Category Archives: American Madness

Tea’s Weird Week: The Gavel

A lot of court cases caught my interest over the last week or two. Me and Heidi discuss some of them in the latest episode of the Tea’s Weird Week podcast. Here’s a run down:

– Kyle Rittenhouse case. As of this writing, the jury is still deliberating on what Rittenhouse, who shot and killed 2 people (and injured a third) in August 2020 in Kenosha. I’ve had an interest in this case since it happened. I wrote a Milwaukee Press Club award winning article on the “citizen journalists” who caught the shootings on video: How Citizen Journalists Captured the Chaos in Kenosha (milwaukeemag.com)

As well as a short follow up during the trial: Citizen Journalists Footage Plays Key Role at Kyle Rittenhouse Trial (milwaukeemag.com)

[UPDATE: Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all 5 felony counts]

Alex Jones meets consequences. A Connecticut judge found Jones to be liable for damages, in the latest ruling on cases filed by families of the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. Jones promoted that the tragedy was a “false flag” and that the grieving parents were “crises actors.” My book American Madness talks about Jones and Sandy Hook and the terrible influence Jones has on people. The jury will now decide how much Jones will face in damages.

-The QAnon Shaman. Sentenced to 41 months, Jacob Chansley probably got a longer sentence than other participants because his image was plastered all over the place. It was hard to ignore the shirtless guy wearing a horned headdress, facepaint, and carrying a spear. Another participant in the Q d’etat, Jennifer Leigh Ryan, who bragged that she wouldn’t go to jail because she was “white, with blond hair and a good job” got sentenced to 2 months in the slammer.

-Super creep Steve Bannon was indicted for contempt of Congress after he ignored a deposition to appear before a House committee looking into the January 6 insurrection. He’s facing a charge for contempt and another for refusal to produce documents. He could face 30 days and a year in jail respectively as well as fines up to $100,000.

-Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona was censured and had his committee assignments stripped by Congress after he shared an anime video that photoshopped his image onto a character slashing his colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s head with a sword and then attacking Joe Biden. As I said in one of my first columns of this year, the Orange Stain will remain for a long time.

Hey, I know who can get these dingdongs out of prison! The Ex-presidentiables! (Yes, this is a new painting by Jon McNaughton, subject of a TWW column from last year titled Tea’s Weird Week: Laughing My Ass Off at These Bonkers Trump Paintings | (teakrulos.com) )

Tea’s Weird Week, S3 ep09: The Gavel. Me and Heidi discuss some of the above mentioned cases and other weird news, trivia by Miss Information, and we close with a track by Creepy Little Things, “Mind Games.”
Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep09: The Gavel (podbean.com)
Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)

Tea’s Weird Week: Things are Getting Strange, Damn Strange in Dallas

Last year, I wrote a column titled “I got my own conspiracy theory, which is that the world is becoming 24 more times batshit crazy every day.” Still a solid theory that I stand by. Back in April 2020 I was talking about the QAnon theory that “mole children” were being held captive in tunnels under Central Park. Today I bring you a disturbing number of stories of conspiracy theory madness…all from just the last couple of weeks. Ready? Yeah, neither am I.

1.) Hundreds of QAnon believers gathered in Dallas because they believed JFK Jr. would appear to them. (via The Dallas Morning News)

If you missed this one, hundreds of QAnon believers gathered in Dealey Plaza in Dallas (where President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963) on November 2. They believed that JFK Jr. (President Kennedy’s son, who died in a plane crash in 1999) would appear there, revealing he was alive. JFK Jr. has been part of QAnon canon since their early days– they believe he faked his death and has been in hiding, secretly helping Trump and may even be “Q” himself.

This gathering believed JFK Jr. would appear, talk about how Trump would be reinstated as president, but then being a messiah-like figure that transcends politics Trump would hand the presidency to JFK Jr., who would make disgraced Gen. Michael Flynn the Veep. When JFK Jr. failed to appear at noon as prophesized, they said he would appear like the Great Pumpkin at Midnight. Or maybe in disguise at a Rolling Stones concert that was happening that evening. But the story didn’t end there…

Photo via Dallas Morning News


2.) A QAnon sect appears to be starting a cult compound in Dallas. (via Vice)

As if point one wasn’t strange enough, it appears a contingent of those QAnon believers never left Dallas.

Last weekend, a large group led by QAnon influencer Michael Brian Protzman (and his parrot) returned to Dealey Plaza. There, the group lined up single file as Protzman brought them to him, one by one, to point out an “Illuminati symbol” aka something pyramid-shaped. This seems kind of like a baptism ritual. Then the group arranged themselves in a giant Q in the park. Much of the group has been staying at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas since November 2, where they hold meetings in the hotel conference room.

Vice reports:

In videos of the meeting shared online, Protzman talks about the Rolling Stones concert he attended [note- the concert happened the night JFK Jr. was supposed to appear in Dealey Plaza] with members of the group, and claims that Michael Jackson, John F. Kennedy Jr., Elvis, and Prince were all at the concert and were in fact playing the music on stage, disguised as the Rolling Stones. He also claims that R&B singer Aaliyah, who died in 2001, was one of the backup singers.”

So many questions. Which Rolling Stone was Prince portraying? I mean Elvis, who would be 86, must be Keith Richards? But QAnon believes that Richards was portrayed by JFK Jr. himself. What happened to the real Rolling Stones? Didn’t the Stones sing a song called “Sympathy for the Devil”– and Satanic Panic Q fans are ok with that?

Anyway, none of this is the most fucked part of the story– a rapper called “Pryme Minister” has “offered the use of a property near the city that could act as a permanent headquarters for the group, calling it “the promised land.”

Wow, that sounds like it’ll end well.

Dallas QAnon sect leader Michael Brian Protzman. Not pictured: his parrot.


3.) An update on the Vancouver Masonic Lodge. (via North Shore News)

Shout out to Vancouver friends Steve and Erin who sent articles on this. On March 30, a Vancouver man named Benjamin Kohlman drove around Vancouver, setting three Masonic lodges on fire. He was back in court this week. The North Shore News reports:

“The court heard Nov. 8 that Benjamin Kohlman, 43, who has drug addiction problems, was hearing voices that told him to burn the buildings because the Masons were engaged in mind control of other people…The damages to the buildings were $500,000, $2.1 million and $34,000 to $43,000, respectively, the court heard.”

4.) Aaron Fucking Rodgers. I’m just going to leave you with this Milwaukee Record headline: “Aaron Rodgers outs himself as delusional, pathetic, stupid person in rambling interview.”

5.) Conspiracy candidates to watch out for. Conspiracy theorists should concern us all as conspiracy peddlers are actively running for (and sometimes winning) public office and setting policy. In 2020 there were over 70 QAnon aligned candidates who ran for Congress. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado were elected. In the upcoming 2022 midterm and 2024 elections, expect more. There’s some “big names” who might be throwing their hat in. One is Ron Watkins, 8kun administrator and suspected fabricator of posts by “Q” (or at least someone who had a major role in creating QAnon). He’s running for a congressional district in Arizona (via the Arizona Mirror). And then there’s Trump’s conspiracy guru, Roger Stone. Stone has threatened that he’ll run for Governor of Florida if Gov. DeSantis decides to run as an opponent of Trump in 2024 (via CBS Miami). What’s next? A Congressional Committee to look into adrenochrome? A Flat Earth Party? It seems entirely possible.

Left: ultimate Troll and Q suspect Ron Watkins. Right: conspiracy peddler and Batman villain Roger Stone.

6.) Conspiracy believers say Travis Scott concert deaths were part of “Satanic” ritual. After the tragedy of the concert deaths in Houston (which now total 9 after another person died of their injuries), theories started to spring up that the deaths were actually some kind of Satanic blood libel sacrifice to Moloch. Evidence cited was a stage catwalk that looked like an inverted cross, fiery visual effects, and hip hop’s alleged association with the Illuminati.

Sadly, as someone in the Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group pointed out, these were sacrifices– to the almighty buck. They knew there was no way to safely do security for 50,000 people, but they packed them in anyway because they were greedy. No Illuminati or Reptilians needed when you have run-of-the-mill shitty, greedy people on the job.

Tea’s Weird Week, S3 ep08: Things are Getting Strange, Damn Strange in Dallas: Me and Heidi discuss these conspiracy stories and more weird news, trivia from Miss Information, and we close out with a track from our sound engineer, Android138, “WrongTown (Sex Appeal).”

Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep08: Things Are Getting Strange, Damn Strange in Dallas (podbean.com)

Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

Check out my book, which explores conspiracy theory culture and the dangers within:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Why the Alec Baldwin Shooting Became an Insta-Conspiracy

A tragic accident that resulted in death could have been avoided if the crew on the film Rust were listened to. Alec Baldwin, a producer as well as star on the film, fired a prop gun and a live round from the gun killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and critically injured director Joel Souza. The Union workers had warned of unsafe conditions on the set and specifically the prop gun, which had not functioned properly in previous takes. Some workers quit over safety concerns, other Union workers were removed and non-union workers brought in to replace them. It’s unknown how a prop gun with a live round made it’s way on set– the investigation is still in process. I immediately knew that this would become conspiracy lore, and that was correct– I’ve since seen a variety of QAnon theories, with one even pinning a piece of yarn to Alec Baldwin’s role in the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October. Because, well…it’s October. How did I know this was insta-conspiracy material? Well, here’s the main reasons:

1. Baldwin is Already a QAnon Villain

QAnon believes there is an evil cabal of Satanic pedophiles out there and all you have to do to be put on this shit list is to be an opponent of Trump. There is a “6 degrees of Kevin Bacon” going on here– anyone that knew Jeffrey Epstein (except Trump himself, of course), associated with Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, etc. etc. is part of the conspiracy. But Alec Baldwin is one step beyond that– he is, in Trump’s squinty eyes, an actual enemy. Enraged by Baldwin’s doofy impersonation of him on Saturday Night Live, Trump used his Twitter platform to frequently attack SNL and Baldwin in particular.

In 2017, Trump tweeted that SNL was “very unfair and should be looked into.” In 2019 he tweeted that the “Federal Election Commission and/or FCC” should investigate the show because it spent “all of their time knocking the same person (me) over & over.” In 2019 he also tweeted:

“Nothing funny about tired Saturday Night Live on Fake News NBC! Question is, how do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution? Likewise for many other shows? Very unfair and should be looked into. This is the real Collusion!”

Again, to be clear, the President of These United States was all bent out of shape and spending an inordinate amount of time talking about this:

2. Trump Helped Normalize Spreading Conspiracies About His Enemies to His QAnon Followers

With Roger Stone (a self-described “dirty trickster”) as his spiritual guru, Trump quickly repeated the benefits of conspiracy theory as a weapon of choice in his campaign. It wasn’t the first time– Trump was the loudest and most famous voice that pushed the racist Birtherism conspiracies about President Obama. Many people still believe that Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii (as per his birth certificate). After beating down the vast field of Republican runners leading up to the 2016 election with silly nicknames, in the final stretch he knew he needed to “go hard” against the remaining few left standing. That’s when he implied that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination. Look, I despise Ted Cruz and thoroughly enjoy laughing about the conspiracy that he’s the Zodiac Killer, but the reality is that he’s not the Zodiac Killer and his father wasn’t involved in the JFK assassination, and the fact that Trump just got away with saying that without any repercussions is pretty insane.

If we lived in a normal timeline, that (along with him openly mocking a person with a disability, being racist, bragging about sexually assaulting women, etc.) would have ended his campaign. But one of the worst things about the Trump presidency is that it normalized conspiracies, misinformation, name-calling, narcissism, and labelled actual media as “fake news” and “the enemy of the people.” He got away with it by utilizing a “firehose of falsehoods” i.e. he was spouting out so much crazy stuff, it was hard to pin down one thing or another because minutes later he was saying something else equal to or more crazy.

Cruz was far from the only target. When Trump got butt hurt over watching pundit Joe Scarborough’s show, (Morning Joe, MSNBC) he dug up a conspiracy hit piece that he had murdered an employee in 2001 and left her dead body in a campaign office even though he was out of town. (See my column, “Trump’s Joe Scarborough Conspiracy Obsession“). And these are just a couple examples– I haven’t even mentioned Hillary Clinton, Hunter Biden, “Obamagate,” or the 2020 election.

3. The World is Chaos and That’s Something Conspiracists Can’t Wrap Their Head Around

Conspiracists don’t believe in coincidence. They think everything is a well designed plot, especially if there is an unknown element.

Take for example the murder of Seth Rich. Rich was a staff member of the Democratic National Committee. He was shot twice in the back and died just after 4am while walking home from a bar. Police believe it was an attempted robbery. Oh, but they didn’t take his wallet! Attempted– maybe something scared off the robber(s) but we don’t know because it’s an unsolved case. A feeding frenzy of conspiracy, from InfoWars to FOX News quickly spun a story that Rich was the one who sent DNC emails to WikiLeaks, and thus was murdered as part of the Clinton Body Count– the theory that Bill and Hill have left a pile of corpses behind them to rival Mickey and Mallory Knox as they’ve killed their way into power. I like to think of them cranking death metal and jumping out of bushes to personally stab the shit out of their enemies.

When I watched the report on the Alec Baldwin shooting on CNN, I was like, well this is definitely going to be a conspiracy because the reporting was uncertain. The anchor said “this is an accident as far as we know” and “we don’t know how such a tragic accident could happen.” That’s the difference between journalists and conspiracy peddlers. Journalists (good ones, anyway) need to wait for the facts. They can speculate, but they need to wait for investigations, reports, documentation. Those aren’t available immediately. Conspiracists, on the other hand, can pretend to know everything instantly– isn’t it suspicious how a prop gun could fire a lethal round? That’s because it’s a cover up– FACT.

Was this accidental shooting tragic and something that could have been avoided? Yes. Did it happen because Alec Baldwin was engaged in some kind of blood libel secret murder? NO.

You can read more about the tragic toll of conspiracy thinking in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness a book by Tea Krulos (bookshop.org)

Tea’s Weird Week: An American Madness Road Trip

Over the summer I was contacted by a filmmaker named Eric Hayden, who had heard me on a podcast (Rumor Flies) talking about my book, American Madness. He got a copy and read it and then messaged me, asking if I’d thought about adapting the book into a documentary. I told him I had always believed that the book would adapt well into that format.

There were a couple things that made me want to work with Eric (and his wife, Kim).

One was that he had read the book and understood it. That might seem like a low bar, but over the past ten years or so I’ve talked to plenty of reality show jokers and other people with film projects who want me in on something they’re developing who haven’t read my stuff. At best they are wasting my time (and their own). At worst, they are hoping that I hand over my research and/or contacts to a fringe group of people for little to nothing in return. Eric was offering to have me be involved each step of the way, something very much appreciated by me.

Second– Eric’s background is not in documentary filming but mostly video effects (though he does have directing and writing credits), however in looking at his impressive resume it was clear to me that he built his career by being hard-working, innovative, and talented. Some of the films he’s worked on include Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, Deadwood: The Movie (Eric’s team was nominated for a video effects Emmy for that one), and many more. Most recently, he’s been a video effects supervisor on The Orville.

So after some discussion, we agreed to start working on this documentary with myself, Kim and Eric producing, Eric directing, and me helping set up interviews. The first day of shooting was July 31 and was an extended interview with me here in Milwaukee. Since then, we’ve been working slowly but steadily to arrange interviews, dig up materials, and plan the direction of the documentary. We’re in contact almost every day– today, for example, me and Eric have been texting about how the tragic death on the set of a movie starring Alec Baldwin is ripe for a quickly developing conspiracy around it.

Earlier this month, we decided to spend a few days interviewing in Northern California and LA. It was a great, productive trip. Here’s some notes on what we did. If you don’t know what the Bohemian Grove or Richard McCaslin is, you should read my book American Madness.

I arrived in San Francisco on October 7 and spent the next day, Friday, relaxing. I met my friend Elizabeth for lunch, she had moved from Milwaukee to San Francisco many years ago. Saturday, Oct. 9 was the longest day of shooting interviews. We started out by talking to “Anonymous Grove Valet,” someone who had worked in one of the Bohemian Grove camps for over ten summers as a “valet,” an all purpose job of cooking, pouring drinks, cleaning, helping with luggage, etc. We wanted to find out what this person did or did not see in the Grove and what the clientele was like.

From there we headed to Superhero Desserts (1449 Webster St.) in Alameda, a bakery operated by Real-life Superhero members of the California Initiative. I first met Rock N Roll and Night Bug ten years ago at an RLSH event called HOPE in 2011. Def some of the favorite people I’ve met in that movement, I’ve several times cited them as doing the RLSH the “right” way. And so cool that they’ve opened their bakery business, a portion of proceeds going to their food/supply handouts to the unhoused. Rock and Bug also met Richard McCaslin in passing a couple times. It was great to see them and my only regret, as always, was not having more time.

Left to right: producer Kim Hayden, Rock N’ Roll, producer/director Eric Hayden, Yours Truly, Night Bug at Superhero Bakery in Alameda.

From Superhero Desserts, we ventured further north to visit Mary Moore. Mary is a longtime activist and one of the founders of the Bohemian Grove Action Network. For decades, she helped organize a group of activists who gathered outside the gates of the Bohemian Grove every summer to protest. BGAN was also key in sneaking undercover reporters into the Grove and extracting documents and pictures out (by Grove employees). I interviewed her by phone for American Madness, but slowly cruising up a windy, narrow mountain road to visit her cottages in the Redwood forest was quite an experience. Now in her 80s, Mary showed us around her incredible collection of research and I’m so glad we got to visit and get an interview with her. Mary lives just a few miles down the road from the Grove, so we of course had to visit. We didn’t attempt to trespass, but shot some footage in the area.

The road into the Bohemian Grove!

The next day, on Sunday, we interviewed Don Eichelberger, another BGAN founder, in front of the Bohemian Club in downtown San Francisco, then began the long drive down to the Los Angeles area. Once there, the Haydens were incredibly hospitable towards me, letting me stay in their guest room. We shot an interview with Dave Baker and Andrew Price, comic book writers and hosts of the Deep Cuts podcast, who were able to give insight on comic book aesthetics and conspiracy problems (they are currently unrolling a massive Deep Cuts series on QAnon, listen here: deepcutspod.com). We had another meeting, then I flew home.

There’s still much to do on the documentary, including work on reenactments and interviews in other cities. For now, we’re catching up on the many hours of interviews that were already filmed. I’ll update periodically as production moves forward. And next week I’ll talk about ANOTHER (but smaller scoped) documentary short project I’m working on about local horror hosts. Fun stuff!

Tea’s Weird Week, S3 ep 05: Denver Airport Conspiracy: On my way home from California, I transferred at Denver International, a notorious hub of conspiracy. I spoke to my Denver friend Jenny Sanchez (Long Days Travel) about how these conspiracies spun. Me and my co-host Heidi Erickson discussed weird news about the Not Deer, an unemployed wizard, the country’s fattest pumpkin, the Zodiac Killer, and more. Plus trivia with Miss Information, and we close out with a track by Jon Henry, “Chicken Little.”

Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week S3 ep05: Denver Airport Conspiracy (podbean.com)
Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)

Tea’s Weird Week: Drunk in the Back of a Cab, Listening to Coast-to-Coast AM, 2017

This story was inspired by my appearance on Coast-to-Coast AM Friday night. I started writing this when it occurred in 2017, but I ditched the story…until now.

At 2AM, I locked the door to the Riverwest Public House and was alone in the bar. I was drinking whiskey and listening to The Damned, The Light at the End of the Tunnel compilation. I had first heard this album sometime in high school and remembered it one day at work and was like hey, great fucking album, and then started listening to it every night at closing time.

Closing the bar was a time of great peace for me– washing glassware, tossing bags of garbage in a pile by the door, stocking beer and bottles of booze, slowly walking the length of the bar, giving it a rub down with a bleach water soaked rag. Last step– have a drink and count out the drawer, then call a cab. I had just moved from Riverwest to Bay View.

The bars were closed and all of Milwaukee in a drunken sleep, so the taxi arrived quickly. I was a bit buzzed myself and crawled into the back seat.

“Do you mind if I listen to this?” The cab driver asked, gesturing to his radio dial. I heard the familiar voice of George Noory, primary host of Coast-to-Coast AM, the long running, gold standard of weird radio. I could hear Noory was discussing something extra-terrestrial related with a guest

“I don’t mind at all, I’m down with Coast-to-Coast,” I told the cabbie. He smiled and we headed to I-94.

I stared out the window as we crossed the Hoan Bridge. I always loved the view. I would say it’s beautiful, in an industrial way– cold and dark, no signs of life except the grinding and clunking of machinery. Blinking red lights and miles of pipes and smokestacks belching smog passed by as the Yellow Cab cruised over the mostly abandoned bridge. We were hit with a blast of the sewage scented lake, an acrid but familiar smell.

I could have told the cabbie that I, the bartender he had picked up, was in fact a guest on Coast-to-Coast a couple years prior. But I’m not the type of person that likes to walk around telling anyone and everyone about who I am. So instead me and the cabbie sat in silence, listening to the radio while I looked lovingly out the window at the rusty landscape passed below.

I love this strange city and my life in it. Noory continued his interview with some guy who is a UFO expert– someone who chose an odd path in life, a person who opened a door to a surreal dimension and never came back.

That’s what I love about life. You never know– that person standing in front of you in line at the grocery store might dress up in a homemade superhero costume at night to patrol the streets. The person sitting next to you on the bus could be a UFO expert…or a serial killer, I suppose. This cab driver– a novice conspiracy theorist?

And the person you might pick up in your taxi late one night might be a bartender who also happens to be a dude into a hell of a lot of weird shit named Tea Krulos.

Follow me on: Substack//Facebook Group//Twitter//Instagram

Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep13, Ask Us Anything!

Tea Krulos and Heidi Erickson answers questions submitted via social media– find out about frightening weird encounters we’ve had and our deepest secrets. Plus we share weird news– Mothman sighted at State Fair, the MyPillow guy goes full Captain Ahab, killer robots, and the Big Mac champ of Wisconsin (and the world). Miss Information reveals trivia answers (and our winner) and we close out with a track from Victor DeLorenzo‘s new album Spoken Drum, “Bow.” 

Thanks to our sound engineer Android138 and all of our guests this season. We’ll be back in September. 
Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep13: Ask Us Anything! (season finale) (podbean.com)
Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts

Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)

Tea’s Weird Week: Get in the (Talias)Van: New Book Tells Story of a “New Age Grifter”

Hello, another short column just to tell you about what’s going on in the latest Tea’s Weird Week podcast. When my book American Madness came out last year, one of the podcasts I appeared on was Failed State Update, hosted by author Joseph L. Flatley. He told me he was working on finishing a book about a cult for Feral House, publisher of American Madness.

That book, New Age Grifter: The True Story of Gabriel of Urantia and his Cosmic Family is out later this month. I was able to read a copy and it’s great. It’s a breezy read, but I mean that in a good way. Flatley tells the story in intriguing but concise chapters. The book is a dive into the cult surrounding Tony Delevin (Flatley discovered that he and Delevin share Pittsburgh roots) who is better known to his followers as Gabriel of Urantia. The cult’s name sounds like an phone service provider, Global Community Communications Alliance. They have a trippy hippy New Age look straight out of the 1960s/70s and live in a compound in Arizona.

Gabriel of Urantia aka “TaliasVan” (center, holding the guitar and cane) with his Bright & Morning Star Band

One important part of the GCCA is their music. Gabriel leads the cult jam band, TaliasVan & The Bright & Morning Star Band, who plays in a genre he calls “CosmoPop.” This how the door opened for Flatley– he was at a party with some friends, and someone busted out a video of TaliasVan & The Bright & Morning Star Band rockin’ away with their song “Energy Master.” It is…hmmm…well, check it out for yourself.

Ok, so what, there’s a New Age jam band somewhere in Arizona– what’s the big deal? Well, GCCA also checks all the boxes on the lists of signs of a destructive cult. Members are told to turn over financial assets when they join, they toil away at GCCA’s various business endeavors without being paid, cut off ties to friends and family, have their communications restricted, and seem to serve the purpose of fulfilling Gabriel of Urantia’s ego.

I had a chance to talk to Flatley about all this as well as his interviews with those who escaped the cult and his visit to the GCCA compound for the latest Tea’s Weird Week. And be sure to get a copy of his book, it’s a great read, especially if you have an interest in cults and insight into how they operate.

Find out more about the book and links to buy it: Joseph L. Flatley (lennyflatley.net)

Please Clap Dept.: I’m thrilled to say that initial work on adapting my book American Madness into a documentary has begun. I always knew it would translate well to a doc and talented producers Eric & Kim Hayden are passionate and working hard on the project, and I’m so happy that it’s happening. I’ll be giving regular updates along the way, but the first step took place a week ago with a long interview session with me, which we filmed at the the beautiful Lion’s Tooth bookstore here in Milwaukee.

Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep12, Get in the (TaliasVan)

I interview Joseph L. Flatley, author of the new book New Age Grifter: The True Story of Gabriel of Urantia and His Cosmic Family. Me and Heidi share the week’s weird news, trivia from Miss Information, and we close with a new track from Chris Tishler off his new album Reach For The Sun titled “Wave To Me From The Shore.” An epic episode from start to finish!

Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep12: Get in the (Talias)Van (podbean.com)
Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts

Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)

Tea’s Weird Week: Burn the Owl (Revisited)

Mid-July always reminds me of a certain mystery ritual involving a giant owl statue and the burning of a pesky entity named Dull Care. Every second weekend of July, the Bohemian Club kicks off their Midsummer encampment in the Bohemian Grove retreat. The Bohemian Club was founded in San Francisco 1872. The original intent of the club was to foster art and culture in San Francisco, with most of the original members being writers, performers, and artists. It quickly grew into a status symbol, and the club began admitting men (it is a men only club) of means. Over it’s history, the Club has included several U.S. presidents and countless politicians, celebrities, CEOs, top brass military, musicians, and other movers and shakers.

Six years after the club was founded, one of the founding members, actor Henry Edwards, announced he was moving to New York. The club– about a hundred members at the the time, decided to have a going away camp out party for Edwards. An account of that first Midsummer Encampment, written by playwright Porter Garnett in 1908 says:

“The camp was without many comforts, but the campers were well supplied with the traditional Bohemian spirit– the factors of which are intellect, taste, conviviality, self-indulgence, and the joys of life. They were also provided with blankets to keep them warm and a generous supply of liquor for the same reason.”

Henry “Harry” Edwards in a photo circa 1871

The “Bohemians” enjoyed this outing so much that they made it an annual tradition. It is, what President (and Bohemian Club member) Herbert Hoover called “the greatest men’s party on earth.” The Club bought up a 2,700 acre plot in the redwood forest outside of Monte Rio, California and built cabins and other facilities. During the July summer encampment, which kicks off the second weekend of July, members enjoy theatrical performances, music, the great outdoors, and a lot of boozing and schmoozing. Oh yeah– they also kick the vacation off with a bizarre effigy burning ceremony in front of a giant statue of an owl.

In the 1880s, the Grove began what is called the Cremation of Care ceremony. It’s a piece of pageantry in which some of the club members dress as druids, recite poetic odes to the forest, then bring forward an effigy named “Dull Care” in front of the Great Owl of Bohemia statue. Dull Care is supposed to represent their worldly concerns that might get in the way of them being in party-mode. Dull Care mocks the Bohemians, but then the owl statue lights up and speaks! He instructs the priests to use a flame from a lamp at the base of the statue to destroy Dull Care. The Bohemians burn Dull Care, lots of cheering, fireworks, and drinks follow.

A photo of the Cremation of Care ceremony. Date unknown.

The reason we know about this secretive ritual (no press is allowed in) is from a series of undercover journalists who have infiltrated over the years from the 1970s to the 2000s.

In 2000, conspiracy peddler Alex Jones (of InfoWars) snuck into the Grove and recorded the Cremation of Care ceremony with a hidden camera. He cut this footage into a sensationalized “documentary” titled Dark Secrets: Inside the Bohemian Grove. In it he suggests that the ceremony is a satanic rite, the owl statue is Moloch, and the effigy might actually be a real person, who knows, maybe a child! And there’s your keystone of many conspiracies, from old anti-Semitic “blood libel” myths that said Jewish people used the blood of Christian children for rituals to modern QAnon nonsense about a Deep State cabal of pedophiles that get high off of adrenochrome they harvest from kids.

This Jones documentary influenced a person named Richard McCaslin to adopt a costumed persona, the Phantom Patriot, with a mission to raid the Bohemian Grove, “save the children,” and destroy the Great Owl statue. He was heavily armed when he snuck into the Grove the night of January 19, 2002. Here are pictures he took shortly before that date:

Things did not go as planned for the Phantom Patriot. You can read more on the history of the Bohemian Club (including what Oscar Wilde and Richard Nixon think of it), the strange, random life of Richard McCaslin, and the journey of the Phantom Patriot into the Bohemian Grove (in a chapter titled “Burn the Owl”) and what followed in my book American Madness.

For the Tea’s Weird Week podcast this week. I decided to have a Midsummer Encampment of my own and did a table read of sorts of the entire Cremation of Care ceremony with the help of some podcast host friends I made while promoting American Madness. I played the role of Priest One, while Aaron Franz (The Age of Transitions podcast, author of Revolve) voiced Priest Two. Dave Baker (Deep Cuts podcast, author of the new Everyone is Tulip graphic novel) acted (and sang!) the roles of Priest Three/ Great Owl of Bohemia, and Joseph L. Flatley (Failed State Update podcast, author of New Age Grifter, out next month from Feral House, publisher of American Madness) got the role of the sinister Dull Care.

We didn’t have the druid robes or the giant owl statue, but I think we brought that secret society swagger to the reading. Thanks guys! And begone, Dull Care! The episode also features a clip from an interview I did with Richard McCaslin from 2015 (not heard by anyone but me before) as well as the weird news segment with me and Heidi, a new trivia question from Miss Information and closes with a new track from snag., “Paradigm Shift.”

Listen to Tea’s Weird Week, S2 Ep09, Burn the Owl (Revisited) here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep09: Burn the Owl (Revisited) (podbean.com)
Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts

SEE ALSO: Last summer I wrote a Tea’s Weird Week column (that appeared in a slightly different form as an article in Fortean Times) about how the Bohemian Grove summer encampment was called off for the first time in 142 years, as well as meet-ups for the Bilderberg Group and (probably) Skull & Bones: “Summer Plans are Cancelled for the New World Order.”

Get the full story of the Bohemian Grove and Richard McCaslin in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness here: Lion’s Tooth/ Bookshop.org/ Amazon

Tea’s Weird Week: My Top 5 Strange Places

For the Tea’s Weird Week podcast this week, I met up with and interviewed Jenny Sanchez, a travel writer and creator of the Long Days Travel website. She’s been all over the world to check out cool and unusual places and it got me to thinking about the strangest places I’ve been to. There’s a lot, but I picked out what I think are the top 5. Please note that “strange” doesn’t necessarily mean awesome and good or creepy and bad… just strange.

(1.) The Outpost (undisclosed location in Pahrump, Nevada)

My book American Madness follows the life of Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot, a costumed, conspiracy believing commando. After serving prison time and parole, Richard eventually settled down and bought a home in Pahrump, Nevada. As I describe in a chapter of American Madness titled “Where the Heck is Pahrump?” the small desert town is sort of a magnet for odd characters– Art Bell, original host of Coast-to-Coast AM, lived there, as well as other famous eccentrics.

Richard found a good deal on a house, with one of the selling points being the large Quonset hut on the property, which he visualized as a low budget superhero headquarters/ training facility/ filming set/ Phantom Patriot museum that he named “the Outpost.” I visited the Outpost twice– I traveled to Pahrump in 2015, where we filmed an episode of his webshow, Phantom Patriot Retro Cinema (ep 02, “Assault on Area 51”) and I spent the weekend at his house in his guest bedroom. We also made a day trip to film near Area 51 and the Li’l Ale’ E’ Inn. That was the last time I saw Richard alive.

After Richard died, I returned to the Outpost in November 2019 to join a few of Richard’s friends and neighbors who gathered there to have a memorial and spread his ashes on the property. Just thinking about the whole story– meeting Richard, befriending him, visiting Pahrump and having a stressful filming day out in the desert, learning of his death– all of it is the strangest story I’ve experienced, mainly because I was a part of the story, too. It’s something I’ll never forget.

A photo I took of Richard’s Phantom Patriot costume display in the Outpost, 2015.

(2.) International Cryptozoology Museum (Portland, Maine)

My second book was titled Monster Hunters and it took me to all sorts of strange places– Bobby Mackey’s Music World (a haunted honky tonk), the Skunk Ape Research Center in Florida, the International UFO Congress conference in Arizona, Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant, a Bigfoot expedition in Michigan, and more– so it’s hard to pick the best one for this list, but one of my strange and favorite visits was to the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine in 2013, I visited on my birthday that year. The museum is curated by Loren Coleman, prolific author and one of the world’s leading and most well-known cryptozoologists. The museum is such a great collection of Sasquatch footprint casts, models of cryptids, rare documents, art, and other interesting items related to the study of unknown creatures. Since my visit, the museum has moved to a new location– time to make a trip to Maine sometime soon!

Website: cryptozoologymuseum.com

Me (left) and Loren Coleman at the International Cryptozoology Museum, 2013.

(3.) The House on the Rock (Spring Green, Wisconsin)

I was reminded of just how strange this place is over the 4th of July weekend. I met my family in Spring Green, where they were having a holiday weekend, to take a trip through the wild fever dream that is the House on the Rock. I can’t really think of anything that compares to this– it is just one huge room after another filled with mind-boggling sights– a giant whale fighting a squid, the world’s largest carousel, which is going just a little too fast and has an automatic band with thumping bass drums adding to the mania– collections of weird guns and circus miniatures and so much more. When I interviewed Jenny Sanchez, it was also the first place she brought up for unusual destinations, she called the House, “the Disneyland of the unusual.”

I’ve been especially wanting to return since reading/ seeing it in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I wrote about the House on the Rock in brief in the “Legendary Places” chapter of my book Wisconsin Legends & Lore.

Website: www.thehouseontherock.com

Just one of the many wild scenes in the House on the Rock. Taken July 4, 2021.

(4.) Survival Condos (undisclosed location in Kansas)

While working on my book Apocalypse Any Day Now, I arranged a tour of the Survival Condos, a state of the art underground bunker built in an old Atlas missile silo. Me and my friend Paul drove out there and spent about 3 hours checking the place out with building developer Larry Hall. The condos not only include the living units but a swimming pool, recreation areas, school, gym, a small grocery store, and a movie theater 14 floors underground. I wrote a chapter about the experience titled “Doomsday Bunkers of the Rich and Famous” and did a column/podcast episode revisiting that experience, which you can check out here: Tea’s Weird Week: Doomsday Bunkers of the Rich and Famous (Revisited) | (teakrulos.com)

Outside the Survival Condos blast doors, 2017.

(5.) Wasteland City (Mojave Desert)

Another experience I had while working on Apocalypse Any Day Now was attending Wasteland Weekend, which is a sort of Mad Max-Burning Man of the Damned-post-Apocalyptic festival. “Wasteland City” assembles in the Mojave Desert outside of California City for the week and the junk city includes its own FM radio station, post office, a Thunderdome for cage fighting, marketplace, casino, night clubs, and much more. It is a place that only appears for the duration of the 4-5 days of Wasteland Weekend, which takes place in late September. There are hundreds of Mad Max style cars and thousands dressed in post-Apocalyptic style garb. I even found work there writing short articles for the daily newsletter, The Wastelander, under my Wasteland name, Krulos the Terrible. I had such a fun time getting drinks at the Atomic Cafe and then wandering around Wasteland at night and checking stuff out. I definitely want to return– it’s not likely I will this year, but I’d like to make it a 2022 goal.

Website: www.wastelandweekend.com

Cool car on the grounds of Wasteland City at Wasteland Weekend, 2017.

Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep08, Long Days and Weird Weeks: I meet up with Jenny Sanchez, a travel writer who seeks out unique and unusual places to visit, which she documents on her site, Long Days Travel. We talked about strange destinations, bucket list, and travel tips. 

In the news segment, me and Heidi talk about another appearance by the Moorish Sovereign Citizens, the 2014 Slenderman case, the three UFO capitals of Wisconsin, and more. Plus trivia with Miss Information and we bring it all back home by closing with a tribute to Milwaukee, “Good Land,” by The MilBillies

Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep08: Long Days, Weird Weeks (podbean.com)
Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts

Tea’s Weird Week: Fathers of Conspiracy

SPECIAL POST-FATHER’S DAY COLUMN LOOKS AT REX JONES, GARETH ICKE, and DONALD TRUMP JR.

Ideas are passed down generation to generation and they’re aren’t always good ones. It was Father’s Day last weekend and I stopped by to visit my dad. He’s a pretty cool guy, and I appreciate some of the things he brought into my life, most notably his love of music, old sci-fi, horror, and mystery movies, and most importantly, his love of reading.

I like to think I’ve picked up some traits from my dad but manage to be my own person. But some guys are either the polar opposite or nearly identical to their fathers. On the latter, they say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Timed perfectly with Father’s Day was a screenshot shared on social media which showed that Rex Jones, eldest son of conspiracy peddler and scam artist Alex Jones, had his own InfoWars show where he used his air time to rage against… Lord of the Rings themed erotica? Well, by now some of you probably know that I can’t look away from a car crash, so I decided to dive into the murky waters of the Internet and see if this was true. And yes, it more or less is.

Rex has been trained in the dark arts of The Alex Jones Show for a few years. There was some father and son bonding time on vacation in 2018, for example, when they ambushed and harassed Bernie Sanders at an airport (LAX), chasing after the senator and declaring that he was “the living embodiment of communist and socialist evil.”

“Very disturbing to see my son doing this,” commented Alex’s ex-wife, Kelly, at the time. She would later cite the incident in an ugly custody battle. “Plus they are calling out Bernie Sanders on his elite lifestyle, which is hypocritical. So my son is being encouraged to be a bullying hypocrite.” What Alex’s ex is referring to is the millions of dollars Alex Jones and InfoWars have made on pain, misery, lies, and sham products sold on their website.

In the last couple years Rex has appeared as a teenage correspondent on InfoWars. Now that he’s 18, Alex has perhaps told him he needs to be a man and start pounding a fist on the InfoWars desk and screaming about the dangers of the Deep State and liberal elites and communists. And so Rex makes guest appearances on InfoWars shows like The American Journal and has his own short video segment called Doctor Silence with Rex Jones. I don’t know what “Doctor Silence” refers to, but maybe it’s his fantasy superhero persona. We’re going to talk more about fantasy fulfilment in just a minute.

Rex has his imitation of his father down pat– the loud mockery, the crescendo of outrage, the angry hand gesture as punctuation. He’s going to need to chain smoke and start screaming more if he wants to develop his dad’s gravelly voice, though.

In his videos, Rex has ranted about masks and Black Lives Matter protestors, and a Blue’s Clues episode that aired earlier this month that features a Pride Parade. Not surprisingly, Rex’s interpretation of the cartoon was homophobic, transphobic, and generally rambling and stupid– at one points he asked what happens when someone on OnlyFans has a kid and years later their child sees their mom “performing cunnilingus on a man.” At first I thought this was some joke about transpeople, but I’m guessing Rex hasn’t received an adequate sex education and therefore might not be familiar with what cunnilingus is.

On a June 18 episode of The American Journal, hosted by “white genocide” conspiracy advocate Harrison Smith, Rex made an appearance to talk about his rage about interpretations of the sexuality of Lord of the Rings in fanfic erotica, thought the main thing that seems to have set off Rex and Harrison was a list of upcoming talks offered by the Tolkien Society for an online seminar July 3-4, with an overall theme of “Tolkien and Diversity.”

Some of the talk topics riled the Infowarriors up, like the one titled “Gondor in Transition: A Brief Introduction to Transgender Realities in The Lord of the Rings,” to which Rex Jones says that as a war veteran, J.R.R. Tolkien is “used to seeing people get their legs chopped off, not their dicks. Holy Hell! You can’t make this stuff up!” They went on to talk more about the seminars and took a look at some Lord of the Rings fanfic erotica pictures.

I think that these guys have a deeply closeted elf fetish. It’s ok Rex, you can be attracted to elves or dwarves or orcs or whatever the fuck you want to.

“They’re just going back and ruining anything that was enjoyable and nice for anyone,” is the Rex Jones take. “You don’t get to listen to the music you liked, you don’t get to watch the movies you like, you don’t get to read the books you like, you don’t get to live the life you like to live. You have to live in their weird rainbow PC playground and play by their rules or they’ll throw you in jail.”

To be clear, all of Tolkien’s work is still in print, widely available, and legal to purchase or get from your local library in it’s original published form.

In the same segment Rex manages to throw is a comparison that Joe Biden is “the Fuhrer” and Kamala Harris is “Goebbels.”

Alex Jones couldn’t bloviate that better himself.

After posting a screenshot of the above story to Twitter, someone informed me that another famous conspiracy peddler, David Icke, the British theorist who popularized the Reptilians theory, also has a son following in his footsteps– Gareth Icke.

Recently, a theme park called Thorpe Park in Surrey, England asked that unmasked people sit in the back of a rollercoaster to reduce the risk of infection to the masked people sitting in the front. Gareth Icke compared these rollercoaster riders to civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. Gareth and another Son of Icke, Jaymie, have also given speeches at anti-lockdown protests in the UK alongside their father. Gareth is described as a “leading light” of that movement. He writes articles for his father’s website, podcasts, and is also a musician, writing conspiracy themed tunes like “Trojan Horse,” though the majority of his work doesn’t seem to have a conspiratorial theme.

I’m not sure how exactly to describe the Gareth Icke sound, but it reminds me of the Bible-rock anthems of anti-lockdown “Riots to Revival” missionary/ musician Sean Feucht who grabbed headlines last year for holding revival rallies during the pandemic with no social distancing and few masks in sight.

And let’s not forget the man who became the most powerful conspiracy theorist of all (and maybe will be again soon if you believe the conspiracy that Trump will be back in office January 20 March 4 sometime in August).

Trump had a special Father’s Day message this year: “Happy Father’s Day to all, including the Radical Left, RINOs, and other Losers of the world. Hopefully, eventually, everyone will come together!” This was shared via his political action committee as he has, of course, been banned from his social media platforms.

Like father, like son– Donald Trump Jr. has a long history of promoting conspiracies like Birtherism, school shooting conspiracies, amplifying QAnon accounts, and spreading COVID-19 and “election fraud” misinformation. Politico called him “dad’s ambassador to the fringe.”

Most recently he and conspiracy congressional representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado dusted off a classic– the Clinton Body Count. This suggests that over the last several decades, Bill and Hillary Clinton have had dozens or even hundreds of people murdered. I like to imagine them doing the murders personally– popping out of bushes wearing ghostface masks while death metal plays, Bill choking the person while Hillary shanks them with a butcher knife– the Clinton Body Count.

In this case, Alabama news anchor Christopher Sign, who had reported on the Clintons including the story of the FBI investigating Hillary’s emails, was found to have died by suicide on June 12. There is no sign of foul play, but that didn’t stop Boebert and Trump Jr. from speculating that Sign was the latest victim of the Clinton Body Count.

And just think, if the Orange Menace doesn’t run himself in 2024, there are many pundits who believe Junior is the heir apparent to the Trump political dynasty. Well, that is, if he’s not completely overwhelmed by legal problems, along with the rest of the family.

Tea’s Weird Week, season 2, episode 6: Fathers of Conspiracy: I read this column (with sound clips!) then me and Heidi Erickson discussed this column a little further along with how the Cat got Batman’s tongue and what makes a real hero, as well as Spoonman, aka Uri Geller’s vow to help win a football match (he didn’t), a UFO sighting, a couple handcuffed together for 3 months, and more. Miss Information reveals trivia answers from the first 5 episodes this season and we close out with a track from Rum Revere‘s new album, “Get Up and Watch It.”

Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week S2 ep06: Fathers of Conspiracy (podbean.com)
Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts

Alex Jones, David Icke, Trump, and conspiracy culture is discussed in-depth in my award-winning book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness.

Buy a signed copy online from Lion’s Tooth: https://www.lionstoothmke.com/american_madness.html#/
Or wherever books are sold.

Tea’s Weird Week: The Conjuring: 1992 Sally Jessy Rafaël Edition

I see there’s a new Conjuring movie out, the latest addition to the “Conjuring-verse” starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as “demonologists” Ed and Lorraine Warren. Oh Hollywood, you old devil.

Before I delve more into that, let’s revisit the “Trash TV” era of daytime tabloid talk shows. In the 80s and 90s, shows like Geraldo (1987-1998), Donahue (1970-1996), The Jenny Jones Show (1991-2003), The Jerry Springer Show (1991-2018), Maury (1991-present), and The Sally Jesse Rafaël Show (1983-2002) and others were all in competition with each other.

While cruising around Google, I found an episode of The Sally Jesse Rafaël Show with Ed and Lorraine Warren as guests from 1992 and it is just hog wild. In 1992 all of the shows I listed were on daytime TV and if you wanted to grab those ratings, you best dump the idle chit chat and get down and dirty– scream at a Satanist, get your nose broken by a white supremacist, send bratty teens to boot camp, break someone’s heart or reveal that they are “not the father.”

The Warrens fit right in to this environment. In the Conjuring movies the Warrens are depicted as beautiful people that are courageous warriors fighting demons, but there are quite a lot of accounts that suggest otherwise. They’ve been accused of being grifters who fabricate, exaggerate, and exploit to sell books, movies based on their appearances, and get paid appearances. They were experts of making a mountain out of a molehill, and as such were perfect Trash TV guests.

The Warrens 1992 appearance on Sally Jessy Rafaël’s show tied in with the release of a book titled In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting, which was turned in the pre-Conjuring-verse film The Haunting in Connecticut. The book is listed as being authored by the Warrens, the Snedekers (Al and Carmen), and another person I’ll talk more about in a minute. The Snedekers claim that in 1986, they moved into a home that was a former funeral home in Southington, Connecticut. The Snedekers say that their entire family witnessed supernatural events and the parents said they were sexually assaulted by ghosts or demons (incubus/succubus). They called in the Warrens, who stayed for 9 weeks or so, culminating with an exorcism that cleared the evil forces out. The case was also featured on shows like A Haunting and Paranormal Witness.

The Warrens (and the Snedekers) were not writers. The Warrens would hand notes to an author, usually a burgeoning horror novelist, so they could write a dramatic account of what happened. In the case of the Snedeker book, the Warrens hired then 29-year-old horror author Ray Garton. Garton was sent to interview the Snedekers and he says the story immediately began to fall apart.

In an interview, Garton says:

“When I found that the Snedekers couldn’t keep their individual stories straight, I went to Ed Warren and explained the problem. “They’re crazy,” he said. “All the people who come to us are crazy, that’s why they come to us. Just use what you can and make the rest up. You write scary books, right? Well, make it up and make it scary. That’s why we hired you.”

Yikes. Garton also says in the interview that “the family was a mess, but their problems were not supernatural and they weren’t going to get the kind of help they needed from the Warrens,” and that he never met the son, who much of the story revolved around. “I was allowed to talk to him briefly on the phone, but as soon as he started telling me that the things he ‘saw’ in the house went away after he’d been medicated, Carmen abruptly ended the conversation,” Garton says. The Warrens also said they had a videotape of supernatural activity– which Garton never saw because the Warrens said they lost it.

Garton finished the book, but guilt about fabricating the story led him to later speak out in several interviews. He called the book “the low point of my career.” And he says he’s not the only writer with this experience. From the same interview:

“Since writing the book, I’ve learned a lot that leaves no doubt in my mind about the fraudulence of the Warrens and the Snedekers — not that I had much doubt, anyway. I’ve talked to other writers who’ve been hired to write books for the Warrens — always horror writers, like myself — and their experiences with the Warrens have been almost identical to my own.”

With all this in mind, here is the 1992 episode of The Sally Jessy Rafaël Show titled “I Was Raped by a Ghost.” I included some notes on the program (but not on the incredible 90s fashion). A content warning, as the title implies, there is talk of alleged sexual assault by demons. Here is video of the entire episode:

0:15: Yes, the actual title for this episode was “I Was Raped by a Ghost.” Screen captions explain guests with phrases like: “Al SAYS HE WAS SODOMIZED BY A GHOST” and Al & Carmen SAY THEY WERE SEXUALLY MOLESTED BY A GHOST.

8:40: Sally Jesse: “In order to fully understand, we want you to show us what happened. We have a bed here today…” uh WHUT.

12:22: Al: “Carmen, I think I was just sodomized by this demon.”

12:40: Carmen imitates demon laughing as it takes pleasure sodomizing her, sounds like Count Chocula.

20:00: Carmen: “One night I ran down the street with Kelly, being sodomized the whole way.” I’m starting to think the Snedekers maybe just had a bad case of hemorrhoids.

21:43: Richard and other neighbors: NOT IMPRESSED, OVER IT.

28:27: This woman went on to be the most frequent poster in your neighborhood-orientated Facebook group (and also the butt of reoccurring jokes in that group).

31:54: Here’s Ed and Lorraine, promoting the book I mentioned, In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting. Sally refers to them as “ghostbusters.” Ed’s opening line is “We feel through our investigation that necrophilia, abuse of the corpses occurred at the home. Not necessarily by the undertakers, it could be anyone that went in there.” Dude, what?! He doesn’t offer any proof that would back up his pretty bold claim that the neighborhood’s dearly departed were being buggered, but I would guess the source was a psychic vision by Lorraine.

33:01: Neighbors: YEAH RIGHT. Also, weird green screen of the Snedeker House behind them. Just looks weird.

34:38: And if you want to know where the party is, this guy knows.

35:40: “If you ask the gentleman sitting right over there.” Uh yeah, that gentleman might be biased– that’s the Warren’s nephew and heir apparent John Zaffis, who went on to star in the reality show Haunted Collector.

38:58: They gave Joe Nickell of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry about 3 minutes, most of it Ed shouting over him. You might think it strange that a guy who loves weird stuff and hosts a Milwaukee Paranormal Conference and leads ghost tours would not like a skeptic, but that’s not true. Nickell is a great research journalist and I’m a fan of that. He’s got good information that Warrens are liars and that’s why Ed is trying to yell over him.

41:53: Carmen: “Ghosts have no gender, I don’t think. I’m not sure, but I don’t believe they have a gender.” That might be true, but they def got something they can stick in your butt.

42:16: Sally: “The exorcism apparently worked,” on hearing that the Snedekers were no longer being haunted.

Well, there you go, I think we all learned a valuable lesson here…that demonic hauntings can PAY BIG. The Haunting in Connecticut movie made over $77 million at the box office, The Conjuring made $318 million (one of the most profitable horror films of all time) and spawned 6 sequels and spin-offs. Hey, I get it– I’ve seen maybe 4 out of 7 of these movies, and I enjoyed them– just ignore that “based on a true story” bullshit claim at the beginning of the movie.

Tea’s Weird Week Season 2 Episode 4, Thanatochemistry: My co-host Heidi Erickson interviews death professional Kelly Teague about thanatochemistry, green funerals, and the Death Cafe, Tea and Heidi talk about the upcoming Midwest Haunters Convention and weird news about squids in space, mathematical bees, watermelon crushin’ record, a strange drone attack, and the classic 2004 case of Marvin Heemeyer and his Killdozer. Plus trivia from Miss Information, original music by Android138 and we close out with a fiery track from Queen Tut, “Matador.”
Listen here! Tea’s Weird Week S2 ep04: Thanatochemistry (podbean.com)

Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts

Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)