Can we all just sit here for a moment and appreciate how fucking gorgeous Maila Nurmi was even as she aged?
Seconded,..and wholeheartedly at that.
Vampira by Bobby Bare
The Misfits weren’t the only cats to sing about Vampira. In fact, they weren’t even the 1st.
Back in 1958, marginally successful country singer Bobby Bare recorded this ode to Ms. Nurmi.
Though not the impassioned and awesome tune Danzig and Co. deliver, this strange old ditty is surefire Shindig fodder all the same.
Come a little bit closer…
The most famous and reproduced image from the Misfits/Vampira summit on April 17, 1982. It should be noted that even though Arthur Googy quit the band earlier in the week the drummer did fulfill the rest of his obligations for the Walk Among Us tour (which ended the same day Lodi’s finest met tv’s spookiest). Alas, Arthur was in no mood for Kodak moments such as this. L-R: Jerry Only, Vampira, Doyle giving the Jersey fist-pump, Glenn Danzig. Photographer unknown.
The Misfits meet Vampira, April 17, 1982, at Vinyl Fetish in Los Angeles. Touched by their musical tribute, the reclusive horror hostess stepped out of the shadows to thank the band at this meet and greet. Notably absent from these shots is Arthur Googy; the drummer quit the Misfits two days earlier following a donnybrook with Glenn Danzig over a McDonald’s cheeseburger. First photo, L-R: Doyle, Vampira, Jerry Only, Danzig; foreground head unknown. Second photo, L-R: Jerry, Vampira, Doyle, Danzig. These images were both printed in the Summer 1993 issue of Ugly Things and came from Jerry Only’s personal collection. Photographer unknown.
Here’s Malia rockin’ a pretty spooky doo. Shindig approved.
Classic shot from Vampira’s promotional hearse tour of Hollywood.
Vampira by Misfits
If John Zacherle is the grandaddy of Horror Hosts, then Maila Nurmi is their mother goddess.
Back in 1954, The Vampira Show was the first program to feature a spooky host introducing (and mocking) old B-movies.
Though only on the air for about a year, Vampira’s mark on horror culture can still be felt today, particularly tooling around Tumblr, where her image is ever present.
And why not? As Mr. Danzig so succinctly puts it:
Two inch nails
with a pale white feline face
inclination eyebrows to there
Mistress to the horror kid
Vampira is the embodiment of the classic horror image. Young fangirl still want to be her, and young fanboys still want to be with her. And though nothing but a few old kinescopes exist of the short-lived program, Maila Nurmi’s legacy will forever live on with the genre.
Fittingly led in by Martin Landu’s oscar-bearing Bela Lugosi, exulting Ms. Nurmi’s appealing qualities to Johnny Depp’s irritated Ed Wood.
Go try on a sweater then, Nerd-o. Me and Bela here will just sit back with some morphine and enjoy the show.
The Horror Host has been a beloved fixture of the genre for almost 60 years now. So ingrained are they in horror culture that even their parodies have slipped into iconography.
From a time when TV had no guide, DVRs and streaming video weren’t even the stuff of the B-grade sci-fi these horror hosts peddled. TV was a living thing, existing with or without your manifesting gaze. It was there, happening somewhere behind all the black. You needed only to turn it on an tune in to whatever it was offering, lest you missed out entirely. So you waited.
Originally, Universal Studios offered a package of horror classics and worn out titles called Shock Theater to local TV stations for broadcast. The stations had weathermen, announcers and news anchors doubling as any number of ghoulish characters to present the frightening films.
The movies were often the subject of ridicule, and the focus turned rather to the host themselves, their outlandishness and their skits. These shows found almost instant success, and America of the late 50’s, 60’s and 70’s loved these local fixtures. Many spawned several incarnations and are still remembered with great fondness in their hometowns.
As the Shindig enters its 2nd quarter, we’ll take a beat or two to pay tribute to those horror hosts immortalized in song.
Watch horror movies.
Keep America strong.
now Goodnight, whatever you are….
Pleasant nightmares and unpleasant dreams.