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Tea’s Weird Week: Horror Hosts

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).

The original Goth Queen, Vampira.

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.

I got Svengoolie’s autograph at the 2015 Chicago Ghost Con.

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.

The documentary crew at Dr. Destruction’s haunted manor, an attraction at the Jerry Smith Pumpkin Farm in Kenosha. L-R: me, Christopher House, Dr. Destruction, Alicia Krupsky, Stephen Vincent Anderson.

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

My article in the October Milwaukee Magazine.

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.” 

Listen here: Tea‘s Weird Week S3 ep07: Halloween Hangover (podbean.com)
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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)

Ghost Hunters & Superheroes

I really had fun this weekend. A lot of the time writing (for me, anyway) involves me being anti-social, staying at home at the desk. So when I have a weekend of getting to see friends, old and new, it is a hella cool time for me. My girlfriend Wendy (a talented photographer, who took the photos below– her website is HERE) and I hit the road and visited West Bend and Chicago for a couple of events I was invited to participate in.

Friday, I participated in the Museum Of Wisconsin Art‘s member show, which was superhero themed. I judged a costume contest along with Real Life Superhero The Watchman (one of the subjects of my book Heroes in the Night, available HERE) and fashion designer Miranda Kay Levy, who you might have seen on Project Runway. She asked me to help judge and you know when an acclaimed designer like Miranda asks me for my fashion opinions, we’re in for a rare situation. There were about 10 or 12 entries in the contest and they were all great, very creative.

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Miranda Kay Levy, myself, The Watchman family at the Museum of Wisconsin Art.

I had some waves of nostalgia rolling in to town, as I was briefly a resident of West Bend in 1996. I finished my Senior year of high school there. More importantly, it’s where I met an incredibly unique group of individuals who became my friends. I think my life adventures really began in West Bend.

In addition to the costume contest, I tabled with Heroes in the Night, sold a few copies, and talked with a few people who were genuinely interested in what I was up to. People got to talk with The Watchman, who was there with two of his kids– Wonder Boy and Guardian Girl.
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The next morning, we headed down to the Chicago Ghost Conference. Real Life Superhero Razorhawk (of Minneapolis) had been invited to do a panel on what being a RLSH is all about and he had Chicago RLSH Citizen Prime and Wraith as well as myself as guests. Attendance was low, but we didn’t let it get us down. I got to chat with a couple people I’ve met over the last year or two  who will be featured in my next book, Monster Hunters (out in June 2015, you can pre-order HERE).

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Razorhawk and I talk ghosts and superheroes at the Chicago Ghost Con.

I also met a few new people involved with the field of paranormal investigation. I did an interview with second generation ghost hunter Alexandra Holzer, which will make for a great future article somewhere.  I even got my photo taken with B movie host icon Svengoolie.

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Svengoolie!

I am planning a one day Milwaukee Paranormal Conference for June 6 (see website HERE), so perhaps the best thing I got from the conference was taking a look firsthand at things I thought worked and things I thought did not.

A fun weekend hanging out with a lot of great people I’ve had the fortune of meeting, and in many cases, writing about.