This is the last Tea’s Weird Week column of the year before I take a holiday break from it. Well, what can I say–2021, like 2020 was a pretty insane, surreal year overall. I mean, 6 days into it and there was a violent, conspiracy-fueled mob who stormed the Capitol. There were challenges for me, personally, but it was also one of the best years I’ve had as a writer.
One thing that was spectacular was that it was a year that I expanded the mediums I work in and this also involved collaborating with other people, more so than I’ve done in a long time. Writing can be a very lonely art, so it was great to work with others on a podcast, documentaries, and events.
Here’s my 2021 highlights!
January: The launch of the Tea’s Weird Week podcast. My great crew for the show includes my co-host Heidi Erickson, sound engineer Andrew (aka Android138), and our trivia master, Christen (aka Miss Information). For our first year we recorded 36 episodes as well as a couple specials and bonus tracks. We did some fun stuff like getting live interviews at Midwest Haunters Convention and UFO Daze. You can catch up on Tea’s Weird Week here: Tea’s Weird Week Podcast | (teakrulos.com)
April: I returned as a walking tour guide for American Ghost Walks, running tours for the rest of the year. The “Ghosts of Christmas Past” tours this weekend and next wrap up the season. More tour info: American Ghost Walks | Haunted History Tours and Ghost Walks
May: I was honored to receive a gold Milwaukee Press Club Award in the “Best Short Hard Feature” category for an article I wrote for Milwaukee Magazine about citizen journalists titled “Reporting Live from the Street.”
June: I also won a National Indie Excellence Book Award in the “Current Events” category for my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness.
July: Also American Madness related– production begins on a documentary adaptation of the book. Eric and Kim Hayden are producers. The Haydens have been great to work with and we’ve been slowly and steadily getting interviews and other material to tell a great visual version of the book.
September: After a virtual only event, Milwaukee Paranormal Conference returned Sept. 24-26 with events at Faklandia Brewing, Alverno College, and a variety of locations on Sunday’s Activity Day. It was great to be back and see familiar faces.
October: I wrote an article for Milwaukee Magazine on Kenosha area “horror hosts” titled “Terror on the Tube,” and that article is being adapted into a documentary short. Alicia Krupsky is director, me and Christopher House are producers, several other talented people are involved in the production, too. Production began in October. I also took a trip for about 5 days to California to help shoot interviews for the American Madness doc.
December: Milwaukee Krampusnacht returned Dec. 5. Organizing that event is a lot of work and this year was especially challenging. But it looked like everyone had fun, so it was worth it.
As if that wasn’t enough, Dec. 9 was the official release of my book Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches, a collection of short stories I wrote about a drug store/ greasy spoon diner I worked at in my youth. It’s published by Vegetarian Alcoholic Press and you can order here: Tea Krulos • Brady St. Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches — Read the Future (vegetarianalcoholicpress.com)
Here’s a TWW Pharmacy episode: Tea‘s Weird Week, S3 ep 10 (Finale): A Brady Street Pharmacy Fever Dream (podbean.com)
Release party was at Lion’s Tooth, a great independent bookstore here in Milwaukee. The owners asked if I could cover a few shifts working there in October and of course I said yeah, cause they are awesome.
What a year! The Tea’s Weird Week column and podcast will be back sometime next month, mid-January. Between now and then, I’m going to try to take it easy. I’ll be working on a couple articles for Milwaukee Magazine and the documentary projects, but also hoping to catch up on some reading, movies, and enjoying some holiday time. If you’re reading this, congratulations on living through another crazy year and I hope you have a lovely holiday season. See you in 2022!
My books make a good gift. here’s the best links to order each one:
Brady Street Pharmacy: Stories and Sketches (2021)
American Madness (2020)
Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020)
Apocalypse Any Day Now (2019)
Monster Hunters (2015)
Heroes in the Night (2013)
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)