The image above is the painting for "CAMERA OBSCURA" by Tom Wright
from the NIGHT GALLERY episode of the same name. All Rights Reserved.

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Last year, for the first time in a long while, I was able to venture outside of the Lost Coast and do some wandering again across this land, greeting old friends and fans and meeting new ones along the way. Over the next few months I'll be chronicling these hauntings in picture and verse. I hope you enjoy them, beginning with one of my favorite events:

 

ONE UNDEAD IN OHIO…

 

...with apologies to Crosby, Stills & Nash.

If you were a fan of horror movies in the 1970s and 80s and lived in the Ohio area, the name Dr. Creep, alias Barry Hobart, was a television legend for his double duties as host of WKEF Dayton's Saturday afternoon creature feature program SHOCK THEATER , as well as the children's program CLUBHOUSE 22 . From 1971 through 1985, Dr. Creep hosted some of the best and worst horror films to be broadcast across the Dayton airwaves, and his on-air persona and performance ingratiated him to legions of fans both older and younger. After being taken off the air and performing in several other projects, SHOCK THEATER with Dr. Creep was resurrected in 1999 on Dayton Public Access, where it ran for another six years before ill-health caused him to relinquish the show.

 

 


The Guest Of Honor Himself,
splendidly attired as always...
 

But as much as his television work, Mr. Hobart was equally renown for his work with numerous charities in the Ohio area, including the annual Labor Day MDA Telethon, and the Christmas seasoned Project Smiles, which collected toys for unfortunate children. Indeed, one of Mr. Hobart's biggest personal projects was the annual HORRORAMA Film Festival at the Flicker Palace in Huber Heights, OH; all night movie marathons whose proceeds all went to Project Smiles, a tradition still alive to this day.

 

Mr. Hobart has been and remains a generous, kind, giving individual, whose presence, once encountered, is not easily forgotten. But the past several years have been difficult for him; he became very ill and could not afford his medications and other mounting expenses, and was doing the best he could to care for his mother and disabled son. So my good companions A. Ghastlee Ghoul and Suspiria, HorrorHosts with THE GHASTLEE MOVIE SHOW and SPLATTERTUDE RADIO , and members of the band SPLATTERTUDE decided to put on a benefit for this generous individual, hosting an all-day concert to help raise funds to pay back some of the kindness he shared with others. Eleven great local bands volunteered their time to provide entertainment, as well as a collection of HorrorHosts, magicians, comedians, and various unsundry performers. Including me.


HorrorHosts and Bandmates A. Ghastlee Ghoul & Suspiria with friends Brandis & Billy from the Cinema Wasteland memorablia convention

It was a spectacular event; everything anyone could have hoped it would be. 1000 people were hoped for, and 500 were expected. The final total was 700+ people, right in the middle. (It was hard to count the crowd since it was spread out across the park, and people kept arriving and leaving, but the final tally at the food booth put it over 700.) $2000.00 were raised, and although you always hope for more, we considered that a pretty good day for what was essentially a free event. Proceeds came from food sales, raffles, auctions, and money brought in from the booths set up around the park.

 

What impressed me the most was there was absolutely no trouble; no fights, no drunks (or at least no sloppy, abusive, stupid ones), no egos, and no dissension of any kind. It was a gathering to love and honor someone who was a part of people's childhood and formative years. I wish I had a quarter for everyone who said, "I used to watch you YEARS ago..."; I could donate another $1000 easily!

It was a lovefest; you want to talk about Woodstock? The real thing? This was it.

 

The bands ranged from punk to blues to hard rock to alternative to just plain loud to satanic (no hyperbole there; the last band, DARKNESS RISING, was literally satanic...) and although I'm wasn't able to appreciate every style presented, I did appreciate the dedication of all involved in the day's event. Everyone got along wonderfully, the stage changes went perfectly smooth, there was comedy, magic, dance, feats of daring and other amazing moments, along with a general feeling of goodwill across two or three acres.

 

The guest of honor, along with Butch and Joan Cleaver, HorrorHosts out of Indianapolis. Note Butch's grey hair; I was stunned to discover it's not real. In their everyday personas as Brian And Jean, they used my sermon from the Cinema Wasteland wedding I performed in 2003 for their OWN wedding a few months later.

 

 

 
Brian out of character. I never knew his hair was so long. His HorrorHost persona is a 1950's style TV Dad; I joked that he looked like many did when the 1960s rolled around: Tune In, Turn On, and Drop Out. He appreciated that. In the middle is Suspiria, AKA Kathy, who is Ghastlee's, AKA Bob's wife and musical partner. Bob and Kathy were the ones I married in 2003.

 

The Ohio Ghostbusters make appearances throughout the state, and asked me to take part in a sketch they performed. After being introduced and picking up ectoplasmic readings on their meters, they went offstage to a great blast of flashing lights, roaring electronic sounds, and LOTS of smoke. (The smoke bombs were particularly effective that day...) They then came onstage and announced that they'd captured a ghost... ME ! After Ghastlee protested (“you can't capture another guest!”), they raced offstage (more lights, sound and smoke) and released me. I came back onstage in high dungeon. The audience seemed to enjoy it greatly, although the backstage smelled like rotten eggs for another 30 minutes.

 

My friend Brandis, myself, and a husband-and-wife makeup team that spent the day transforming customers into zombies. (Note Brandis's face wounds!) All proceeds collected from the makeup sessions went to Dr. Creep, and by the end of the day there was a virtual hoard of the Undead milling about. )Sadly, I have misplaced the couple's name and company; if anyone can enlighten me, I would be extremely grateful.)

 

Two of the other non-band performers were The Reverend Tommy Gunn, creator of Freakshow Deluxe, a traveling troupe of goth and punk circus performers that recreate the old freakshow atmosphere of the traveling carnivals. Needles were pushed through arms, nails were driven up noses, blocks of granite were hosted via nipple rings, and fire was eaten, all, in the words of the good Reverend, to recreate "what was once considered good, wholesome family entertainment!" The Reverend (a VERY nice man with an incredibly sweet family, including a three-year-old son that took immediately to me) perfomed seveal astonishing feats, includng lifting a solid granite block with his earrings. (He also lifted it with other body parts, but this is a family website, and some things are better left to the imagination…!)

He also recreated the famous bed of nails trick, then held a cinderblock on his stomach while an audience member smashed it with a sledgehammer. I was standing just offstage right during this trick, and winced as I saw the sledgehammer, completely unrehearsed, connect with one of Tommy's fingers while he held the cinderblock in place. I'm certain THAT hurt worse than the bed of nails!

 

There was also his assistant, Miss Hannah Bel, who was a fine performer in her own right. Here she is escaping from a straightjacket. (Of course, I told the audience I was looking for a woman who COULDN'T escape from one...!)

 

 


Ahhhh...peace at last...
 

A company called Scary Boy Productions (a husband and wife team) built a mock graveyard from the tombstones they make for haunted attractions, films, and Halloween decorations. They were located at the far end of the park, and when the loudness of the music got too much, I'd gravitate there, telling stories to some of the families. There was a seat there for photos with Dr. Creep, and I took advantage of it throughout the day.

Among the performers I enjoyed listening to, SUICIDE SEVEN, LEFT HAND HOLD and THE PROFESSORS were high on the list of my favorites. THE PROFESSORS had a great 1960s Hammond Organ sound with a lead singer doing his very best Roger Daltry, making for a very danceable set!

 

I have absolutely no idea what I'n doing here...for all Iknow, it might be The Supremes "Stop! In The Name Of Love!"

Your friendly neighborhood spectre, acting as MC; which stands for Macabre Crowd-pleaser...

 

I'd never heard my friend Bob's (Ghastlee's) band before, but it was well worth the wait. Consisting of only two instruments - drums and bass - and shared vocals between Bob, Kathy and their bandmate April (with Lou the Xmas Devil on the drums), SPLATTERTUDE rocked! Kathy has a voice that could make Pat Benetar proud; Bob's playing and singing were terrific, and they sounded incredibly tight! (Although Bob didn't think they'd done that great a set, mainly because he was so tired from running the event, I couldn't disagree more...)

 

 

 

I had a couple young fans there in the crowd. Although it looks like we're dancing, my young friend Star had just finished giving me one of her flying-tackle hugs that she'd deliver whenever she saw me across the park. She was wonderful, racing everywhere to get autographs for the day from everyone possible.

 

 

 
This is probably my favorite picture from the entire event. My young friend Kira's mother worked at the food booth, and she just seemed fascinated by me. After one encounter I **beeped** her nose, and from that point on she looked for that whenever our paths crossed, eventually just leaning out her nose as I passed within arm's reach. Her expression just says it all.

 

How great a day was it? By 9:30 the park, which had no lights, was almost pitch black, and people were STILL coming up, asking for autographs, flipping open their cell phones so that we could have some light to sign by! It was a perfect ending, and I'm so very grateful to Bob and the rest of the organizers for inviting me to be a par of it.

 

Two legends in their own macabre times...
 

 

© 2008 Patient Creatures Ltd.