I’m still recovering from October. What a month! Definitely one of the busiest I’ve experienced. I did a bunch of tours for American Ghost Walks, did some podcasts, took a trip to California to work on the American Madness doc and…oh yeah, started a new project– a documentary short based on an article I wrote for the October Milwaukee Magazine. The doc’s working title is Kenosha Horror Hosts.
This all started back in 2016 when I met a horror host from the Kenosha area, Deadgar Winter, who has a show called Deadgar’s Dark Coffin Classics. That same year I also first encountered Dr. Destruction, a horror host with a show called Crimson Theatre, also based in Kenosha.
A horror host show features a zany character (or cast of characters) that introduces an old horror film (or independent features) and they do short skits as “bumper segments” when going to commercial breaks.
Vampira is cited as the first horror host. Actress Maila Nurmi hosted The Vampira Show in 1954. Her life story is really interesting and amazing and if you’re looking for a good book, I highly recommend Glamour Ghoul: The Passions and Pain of the Real Vampira, Maila Nurmi, written by her niece Sandra Niemi (published by Feral House, who published my book American Madness).
Some other famous examples of horror hosts– Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (she was supposed to be a Vampira reboot, but her producers decided they would just rip Vampira off and not pay her), Chicago’s Svengoolie, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and Joe Bob Briggs to name a few.
After I met Deadgar Winter and Dr. Destruction, I thought there might be an interesting story there and I filed it away in the back of my brain. When I saw that two of Deadgar’s co-hosts, Celeste and Morgan Parker had split off and started their own show (Hexen Arcane), I decided it was time to do the story up. Then I discovered there was a fourth show in the Kenosha area– Nightmare Cinema with Uncle Wolfman. Whaaaaaat. Four Kenosha horror host shows?
While working on the article I just had a kind of light bulb moment where I could see the story being a great documentary short– it’s a story filled with colorful characters. My Tea’s Weird Week podcast co-host Heidi Erickson introduced me to her friend, filmmaker Alicia Krupsky, who agreed to be director. Christopher House, a co-founder of the Twisted Dreams Film Fest is a producer and cinematographer. Stephen Vincent Anderson and Heather House have provided additional camera work and we’ll have more talented people helping with production.
We did a few shoots, including the bulk of interviews we wanted last month and it’s been a blast. Winter is going to be a good time to work on editing. We’re hoping to be done in late spring or early summer and will be entering Kenosha Horror Hosts into film fests. In the meantime, you can read my Milwaukee Magazine article here (or listen to me read it on this week’s Tea’s Weird Week podcast, link below): A Look Inside the Surprisingly Large Web of Local Horror Hosts (milwaukeemag.co
Tea’s Weird Week S3 ep07: Halloween Hangover: Happy witching season! Tea reads his article on Wisconsin horror hosts from the October issue of Milwaukee Magazine. Tea and Heidi discuss Tea’s encounter with a street preacher while leading a ghost our, QAnon thought JFK Jr. would appear to them in Dallas, Zuck’s BBQ bottle and more. Miss Information has trivia and we close out with a track by Rexxx, “Animal.”
Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)
Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)
Last weekend (June 26-27) the Tea’s Weird Week crew (Me, Andrew, and Heidi) tabled with the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference and American Ghost Walks at the Midwest Haunters Convention. I was glad to be there to promote the events, but I was also excited to be there to take a look at the world of “Haunters” which is a term for people in the professional haunted entertainment industry or amateurs who just enjoy decorating and appreciating Halloween and the haunting season 365 days a year. It was a fun experience– Haunters are creative, artistic, and like to have spooky fun. I had some interesting conversations and saw a lot of great costumes and props. Since this was such a visual experience, I’m just going to share a bunch of pictures I took for this column.
If you scroll through to the end, you’ll find a link to this week’s Tea’s Weird Week column which features interviews and clips me, Andrew, and Heidi captured live on the conference floor, plus an eerie trivia question by Miss Information and the perfect track for this event “Halloween 365” by Ratbatspider.
Paranormal Real Estate Mogul: I like to add a little reoccurring project to the tail end of this column sometimes, so I’m glad to announce this new section. “Paranormal Real Estate Mogul” will share listings I come across that are either haunted, cursed, or have some paranormal tie. We’ll start with this listing:
Property: Village of Lawers
Location: Perthshire, Scotland
Listed at: £125,000 ($175,000US) Realtor: Goldcrest Land and Property Group
Notes: Lots to like with this listing– own your own haunted village! Well, the “village” is just 3.31 acres of the 17th century ruins of Lawers, a village of just 17 people that dropped down to 7 by 1891 and was completely abandoned by 1926. Bonus– it does have it’s own beach on the shores of Loch Tay and huge bonus– it does have a ghost, the “Lady of Lawers” a former resident of the village that had “known for her eerie prophecies.”
Tea’s Weird Week, season 2 episode 7: Live from the Midwest Haunters Convention:
Tea, Heidi, and sound engineer Android138 check out the Midwest Haunters Convention, an event geared towards “Haunters,” or people who work in or are fans of the haunted attraction industry, or simply love decorating for Halloween or keeping it spooky year round. The TWW crew did some floor interviews with vendors and other event participants.
In the news segment, Tea and Heidi talk about a “Redneck Rave” (what could go wrong?), Moorish Sovereign Citizens, Heidi has a new mission for the Satanic Temple (read: #FreeBritney), that new UFO report, and more. Plus an eerie trivia question from Miss Information and we close out with the perfect track for this episode, “Halloween 365” by Ratbatspider. Happy hauntings!
Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep07: Live from the Midwest Haunters Convention (podbean.com)
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Check out my latest books:
Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)
Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)
This has been a busy week for me (as you can see by this week’s “Please Clap Dept.”) with writing, podcast interviews, ghost tours, etc. October is always the busiest month for me and especially the last week of the month, so I’m mostly just sharing Halloweeny links in this column.
Halloween, like everything else, is pretty much cancelled this year– it sucks, I know. I’m going to celebrate by watching some of those old monster movies, hopefully going for a walk in Forest Home Cemetery, leading ghost tours for American Ghost Walks, and I made a play list of creepy cool music– 101 songs (plus a reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of Red Death” by Basil Rathbone!) That’s 6 and a half hours worth of music for your stay-at-home Halloween party. I tried to get a good mix of classics, obscure, and a few bands I am friends or acquainted with. You can listen on Spotify here:
“Tea’s Weird Week: 101 Songs of Halloween Party”
Have a Happy Halloween, and of course VOTE. This election is not just about the McDonald Trump, but the local elections. Check your ballots– is someone who is a QAnon supporter on it? What about someone from the III%er militia or one of the Proud Boys or someone dangerous and terrible like Laura Loomer? There’s a lot of extremist candidates on ballots this year– vote the bastards out!
Please Clap Dept.: Busy week, I had a lot of great media opportunities:
* I was on the CripesCast, with the very funny Charlie Berens (Manitowoc Minute): https://cripescast.podbean.com/e/episode-19-tea-krulos
* I joined the guys on Lumpen Radio’s Eye 94 book show, includes some American Madness excerpts read by Shanna Van Volt, giving it a nice conspiracy jazz lounge tone: https://www.mixcloud.com/lumpenradio/eye-94-10-29-2020-tea-kroulos-conspiracies-and-qanon/
* I was part of a written roundtable discussion on misinformation for LitHub with authors Renata Salecl and Jonathan Berman. You can read it here: https://lithub.com/the-misinformation-superhighway-a-roundtable-on-the-rise-of-the-great-american-conspiracy/
* Last, I’ve never been on a baseball podcast before, but was glad to talk to Hall of Very Good to talk about the Pfister Hotel, where many MLB players have been haunted by ghosts: https://hallofverygood.libsyn.com/episode-255-tea-krulos
Buy my books American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness and a special Halloween treat, Wisconsin Legends & Lore.
Today is the best holiday, Halloween (a snowy one here in Wisconsin) and I was trying to think of something appropriately eerie. This is “Tea’s Weird Week” after all. Then I thought about ghost tour season ending (but not really– I’m doing tours tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday and then a “Ghost of Christmas Past” tour in later November and December) and decided to reflect on being a tour guide for Milwaukee Ghost Walks. I’ve been running tours since June and here’s some of my favorite tour memories this year. Thanks to everyone who has joined me!
-The first stop on the tour includes a story of a ghostly antique telephone ringing. I’m explaining the bells, when a guy cruises by on his bike and rings his bike bell. Really well placed sound effect!
-Another well-timed effect– at a stop by the river, I talk about Lake Monster sightings from 1890. I was telling this story one night, there had been a lot of rain so the river was moving quickly. I’m telling this story and everyone is laughing and pointing at the river. I turn around and there’s a big, monster shaped log cruising down the river. “Looks like we found it!” I told the group.
-Speaking of, that story also mentions a local newspaper ad from a saloon that offers a reward for the capture of the Lake Monster so they can serve it as a lunch special. That led to the most interesting question I got this year from someone on the tour: “What does a Lake Monster taste like?” I told her I did not have the answer.
-It was really fun to take two of my tour groups to the Under One Moon Fest in Catalano Square in August, celebrating the Apollo 11 mission. A giant replica moon hung over the square and we stopped for a few minutes to take pictures and enjoy some great music from Nineteen Thirteen.
-I always love hearing the noise people make when I tell a gruesome bit of a story, ha ha.
-My friends show up once in a while to take the tour. Always glad to see you!
-I bring along a copy of my book Monster Hunters with me to help introduce who I am and at the end of the tour mention I got that copy for sale. I sell a copy here and there. It’s always nice to sign a book for someone and send it to someone’s home instead of sitting in a box in my basement.
-Oh yeah and a special shout out to the guy cruising around Water Street over and over on his motorcycle this July blasting smooth jazz. “Who does this guy think he is, Kenny G?” I asked the tour. Big laughs.
-Max Mitchelson of the Shepherd Express wrote a nice article about the Milwaukee Ghost Walks. They interviewed Allison Jornlin (who founded and wrote the tour) and threw in a quote from Yours Truly for good measure. You can read it here: “Remembering Milwaukee History Through the Paranormal.”
Happy Halloween everyone! I hope your holiday is filled with witches, goblins, ghosts, demons, Chupacabras, Lake Monsters, Bigfoot, Count Dracula, Freddy Krueger, and a black cat riding a broomstick screeching “Happy Meow-loweeeeen!”
P.S. November is Conspiracy Month here at Tea’s Weird Week. You’ve been warned.
You can imagine my excitement this last winter when the fearless editor of the Riverwest Currents, Alice, messaged me to say that I had received a mystery letter at the office talking about an urban legend of Riverwest. Wow!
I made my way over to the office ASAP and Alice handed me an envelope with no return address. Inside was typewritten letter that read:
Attn: Tea Krulos
Dear Sir or Madam:
Hello, have you seen the enclosed flyer has been posted all over the east side? The one enclosed was posted on a bulletin board on Prospect Ave. The story mentions Riverwest. I thought it might be of interest since it mentions “specters and ghouls” but I cannot find any information about it- nobody around seems to know anything about it.
Thank you very much.
No signature. Enclosed was the said flyer, a photocopy of an “article.” It was smudged with grime and pocked with staple holes. The article was titled “More ‘Oak Leaf Man’ Sightings Reported.” Handwritten at the bottom in black marker was an asterisk with the words “Neighborhood Alert.” The article included a black and white photo “taken by two anonymous cross country skiers” of what looked maybe like a pumpkin or basketball in a hoodie peeking through snowy tree branches.
Reading through it, I rolled my eyes and assumed it had been the shoddy work of a college paper, doing what skeptics would call “mystery mongering.” It seemed immediately obvious to me that the story here was not a supernatural one, but possibly young college kids new to an urban environment. Young Johnny or Susie moved to the dorms from Mequon or Appleton or Whitefish Bay and were terrified to see the apparition of…a homeless man wearing a hoodie, wandering the Oak Leaf Trail…ooo-weee-woo!
But when I read through it again, several things jumped out at me as being too fake for any publication (at least I would hope so!) and I believe this is a hoax.
There is no attribution as to where the article is from and nothing came up on Google. The hoaxer shot themselves in the foot by listing it as being on page A3 of a State & Local section of an unknown publication, with a date of September 29, 2014. “State & Local” means it would have to be a Wisconsin paper, however the style matches nothing I am familiar with. I consulted with two librarians at the Central Library periodical department and they agreed the style was unfamiliar.
Then there is the fact that the article isn’t credited with a byline, but is signed off at the end as “-t.k.” Um, are you trying to rip off the supernatural reporting style of one Tea Krulos? Your kung fu is weak!
I suppose there is a small possibility this is from some small town Wisconsin paper, but I don’t think so. I think it was created in Photoshop.
Another red flag here is the quotes from “some Riverside High School students,” “a group of college students at UW-Milwaukee’s Riverview Hall,” and “some long-term residents of Milwaukee’s upper east side and Riverwest neighborhoods.” See the problem? There are no actual names listed as sources anywhere in the article.
Through my connections to local paranormal investigators, I soon discovered the same article had also been mailed or e-mailed to Allison Jornlin, a local ghost story expert, as well as local groups Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee and Brew City Paranormal.
Why? I think someone was maybe bored and wanted to create their own urban legend, a myth for the ages, and possibly have fun freaking out some college kids.The “report” says this Oak Leaf Man, a “man with a lot of scars, wearing a long coat” had been spotted staring into a dorm window at Riverview Hall “during a party.” I think trying to spread this tale is a Halloweeny prank.
As for exploring the Oak Leaf Trail this Halloween season— I would be a little cautious walking down there, especially at night. Unfortunately, there have been incidents of crime on occasion, but it is a beautiful place to walk with a friend. I wouldn’t worry too much about the Oak Leaf Man swooping in to steal your soul, or whatever he’s supposed to do.
Happy Halloween, my friends!
My book Monster Hunters: On the Trail With Ghost Hunters, Bigfooters, Ufologists, and Other Paranormal Investigators has been a popular topic this Halloween season. It made Cult of Weird’s 2015 Fall Reading List and was recently featured on Wisconsin Life. You can order a copy here: www.chicagoreviewpress.com/monster-hunters-products-9781613749814.php