Today I am interviewing Cynthia von Buhler, author of the new graphic-novel, The Illuminati Ball.
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DJ: Hi Cynthia! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Cynthia von Buhler: Hello! I’m an artist and writer. I’ve shown my 3-D and interactive paintings/sculptures in galleries and museums worldwide. I’ve also illustrated for most well-known magazines, newspapers and publishers –and won awards for that. For the past ten years I’ve been focusing on writing and illustrating graphic novels and staging interactive theater based on them.
DJ: What is The Illuminati Ball about?
Cynthia: It’s is a warning call about new scientific discoveries, human greed, and corrupt governance on our planet subversively hidden in a provocative book about joining the Illuminati. In real life I have been holding Illuminati Balls of varying sizes for the past four years (with the same premise). Guests need to apply in order to attend. They take part in a variety of rituals, anthropomorphic escapades and morality tests. My hope is for humans to stop being a cancer on earth and live harmoniously with nature.
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Illuminati Ball?
Cynthia: Several years ago, my choreographer, Delysia La Chatte, sent me intense photographs of the Rothschild’s Surrealist Illuminati Ball from 1972 as inspiration. Audrey Hepburn, one of the attendees, wore a birdcage over her head and the Baroness de Rothschild wore a stag head mask with diamond tears. These images made me think about the sadness of animals. I thought about global warming, factory farming, vivisection, hunting and so many other ways humans hurt animals. I decided to create an immersive play combining a Surrealist Eyes Wide Shut-type party with a story about non-human animals. I was also inspired by The Georgia Guidestones, a monument erected mysteriously in the eighties in Elbert County, Georgia, USA. The commandments engraved in it’s massive granite stones struck me as deeply pertinent advice for our times. At one point some thugs spray painted “Die Illuminati Pigs!” on one of the stones. This made me think, what if the Illuminati was an organization of pigs?
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Cynthia: The two main characters are Pig King and Chumanzee. One is hopeful, naive and compassionate. The other is angry, bitter and misanthropic. They both relate to sides of me and how I feel about humanity. You need hope in order to keep pushing forward even if you are angry. As one comes to understand the horrible things that happened to Chumanzee it’s easier to sympathize with him.
DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role for in story? Why?
Cynthia: The baby pigs Adonis and Persephone are my favorite side characters. In fact, the sequel to this book is about them. Adonis has the head of a pig with a human body and brain. He wants to be a rapper. Persephone looks like a pig but has a human brain. She can speak and is a classical piano prodigy. Persephone is based on one of my pet pigs who has the same name. I call her Nini for short. I trained her to be a learned pig. She can read and tell time. Nini is incredibly smart. See her in action: https://vimeo.com/255459880
DJ: What is the world and setting of The Illuminati Ball like?
Cynthia: Time: A couple of years ago
Environment: A farm in Georgia and a waterfront estate and forest in New York.
Weather: Summer and Fall
People: Humans and animal-human hybrids
Technology: CRISPR gene editing
Architecture: Stately Stone Hunting Lodge
Government: corrupt, Trump, chaos
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Illuminati Ball?
Cynthia: I enjoy researching and incorporating actual science into my stories. While my book may be called science fiction, much of it is based on fact. There are now farms with spider goats to make large quantities of spider silk milk. I corresponded with the scientist who made them. Pigs with human DNA are being grown for organ harvesting in China. The Georgia Guidestones are real. There really was a Nazi scientist hired by our government to create biological weapons incorporating animals on Plum Island across a small body of water from Lyme Connecticut. (Lyme, Connecticut is where Lyme disease was first discovered.) The Illuminati did actually exist at one point and it was an organization for good. The Rothschilds did hold an Illuminati Ball where the Baroness wore a stag head with diamond tears.
I also base my Minky Woodcock comics (The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini) on facts. This allows the elements of fantasy to be grounded in truth. For me, facts are a porthole into imagination. I’m a magic realist.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Cynthia: Many readers and attendees to my balls have told me it’s made them think about the plight of animals and how humans hurt them for our own benefit. We need to live in harmony with nature. The last commandment on the Georgia Guidestones is: “Be not a cancer on earth, leave room for nature. Leave room for nature.”
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing The Illuminati Ball? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Cynthia: My hope is for people to live harmoniously with nature. My goal is to raise awareness, entertain and enlighten.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from The Illuminati Ball that you can share with us?
Cynthia: “Be not a cancer on earth, leave room for nature. Leave room for nature.”
DJ: Now that The Illuminati Ball is released, what is next for you?
Cynthia: I’m working on a graphic novel called Speakeasy Dollhouse about the mysterious murder of my bootlegging grandfather during Prohibition in New York City. This book, based on my life, is a ghost story about teenage mental illness and obsessive compulsive disorder. I’m also working on the next Minky Woodcock episode in my comic book series for Hard Case Crime/Titan. And as always, I’m caring for my farm of rescued animals. I have 2 pigs, 5 chickens, 4 cats, 36 pigeons, a dog, a rabbit and a rooster.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Author Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dr1xP9
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about The Illuminati Ball that we haven’t talked about yet?
Cynthia: We are holding a very exclusive Illuminati Ball for 35 lucky guests on New Year’s Eve. It’s very expensive ($1,000 per person) because it’s an immersive excursion, which is travel for the curious. It includes transportation to and from Manhattan, dinner, cocktails, champagne, aerial, fire, sauna, burlesque, rituals, group bathing, drum circles, dance, my book personally signed, a gift, and a chance to meet Persephone, the learned pig. All prospective attendees must fill out this application and be accepted before they may buy a ticket. http://www.theilluminatiball.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html
DJ: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Cynthia: Thanks! I liked the question about the side character. I haven’t been asked that one before. Let’s ask you a question. What did you think about The Illuminati Ball?
DJ: Well, that’s an easy question! I thought it was great! ;P
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***The Illuminati Ball is published by Titan Comics and is available TODAY!!!***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
Cynthia von Buhler, acclaimed author and visual artist of Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini, brings her immersive theater production The Illuminati Ball to Graphic Novel form.
The Illuminati Ball merges the myth and mystery surrounding the secret organization of the rich and powerful who supposedly control the world with a story about human-animal hybrids who have escaped an experimental lab. Inspired by the legendary 1972 surrealist masquerade party that influenced Stanley Kubrick’s film Eyes Wide Shut — hosted by the Baron and Baroness de Rothschild at their mansion in Paris — The Illuminati Ball combines elements of the fantastical with reality to tell an unforgettable story about power, cruelty, deceit, betrayal, and the insatiable hunger for freedom.