Friday, October 26, 2012


There is something about Halloween that will always be special to me. There are many reasons both personal and universal.
On the universal level, what is not to like about Halloween? It is not a family holiday so there are no worries about celebrating together or traveling to be with family.  Not that this is bad a bad thing, it just sometimes adds to the complications of celebrating the Holidays.  
Halloween celebrates the strange and unusual, the dark side of the moon, the yen to the yang, the naughty over the nice. You get to dress up like someone or something else and there are no rules about what is appropriate garb.  Top all that off with the fact that as a kid you get candy just for ringing some one's doorbell. The perfect holiday.
Outside my window
For me, my first venture on the stage was at Halloween.  Abernathy, Texas where I grew up used to celebrate Halloween with a parade, a costume contest and a Harvest Play every year at the school auditorium. As a kid I was called upon to be in those productions. I have played cowboys, ghosts, and been the official crown bearer for the Harvest Queen.  I loved being in those shows and always looked forward to it.  To top it off after the show we could go trick or treating and get enough candy to cause a sugar overdose of energy. Perhaps it was a psychological connection to the stage,  perform... get candy... even Pavlov's Dogs would become hooked.  
Later in life when Harry Anderson and I teamed up we produced some of the greatest Halloween shows the Comedy and Magic Club has ever seen. (Jay said modestly).  These shows gave birth to some of my favorite vent characters, some are still with me.  There was Long John LaFeat, Nethernore and Log Chainey the wooden killer. Log Chainey was the star of the show for a couple of years.  He is a 7 foot monster that looks like one of the evil trees in the Wizard of Oz. He comes on stage dragging me by the  torso and proceeds to become enraged with every wood joke that I tell. It is a unique body costume switch that Kirk Thatcher and I designed. Log was too complicated to make it into the cast of "The Two and Only" but Long John and Nethernore made the Broadway cut. 
Before Harry moved away from Los Angeles we worked months on a "walk through" haunted house in the basement of his Pasadena house.  We pulled out all the stops and raided Harry's vast supply of body parts and magic tricks to amaze the participants.  Mike Caveney even called it the best Haunted House he had ever seen and called his friend David Copperfield to tell him about it.  David arrived a couple of days after Halloween for a personal tour.  It included a severed head that would turn into a werewolf when "moon light" was shined on it.  The moon light was a simple flashlight which anyone could shine on the head, but the effect was mind blowing.  David was impressed.
Every year I create Fredrick the Frightening.  Fredrick started as a simple scarecrow/life-sized mannequin when I was a kid. He grew in design and structure over the years as I was able to find more grotesque and magical head/faces for the guy. The head I liked the best was a foam rubber pumpkin that had a very frightening expression.  I added glass taxidermy lion eyes and it was truly frightening.  After several years the foam began to decay and Sandi tossed it before I could retrieve the eyes.  If we were ever going to divorce that would have done it... but even expensive taxidermy eyes are no where near the value of a soul mate like Sandi.  
This year with a very simple optical illusion Frederick will turn his head and follow you where ever you walk in a room.  Since our neighborhood is gated and no sidewalks we don't get any trick or treaters so Frederick will spend the night at the Williams house nearby.  They get over 200 little ghosts and ghouls and he will be appreciated by a larger audience.  Be afraid kids... be very afraid.
Five more days.... can't wait.
As you were,


Bill Matthews said...

You WILL post pictures or a video of Fredrick, won't you, Jay?

Tom Farrell said...

Jay, don't ever grow up

Daray Pringle said...

I would love to see Log, and your old acts. Happy Halloween Jay

- Daray