Most of the time, if someone openly declares themselves “weird” or “quirky,” it’s more indicative of how they wish to be seen than of any true idiosyncrasies. West Asheville’s Odditorium, however, holds up their end of the bargain, in spades. Sure, there are drag shows, burlesque nights, and comedy events; there’s live music ranging from Appalachian folk to punk to rap; there’s even an authentic Zoltar. But the true peculiarity of the space is a bit more subtle.
The curios strewn about the Odditorium don’t complement the decor—they are the decor. Taxidermied foxes, bats, and raccoons, jarred snakes, and the skeletons and skulls of unidentified animals gaze down at patrons. There’s a Lost Boys poster signed by Tim Capello, disembodied dolls’ heads, and a jar of dirt allegedly from the home of John Wayne Gacy. Rounding things out is a beautifully spherical, 17th-century bezoar of unknown provenance roughly the size of a candlepin ball.
Between black walls saturated in red and purple lighting, a parade of entertainers, and an amiable bar staff who do little to conceal their own personal quirks, the Odditorium can feel as if Ripley’s Believe It Or Not collided with the backstage of a high school drama-club production. Abstract murals doused across the walls lining an outdoor space strike a colorful through line, as do cocktails with names like RedRume, Merman’s Glitterade, Radioactive Unicorn Tears, and Attack of the 50 Foot Flamingo (some costing $6.66). Food options linger in the proudly lowbrow realm of burgers, sloppy joes, and french fries, for those whose appetites are immune to varying states of taxidermy.