The first time I heard Rob Zombie's name was on Headbanger's Ball. The late night MTV metal show host gushed on about how White Zombie had been around for nearly a decade unnoticed. Recalling those rip-roaring cars, the crazy animation of the “Thunderkiss '65” video, and even the animation on the Beavis and Butthead movie – and who would have predicted what the future would hold at that point?
Back then, when I was a teenager, I certainly would not have thought that I'd later be touring the country on Ozzfest because of Rob Zombie. The younger me probably would not believe that I would become a journalist, let alone that I'd get pulled on stage by Rob Zombie while covering a concert. The facial recognition from being on stage in front of about 45,000 people, face plastered on the big screen, led to a crew of people following me around and culminated in a job on the 2002 Ozzfest tour.
I attempted to comfort Rob's tattoo artist poolside one somber day. We were chased out of our hotels from the swarm of reporters; literally, 20 minutes after a performer was found dead, helicopters landed. My co-worker and I zipped to get away from the craziness and had dinner with Rob's tech Grape.
Over the years, it's like meeting extended members of the family, such as when I was introduced to Shauna. It was when I was living in New Orleans, before Hurricane Katrina, and Corrosion of Conformity's Pepper Keenan knew that I was new to the area and in the biz. He introduced us when we had been drinking at her bar, The Saint, and I remember the cats I loved to see freely roaming her bar.
I recall more than a few stories with plot settings of either her bar or Pepper's bar from back in the day. I shake my head and smile, recalling a patchwork of various times and people. Those stories are for another time, as it's like when Kirk Windstein swore me to secrecy the details of hanging out at the Black Label Society balcony party with him and Frey from Valume Knob, and Pat, now of Down.
That was more than a decade ago. How many times have I seen Rob Zombie since? More than a few.
Right after I started studying for my Master's at Johns Hopkins University, I covered the show at DC's 9:30 Club. People were thick. It was more of an intimate club setting that was packed to the gills.
Compare that to last year in Wisconsin at Rock USA Oshkosh, where he was one of the headlining acts. Totally different stage set up and atmosphere with the outdoor festival. This was set up for camping, complete with carnival games, a ferris wheel, the zipper, and ziplining across the festival grounds.
This year when I saw him in Toledo, Ohio, it was just him. His opener was a DJ. Madonna style.
Of course, many who have seen my business card, which is also the picture used on the cover of my thesis from Johns Hopkins University, might have heard of the time I crowdsurfed at Ozzfest. It was not the year that I had toured, but after, when Rob toured again, and I covered Columbus, Ohio. The internationally-known photo was taken while crowd surfing during the same the song he had originally pulled me on stage for, “Living Dead Girl,” but since people on stage knew it was me crowdsurfing, they had drenched me with a fire hose, killing my camera at the time – but I was able to save the card.
The epic photo has caused a lot of controversy. It led to a half dozen of my books being censored and pulled from publication by the publishing company. Some have almost viewed me like a villain.
Maybe I can identify with some of the bad guys from Rob Zombie's films. They are bad people, and by all rights, you should really hate them for the bad things that they do to people, a.k.a., killing them; however, there's just something about them that you like. Rob Zombie shows the perspective of the bad guys in his films, and that's what sets some of his work apart from others in the horror genre.
That love of horror can be seen in his stage show, with massive images of villains and hot chicks. Embodiment of images from satanic cultures and shock value are things that get the blood pumping. Pulling from those various influences, a persona arises, a stage persona, a movie persona and just Rob.
There's so many images that can be conjured in the mind of what Rob might possibly be like. Ask my friend's son, and his response is based on the Halloween mask of Rob and his music. Scary and cool.
The little five-year-old loved that Rob's music had race cars in it. He was terrified of the mask when he stumbled upon it in the Halloween store though, inching backwards slowly. He never saw the movies.
He didn't have to see the movie. He was scared enough by the mask, asking me if that's what Rob really looked like in person. I had to comfort him, explain that it is just a mask, just a prop, because Rob likes scary movies, but no, he's not that scary in real life; he's actually a pretty nice, chill guy.
Rob's appeal has grown to be that broad. A child can like the smallest element of a race car in the music, movie buffs appreciate him pushing boundaries in the movie industry, metal heads like the mosh pits. Not matter what it is that draws you to liking him, the once obscure is now a family-known name.
Now he's preparing for the Great American nightmare, where you can be scared like a little child. This is not just your average haunted house, as it has Captain Spaulding's 3D Clown School, the Bloody Boulevard with roaming freaks, and even concerts by Rob Zombie on October 2nd and 4th. Come on down to the Odeum Expo Center in Villa Park, IL, between Sept. 25 and Nov. 1st for a real fright.
Weekdays, the haunted spectacular will be open from 7 – 10 p.m., open until midnight on the weekends. On Oct. 2nd and 4th, the doors will open at 5 p.m., with the concert starting at 8 p.m.. The haunted house, waiting line and box office are all indoors, so don't hesitate to visit on a rainy day.
Don't plan on wearing flip flops or high heels, as you never know when you might need to run for your life. This is also not recommended for the youngsters under 13 that are prone to having nightmares. Still, getting scared by Rob Zombie's collection of freaks and ghouls is the perfect start to Halloween.
For more information on Rob Zombie's Great American Haunt, visit http://greatamericannightmare.com. For more on Rob Zombie including his upcoming concert in Erie, PA, visit www.robzombie.com. For more by Marisa, visit www.lulu.com/spotlight/thorisaz, http://blackwidowbook.angelfire.com and www.thorisazviews.com.