Damien Reaper’s MHC Journey 2018
By Damien Reaper
My opinion is mixed. I had an enjoyable time, but I remember how it was in the early days of MHC. It was like going to a family reunion that was fun. There was Scary-Oke, parties and networking. They had a big showroom floor that featured unique vendors and sideshow entertainers like Doc Swan. There are elements of MHC that are the same, but the convention has a different energy now. It’s hard to put into words, but there are things I like and things I don’t. It’s still a fun convention, but it’s not quite as special as it once was. The first year I went was in 2008 and my long time haunt brother Dan Leopold (aka Fatso the Clown) took Haunted Hydro’s Hauntertainer Class and I attended my first juggalo wedding. You could say that it was an exciting time.
Scary-Oke featured performers such as Mommie D, myself and others. We sang with the Scarlet Angel band and Chuck Williams was the host. I had some great moments at MHC like teaching with Jim Millspaugh (aka The Unknown Scare Actor). At the time we both were actors at The Dent Schoolhouse in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was an on air personality on Rotting Flesh Radio and was teaching a class at MHC 2012. I would perform In the Air Tonight at Scary-Oke in 2013 without being in character. I acted at four MHC Haunt Tours throughout the years.
In 2008 The Dent Schoolhouse cast did double duty at Entertrainment Junction when they did their Jack the Ripper Haunt and then later at ScareAtourim with MAUL from 2014 to 2016. In 2018, it was announced that MHC would be moving to the Windy City in 2019. Change of location could bring new life to the convention. MHC started to feel different after Transworld took over. It resembled a trade show more than a convention. It was a smaller version of Transworld in a sense. Who knows what the future holds for Midwest Haunters Convention?
Friday I was picked up by Maul’s “Mikey Foureyes” Reynolds who is a rising star in the haunt industry. We would then pick up Lyndon Dunn who shows lots of promise as a haunt actor. He will be a great addition to MAUL and will surely give his victims some nice bites on their necks. I unfortunately only had 4 hours of sleep that night, but I was excited to see my haunt family again. Scary-Oke finally returned and I was going to perform that night. While walking to the trade show, I saw some friendly faces including those from Stillwell Manor, Hundred Acres Manor, my good pal Zombketh Keith Newsome and his sons who all work for the Trail of Tormented Terror. There were many people I recognized including Wendy Ferris who is an amazing makeup artist. There were so many haunters I would like to mention, but this article would go on and on.
We would later go to our hotel room to have some drinks and tasty food. Suddenly I hear a knock on the door and Drew Badger appears out of nowhere. He’s with Jerry Vayne and Jason Storm who work with Drew on the Big Scary Show. Jerry and his wife Dawn would be at MHC Saturday and he had one hell of a sun burn. I was sure to give him a big pat on the back. That night I put on my Victorian Reaper costume for Scary-Oke. This costume was what I wore my first year at Dungeons of Delhi in Cincinnati, Ohio. Many came to see me sing including Troy Baldock, Julie Langenderfer, Sarah Ann Bengel and others. I tossed and turned that night as I thought about all the adventures I would have that weekend.
There was a room provided to Jim Millspaugh and Kris Sheeley. Bossman got her a very nice engagement ring and tell them congratulations when you get the chance. They were joined by Kris’ daughter Shelby. In the conference room there was also Brett ‘Bludzo” Ryan, Becca “Sally the Dolly” Minges and David “Patchwork” Hughes.
I got up early Saturday morning so I could hit the trade show floor. I wore my Victorian costume. Mike Ratcliff (aka Samhain the Scarecrow) and I took turns wearing MAUL’S sandwich board so we could advertise that we needed some actors for the 2018 haunt season. It was Dan Leopold’s idea. He is my right hand man and manager of MAUL. I’ve been most proud of him out of anyone in the last 20 years. Our booth was across from Kelly Collin’s. He was with his wife Neena and his daughter Anne who were all helping to sell Halloween props.
His haunt ScareAtorium was recently bought by 13th Floor Entertainment Group and was renamed 13th Floor. I had the honor of working for Kelly at ScareAtorium in 2014 and 2016. Crazy Bob and Beth Turner are some of the best showmen/women in the haunt community and said that I will always be part of the Haunted Hydro family. I was going to attend their Hauntertainer course in Australia, but I unfortunately didn’t have the funds. I saw many others throughout the weekend including Scott Tater Lynd. He’s a legend at MHC and a very good man despite his character Granny calling me a whore.
I’ve formed some great relationships over the years. Brett Hays is the director of Fear Fair in Seymour, Indiana and is a great friend of mine. I was able to see many people from The Dent Schoolhouse. There was Bud Stross and Aryn Fox. I worked for The Dent Schoolhouse as a guest actor in 2006 while I was at Dungeons of Delhi. I was an employee at Dent from 2007 to 2013. The Dent Schoolhouse is a nationally top rated haunted attraction and when I see them at MHC, it’s like a family reunion. I met many people that weekend and was able to share memories with others that I’ve known for years. This includes Katie Lane and Amanda Reevenge who are great haunt actors.
(Damien Reaper is seen here being choked by Bud Stross and Jim Millspaugh.)
Saturday we went to Max and Ermas. I had the Breakfast Burger with an egg on top for the first time. It had bacon and spicy ketchup. I also had 10 chicken wings which were quite good. I don’t really have much to say about the Masquerade Party to be honest. They need to have better music. For some reason they always play music you would hear at a High School Dance. I mostly hung out with my crew at the bar and would end up passing out around 12:30 am. I’m an old soul and dammit Janet I was tired. Sunday was the last day for the convention. I would see many people that day including Backwoodz Oddities’ Alan Zues Shell who runs a great haunt with his family. Rex B. Hamilton made an appearance and he is the newest member of Maul. He’s a legend in the business and I had the honor of knowing him while working at Dent years ago.
I had the pleasure of meeting Jason Wilson and Katie Mechenbier from the Ohio Haunters Association and I bought a patch for MAUL. They had a memorial book they made. This will be my 20th season performing as Damien Reaper. I’ve guest acted at many haunts, but I’ll be remembered the most for my work at Dungeons of Delhi, The Dent Schoolhouse and MAUL. Within those 20 years I’ve met wonderful people who are the best. The Dent Schoolhouse and MAUL lost two great haunters and I dedicate my 20 years to them. Josh Gentry (aka Big Jim) worked at The Dent Schoolhouse from 2007 to 2011. He passed away in 2014. Jason Henry (aka Chaos) worked at The Dent Schoolhouse from 2011 to 2013. He started MAUL with Jim in 2014 and passed away in 2015. Those names are in the Ohio Haunters Association book and I thank Jason and Katie for that. I would also like to dedicate my years of haunting to my grandpa John Ruwan, my grandma Rose Ruwan and Larry Goodall.
The Midwest Haunters Convention may end up in Chicago and I’m not sure if I will go or not. What kept me coming back to this convention was the networking, parties, being able to entertain my peers by performing at Scary-Oke and teaching various classes. The props are awesome, but a prop has no passion to give. Haunted Houses are driven by great actors. The actors are the bread and butter of a haunt. Together it’s our industry. It’s our community. I’m Dan Ruwan no… I’m Damien Reaper baby!
Rest In Damnation!