Shrunken heads, mummified specimens and Voodoo artifacts are just some of the items in the collection of oddities that Doctor Mysterion has amassed in his west-end Toronto home.
The well known local mentalist has long been on the hunt for the strange and obscure through his various work engagements, along with Steffi Kay, his onstage partner in The Sentimentalists.
It’s got to the point where weird things just end up being offered to him.
“When I was a kid, I loved Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and I used to love going to the museum and seeing the mummy and the artifacts. I always had a fascination with unsolved mysteries. So these are things that have always been interesting to me, for example, like a shrunken head, or things that are part of Indigenous cultures or cryptozoology, like the Loch Ness Monster or the Jersey Devil,” he explains.
“And as I grew older, I kind of wanted to explore my ability to purchase or own some of these pieces and, fortunately over the last 15 years, I’ve been able to amass a pretty large collection of the real and the surreal.”
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Taking over three rooms of his house is an incredible variety of items, from wrestling action figures to autographed posters of classic pin-up girls to more elaborately displayed obscurities.
Kay, who has worked with Mysterion for two years, says the collection can be overwhelming to first time visitors.
“It’s like when you go in, there’s almost like a silence. There are three rooms that are stacked and packed with things. The other rooms just have things all over,” she says. “I’ve brought friends over to see it and they just stand there gobsmacked.”
When asked about the strangest thing, Mysterion brings out his Atacama mummy. Mysterion bought the 15-centimetre humanoid figure after being approached by the seller at a show in New York City; the other collector found it just a little too creepy.
“It gave him the oogies,” says Kay. “And you have to understand, this was from a person who had a house full of creepy things.”
Mysterion’s still not sure exactly what it is.
“I’ve had medical professionals look at it, and similar specimens have been studied and been DNA tested, with it coming back as an unknown specimen,” he says. “It’s a little six-inch-high alien with four fingers and nine ribs. Whatever it is, it’s unbelievable. . . . It was just handed to me and I really did not pay very much for it.”
Mysterion says his collection is not yet at the level of Billy Jamieson’s, the former local dealer in tribal art who amassed a legendary cache of items, including the world’s largest collection of shrunken heads. The artifacts were auctioned off after Jamieson’s death in 2011 and Mysterion picked up some pieces from him.
He’s constantly on the hunt for more.
“I want to get more medical specimens that are oddities and Victorian. The way that Victorians displayed these things was very magical,” he says. “I think the thing with these items is that it is a tactile museum, because it’s real. I can take out the piece and allow you to handle it. I like it when people can hold on to history and literally feel a story.”
For most, that would require an invitation to Mysterion’s house. Because of the season, he’s holding a pair of special Halloween shows Monday at 8 and 9:30 p.m., bringing a curated collection of items to Curiosa at 1273 Queen St W.
Go to eventbrite.ca for tickets to Sideshow and Tell. They are $20, $10 for children under 12.