Q&A: Nick Wolak of Trauma

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to shock Columbus — but that won’t stop Trauma’s Nick Wolak and Co. from trying. Columbus’ premier Halloween fetish party is going into its 13th year, but 2014 will mark many firsts for Trauma. For three nights, the costume-mandatory party will be full of Columbus’ most creative acts, DJs and performers. Thursday, Oct. 30 kicks off the event with a “Circus”-themed soiree, followed by “The Ward” on Friday, and culminating with a “Masquerade” extravaganza on Saturday. Though the ante gets upped each October, Wolak believes the Columbus community is ready for whatever Trauma throws its way.

The goal with Trauma was to throw a party Columbus hadn’t seen before. The initial goal was to make sureeveryone who came through the door was uncomfortable with at least one thing happening that night. We’ve done a pretty good job over the years; every year we have new ideas and new acts, but quite honestly, it’s getting harder and harder to do. It’s getting difficult to top what we did the year before, and the crowd’s costumes get better and better. Trauma has a lot of new things this year. We’ve expanded the “House of Bacchus.” Last year it was a private experimental room, this year it will be a full wing of the upstairs balcony. The Lion’s Den will be presenting Ohio-born porn actress Bonnie Rotten for meet and greets on Friday and Saturday night. We always have new DJs, performers and acts. That’s one of the cool things about organizing this event; all the great artists you get to meet. This year’s suspension act is going to be intense. Last year, Jared [Anderson] cut himself out of one suspension and did a front flip into another suspension. It was the first time it’d ever been done in the world, so that video went viral. This year they want to top last year; they have some pretty good ideas on how to do it, too.

The biggest complaint we had last year, was that it was too crowded inside the venue. We had to choose between moving venues or expanding to another night. We love working with The Bluestone, so we just decided to add another night. We had to contact all the people that would be here all three nights, like the suspension crew, the bondage group and the Guilty Pleasures crew. They were all very much on board.

Trauma is a platform for established acts to try new things, as well as new acts. RainTrain has performed at Trauma several years, and I have yet to see him do the same thing. He is always bringing something fun and different. Personally, I don’t intentionally plan what is going to happen. I like to work with the artists and performers and give them the space to create what happens. Anna and the Annadroids is a great example. She started off as an ambulant act, she didn’t even have stage time. Each year she has built her performance to showcase different things she is into. A few years ago she started with the aerial stuff and projections. We just kind of give her the stage and she does the rest.

Every night is a completely different event.This is our first year incorporating the theme idea. Thursday is “Circus,” Friday is “The Ward,” and Saturday is “Masquerade.” I think the acts are catering to the themes, and I think the partygoers will cater to the themes, too. You can come all three nights and have a uniquely different experience each night; it just depends on which room you’re in at what point. We have acts and music that start at 9 p.m., as soon as the doors open all the way to close. There is something different going on all the time.

It’s Halloween; it’s time to take on a new persona. This year we made Trauma costume mandatory. We’ve been playing around with the idea for a while, but this year we think Columbus is ready. When you spend two months making your costume by hand, you don’t want to see a guy in a ball cap next to you at the bar. When you put on a costume, you take on a different persona, and that’s what Trauma is about. It’s time to make new friends, have fun and take on a different persona for the evening.

Photo by Meghan Ralston

Age: "Ouch!"

Hometown: Ohio

Current Neighborhood: Clintonville

Day job: Body Piercer at Evolved

Currently listening to: Silence

Playing favorites:

 Favorite movie: "Stoney Knows How"

Favorite TV Show: No TV...

Favorite cocktail/beverage: Kombucha Kvass

Favorite restaurant: Portia's Cafe

What's your favorite thing about the suburbs? Highbanks Metro Park

Best Halloween costume you've ever worn: Policeman