halloween countdown

The Mummycorn Lives!


Steve and I traveled to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens yesterday to view the scarecrows. I admit, I was prepared for the worst, after the staff,crowds,and weather mangled my entries last year. However,The Mummycorn was not only fully intact, but looking great. It was also in a spot in which certain photos made it look truly as if it were stalking through the woods! Check these out:


The Tale of the Screaming Skull!

At the Southern Museum in Kennesaw, Vapor and I did almost sixteen performances in two consecutive nights, adding a couple of shows due to popular demand. The occasion was an event called “The Haunted Museum”, which was for older kids and adults, and an all-ages Halloween festival took place on the same site. The show was called “The Tale of the Screaming Skull”, and uses total audience participation. I performed it  in an adorable little depot across the street from the museum,which made the perfect puppet theater.

I made hats, each with the face of a character in the story, and once the audience knew what as going on, the kids were falling all over themselves wanting to play characters in the play. We had a great time, and my sixteen different dads out of the audience, who played my Screaming Skull, were terrific.

Many thanks to Laurel, who coordinated the Halloween festival and treated me like royalty while i was there. Steve also came on the second night, dressed as a Ghostbuster.

Netherworld 2010! PUG!

I have still been working my tail off this Halloween season, and finally I have a chance to show you my new puppet partner at Netherworld. Last year, it was big, bad Mega Mouth; this year I am teamed up with Pug, a vicious, red-eyed, carrot-toothed denizen of the corridors.

Isn’t he amazing, folks? He feels like he’s about the size of a small car. He’s heavy and takes some real turbo-strength to operate him properly, but the effect is well worth it.

I do not give a halfway presentation with this puppet.I push it, suddenly, roaring right out into people’s faces, biting and snapping, red eyes flaring,then pull it quickly back into the darkness to hide for another ambush. It takes incredible strength to do this, and I give it my all, which is why I tear myself to pieces every night that I am operating it. Employees have lamented that I am not there more to operate it, but this is why.I want to work Pug, and I want to do it well, or I don’t want to do it at all. Unfortunately, this means giving me  several days of work followed by several days off to repair myself! 

It also takes some brains to operate Pug, and other big puppets of this ilk, without getting beaten up by the unruly public. Stupid guys, always in an effort to impress the other numbskulls in their group, will often dive on the puppets, or gang up and all push the puppet at once, which can knock the puppeteer off balance, hit them in the face or head with the machinery, and do all sorts of collateral damage to the equipment itself. Yet our employers want us to get aggressive with the public and really SCARE them, freak them the hell out. So you have to learn and understand how to be a good “predator”…:)

I have my “performance” down to a science..

Usually I can tell that the guy in the front of a group, especially if he has big baggy pants, is gonna be trouble. I hate to miss out on pummeling him, but it’s just as much fun keeping him from doing stupid stuff(so he can be cool in front of his friends)by splitting him up from his group.

I let the big dumb jock “alpha male” go first,and get him around the corner and out of the way, THEN attack the rest of his group. If he is separated from his group, he can’t impress them by being a butthead.I also make sure I only chew at people minimally–I give them a good chomp, for sure—and then retreat quickly back into the dark so they don’t really have a chance to do anything to the puppet and me. Then once the rest of the people are hurriedly streaking by, thinking, “oh, it’s not gonna come out again, we’re safe”, I come roaring out one last time and get the straggler, the one who thinks he’ll get away by being at the end of the group!

Anyway, it’s been a really fun season. I know my appearances have been sporadic, but it’s really all my little body can handle.

I have my “performance” down to a science..let the big dumb jock “alpha male” go first,and get him around the corner & out of the way, THEN attack the rest of his group.If he is separated from his group, he can’t impress them by being a dickhole.

A Tour of Southern Ghosts!

I’ve been working very hard this Halloween season, hence my sad, sad little Halloween countdown. And my Mummycorn scarecrow did NOT win a prize at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens(getting a little bit tired of all the work, effort and money going into something that gets completely destroyed, truthfully).

But, work is good, and boy have I been workin’. In the latter half of every week, I work The 25th Annual A Tour of Southern Ghosts at Stone Mountain Park.

They are trying something radically new, using me this year. After hearing the tales told by the six different storytellers around the antebellum plantation buildings, guests finally arrive at the end of the tour and gift shop. There, a more humorous presentation is given, usually told by a sort of carnival barker-type person(my new coworker Jon!) who pretty much gives a commercial for the Tour’s creators, ART Station. ATOSG is really a fundraiser for ART Station, and we also must mention the sponsors, talk about the items to be found in the Ghostly Gift Shop and so forth. But the main part of the spiel contains very corny ghost jokes and puns, and I thought that this might be a perfect vehicle for one of my ghost puppets. I inquired about it to ART Station, and to my great surprise, they were interested. Long story short, I auditioned for them and brought Vapor, although I ended up using Misty, a new female ghost puppet created from my ghost called Phantz.

Here’s Misty and me by lantern light. Boo, y’all!


Island of the Dolls. (VERY CREEEPY)

Sometimes dolls fall into the category of puppets, right? Well, I guess that’s not the best intro in the world for this, but, my dear readers, I MUST show you this uber-creepy place.

From Oddity Central:

Known as “La Isla de la Munecas”, by the Spanish, The Island of the Dolls is perhaps the creepiest tourist attraction in Mexico. Located within an extensive network of canals, south of Mexico City, the island is a place of mystery and superstition.

Almost every tree growing on the island is decorated with old, mutilated dolls that give anyone the feeling that they’re constantly being watched. The story behind the Island of the Dolls began when a hermit by the name of Don Julian Santana moved here. Although he was married he chose to live the last 50 years of his life alone.

Don Julian used to say he was haunted by the ghost of the little girl who had drowned in one of the canals around the island. Some say he used to fish the dolls from the water because he though they were real children, but the truth is he was collecting and placing them around his home as a shrine for the spirit that tormented him. At one point he even traded home grown fruit and vegetables for old dolls.

Ironically, in 2001 Don Julian Santana was found dead by his nephew, in the same canal that he said the little girl drowned in. Now his Island of the Dolls is one of the world’s weirdest tourist attractions. Some tourists who visited this place claim the dolls whisper and you must offer them a gift upon setting foot on the island, to appease their spirits.

And now,I bet you’re just itchin’to see this wacked-out place..am I right?Hold onto your butts, readers; if you,like me, hate creepy dolls, this is guaranteed nightmare fodder.

Vintage Vitale Halloween!


Halloween of 1980, I decided I wanted to be a skunk. Nabbing the tried-and-true Simplicity pattern for a standard furry suit,my grandmother dutifully crafted this costume for me. Alas,I can’t seem to find the photo of the back–I had the white stripe and fuzzy tail and everything.


Then I became a teenager, and of course teenagers want nothing more to get a rise out of adults. I accomplished this by snatching an old army jacket of my dad’s and tons of mascara, and voila! I was a zombie-thingy:


Ooh, my mother hated it.:)

Bustin’ Makes us Feel Good!



Steve and I went to Discover Mills Mall last night to hang out with people taking their kids to Trick-or-Treat. Lots of people “ooh’ed” and “wow’ed”, some went completely ballistic, and a startling number of people thought our costumes and equipment were “real”. It’s truly amazing what people will believe if you put on a good enough act! 😀

Lots of folks took our photo, but when we passed the Medieval Times area of the mall, we zeroed in on the CHANDELIER. And the rest is Photoshop,done by Steve.:)


Visiting the Netherspawn…



Last night Steve and I went to Netherworld to get a few things from the gift shop, and also to let me see what the place was like on the outside when the show is in full swing(since I’m in my puppet booth all night, I never see what it looks like out front). My GOD, what a madhouse. It’s almost a complete separate show in itself. The huge full-body puppets, The Reaper and The Wraith, were out, as well as Lizard Man, The Boozy Clown,The Collector(The top-hatted character on the billboard), The Doll, and numerous vampires, sliders, and other assorted haints and frighteners. I forgot what their specific costume is called, but the best scaring going on was from the actors in ghillie suits, who simply looked like bushes. Once a guest got close enough, BAM! The actors would  jump out and clang their tin-can noisemakers together and the guests would jump out of their skin.

The line was immense; hundreds upon hundreds of people deep, no joke. The line snaked around the building, and the police were on hand to direct traffic and keep the crowd orderly, and they truly do an amazing job of keeping all that potential chaos under control.


My buddy Derek was in The Reaper costume and came running to me (well, as fast as he could run) and CeCe(I hope I spelled that right) was his handler.

I also officially met Billy Messina, the other co-owner, who was out in the crowd and noticed my Netherworld sweatshirt I had proudly pruchased the other day. I had only seen him once or twice before, as Ben Armstrong has usually been the most visible figure of the two owners on the nights I’ve worked. Billy was extremely gracious and thanked me for doing a good job. Apparently word has gotten around.:)

I’m glad my body is finally going to have a chance to repair itself after such a strenuous work experience, but I’m really gonna miss these people till next year.:)