Haunt Around the Clock

I’m a drag convert—an out-of-the-closet believer and lover of everything drag. In fact, for the last three years I’ve gone to Nina West’s Heels of Horror at Axis. Why? Because it is quite possibly the most ridiculous, hilarious and impressive live show I’ve been to in Columbus, and she does it all (with a little help from her drag elves, and Virginia West, the drag mother of the whole show.)

“The most challenging part of these shows is probably making sure everything comes together,” said long-legged and frequent performer Barbi Roberts. “There are so many moving parts to it, and so much that goes on behind the scenes that it can seem overwhelming. But it’s silly to stress out because everything always does come together and ends up being amazing!”

She’s not in the show this year, but manages to wow the crowd whenever she steps out. I’ve also put money in her pants a few times. 

It’s hard thinking back to the first time I went, but I remembe the moment I knew I’d be back every year. It was near the middle-end of the show—a two-hour extravaganza that had the audience choosing their own adventure while Nina and her drag sisters performed the choices on the fly. This kind of thing is impressive for a trained improv troupe, let alone Drag Stars doing 5-8 costume changes in a night—I was floored when Nina surprised the audience with a 15-plus person performance/lip sync of Mel Brooke’s “Springtime for Hitler” from his award winning movie The Producers. And they f*cking committed.

I couldn’t believe my eyes as the Nazi flag unfurled from the rafters, and Nina goose-stepped her way out of the back while Jamz Dean did the best and gayest Hitler impression I’d ever seen.

I was done—I was head over heels laughing my ass off—hell, my entire group was singing along, pointing at me and laughing. (I’m a Jew.) It was a truly special moment in a weird night. Their following shows were nothing short of spectacular, whether it was riffing on Game of Thrones’s iconic, “SHAME!” scene or doing a hodgepodge John Waters-esque horror mish-mash of classics from times-gone-by, they have fun and they put on a professional show. Nina’ll have you lip-syncing not only for your life, but for your soul as well.

If you can’t make it to Heels of Horror, here are a few other things to wet your noodle for the annual spookery-doo:

• Ohio native Robert Kurtzman, SFX Legend who has worked on Army of Darkness and Wishmaster, and is now working on Kevin Smith’s Moose Jaws, is putting together Paranormal Penitentiary: Monster Lockdown—a 400,000 square-foot crawl through the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield. There are promises for monsters looking for fresh meat and some ghosts of the worst criminals.

• Don’t forgot the OG of Ohio Haunts, the Haunted Hoochie—claiming to be the most extreme haunted house and while that claim could be dated now that you can go to haunted houses that legit waterboard you—they certainly try to make their case.  With all sorts of animated monsters and “deadly” surprises it’ll be a flash back to when you were in high school trying to scare yourself into caring about your future.

• For the movie buff—on Oct. 24th you can try your hand at Drexel Theater’s annual Shock Around the Clock, a terrifying 24-hour horror marathon featuring music, a rare 35mm screenings of Return of the Living Dead, The Brood, a tribute to Wes Craven and premieres for new deranged movies. There’s a ton to do (24 hrs is a ton of space to fill) but if you can stick it out, you should be dead…tired.



Matthew Erman has been writing fiction for the better part of his 26 years. His work has been featured in; Vanderbilt University's The Nashville Review, Filigree Literary Journal, University of Miami's Mangrove Literary Journal, Pelorus Press, Cracked, 614 Magazine. Matthew has a high school diploma, no college debt and attended the 2012 Kenyon Review Writer's Workshop. He lives in sunny Columbus, Ohio.