Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hot Rods and Monsters and Go Go Girls

Just the other day I was bouncing around online and found this place, WOW Monster Show, which reminded me of my love of horror movie hosts. People who so love horror films and monster-culture that they're driven to put on these no-budget spectacles of devotion.
I'll take something with that kind of energy and spunk any day over some overproduced garbage like Avatar.
Loads of people like this stuff, for various reasons, but for me it ties into my love of 50's crap culture... Ok, maybe not 'crap'... but all the stuff that was probably meant to be frivolous and disposable at the time... and which is now 'collectible' or 'retro' or... whatever.
I wasn't around in the 50's but when I was growing up in Vegas I think I saw the tail end of them.
My parents have always been gamblers and even back when my sister and I were tiny tots they'd haul us down the hill to Casino-ville and go toss their change into the 'bandits'.
In the early days they'd leave us in the parking garage, in our station wagon, with a small b&w TV plugged into the cigarette lighter.
My sister and I would spend most of the time fighting over what to watch, but I was older and stronger and she didn't usually win out unless we agreed.
That's where I saw my first horror host.
I didn't catch his name and no one I've asked has any memory of him, but I remember his schtick.
He was dressed as a doctor/surgeon/something and his set was built to look like morgue. He had a few gurneys with bodies on them... and, one of the only other details I can remember, encouraged viewers to send in the names of their friends and he'd make sure they 'appeared' on his show... meaning, their names would show up on the 'toe tags' of the bodies in his lair.
I don't remember what movie was showing or if we even watched it after that... I suspect my parents returned before I could see more.
He might have been the great Vegas Vampire, who I became a fan of a few years later, but I don't remember the Vamp being all that gruesome or scary.

Another memory of those days was the journey from our house to the casino and all the places I saw out the windows of the car, but never visited in person.
Among these two stand out from all the rest... Gil's Club Exotica and The Swanky Club.
I think even back then Gil's was out of business... but it seemed to stand for many years after. It looked like a bar you'd find on a stretch of coastal highway... a white shack with aqua-blue trim and maybe a life preserver or two tacked to wall. I remember it had dead palm trees out front. Not a big place... but I always wondered what kind of stuff had gone on there to make it 'exotica'. I'd like to think it was a defunct tiki bar.
The other place, The Swanky Club, was in a kind of strip mall and seemed a lot busier than Gil's... at least it seemed to be open. Again, I never got to go there, it was long gone by the time I was old enough to drive myself around. But I had a definite vision in my head of well dressed adults in a big room with shag carpeting and a glittery piano player and singer... in later years I also imagined that the folks who went there were swingers and had 'key parties' and such.
Oh well... no one I've ever asked has any memory of these places. It's odd what sort of stuff we notice and hang onto from our childhood.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Maze Of Ashes

I had a dream... a long time ago... where I was viewing a place... a basement? a catacombs? some sort of maze of rooms that seemed to be deep beneath the earth.
There was no real light there... things were sensed rather than seen.
The air was dense with floating ash and the floor had a thick covering of it, along with bones and random bits of machinery and statuary and jewelry.
There were shadows wandering in there... shrouded, thin and alone.
Some of the shadows sat in the ash piles, digging in the rubble of a lost world.
It was clear somehow that these were all the dead gods of earth... forgotten kings of the universe left to wallow in the ruins.
At the end of one hallway there was a room with a ornate arched doorway... and beyond that was absolute blackness. Darker even than the lightless rooms of the maze of ashes.
None of the shadows passed through this doorway, but without words they informed me that beyond that door was the first god, the primal secret.
The rest of the maze had been silent and neither hot nor cold... but this door, it had a sound like a windstorm and I felt the air grow cold as I approached it.