In Heart of Gathering, we shine a light on event creators who bring together niche communities and share their passions with the world. Take a look at the story behind each creator, and see how their passions have helped them find and build their unique community. Watch Ryan Matthew Cohn’s full story below.
Ryan Matthew Cohn collects oddities from all over the world. His house with wife and Co-Founder Regina Marie acts as a museum devoted to some of the strangest and most beautiful pieces he’s collected throughout his years of curation. Medieval paintings, antique medical equipment, life-size anatomical models, taxidermied animals, wax bodies, and full suits of armor crowd the three-story Victorian home perched on the Connecticut coastline.
“We have a door that belonged to a supposed witch from the 17th century. And I’d say that out of all the pieces in my collection, that is the one that people are either most interested in or the most scared of.”
Bringing a unique hobby to the masses
A lifelong obsession with antiques and the occult led to a TV show and a museum bar curated by Ryan Matthew, as well as high-caliber clients like director Guillermo del Toro. From there, he channeled his unique passion into an event with the Oddities Flea Market, with rows of vendors selling mystical, obscure, and otherworldly wares like the ones found in his and Regina’s home.
“I handpick all of the vendors who take part in the Oddities Flea Market,” says Ryan Matthew. “We have over 70 vendors, over three floors, and it’s a broad spectrum. We have jewelry, we have people that sell skulls, antiques, and oddities, then you have people who make original artwork and home decor.”
A crowd unlike any other
Entering the three-story venue in Downtown LA (Ryan Matthew and Regina also hosts their flea markets in Chicago and Brooklyn), you’re immediately transported to what feels like an underground world. Two DJs in skull makeup spin punk rock records and pump up a crowd comprised of elves, accountants, witches, and veterinarians. The throngs of colorful attendees traipse through rows of vendors selling animal masks, glass eyeball jewelry, pinned butterflies, and sinister dolls.
“The people who attend the Oddities Flea Market really run the gamut,” he says. “You have professionals, like lawyers and doctors, then you have oddities enthusiasts — people that might be adding the first piece to their collection — then you have people who have enormous collections that come to add to it.”
These events are more extraordinary than your typical flea market, trading the food trucks for eyeball-infused Jell-O, the racks of vintage clothes for ornate medieval headdresses, and the antique furniture for shrunken heads in jars. The spectacle brings people from what feels like the far reaches of the world — those wearing full leather outfits, those dressed as haunted dolls and witches, masked and hooded characters, and goths.
Building community out of the occult
“One of the most meaningful elements of my business is being able to share my own artistry and knowledge with everyone else that’s interested in it,” says Ryan Matthew. “When I was first coming into this type of collecting, there wasn’t a huge community of people.”
Hosting these flea markets helped Ryan Matthew realize that there’s a sizable underground community interested in oddities (around 3,000–4,000 people typically attend the event throughout the weekend), and he’s grateful for the ability to create a gathering spot for like-minded folks.
“We saw an opportunity because the community really needed a way to bring everyone together. And what better way to do that than a flea market of sorts? One that’s inspired by what it was that I was doing already, which was oddities.”
Get your tickets now for Oddities Flea Market in LA on October 8th and an upcoming market in NYC on December 10th.
Head underground and see the event for yourself here.