WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — It had to happen. Vampires and werewolves are passé. But thanks to “The Walking Dead” on AMC, zombies are hot.
In celebration of this season’s finale Sunday night, fans can dress in costumes and attend a viewing party, presented by The Eclektik Sunshine, an online arts and music magazine, at Ziggy’s Music Park in Winston-Salem.
The event is planned for 8 p.m. Sunday at 170 W. 9th St. It costs $15 in advance and $20 the day of the party.
The quirky party, complete with live music, dancing and food from local vendors, is the brainchild of Aquilla Reid, the magazine’s founder-editor.
She first heard about the show several years ago when she talked with Jeryl Prescott Sales, a fellow Winston-Salem native, at the National Black Theatre Festival.
“Jeryl was telling me about this show, ‘The Walking Dead,’ that AMC was going to run for six episodes to see how people liked it. She had a part in it, so I watched. And she got killed off in the last of the six episodes,” Reid said. “But I thought the show was awesome and have been hooked on it since it first aired in 2010.”
Though she’s become fond of the tattered, maimed, staggering zombies on the show, the appeal, at least for her, is not just the zombies.
“It’s not about the zombies — it’s about how these people interact with each other in an apocalyptic world. I can actually relate to the story line and how diverse people can become family with strangers,” said Reid, a poet-turned-singer-turned-arts aficionado and editor. “I’ve been through a lot — I’ve lost and gained people, survived tragedy and adversity, and, like the main characters on the show, I remain standing.”
She decided to host the costume party after getting feedback on Facebook and even chatting with people on the street, she said.
“I’d ask: Would you go to a ‘Walking Dead’ costume party? And the response was always ‘Yeah, when is it? Where is it?’ I’d heard of viewing parties but nobody in our area was really doing anything like a costume party on a larger scale.”
Reid — who joked that her first name (pronounced Ah-quill-ah) is a city in Ohio, a city in Texas, Latin for golden eagle and the name of a male “prayer-kit maker” in the Bible — thought Ziggy’s Music Park would be the perfect venue and reached out to musician friends to come play the event.
Entertainers will include R&B artist Jacolby from Charlotte; the Nick Driver Band, an acoustic southern rock band from Raleigh; and hip-hop artists Tod.Jae of Charlotte and Mike Shaine from Denver.
Kevin Fox, host of a popular Charlotte Internet indie music radio show, will be broadcasting live from the party on http://www.thecertifiedshow.com, and Greensboro DJ Small Wonda will be spinning tunes throughout the evening.
Wings & Spirits and the Peanut House will provide snacks — from wings to roasted peanuts, hot dogs and homemade lemonade.
Reid, who calls herself the “Queen of Theme,” is still working on her own costume and promises big things.
She suggests that attendees coming as zombies find makeup artists who can help with facial prosthetics and theatrical makeup to approximate the ripped and distorted faces.
And “don’t forget that dragging, staggering zombie walk,” she added. “Although it seems like the zombies are walking faster this season. Wonder what’s up with that?”
Reid, 38, has already seen a couple of costumes for the show — Sheriff Rick, for example — in local party stores. But characters like the sheriff, scruffy Darryl and country girl Beth are easy enough to impersonate with homemade costumes.
Callie Saunders, 18, of Winston-Salem, is a die-hard fan. She’s excited about going to the costume party. Her attire is still evolving, but if she can figure out a way to cover her bright red hair with short, brown tresses, she’ll go as Maggie, a farm girl with an Amazon-like persona, she said.
“When I watch the show, I feel like the action is happening to me, too,” Saunders said. “They’ve created this world that just draws you in and makes you feel that everything happening is really possible. I guess there are a lot of us who are fascinated by the idea of the apocalypse.”
Costumed or not, zombie or post-apocalyptic human, Reid hopes locals will check out the party. “Just dress up, and come let all that crazy fan stuff out. We’ll eat, dance, watch the show on Ziggy’s cinema-like screens and have a ball,” she said.