Interview With Cynthia von Buhler, Pearls Daily, and Charles Ardai
Location: New York Comic Con 2018
Interview Date: 10/4/2018

Content Warning: Images feature nudity.

The intersection between live theater and graphic novels is not well-traveled. Sure, New York Comic Con had plenty of television shows and movie tie-ins, but live theater is a different story altogether. That’s one of the reasons I was so excited to sit down with the team behind The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini. It’s brought to us by Cynthia von Buhler’s Speakeasy Dollhouse (NSFW, especially if you press play. More on this in a bit.)

The show is based off of the historical fiction graphic novel The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini. First off, let me note that the comic is not for young readers. There is violence, death, and nudity. Lots of nudity. Lots and lots of nudity. The thing is, the nudity and the really weird stuff? That’s historically accurate. Cynthia invented our private detective, but the craziest scene in the book (you’ll know) comes from what really happened.

When I sat down for my time slot, the previous interview was finishing and they were talking about a train robber who was caught by wire. He was so confused, and couldn’t understand how the police were waiting for him at the next station.

Dig into historical fiction, discover amazing historical facts.

I was able to speak with Speakeasy Dollhouse founder (and author of The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini) Cynthia von Buhler, Hard Case Crime founder Charles Ardai, and actress Pearls Daily.

My first question focused on the immersive theater production. Cynthia shared that there were three floors. They included a speakeasy, a theater (within a theater), and a mansion. There is also an underwater escape act. Minky Woodcock doesn’t take the easy path.

Photo Credit: Speakeasy Dollhouse

Cynthia shared that she started her immersive theater of career with Women of Sodom. She added that she also makes sculptures, so her creative streak doesn’t end at music, writing, or theater.

I asked Pearls how she came to star in the show:

“I loved the script. I’d done a few of her shows. Coming from a burlesque background, it looked perfect.” -Pearls Daily

As to their influences growing up:

“Sexy pulp comics. James Bond. Batman. S&M art. Robert McGinnis.” -Cynthia von Buhler

“My boyfriend wanted to draw. He loved Superman. I liked Lois Lane. More recently, I’ve enjoyed Lady Killer.” -Pearls Daily

Cynthia shared that her grandfather was shot and killed in 1935, which caused her grandmother to go into shock and labor. Her mother was born on that day. She’s always been fascinated by the crime of that era. Cynthia did a lot of research into it, and discovered the story of Olive Thomas, the first flapper girl. If you clicked on the NSFW video from the link above, you saw her movie from Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic.

“They die fast on Broadway.” -Cynthia von Buhler

As for the hard case crime book publishing business:

“I was digging through the library cabinets in my parent’s house and I found my grandmother’s secret stash of Mickey Spillane novels. It runs in the family.” -Charles Ardai

You might know Charles from the novelization of The Nice Guys (and gave this interview about it). If you are interested in checking out his work, my personal recommendation would be to check out John Blake’s mystery serial series.

We spent most of the rest of our time chatting about rescuing kittens, bunnies, and other animals. For those of you who are interested in hearing more from Cynthia about Minky Woodcock, I’d recommend checking out this interview.

The show runs through November 10th at St. Marks Place.

Special thanks to Cynthia von Buhler, Pearls Daily, and Charles Ardai for sitting down with us. Thanks to Titan Comics for making this interview possible.