For those horror host naysayers out there who think that the time honored art is reserved solely for the G-Rated crowd, allow me to give you a fresh perspective. Tucked in the Nevada desert, lurking in the shadows of Las Vegas’ shimmering lights, is a host who could strike fear into the hearts of even the most hardcore horror fan!
Today, of course, is Halloween. As it should happen, our favorite holiday also lands on a Sunday. What a perfect opportunity to step into horror’s chapel and pay a visit to Midnight Massacre Theatre’s Sinister Minister!
Sean Smith, The Sinister Minister, has been hosting movies for the better part of the last decade. An active musician in Vegas’ Rock Metal scene, Smith became “disgusted” with the music business after the demise of his band in 2003. There’s an old adage that states one must “light a candle rather than curse the darkness.” Smith managed to flip conventional wisdom on its ears by choosing instead to embrace the darkness, thereby creating his own inferno.
The demise of Smith’s band afforded him not only a moment of personal reflection, but the opportunity to take his showmanship to a whole new level. An avid fan of horror, it was during a fit of insomnia that he would stumble upon his inspiration. “I was watching TV and happened upon a showing of WHITE ZOMBIE. Unknown to me at the time, I had stumbled into an episode of “Zomboo’s House of Horror Movies,” says Smith. “Instantly delighted, I made the decision to create my own horror show in that little room, lit by the glow of the television set.” While Zomboo had given him the inclination to become a host, he would draw on his experiences in the Metal world in creating his character and developing his show (as we will delve in with much greater detail shortly). As a fan of both Zomboo and The Sinister Minister, I did notice one similarity that I really appreciated.
Just as Zomboo humorously injects himself into his films (adding comedic commentary) so too does The Sinister Minister. In the case of the latter it is through an impressive array of lightning that whisks viewers from the film into the throne room of our kingly host. Sinister’s wit and hilarious comments make for a highly entertaining experience and give even the most common public access film a fresh perspective. He also delivers them with such gusto, it’s all but impossible for the viewer not to get “fired up” themselves.
On Halloween 2003, The Sinister Minister would make his debut! Using a local “haunt” owned by one of his old band managers, his first presentation was the film NIGHTMARE CASTLE. Not having Elvira nor any other local hosts to draw upon from his youth, Smith then went to the delicate task of creating his own sidekicks. Working as a DJ/MC at a Vegas strip club, he had no trouble enlisting the aid of beautiful women, now referred to as “The Altargirls,” to assist him during one of his “Sadistic Sermons.”
The Sinister Minister delighted me by not only presenting movies that appeal to my darker tastes (such as HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, SEVEN DOORS OF DEATH, and DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE) but also in taking time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions.
DAVE: Just as an initial observation, you appear to look a lot like a certain King Diamond. Is it safe in assuming that he was an influence in the creation of your character?
SINISTER: The connection to my “inner Demon” as I call him is pretty obviously linked to my admiration of bands like “Cradle of Filth,” Dimmu Borgir, Satyricon, and the likes. I am a HUGE Black Metal fan…and there’s obviously an influence from the grandfather himself, King Diamond. Have been a die hard King Diamond fan since I was first introduced to “Mercyful Fate” at the age of 15…the first notes out of King’s mouth on the “Melissa” record sent shivers up my spine and I was hooked ever since! Obviously I took the basic characteristics of the evil Black Metal look and put my own personal twists to it and Voila! The Sinister Minister! That has to be the #1 comment I get from people is that I remind them of King Diamond, which to me is certainly a compliment. So, for those of you who thought that…thanks!
DAVE: But you would credit your inspiration in hosting to Zomboo?
SINISTER: Yes, inspired by Zomboo…well, it’s true…I have a lot of family and friends in Reno so I visit there regularly, I had never heard of him though until I happened upon his show late one Saturday night while unable to sleep. I had already been toying with this idea for a short while, I guess it was fate, I dunno…but as soon as I saw that the version of “White Zombie” that I was watching was indeed a Horror Host show, the Flood ,(or Hell) Gates came crashing open and the whole thing flooded like a torrent into my brain…The show name, the character, the premise, the entire thing pretty much just fell together. Kinda painful, really but hey, it was worth it!
DAVE: As Diamond is an avid Satanist, and your show is developed as a sort of “Black Mass,” would you say that you are also a member of that group?
SINISTER: Yes, the image…I am naturally attracted to the darker aspects of life…always have been as far back as I can remember…Halloween was ALWAYS my favorite Holiday. I loved decorating and wearing the costumes, carving the Pumpkins…the TV specials, just everything! So, when the Minister “possessed” me, so to speak…there was really no other way for him to look, or sound…he kind of just took on a life, or (un- life) of his own. I really never pictured him any different. I want him to take people aback a bit…however, he makes up for his ominous look with his humor. It’s a pretty good balance! As far as Religion, now this is a can of worms that is better left unopened. Let’s just say that I am a spiritual person…I do not agree with nor do I adhere to any one organized religion because religion is a man-made monster, the only civilizations that got it right, as far as I’m concerned is the ancient Pagans. I have done some extensive research into the subject of religion and have attained certain certificates in the field of Anthropology, So I have my outlooks and that’s pretty much that…in fact, I am an ordained Pagan Minister…how bout that? gotta love the internet eh?
DAVE: (Laughs) So do Christian groups ever give you any flak?
SINISTER: I get the religious recruiters at my door now n’ then…If I’m in the talkative mood, I’ll answer the door and lay my spiel on them…they usually leave quickly thereafter. Nothing from Christian groups yet…I guess I haven’t reached that level of popularity as of yet…but hey, I’m still hoping!
DAVE: Well, in terms of popularity, your show has come a long way from that Halloween 2003 show.
SINISTER: I didn’t really actively pursue the show until roughly 2 years later, as I was still dabbling in the world of music, I didn’t fully turn my attention to the MMT til’ Halloween of 2005…Since then I have gotten the MMT aired locally (and briefly….as it was) in Vegas on a small analog station called “KVTE Vegas 35″…a low powered UHF station that only reached a certain area of town, they aired the MMT over the weekends for about 2 years til’ they went defunct. I did, however learn a bit of useful information about the business of TV from them, as well as formed the partnership with the other half of “Dead of Night productions”, Justin Miller, who has done all the Camera work and editing on the MMT since its inception. After that, I moved the whole operation from their studio to the now, “secret location” of the Chap-Hell of Horror! Since then I decided to try my luck in other areas of the country that hadn’t yet seen the show. It was in part due to comments, requests and responses on my MySpace pages and my first version of my own website. So, I started contacting cable access stations all over and many of them were very interested and fortunately, everyone in that field that saw the show, really enjoyed it, and there you have it…15 states and over 40 markets.
DAVE: Tell me a bit about your experiences as a musician.
SINISTER: I spent nearly 20 years in the Vegas music scene…whatever there was of it…Vegas has never really had a “Scene” really, it’s always been a pretty small pool of musicians recycling band after band, it’s unfortunate because there are some really cool and very talented people that are from Vegas and honed locally, but being this is a “tourist town” anything of a local nature gets pushed behind the lure of the neon and glitz that Vegas is so known for. I personally am a Bassist of nearly 25 years. I was a member of a number of bands around here…beginning with “King’s Ransom”, “Legacy”, not to mention my longest running and more successful project, “187″ and finally, a short lived project “Blood Runs Cold”. It was during the year or so that I had formed that latter band that “The Midnight Massacre Theatre” was hatched from my dark, cobwebbed mind…It’s needless to say that I was pretty much raised on Metal! In fact, I’ve actually become involved with another project recently. A good friend of mine who is a manager for a haunt company here, “Freakling Bros.” does a really cool thing he calls “Hellvis”, let’s just say his slogan is…”The King ain’t gone…he’s just dead, baby!” So, that’ll be something to watch for!
DAVE: I was impressed when I went to your site and watched a few of your “Sadistic Sermons.” I really liked seeing Lucio Fulci’s HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY. What are your favorite horror films?
SINISTER: Well, obviously Horror films in all their facets, but I am particularly fond of a good psychological Horror film, or any good Vampire, Werewolf or Ghost story. Among my favorite Vampire films will always be the SUBSPECIES series from Full Moon Features. As well as the masterpiece that is Coppola’s DRACULA. Always on the top of my lists. AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON tops my list of Werewolf films…followed by BAD MOON and of course, THE WOLFMAN…original AND the remake. UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS and SKINWALKERS are also on my favs list. AS for the classics, well…ALL the Universal classics, of course…as well as the Hammer series…many great films came from that franchise. I also greatly admire and respect Vincent Price…everything he did was fantastic! If I had to choose one Price film, it would have to be DIARY OF A MADMAN.
DAVE: Just a few days ago you did a “LIVE” horror host show. Since you were a musician, and obviously have no trouble performing in a public venue, do you think this is something you’d like to explore further in the future?
SINISTER: The “Live” show, well this is something I’ve been eagerly wanting to do for at least the last 3 years. This year, it just fell together…”The Black Door” is a relatively new local hot-spot partially owned by Dave Navarro. It has a really cool atmosphere and I already have a couple of friends that work there, so I brought up this idea and they loved it! So, the first “Midnight Massacre Theatre Halloween Hellraiser” happened on Thursday night, Oct 28th at Midnight…The Altargirls and I hosted and showcased this year’s Halloween show. Events like this rarely, if ever happen here, so I’m happy it was successful. I would like to make this a yearly event at the very least, but if there was a demand for more live screenings throughout the year, yes…I would be very interested in doing more of them.
DAVE: So where can potential new fans catch your show?
SINISTER: More recently, The Midnight Massacre Theatre has been picked up by a fast growing, national digital network called ”TUFF TV” Which is a sister station to “RETRO TV” and is included now, twice a week on the TUFF TV programming line up, reaching approximately 22 million homes in the country. We are also lurking about on the World Wide Web (of deceit) and can be found at our official “grave” site, www.themmt.com
So…DO come and worship with our congregation of creeps and Diabolical Disciples at the Chap-Hell of Horror!!! Every Saturday night at Midnight AND Sunday night at 1 am as we haunt the airwaves of TUFF TV!!!
A little over a month ago, I was having an email exchange with my co-blogger and friend, David Albaugh. He was disappointed that his plans for this October’s annual “Rock & Shock” horror convention in Massachusetts had fallen apart. Attending a fan convention alone is never as much fun as sharing the experience with a fellow enthusiast, especially if you’re looking for a reliable photographer to capture those rare moments of you interacting with your favorite celebs. I genuinely felt bad for him because I knew that, while fan conventions are abundant here in my centralized Midwest location of Chicago, this was much less the case in his native Rhode Island.
This disappointing revelation took place around my 40th birthday (another disappointing revelation) and the wheels in my head began to turn. I called my wife to see if, as a birthday gift, she’d help me purchase a plane ticket to Rhode Island. She quickly agreed and David seemed to accept the idea as well, making what was once deemed an unlikely meeting of the “Daves” become a reality.
This, however, could be a mixed blessing. The Internet is a great tool in connecting with people on a superficial level if not necessarily a meaningful one. I make this statement without judgment but, the fact of the matter is, some online relationships are just plain better off staying there! And, in terms of online friendships, this one was a relatively new one at that.
I had just “met” him scarcely a year ago on the Svengoolie YAHOO Group. The moderator of this group (who goes by the name of Blue Cat) accepted an email from a member while stating that this “would be the last of its kind she’d allow.” A man from Rhode Island was requesting that a Chicago fan send him new episodes of Sven to trade with older ones he had managed to collect over the years. I’d been a member of this group for years and had seen dozens of these type of requests pile up in my inbox. I completely understood Blue Cat’s position and had always ignored these types of messages before. For reasons I still can’t say, I decided to write Mr. Albaugh a reply stating that, as long he supplied discs, he was welcome to anything I had and that I would tape new shows for him as well . My act of “charity” ended up being more like hitting the jackpot! We exchanged lists and he ended up having many more shows than I did. Having missed the first seven years of Svengoolie’s return to television, I had just found someone who could actually help me fill in those gaps. He willingly agreed to send and exchange all requested shows for some of mine, along with the promise that I send him all the new ones that aired as well.
In a couple of weeks our email exchanges graduated to Facebook and we soon discovered that, aside from being fans of Svengoolie, we were about the same age and shared other interests as well. This ranged from movies, the love of nature & animals, photography as well as enjoying a lot of the same books and TV shows too. One day during an email exchange between us, my wife needed to use the computer. I had left our last message up and she began to read it. As I walked back to the computer, she smiled and gave me the weirdest look. “What is it?” I asked. “I just read the emails between you and your friend from Rhode Island. Between your names, writing style, and interests, I can’t tell which one is writing who and it looks like you’re having a conversation with yourself!”
Soon we discovered Michigan horror host, Wolfman Mac, and this led to an email exchange between us in January where I wrote – “It’s so neat to see a totally new host from a different state! Wouldn’t it be cool if we could see the work of other hosts from around the country?” David took this request and ran with it. We now have an enormous sampling of hosts who have, and shall continue, to grace this very blog site.
Still, there were some core differences between us that could not be ignored. I am legally married to a woman and a devoted father to our five kids. David is single and does not have children. The biggest and most profound difference, however, was our geography. Rhode Island isn’t just another state, it’s a whole different region of the United States. Perhaps this distance was contributing to our site’s success and I was now in danger of violating it.
As the plane touched down in Providence, I had a nervous feeling that this was going to be a disaster. I did feel a sense of awkwardness when we finally did meet but we soon (as David would later say) “clicked.” We intended to check out the Roger Williams Park Zoo to enjoy their Halloween lights display. Mother nature, however, had other plans. Tropical storms out in the Atlantic created intense winds for the tiny coastal state. I joked that I was used to it having arrived from Chicago but, in truth, it had been a long time since I had experienced gusts of that magnitude. Regardless, this wasn’t an evening to be spent outdoors and we ditched the zoo plans heading to his home instead.
While on the way, David stopped at the Chestnut Hill Cemetery in Exeter to show me the resting place of Mercy Brown. Mercy Brown was believed to be a vampire and represents the first time an undead ritual was performed on American soil. While this was more likely a case of Tuberculosis, coupled with local hysteria, it has inspired many ghoulish tales and remains one of the most prominent urban mythologies from David’s home state of Rhode Island.
It was a horror host that had brought us together as friends and another that helped break the ice. After spending the next few hours laughing at Nevada’s Zomboo it was as if we’d known each other for years. The awkwardness soon evaporated and the stage was set for an amazing weekend.
The next day (Saturday) we drove to Massachusetts to attend the “Rock & Shock” convention. Last March I believed nothing could beat the 2010 Indianapolis Horrorhound Convention and those who read my earlier blogs depicting the event can easily see why. As you will read in coming posts, however, “Rock & Shock” came pretty damn close! Amazing celebrity meetings along with a chance to, once again, commune with the great hostess – Penny Dreadful (featured in an earlier Horror Host Spotlight) has me already marking my 2011 calender to return next year.
On Sunday we would venture into the town of Salem, Massachusetts and enjoy the best this historical town had to offer. The number one attraction (and highlight of the day) was seeing “Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery” and meeting David’s close friend, James (Jamie) Lurgio. This absolutely phenomenal place was covered by David in an earlier blog though, with all due respect, words can’t really do it justice. Any fan of monsters NEEDS to go there, end of story!
While visiting the Nightmare Gallery, I had a chance to chat with Mr. Lurgio himself who said this of his friend; “David was my mentor and my inspiration for going on to do this. His annual Halloween yard displays were legendary and we had great times working on it together all those years ago. I always site David as my inspiration.”
I understood exactly what James was saying. I had envisioned doing a horror based website for years but never seemed to be able to get the ball actually rolling until sharing my vision with a like-minded individual who readily agreed to join forces.
If there’s one thing I learned from “Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery” and “Terror from Beyond the Daves,” its that hanging around with the best people ultimately brings out the best in YOU. And David Albaugh is definitely one of the absolute BEST.
Next up…..”Rock & Shock”
On the final day of the convention, we packed our belongings and loaded the car before making a final sweep of the main hall. The Vampira Tribute began mid day and I stood in line to enter the event. In the distance, I could see all the hosts talking and joking around with each other. After spending the previous days moving about the convention, attending to all their individual commitments, this was the moment that would bring all the participating hosts together.
Before the event began, eerie music played while images of deceased horror hosts filled a large screen featured on the center stage. Included in this montage were such memorable hosts as Bob Wilkins, Dr. Paul Bearer, and Dr. Shock to name but a few. In between these images, glimpses of footage depicting Vampira’s famous walk down a smoke filled corridor would appear. This presentation concluded with Vampira reaching the foreground, screaming in terror, before quickly reverting to a wry smile.
As the screen went dark the hosts marched in, single file, carrying a single lit candle. After reaching the stage they dropped there candles into a hanging cauldron before taking their seats. The ceremony opened with an introduction delivered by Dr. Shocker a.k.a. professional actor Daniel Roebuck, who has appeared in the recent Rob Zombie HALLOWEEN remakes. “I am overjoyed to be here with all of you…,” he proclaimed, “as we pay tribute to the mother of all horror hosts alive and dead today….the great Vampira.” His introduction was as moving as it was humorous, generating lots of laughs particularly when sharing his observations of the characters before him.
The first hosts designated to share their thoughts on Vampira were Ms. Monster and Doktor Goulfinger. The former credited Vampira with bringing “sexy, sultry, and sassy, to a whole new genre.” The blue-hued beauty, a featured contestant on the 2007 reality show “The Search for the next Elvira,” has certainly done her part in taking these attributes into the new age. As if to prove this point, she generated great applause by freeing the microphone from its stand and intimately sharing her appreciation for the many unsung contributions of Vampira.
She then handed the mike to the man she referred to as “a walking encyclopedia of horror hosts” (a title I have since learned is far from an exaggeration). His warm feelings towards Maila Nurmi evident, Doktor Goulfinger gave an incredibly moving tribute made even more powerful by his soft-spoken, methodical delivery. Goulfinger urged listeners to ponder the fact that for generations only a select group of Los Angeles viewers had ever actually heard the voice of Vampira. Most people (myself included) had only witnessed her mute performance in the infamous PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE or seen her photo in horror themed magazines. Goulfinger pointed to this as evidence of how powerful an artist Maila Nurmi was, having generated such influence via “the sheer, seductive power of an image.” He also asked that everyone take a moment to really think about Vampira and the importance of her work.
The next speakers who took to the stage were former TNT host, Joe Bob Briggs and (from my home state of Illinois) The Bone Jangler. Joe Bob reminded us of Maila’s Finnish heritage, characterized by a bitterly cold and harsh climate. This has, no doubt, contributed to one of the most important attributes for any horror host to embrace; the ability to be “tough.” He also credited her for breathing new life into films that Hollywood had long since labeled as “unwatchable and unplayable,” a unique role that horror hosts still carry out to this day.
The Bone Jangler opened his speech by stating how “indebted” he felt towards Maila Nurmi for “setting the template” as well as the “tone” by her appearance and style. He referred to his fellow hosts and hostesses as his “brothers and sisters,” while reminding them that they, like Vampira, are all “artists.”
The final duo to share there thoughts on Vampira were Penny Dreadful and Count Gore de Vol. Penny, accompanied by her companion Garou, reminded listeners that Maila Nurmi , aside from a horror host, was also “an independent woman…fearless in her convictions and in her thinking.” She went on to say that, “While Vampira is surely the black cloth from which we’ve all been cut, the memory of Maila Nurmi the artist and woman should embolden us to shed the shackles of main stream society’s constraints..” Creating loud applause she urged everyone to “drink a Vampira cocktail” in her honor. I must say that of all the hosts I’ve had the privilege of experiencing, Penny Dreadful reminds me the most of Vampira…even over The Mistress of the Dark who had initially been modeled after her.
Count Gore de Vol opened his speech with an invitation to his followers to “think about” the impact of Vampira who had appeared on a single station during a span that reached a paltry “14 months.” Despite this fact, Count Gore reminded the hosts, she is responsible for creating the ” legacy for which we all dibble our lives and careers.” This paved the way for himself, and fellow hosts, to go on and create their “own legacies.” Something that the Count knows first hand having created his own hosting dynasty.
As this was a horror-themed tribute, there could be no better way to conclude the show without actually raising the dead. Horror magician Ron Fitzgerald took to the stage and called on the lifeless body of Vampira (portrayed by horror hostess Evelle LeChant) to “rise.” Slowly she lifted herself up from her black altar, walked towards the crowd, and mimicked the famous scream for which the tribute began.
As light illuminated the chamber, the hosts gathered together for a group photo. While waiting for everyone to snap this priceless image depicting the largest massing of their kind, a few broke into song – belting the ending of The Beatles hit, “Hey Jude.” I almost dropped my own camera from laughing, though the scene was much more reminiscent of the cover of “Sgt Pepper.”
As I embarked on the journey back to Chicago I couldn’t help but reflect on the past few days. I had arrived at Horrorhound ignorant of Vampira, aside from the image of her walking as a zombie in PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE and the subsequent portrayal of her by Lisa Marie in the film ED WOOD. I can honestly say that I left with a much greater understanding of Vampira, as well as the mysterious woman behind her.
I knew that I had just experienced the most amazing convention of my life. There could be little doubt that it was the congregation of hosts (the ultimate horror fans) that had raised it to these heights. I couldn’t help but feel an immense sense of gratitude towards, not only them, but the woman who had made it all possible.
Several moments passed as I pondered Maila Nurmi and how wonderful my childhood had been enjoying one of the benefactors of her work, Svengoolie. Without Vampira there would have been no Svengoolie parodies, raucous laughter from Zomboo, or my daughters new appreciation for older films via Wolfman Mac. I can no longer discount the importance of Vampira as I, and my children, continue to enjoy these things. Doktor Goulfinger would be pleased.
Slinking down a dark corridor, illuminated only by the glow of soft candles and dry ice, Maila Nurmi makes her grand entrance. In the unlikely event that her seductive gaze failed in seizing your immediate attention, there is no doubt that her skin tight black dress, accenting the quintessential “wasp” waist, certainly would.
Little did Los Angeles viewers of local channel, KABTV, know it at the time, they were not just witnessing the debut of Vampira but the birth of the American horror host. While the Finnish beauty stood alone in 1954, there were easily over 100 active horror hosts (including commercial television, cable, public access, and Web) at the time of her death in 2008.
Although her tenure was relatively short, her contribution to television can not be overstated. Whether you’re in Chicago (like myself) tuning in to Svengoolie every Saturday night, howling with Wolfman Mac in Michigan, or holding your sides from laughter while watching Zomboo in Reno, you are enjoying the fruits of Vampira. In March, 2010 a cavalcade of grateful, modern hosts descended upon the Indianapolis Horrorhound Convention to pay tribute to this remarkable woman.
For me, the timing could not have been better. It wasn’t long ago that I had been under the false impression that Svengoolie was the only horror host still active today. This past year I was able to experience the work of numerous others from across the country. They include men, women, vampires, witches, werewolves, and mad scientists. Horror hosting, it would appear, is the ultimate equal opportunity job. Some are creepy, some hilarious, and all are quite unique. Learning about them was not only fascinating but also highly entertaining.
The majority of horror hosts today are comprised of passionate individuals, taking their love of horror films to the “next level.” They return from their day jobs only to don make-up and adopt a clever alter ego. They are often joined by an attractive assistant, with their best friends acting as film crew. These dedicated folks air their shows via public access television. They can often be seen doing interviews at local conventions and eagerly selling the fruits of their labor. I always try to support them whenever I can which is probably why I now have over ten different versions of THE GIANT GILA MONSTER.
The rise of corporate television, and consequent near extinction of local channels, has all but killed the “classic” horror hosts that many of us were fortunate to grow up with. These are the ones that cause older fans, like myself, to develop lumps in their throats and become weepy with nostalgia at the mere mention of their names. Some have managed to survive the odds and are still standing today. They are the rarest and most influential in the horror host realm. They would include such titans as Svengoolie, Zomboo, and Son of Ghoul. Like their predecessors, these men are professional hosts working at local, commercial television stations. Their job security is based, like any network program, on ratings and viewership. This is no easy feat when one takes into account the movies that are available to them, and the fact that most people can readily access these same films from Netflix or the $1 DVD bin at Walmart.
Another emerging group of hosts are comprised of those who have taken their shows into the new age via weekly web casts. Classic host, Count Gore de Vol, has evolved into this medium. This year’s Rondo award winner for “Best Horror Host” has been presenting movies since the 1970′s. Consequently, he has developed a huge following of fans, one of which created an amazing documentary EVERY OTHER DAY IS HALLOWEEN. While watching that movie, I found it so fascinating that while I was enjoying the Son of Svengoolie in Chicago, kids my age in Washington DC were sharing the same devotion with Count Gore de Vol.
Representatives from all facets of hosting were represented at the Vampira Tribute. There was, however, one glaring exception. As I checked the Horrorhound website, I noticed that Svengoolie was not listed as one of the attendees. I started feeling like I was being disloyal celebrating horror hosts without my favorite one being present.
As fate should have it, Svengoolie was making an appearance at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo the day before Horrorhound. As a volunteer of the zoo, I had planned on attending the event anyway (raising money for “Vital Grounds” an organization dedicated to obtaining land for grizzlies) only to have my worlds collide with the announcement that Svengoolie was going to be our guest of honor.
I had met Rich Koz numerous times since 2003, but this visit was a bit different than the norm. This time I was seeking the blessing of my patron host, to fraternize with his peers (yes, folks, I was raised Catholic).
I researched some of the hosts attending Horrorhound and discovered that Penny Dreadful and Doktor Goulfinger were both fans of Svengoolie. When I met Rich at the zoo, I asked him if he wouldn’t mind signing one of his WCIU promo cards for these two hosts. I clenched my teeth, half expecting him to yell “TRAITOR!” while flicking the cards back at me. Instead, he was very happy to oblige. He instantly knew who both of these hosts were and I could tell by his facial expression that he liked them. He also told me he was sorry he was unable to attend the Tribute and wished me a great time. Phew!
My conscience clear, it was now time to meet some of the other hosts……
(To be continued…..)