twilight, Flying V Fights: The Secret History of the Unknown World creates a universe where all of these incredible archetypes and events exist together. Take a trip through the history of a world where weird science can bring dead tissue back to life, masked marvels unite to protect the populace, and eldritch horrors emerge from the deep. Through innovative and high octane stage combat and an epic original score, Flying V once again soars to new heights creating a brand new fully devised piece where two hundred years of creativity is boiled down to two hours of action.

Secret History invites audiences to see fiction as fact: in our world, it’s all real.

Tickets are now on sale at: http://flyingv.brownpapertickets.com/

Martial Arts and Crafts

Flying V Fights

By Jon Jon Johnson, Flying V Company Member.

I love that I get to bring my Kung Fu to the Flying V Stage once again. Having grown up studying Baguazhang (八卦掌, or “Eight-Trigrams Boxing”), it was never something I was particularly proud of having brought to the US. I may have beaten up a bully in my middle school hallways, under the notion of “defending my honor,” and used it once or twice in a bar-scuffle, but I’ve never really brought the “art” part of it to life until I worked with Flying V.

Kung Fu is something that feels…so “Chinesey.” On the one hand, it feels like it’s expected that if you’re Asian or Asian-American, you have some training in it. On the other hand, having that training makes you often feel like a stereotype. That’s a little bit of a tight-rope act when one is trying to fit into a new country. “How foreign am I allowed to be?”

Finn Jones being cast as Iron Fist brings, as well as Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One in Dr. Strange bring up some of the age-old orientalist tropes, which does tend to get under the skin a little bit, especially if you’re someone who studied Kung Fu, and carried an ancient tradition across the ocean only to get a decent amount of ridicule for it. Suddenly it’s popular in the mainstream media, but it’s being showcased by people who look nothing like you. Then, on the other hand, you think: “Well, people who look like me get cast as the martial artist a lot. And they rarely bring something to the team other than kung-fuey goodness.” It seems an impossible request: Cast Asians and Asian-Americans in varied roles beyond just martial artists, but please also take the opportunity to cast them in stories that could be enriched by their presence. The main argument I stand behind is that we’ve seen the white person learn the mystic Asian art to win the day, but it sure would’ve been nice to see an Asian-American getting back in touch with his heritage through kung fu.

Enter Jon Jon, who gets to do that. I love stepping up and being the “Martial Artist,” because it’s something I can do, and have grown to love showing off. Being able to claim the mantle of “Martial Artist” in a cast, while also showcasing other skills and roles, is precisely the balance I’d love to see in media as a whole. Asians can be your martial artists, but as long as we remember that Asians can be so much more than that too.

So for fear of turning this into a lecture, I thought it’d be fun to pull up a few martial arts tropes:

All Asians Know Kung Fu:
Some famous examples include Hikaru Sulu (who went with the rapier to defy stereotypes).

Blind Weaponmaster:
I tend to think, most recently, of Chirrut from Rogue One, but another recent example is Stick from Daredevil. (Shoutout to Hawkeye from Old Man Logan, who, though blind, was still super deadly with his aimas long as he could hear his target.)

Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy:
Vegeta, of course. But my favourite is most likely Yu Jialong (or Jen) from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Bare-Fisted Monk:
In video games where you get to choose your class, you often get the “monk,” who is your bare-knuckle fighter, tends to have high attack, high speed, and low health and defense.

Force and Finesse:
One of the most common forms of martial arts duos. Definitely think Luke Cage and Iron Fist. For a film example, think Inigo Montoya and Fezzik!

Pressure Point:
Very popular in Chinese martial arts films, but definitely popularized with the “Vulcan Neck Pinch” from Star Trek, and the “Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique” from Kill Bill, Vol. 2.

Shatterpoint Tap:
This is one of the specialities of Karnak, of Inhumans lore.

Fantastic Fighting Style:
Notable examples are Zack’s Hip-Hopkido from Power Rangers, or Killer Bee’s Seven-Sword Style from Naruto.

As we’re still devising the show, I doubt very much that we’ll be relying on any of these tropes — getting to build a martial arts character (drawing from American pop-culture references) has been a blast, allowing us to select which tropes we discard or lean into as we make our analogue. I’m quite ready to bring this hero, and his sweet, sweet moves into the arena of the Secret History of the Unknown World, and so ready to bring back some Kung Fu to the DC Scene.

Jon Jon

Check out more awesome characters (and fights) in Flying V Fights: The Secret History of the Unknown World. What if all your favorite stories were true? Taking inspiration from sources as diverse as Sherlock Holmes, HP Lovecraft, Indiana Jones and Twilight, Flying V Fights: The Secret History of the Unknown World creates a universe where all of these incredible archetypes and events exist together. Take a trip through the history of a world where weird science can bring dead tissue back to life, masked marvels unite to protect the populace, and eldritch horrors emerge from the deep. Through innovative and high octane stage combat and an epic original score, Flying V once again soars to new heights creating a brand new fully devised piece where two hundred years of creativity is boiled down to two hours of action.

Secret History invites audiences to see fiction as fact: in our world, it’s all real.

Tickets are now on sale at: http://flyingv.brownpapertickets.com/

Attack of the Cack: Danny Cackley’s Top Five Fight

Flying V Fights

Hey ya’ll,

Danny Cackley here. Ensemble/Collaborator and all around stage combat nerd. I thought I’d take this opportunity (as we’re in the thick of devising and choreographing our show) to share some of my favorite filmed fight moments.
This kind of goes without saying, but a lot of these fights are the culminating moments of these films, or they have serious spoilers; so if you haven’t seen these movies and you would like to remain unspoiled…maaaaaybe go watch the movies first, and then come back!!

“Troy” — Hector vs. Achilles


First up: “Troy”, because who doesn’t love watching an oiled Brad Pitt leap through the air. This fight makes great use of multiple weapons and several distinct movement styles. The fight begins with spear and shield, which show off the character’s use of ranged weapons, and then moves to sword and shield. I’ve been told that one reason there is a fair amount of time in between sequences is that Brad Pitt was a heavy smoker during this shoot, and he had trouble doing the entire fight in one go. So they had to take A LOT of breaks. Also, they filmed this sequence LAST, after originally telling Richard Ryan (the choreographer and head of the stunt team) that it would be shot first. So the stunt team had a TON of time to work on the fight and make it kick ass.

“Rob Roy” — Robert Roy MacGregor vs. Archibald Cunningham


This fight is maybe the gold standard for a lot of people, myself included. It’s not a perfect fight, but it does an incredible job of showing two skilled combatants, one testing the other and one taking a LOT of damage. Similar to “Troy” there is a significant amount of time where the two fighters separate and then size each other up before coming in and attacking. I think the pacing is BRILLIANT. The end is GRUESOME.

“Stardust” — Tristan vs. Septimus


This fight is a bit lighter in tone, and has some fairly hilarious choreo. Also choreographed by Richard Ryan (who also did the fights in “Dark Knight” and is currently working on “Vikings”), this fight pits a supernatural opponent against our young skilled protagonist. Fun fact: some of the effects where it looks like one fighter is being dragged around by an invisible string were accomplished by literally putting the stuntman in a rolling chair, and then editing it out in post.

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” — Yu Shu Lien Vs. Jiao Long


Multiple weapons ABOUND. Jiao Long fights with the Green Destiny sword, which is a traditional Chinese longsword.  I love the story-telling every time Shu Lien changes weapons, watching her try and gain a tactical advantage. The speed and dexterity of both women is phenomenal. The camera work and choreography is stunning.

“The Princess Bride” — The Man in Black vs. Inigo Montoya


One of the stories I love about this fight is that both Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin were both so excited that they trained for months, so they wouldn’t be replaced by stuntmen. They pushed themselves, and in the end they did the whole thing. Ambidextrous fighting. And excellent use of terrain.

“The Court Jester” — Hawkins vs. Lord Ravenhurst


Had to throw this one in – Danny Kaye and Basil Rathbone in a laugh-yourself-silly sword fight. Danny Kaye plays a hapless former acrobat, masquerading as a jester/assassin, and finds himself under the spell of a witch. At the snap of anyone’s fingers he goes in and out of his alter-ego, the dashing and deadly Black Fox. Basil Rathbone was an accomplished fencer, and often played swashbuckling villains. Danny Kaye’s physicality is my favorite, going from terrified and helpless to formidable and smug.

And that’s it, everyone! Hope you enjoyed these clips. If you’d like to share any of your favorite fight films, feel free to leave a comment! And stay tuned for more blog posts from the cast and crew. Signing off!

Check out more awesome fights – and Danny! – in Flying V Fights: The Secret History of the Unknown World. What if all your favorite stories were true? Taking inspiration from sources as diverse as Sherlock Holmes, HP Lovecraft, Indiana Jones and Twilight, Flying V Fights: The Secret History of the Unknown World creates a universe where all of these incredible archetypes and events exist together. Take a trip through the history of a world where weird science can bring dead tissue back to life, masked marvels unite to protect the populace, and eldritch horrors emerge from the deep. Through innovative and high octane stage combat and an epic original score, Flying V once again soars to new heights creating a brand new fully devised piece where two hundred years of creativity is boiled down to two hours of action.

Secret History invites audiences to see fiction as fact: in our world, it’s all real.

Tickets are now on sale at: http://flyingv.brownpapertickets.com/

Brother Mario – NOW EXTENDED!

Tickets are now on sale for Brother Mario! Click here to buy tickets!

NOW EXTENDED:

Thursday, 3/16/17 @ 8pm
Friday, 3/17/17 @ 8pm
Saturday, 3/18/17 @ 2pm & 8pm
Sunday, 3/19/17 @ 2pm (Closing)

Find out more about the show

Line-Up For The Flying V AWESOME-A-THON Announced!

The full line-up for the first ever Flying V Awesome-A-Thon is here!  Check out the event on Facebook and see you there.

SCHEDULE:

8pm Friday – Kickoff Party

10pm – THE BEST OF FLYING V RETROSPECTIVE: Directed by Jon Rubinand Lee Liebeskind, relive classic moments from Flying V shows of the past 6 years, including Become What You Are, Be Awesome, both Flying V Fights, and more!

12am Saturday – PIRATES AFTER DARK: The late-night part of Awesome-a-thon begins with new monologues and scenes from the sexy side of the PIRATE LAUREATE universe! This new material by Zach Fernebok brings back some of our favorite characters from THE PIRATE LAUREATE OF PORT TOWN and THE PIRATE LAUREATE AND THE KING OF THE SEA on the topic of… romance.

1am – DEVISING AND DRAGONS: FLYING V AND D&D: An interactive Flying V Dungeons & Dragons Game and Devising Session led by Jon Jon Johnson, Megan Reichelt, Katie Jeffries, and Susanna Pretzer for a future Sword & Sorcery show!

3:30am – FLYING V VIDEO GAME LOUNGE: Hosted and Curated by Jon Jon Johnson and Lee Liebeskind, come play Mario, Pokemon, and more with your favorite Flying V artists!

6am – RISE AND RAVE WITH FLYING V: Early morning yoga, exercise, and dance party with Michelle Polera and Robert Christopher Manzo from the cast of Be Awesome: A Theatrical Mixtape of the 90s.

8am – SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS: Philip Tiago Da Costa curates a morning viewing of classic Saturday Morning Cartoons with complimentary cereal and milk.

9:30am – PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND POWERPUFF GIRLS: A staged reading written by Philip Tiago Da Costa and directed by Joshua W. Kelley, melding the worlds of Pride & Prejudice and The Powerpuff Girls!

10am – PRINCESS MIMI:A new children’s play written and directed by Patrick Flynn!

11am – GRAAL THE EMPLOYABLE AND OTHER STORIES: A staged reading of a brand new collection of short plays written by Seamus Sullivan and directed by Jenna Duncan focusing on pulp genres meeting the modern workplace!

12:30pm – SHEILA AND MOBY: Sheila, facing a quarter-life crisis, takes an opportunity to reunite with her stuffed Iberian lynx, Moby, to solve the case of a girl’s missing stuffed Koala. This reading of Patrick Flynn’s new play will deal with growing up and how we all feel like like little children sometimes, for better or worse.

2:30pm – VIGILANT: Those who protect the streets at night have their own set of rules to follow; their own code. But for a black vigilante, it’s a whole different ballgame. What happens when you encounter one of your own, someone you know? How do you refrain from looking like “just another black man” running the streets at night? How do you protect yourself from those in power? How do you help fix the community you risk your life to preserve? This workshop of Vigilant: A Black Vigilante’s Rule Book dives into this world of complexities and contradictions.

4:30pm – LIVE RECORDING OF “THE ORIGINAL CAST PODCAST” FEATURING THE CAST OF YOU, OR WHATEVER I CAN GET: Hosted by Patrick Flynn and featuring performances by Doug Wilder, Farrell Parker, Suzanne Edgar, Steve Przybylski, Jason Schlafstein and a special video appearance by Vaughn Irving.

6:30pm – THE FLYING V CABARET: A collection of live renditions of original and classic tunes, performed by your Flying V favorites!

8pm – DARK PHOENIX: You’ve seen Batman: The Long Halloween, Batman: Year One, and Justice League: The New Frontier. Well, face front, True Believers! The marvelous X-men will get their Giant-size reading at 8pm on Dec. 10! Join Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Colossus and more as they help Jean Grey battle the cosmic entity known as the Phoenix Force — only one problem: It lives in her! Don’t miss a second of this explosive, emotional thrill-ride reading. After this, the X-men will never be the same! Nuff said! Directed by Paul Reisman, and featuring an amazing cast!

10pm – Closing Party