Around Town: The Orange Peel hosts Halloween-themed mock beauty pageant

HELL OF A TIME: Cameron Davis, featured here as the devil, will host the inaugural Asheville Comedy Halloween Beauty Pageant. Featured comedians include, starting top left, clockwise: Bri Padgett as Cruella de Vil; Clay Jones as Mason Vorhees; Christian Lee Villanueva as a vampire; Corey McClain as The Bachelorette Banshee of Biltmore Avenue; James Harrod as Cullen from Twilight; Larry Griffin as Michael Myers; and Hillary Begley as Agatha Trunchbill from Matilda. Photos courtesy of the comedians

Michele Scheve started thinking about putting on a mock beauty pageant back in August while producing a stand-up comedy show featuring a former pageant queen at The Orange Peel. So, when the same venue offered her a slot in October to host another event, she was ready.

“I already had a fully conceived notion to have Halloween characters and others compete in a spoof beauty pageant,” says Scheve, who owns and operates Slice of Life Comedy. “This is just a dream to actually be doing it.”

The inaugural Asheville Comedy Halloween Beauty Pageant takes place Saturday, Oct. 22, at 8 p.m. The event will feature seven costumed comics competing in such categories as beauty, talent, swimsuit and stand-up comedy.

On the bill will be Clay Jones as Mason Vorhees, Jason’s overlooked cousin; James Harrod as Cullen from Twilight; Bri Padgett as Cruella de Vil; Larry Griffin as Michael Myers; Corey McClain as The Bachelorette Banshee of Biltmore Avenue; Hilliary Begley as Agatha Trunchbull from Matilda; and Christian Lee Villanueva as a vampire.

Cameron Davis will host the event; Morgan Bost is the evening’s emcee.

“The first question they’ll be asked is, ‘Where are you from, and how did you end up in Asheville?’” Scheve says. “Their responses can go anywhere.”

Ultimately, Scheve explains, the audience will decide who is crowned the Asheville Monarch of Halloween.

“October is such an amazing month of dress-up and play, and that’s the spirit I hope the audience brings to the show and leaves with afterward,” says Scheve.

Cary Goff from Disclaimer Comedy and Bost and Davis from The Hot Seat are co-producing the event with Slice of Life. The seated show is open to audience members 18 and older.

The Orange Peel is at 101 Biltmore Ave. Tickets are $15 online and $17 at the box office. For more information, go to

Sharing Indigenous culture

The Intertribal Graffiti Jam will bring a dozen Indigenous artists from around the country to downtown Asheville Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 20-23, to paint culturally inspired murals at multiple locations. The gathering was organized by the Indigenous Walls Project, launched by Asheville resident, Jared Wheatley, a dual citizen of the U.S. and the Cherokee Nation.

Wheatley says the event is the first of its kind anywhere in the country and notes the participating artists represent 10 Indigenous nations.

“There are so few opportunities for Native folks to be able to represent their culture in a public way,” he says. “This is a good opportunity for us to come back in the conversation in a very positive way and talk about native land and history and show that we’re maintaining our culture.”

Several events will be held in conjunction with the jam:

    • On Friday, Oct. 21, the Diana Wortham Theatre will host “The Intersection of Indigeneity and Urban Art.” The event will feature a VIP reception at 6 p.m., followed by a screening and panel discussion of the documentary Mele Murals at 7 p.m.
    • Also Friday, Rabbit Rabbit, 75 Coxe Ave., will hold a tribal Silent Disco — Inter-Tribe Jam with DJ Malinalli.  Admission is $5, with all proceeds going to the Indigenous Walls Project, Wheatley says.


  • On Saturday, Oct. 22, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., an Intertribal Market featuring crafts, jewelry and more from Indigenous makers, will held at 46 Aston St.

“We do these murals, but it’s really about building a community that doesn’t exist and has never existed in Asheville,” Wheatley says. “We’re on the land of the Cherokee, but most of the Indigenous people here in Asheville that I work with and spend time with and share stories are not actually Cherokee. It’s an urban center, and just like every urban center, it’s very diverse.”

For more information, go to

Witchy women

Residents of Mills River asked the town for more community recreation events, and officials conjured up an answer.

The Henderson County town will host its first movie night Friday, Oct. 21, at Mills River Park about 7 p.m. The featured film will be the 1993 Halloween classic Hocus Pocus, starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as a villainous comedic trio of witches.

The idea for the movie night came from Katrina Townsend, recently hired as the town’s first recreation program coordinator, says Town Manager Daniel Cobb.

“Katrina has years of experience planning community events such as this, and she wanted to do something festive and family-friendly for the Halloween season,” Cobb explains. “The long-awaited Hocus Pocus 2 has just come out on Disney+, so the movie choice seemed fitting.”

Townsend’s position was created and funded as a result of Mills River’s first Parks and Recreation Master Plan, completed last year. Public input into the plan indicated overwhelming support for more recreation programs and events like the movie night, Cobb says.

The town will sponsor more events going forward, but it is not ready to release a schedule.

“We hope this can serve as a family-friendly evening activity for the community,” says Cobb. “As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to give the community an opportunity to reconnect.”

Folks attending the movie should bring lawn chairs and blankets but are asked to leave pets at home. A concession booth with popcorn and other snacks will be open.

Mills River Park is at 124 Town Center Drive. For more information, go to

Healing words

When queer poet Jeffery Beam was 42, he faced a crisis that still affects him almost three decades later. He fell in love with a younger man, threatening his then-15-year relationship.

“My husband and I, as of May, have been together 42 years, so you can see that this crisis for me didn’t end my 15-year relationship, but it did ultimately heal long-standing wounds in my psyche that had prevented me from living a full, committed life,” he says.

Beam’s new collection of poems, Verdant, was born of that crisis and the healing process that followed. He will read from the collection Thursday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m., at Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center.

“If you look at my work through the decades, the main characteristic you will see is the surrealism/symbolism becoming embedded, quietly almost invisibly, into a style that is minimalist,” he explains. “Verdant remains certainly in my minimalist, yet highly symbolic and impressionistic style. I always have the hope to change in a subtle yet pervasive and singular way the spirit … of my reader through a poetry that enters one in an almost secret, spellbinding way.”

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is at 120 College St. For more information, go to

Killing us softly

The Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center is honoring multi-Grammy Award winner Roberta Flack, undoubtedly the most prominent musical artist to come from Black Mountain, with a permanent exhibit.

A 7-foot banner at the museum highlights Flack’s Western North Carolina roots with childhood photos, an image of her birth certificate, information about her family and more. It was installed in preparation for the museum’s 2023 exhibit “Striking A Chord: Music and Community in the Swannanoa Valley.”

Flack, 85, achieved superstardom in the early 1970s with the smash singles “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” “Killing Me Softly with His Song” and “Feel Like Makin’ Love.”

“This is the first time a celebrity of international fame has been featured in the museum, and the panel gives us a unique insight into what life was like for African Americans who lived in Buncombe County in the 1930s,” says museum director LeAnne Johnson.

The museum partnered with Black Mountain native and Atlanta publicist Regina Lynch-Hudson to implement the permanent exhibition. Among other research, Lynch-Hudson conducted interviews with Flack and Flack’s cousin, Carol Briggs Hovey.

The Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center is at 223 W. State St., Black Mountain. It is open Wednesdays-Saturdays, 1o a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, go to

Prom theme

The Tanglewood Youth Theatre will present The Prom on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 6:30 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 23, at 2:30 p.m. at Asheville Community Theatre.

A Broadway hit later popularized by a Netflix movie, The Prom tells the story of a girl who finds opposition from the PTA when she wants to go to the prom with her girlfriend. The musical will feature a cast of 13- to 17-year-olds who have been participating in a youth production class at ACT since August.

Directed by Michael Jorizzo, the play stars Harry Ferguson, Rylee Strongosky, Evan Brooks, Andy Bowman, Henry Clickner, Maeve Cort, Everett Leggat, Ryan Papaioannou, Simon Leonard, Paige Gorczynski, Nicole Miller, Evren Davis and Bryson Kuykendall.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for ages 3-17.

The ACT is at 35 E. Walnut St. For more information, go to


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About Justin McGuire
Justin McGuire is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with more than 30 years of experience as a writer and editor. His work has appeared in The Sporting News, the (Rock Hill, SC) Herald and various other publications. Follow me @jmcguireMLB

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