The attendees had to fill out an application that included questions concerning their attitudes about animals and meat, and Ms. von Buhler said she saw a âgreat disconnectâ in that people said they loved their pets but also loved eating meat. She hoped to open a few eyes.
The bus discharged the guests onto a hillside speckled with naked dancers and fire twirlers and people in livestock masks. Throbbing music ushered the partygoers into a sprawling hunting lodge with a pitched roof out of a fairy tale. In the dining hall, animal heads lined the walls and a taxidermied raccoon stared down from a chandelier. Jeweled teardrops hung from its eyes.
A masked man called the Pig King welcomed the revelers and introduced his pregnant wife, an antlered baroness. âLet the candidates seeking the true light make the first journey,â he proclaimed.
The evening fast-forwarded toward sensory overload. A soprano in a chicken costume sang a LehÃ¡r aria as aerialists twirled on silks. The 30 guests were briefly blindfolded and fed an improbably rich morsel that turned out be a salted date simmered in olive oil. Everyone was assigned to wear a monkey mask, a pig mask, a chicken mask, a cow mask or a mouse mask.
The baronessâs water broke. We watched her give birth in a bedroom. A drug-addled monkey led his followers into a basement and swore treason against the Pig King. A cow-woman with breast pumps affixed to her like bondage gear filled a bathtub with her milk. In the Contemplation Room, a naked dancer gyrated while wearing large black wings.
Clues about the animal-rights agenda were there for the harvesting: The monkey, a veteran of lab experiments,…