Damien’s MHC Weekend 2017
By Damien Reaper
This is my 9th year going to Midwest Haunters Convention. I can say that when I first started going to the event, I remember it being bigger and having a larger crowd. There were more events at the convention center including Scaryoke and weddings. There were more vendors that met the needs of pro haunters and home haunters. Even regular people who had no interest in the haunt industry embraced the convention with open arms. Halloween is loved by just about everyone no matter who you are. The price of the trade show was $15 if you ordered your ticket in advance and $20 on-site. This price is just too high. I always felt that if you decrease the price then you could attract more people and triple your attendance. It would be a win win for vendors since their profits would increase.
I quit going to the Costume Ball because why would I spend $50 to dress up and listen to music that I don’t care for? The pop music they played always reminded me of my days in Jr. High. Most people I know never bought a ticket because It’s too pricey and they just preferred to hang out at the bar. That’s a big problem because you want those people hanging out at the bar to come inside to experience your party.
I do feel that the bus tours make sense. You’re paying a reasonable amount of money to tour a variety of haunts while relaxing on a nice charter bus. There should be an option for those who just want to purchase a ticket for one of the haunts on the tour. Someone I was talking to wanted to just tour The Haunted Hotel, Mayhem Mansion and The Dent Schoolhouse. But in order for them to do that they would need to spend nearly $300 for the pre-convention bus tour. For one reason or another, I pinched a nerve in my back which made it difficult to get around. I did however make an effort to be at the trade show and at least hang out in the bar on Saturday while the Costume Ball was taking place.
I shared a room at the Crowne Plaza with Mike Reynolds, Matt Mateikat and Livy Murray. We got there at around 1:30 pm on Friday and loaded our mountains of luggage before heading to the registration booth to pick up our trade show passes. I saw the living Legend himself Scott Tater Lynd and Bobbie Weiner aka Bloody Mary. We went to lunch in the Food Court and something I witnessed really bothered me. I was standing in line ordering some food and a father was with his children. The people making his order spoke in broken English and the father started to make some racist remarks. He wasn’t a haunter, but I feel everyone should have respect for each other. Not one person on this planet is better than anyone else. Let the men make your food, shut up and eat it. We are all human and we should try to enjoy life while having fun.
We saw the Boss of MAUL, his mistress Jim Millspaugh and Kris Sheeley. They were on their way to meet Jerry Vayne, his Girlfriend Dawn Schafer and Drew Badger of The Big Scary Show. We then headed to the room and drank some booze. Till Allyson Mae, David Everly and Erica Elliott from Wells Township Haunted House and Ghost House the movie visited our room. Many of the actors are members of the acting troupe known as MAUL . We would later see Casey Nestor and their crew. We were hungry so we had dinner at Max and Erma’s. Their food is out of this world and all four of us luckily had hotel breakfast passes for tomorrow morning.
We enjoyed our time there with some great Haunters. I was then texted by Mr. Dan “Fatso the Clown” Leopold and Troy “Heldrake” Baldock of Maul. We would join them in the bar in the Hyatt. The Great Jennifer Vanlandingham brought a Spam Can costume and had us all wear it for photos. She traveled all the way from Hawaii to experience MHC. Wowzers, that’s a long distance! We hung out with many people including those from The Dent Schoolhouse. When I spend time with my Dungeons of Delhi family or Dent Schoolhouse family, I remember the good times we had haunting together. Just because I’m with MAUL doesn’t mean I don’t love them. A band might break up, but after it’s all said and done we are always family. I will never forget the haunts I worked for.
I headed to the room and took a shower to ease my hip pain. I’ve been walking with a cane all weekend and it’s not something I wanted everyone to see. I don’t like Damien Reaper looking like an 80 year old man with a cane. So I stayed in for the rest of the night. Mike, Matt, Livy, Jim and Kris walked in and we all fell asleep.
Saturday, We woke up around 7 am. We weren’t quite bright eyed and bushy tailed, but we were up and got Breakfast at Max and Erma’s. They have some great food that fills you up. We then went back to the room to put our costumes on. I was my 19th incarnation of Damien Reaper and Mike wanted to bust out his new persona Lord Timber. Wendy Hubbard Ferris created the mask, gloves and chest piece. It looked amazing. Mike joined Maul last season and he’s full of passion. Livy just started this year and she created Luna Darkcreed and I think the character is very good. Matt and Livy are a good couple. Madd Matt was apart of Dungeons of Delhi since 2006 and I knew him since he was a little boy. So it was great having him apart of MAUL and we share the podcast Reaper Radio.
We went to the trade show and Jim was presenting The Jason Henry Award Championship Belt to the group. Last year’s winner, Tory Borkowski wasn’t there yet. I won the belt in 2015 and Lindsay Wagner won it in 2014. It was originally an award presented to someone who really shined as an actor that year. Sadly the co-owner of MAUL, Jason Henry passed away in 2015. The award was named after him and it features brackets with all 3 winners. There are quite a few spots to be filled. I was handed the award until Tory got there.
There were many people in attendance including Crazy Bob Turner, Kelly Collins, Scare Factor’s Team Zombillies, Mike White from the Haunted Hoorah and many more haunters. This wouldn’t be an article on MHC if I didn’t mention Paul Lanner who is the founder of Haunters Against Hate. Haunters Against Hate is a group that fights for those who feel bullied and mistreated because of their race, gender and sexuality. Their slogan is “Because Hate is the Scariest Thing of All.
I would go back to the room to shower and rest. You have to remember that my hip and right leg were in pain and taking it easy would be the best thing to help with the pain. The gang returned while I was resting and they started to put on their costumes. I chose to put on half makeup, half mask and some new attire. The reason for this is because I’ve been a haunt actor for 19 years and I only use makeup and masks as props to help me be more theatrical. I’m Damien reaper with or without a costume or mask.
I chose not to pay for the Costume Ball. The contest are fun, but I’m not crazy about the music and I have a better time outside in the bar area. The DJ doesn’t play any rock or metal music and the pop tunes he plays reminds me of Jr. High School. So we head down and we see none other than my good friend Telfore Nyte and his kids he likes to call his spawn. Johnny Graves, Maddie Estrada, Katie Lane and others had great costumes. We sat down and just chatted for a bit. I had a fun time sitting by the bar because we all agree that $50 for a party and $75 for VIP tickets is way over priced. I went to bed around 10:30 pm which I always do. But I had to have a few whiskey and colas before heading to bed.
Sunday, we rose out of bed and had Breakfast at Max & Erma’s and packed up Mike’s car before heading to the trade show. I always end my weekend at MHC with a cold iced coffee at the coffee shop next to the trade show floor. I walked around for a bit when suddenly I heard out of nowhere, “Damien! Damien”. It was none other than Jackie Appel from Maul/Laura Dark Photography. She was hanging out at the Froggy’s Fog booth with Mike and so I hobbled over to see them. We chatted for a bit before I went to explore more of the convention. It was great seeing Rex Hamilton, Mollie Uthe and others. Amber Johnson from The Dent Schoolhouse was teaching a class about makeup and her model was Maddie Estrada. Jackie Apple and Jim Millspaugh were judging a children’s and Adult’s Costume Contest. A boy dressed as Pennywise the Clown and someone dressed as Chop Top from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 won.
Well, we’re close to the end of this long winded article. There are a few things I want to address. I always have a blast hanging out with old friends and making new ones at MHC. I feel that the management needs to listen to the public who might have ideas on what needs to be changed. I don’t know anyone who attended the Volley Ball event or went to the casino. Haunt owners may have gone to the casino, but I don’t know any actors who did. Admission for the trade show should be $10 and the Costume Ball Should be $35. The Costume Ball would be more enjoyable if the DJ played some Metal, Dance and Halloween Music instead of playing mostly Pop. Most of the classes and seminars offered are of value. Lastly, there should be an option for people to purchase tickets for each separate haunt instead of bundling them all together for one price. I would love to see MHC bring back Scaryoke on Friday and have it be reasonable.
I would like to thank everyone for reading about my experience at Midwest Haunters Convention 2017 and I would like to dedicate this article to Adam West who’s best known for playing TV’s Batman. He unfortunately passed away over the weekend.