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At the MLK library on Monday, the folks from the Molotov Theatre presented a workshop on stage blood in the style of the old Grand Guignol in Paris. It was a rather sanguine affair, just slightly depraved and a lot of fun. We got to mix our own blood (and eat it, since it was made of corn syrup and food coloring), and then several of us received wounds of various shapes and sizes. I have to say I was quite pleased with mine: a long gash down my right bicep, with a bit of bone showing, some shards of muscle, and an inordinate amount of blood. You can read more about my adventures walking around town with this repulsive injury—as well as learn about the most assassinated woman in history—after the jump. But first, check out this utterly stomach-churning video:

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Trouble viewing? Try the YouTube version.

Ok, so you’ve seen what my arm looked like. Well, I walked about 20 blocks or so with my sleeve rolled up and that gash in plain view, and needless to say I got some very interesting reactions. One teenage boy was stupefied by it, and begged me to cover it up. When he found out it was fake he said, “Oh man, that’s tight! You’re gonna scare the shit outta people with that!”

At another point, a man walked out of a storefront just as I was passing him, my arm in his face. “HOLY FUCK!” he screamed (even the capital letters don’t do his expression justice). “Is that a tattoo gone wrong, man? SHIT!”

And then there was the very nice bus boy who was sent by the patrons of his restaurant to make sure I was all right (at this point I was sitting on the sidewalk). I told him I was waiting for a very slow ambulance, but my smirk betrayed me and he knew what was up. Still, he couldn’t take his eyes off my arm.

Probably my favorite reaction of the evening came from a homeless man who was sitting against a building. He saw me and started cracking up. I looked at my arm and then back at him. “Yeah, it’s been a rough day man,” I told him.

“Man, I know how that is,” he said, and I left him there in hysterics.

What was really remarkable, however, was the number of non-reactions, or silent reactions, from people whose eyeballs doubled in size but didn’t say anything, or those who stifled their gasps of horror and moved on down the street. One man averted his young son’s eyes. A girl steered her boyfriend in the opposite direction from me. People at street corners just tended to whisper. I wonder how these bad Samaritans would’ve reacted in the days of the Grand Guignol if they had been fortunate to see a performance by Paula Maxa, the blood theater’s star actress. I leave you with the Molotov Theater’s shocking description of Maxa, and a plug for their Fringe production, The Sticking Place:

In 1917 Camille Choisy hired the actress Paula Maxa, who soon became known as “the Sarah Bernnhardt of the impasse Chaptal.” During her career at the Grand-Guignol, Maxa, “the most assassinated woman in the world,” was subjected to a range of tortures unique in theatrical history, including the following: she was shot with a rifle and with a revolver, scalped, strangled, disemboweled, raped, guillotined, hanged, quarted, burned, cut apart with surgical tools and lancets, cut into eighty-three pieces by an invisible Spanish dagger, stung by a scorpion, poisoned with arsenic, devoured by a puma, strangled by a pearl necklace, and whipped; she was also put to sleep by a bouquet of roses, kissed by a leper, and subjected to a very unusual metamorphosis, which was described by one theatre critic: “Two hundred nights in a row, she simply decomposed on stage in front of an audience which wouldn’t have exchanged its seats for all the gold in the Americas. The operation lasted a good two minutes during which the young woman transformed little by little into an abominable corpse.”