Apr 18, 2016
Thank you All Hallows Haunts for championing “Serial Killer Speed Dating”! Thanks for coming out.
Apr 18, 2016
Last Wednesday I hosted my 5th edition of “Serial Killer Speed Dating”.
I wouldn’t say they get easier to put together. From setting up the website to selling tickets to coordinating the “killers” – it’s all work. However, each one builds upon the success of the last. Each one unfolds in new and entirely unexpected ways.
Two things I’d like to point out from this edition:
On Monday before the event I got an e-mail from Snapchat saying they’d like to bring one of their producers to my event to film it for their “LA Stories” channel. I was stunned.
I know Snapchat as the latest and greatest social media app that people ten years younger than me love. Personally, I don’t have a relationship with it, but I know of its significance.
So of course I agreed to let them bring a producer over.
Two girls I sit next to at work, Francesca and Valerie, were over the moon excited to hear this, and I asked them if they’d like to help film the evening. They said yes.
The video above was taken from Snapchat’s feed. Snapchat is ephemeral – watch it once and it disappears. I had to record the video since there is no direct way to link to it. There was more video of my event, but this was all I got recorded.
In my mind I imagine that 10,000+ people watched me say “Serial Killer Speed Dating”. I was hoping for a lot of attention paid to my tiny event, but so far I’ve gotten a few shout outs from people around the building and Hollywood hasn’t been knocking on my door.
Either way, not bad. We were featured on their feed the same night that Kobe Bryant played his last game, so…you know…I guess if you want to compare me to Kobe Bryant I won’t stop you.
Men. Always men.
Women buy tickets so fast I have to stop selling tickets to women.
I have to beg men to come to the event, as they always wait until the last minute to purchase tickets.
This time around I was two men short. Ian Heath, an actor I know from Zombie Joe’s, has been in every “Serial Killer” I’ve thrown.
During the planning phases Ian would be “killed” at the beginning of the evening and then act as a co-host for the remainder of the night, wandering the bar covered in blood.
However, since I was two men short I needed his help.
Bouncing ideas off of Jessica, we came up with Ian as a zombie dater. Resurrected from the dead after dying at my feet early on.
Ian was happy to comply, and after dying at my feet (and smearing my face with blood) he was dragged to the bathroom for a quick makeup change before he was back to the daters, zombified.
Ian, as he explained, wasn’t so much interested in women’s bodies as much as he was their brains.
I loved it, the daters loved it (I assume) and Snapchat loved it. You can see that the majority of the video deals with their being a zombie among the daters.
The idea was born out of necessity, but was a wonderful way to add spice to the event.
It is always hard work to put these evenings on. But the rewards are surprising and wonderful.
And so I keep going.
Onto the next one.
Apr 8, 2016
by Abel Horwitz
Like a group of sexy teenagers heading to a secluded cabin in the woods, I certainly didn’t set out to meet the serial killers, but the serial killers found me.
I started “Serial Killer Speed Dating” on a whim. I wanted to do something at last year’s ScareLA, and while at a party I found myself in casual conversation with Lora Ivanova (one of ScareLA’s creators) and a horror screenwriter named Jackson Birnbaum. I told Lora I wanted to be involved in her convention, and she asked me what I’d like to do. At first I told her I didn’t know. “But,” I continued, “there’s this one thing…”
“The human heart is THIS big…no…I’m not a murderer. Why do you ask?” (photo by Kady Chun)
A few weeks earlier, while looking at the website for Star Wars Celebration I saw that they had speed dating events organized for the attendees, and I thought it was a brilliant way for like-minded people to meet. You already have a common interest, right? I didn’t think too much of it at first glance, but the uniqueness of the experience got stick in my head.
I told Lora and Jackson about “Star Wars” speed dating, and how I thought that was a great idea for any pop culture convention. She said she liked it, but that I’d need a bit of a twist to it to make it fit ScareLA’s theme. Then Jackson said, “Oh! How about you throw in a serial killer?”
I turned to Lora and said, “I’ll make that.”
Slightly bloodier than your typical first date. (photo by Kady Chun)
The first time I organized the event was for ScareLA. It was also the first time I had crafted anything at this scale. Directing the “serial killers” and “victims”, writing out their performances, configuring the setup to it all. My intention wasn’t to start a business, build a brand, or even have a second event. I just wanted to have something that was mine at a convention that I loved.
And how people responded! I think what surprised me the most was how encouraging EVERYONE was. My friends were willing to volunteer their services and the daters couldn’t have been nicer. Even though I was worried about attendance and panicked about logistics up until the minute it began, once it started I knew I had stumbled upon something special. The event ended and I felt an immense sense of pride and accomplishment.
After ScareLA I decided to do it again. This time in a bar during Halloween season. I held it on my birthday — October 14th — again not knowing how people would respond to it. Holding it at a horror convention is one thing, presenting it as a solo event is something else entirely.
And again, people came! The event sold out and people had a good time.
So far I have held four events. Our fifth one goes up next Wednesday, April 13th.
“Sorry…I just can’t stop thinking about how well-shaped your head is.” (photo by Kady Chun)
A few months ago I read Aziz Ansari’s book “Modern Romance”, where he writes about both his personal experience and the experiences of others in the modern dating world. Finding one’s partner over the internet is perfectly fine, but it takes away the face-to-face interaction that one gets from that first introduction. As always: just because someone looks good on a screen doesn’t mean you’ll click with them in person.
Serial Killer Speed Dating gameifies the whole process. I continue to be thrilled by the conversations I overhear during the event. When everyone’s trying to guess who the serial killers are it starts to get pretty playful. It certainly breaks down the nervousness of a first date.
Speed dating, I find, is almost like dating practice. The speed of the dates gets you comfortable with the whole event. There’s an energy to it all. Every evening I find a few people who connect, though no one has yet to tell me if they’ve formed a relationship after going through “Serial Killer Speed Dating” (I keep waiting for that wedding invite) and I see a lot of people having fun.
As always, it’s hard to get people to come out. Each one I learn a bit more how to craft the evening, but the marketing of it all remains a challenge. “How can people find out about you?” is a pretty common question that I get. I tell them I’m trying to figure that out myself.
Living dead girl Corey Zicari and host Abel Horwitz (photo by Kady Chun)
During my last event, as I stood there in my tuxedo watching the daters, one of my actors — Corey, covered head to toe in blood — approached me and tapped me on the shoulder.
“Look at them,” she said, nodding to the crowd. “They’re all smiling.”
I looked, and sure enough, she was right. Present and engaged in their dates. Laughing, flirting, getting to know each other.
I’ve created a monster.
Serial Killer Speed Dating will be held Wednesday, April 13th, 8 – 10 pm at BarFoodLA 12217 Wilshire Blvd. Tickets are $20 + $10 minimum at bar (so buy a drink!) and must be purchased online prior to the evening at www.serialkillerspeeddating.com.
Use code HORRORBUZZMADEMEDOIT for $5 off!
Mar 27, 2016
Mar 4, 2016
To check in.
To dip my head above the water and write about life. Because I like blogging, and I don’t want to think that this is a dead blog.
Life moves fast. “Serial Killer Speed Dating” came into my life as a whim. Because I wanted to have a project to do at ScareLA. Now I’m gearing up for my fifth event. Each time the word seems to grow a little bit more.
I couldn’t do this without Jessica, who guest hosts the evening, edits my writing and helps me come up with ideas for each event.
It’s wonderful. I am lucky to have her.
Feb 9, 2016
Tell me a bit about your background:
While standing in a monster costume during 2012’s Halloween Horror Nights, jumping out at teenagers, I fell in love with horror and haunts. I started visiting haunted houses, attending conventions, and making connections within the haunt community. Quickly I noticed how friendly and interesting horror-heads were. I took what I’d learned at HHN and used it to help turn Zombie Joe’s Underground “Urban Death” stage show into a haunted house called “Urban Death: Tour of Terror”. I also wrote eight short horror films and participated in a documentary that just premiered at Sundance. Horror has been very good to me. It speaks to me, similar to the way that the neighbor’s dog tells me to “kill”…but we all know that dog’s just joking…right?
How did the idea for serial killer speed dating come about?
I noticed that at “Star Wars Celebration” they had a speed dating event. I thought to myself, “Wow, what a great way for like-minded people to connect.” In a casual conversation with Lora Ivanova, co-creator of “ScareLA”, I mentioned wanting to make something for her convention. It wan’t much of an idea, but I said I’d put together a speed dating event like they did at “Star Wars Celebration”. She liked it, but felt it needed a twist to make it horror-themed. “What if you throw in a serial killer?!” a friend of mine asked. I turned to Lora and said, “I’d make that.”
The first one debuted last August at ScareLA. It was heaps of fun to put together, and I saw that people actually were connecting at the event. It felt like a thing.
I found a bar in Westwood called BarFoodLA that agreed to let me host another one. I built a website, wrangled in some serial killers and started selling tickets. So far I’ve done two at BarFoodLA. One male/female and one for gay males. Both were a blast. Clearly, people are responding to this. That makes me really happy. It also quiets the voices in my head I get from the chip the government installed in my back right molar.
Describe how the evening works and how it differs from a regular speed date:
Well, a regular speed date has less intentional serial killers in the room. At least we’re being honest with our advertising.
Truly, it is speed dating. You have five minutes to sit across from a date, then I call “Move!” and you go meet someone else.
But the twist is that you’ll never know if you’re sitting across from a genuinely interesting person, or a person genuinely interested in using your face as a mask.
We’re also probably the only speed dating service where it’s common to break the ice by saying, “Well, I’m not a serial killer, and here’s why…”
If you think someone’s a Serial Killer you check “serial killer” next to their name. If, at the end of the evening you’re right you’ll get a prize (NOTE: I didn’t say a good prize.) If you’re wrong, well, we kill you. Sorry.
Were there any successful matches/ humorous incidents at the last event?
There’s always matches, which warms my little heart. If they’re successful or not I’m not sure. It seems no one’s that interested in letting me know if their date went well.
Fortunately, I’ve put a clause into the ticketing agreement, that if you meet your spouse at Serial Killer Speed Dating, you have to name your first born after me. I think that’s fair.
Humorous incidents? I think mostly it’s the look of shock on people’s faces when someone gets killed. That’s humorous, at least to me.
Also, it’s pretty funny after someone “dies”. Then we’ve got to deal with dragging a dead body off of the floor. BarFoodLA is adamant that we don’t get blood anywhere, so usually there are strategically placed tarps lying around…just in case.
Are the serial killers just there to act and play a part, or could they actually be looking for that special someone?
Serial killers have feelings, too, Camilla! They’re perfectly free to date whomever they want. But, well, it takes a special kind of someone to want to date a serial killer. Most of those people I have restraining orders on.
What should people expect to get out of the evening?
A fun time.
I mean: dating is so hard. We have all these apps and websites out there to meet people, but it can get really exhausting. I just finished Aziz Ansari’s book “Modern Romance”, where he writes about people going on so many first dates it stops being fun, or never making it past the online conversation to even get to a first date. Online dating takes the human element out of it. When you can just swipe right or left on a person’s face, you’re not really getting to know them, are you?
Speed dating is a great way to meet people face-to-face, which is important. Plus, someone who’s willing to go out to an event called “Serial Killer Speed Dating” is probably more interesting than the average person, right? At least they have a sense of adventure and humor to it all.
Honestly, if you’ve never done speed dating before I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how fun it is to interact with a human being. It’s genuinely fun to go out and meet new people.
And because you only have five minutes to chat with them there’s very little pressure.
BUT…they also might be a serial killer, so that brings the pressure back a little…
Do you think this is purely just a fun night, or could people seriously go and potentially find a great match?
Of course, Camilla! It’s dating. It’s legit speed dating. You get out of it what you bring into it. Dating is a bit of a sport. The more you do it the better you get at it.
Do you tie in anything from the current wave of horror film zeitgeist into the night?
Yes! At our Christmas event we had a Krampus. He sucked the soul out of one of our naughtier daters….good times.
We had a vampire meet a vampire hunter, once. That was pretty sexy.
No zombie’s yet, but, well, there isn’t much that’s sexy about a zombie. But never say never.
Will you be wearing a tuxedo?
Any tips for potential daters?
Be yourself, dress to impress, and PAY ATTENTION. The serial killers will leave clues in the conversation to their…um…“hobby.” Also, it’s a good tip in general: people like it when you’re interested in what they have to say. Who knows…you might get a date out of it.
Are you single?
Camilla! How forward of you.
No. I have a girlfriend. She’s real, I promise. But, funny enough, when we first started dating, still in the “are we dating?” phase, I sent her a text one afternoon and she didn’t respond to it.
After looking at my phone for hours I knew I need to get out of my apartment or else I’d go crazy.
I decided to go to a speed dating event I had already bought a ticket to that was going on that evening. Take my mind off her, you know? I went out to a bar and met a whole bunch of cool girls. Honestly, I LOVED speed dating. It was fun. Silly fun.
Of course, when I was going back home after the event she replied to my text. Truly, I think it’s the law of attraction. The more you date the more you’ll attract.
So, essentially, at this point you’re just beating women off of you with a stick?
Oh yeah. I made a short film about it, once.
Well, now you’re just self-promoting.
Hey! You asked.
Thanks for your time. You’re very smart and creative.
And modest, too. Don’t forget that.
Jan 31, 2016
Almost four years ago I clicked “purchase” on the computer screen, not knowing what was in store for me.
I rolled this decision around in my head for a few days afterwards, watching the time disappear, mapping out my route to the location, making sure to tell a friend where I’d be.
Finally it was time. “Blackout” awaited.
I walked to the Red Line from my Hollywood apartment to go downtown. Everything was heightened. Everyone who crossed my path could be in on it. The quick glance from the man on the subway. The teenagers chatting as I walked past them. My senses were screaming. My hair stood on edge.
When my turn came I was pulled into “Blackout” and my world changed.
The violence, the assault, the horror of it all.
At one point I had to put my hand into a toilet filled with vomit to dig around for a pair of keys. It was revolting and awful. “How did it come to this?” I wondered. “What have I done?”
When I emerged at the end of the experience I willed myself to smell my hand — I had to know if it was true — only to realize what covered my hand wasn’t vomit: it was oatmeal.
It was all a trick. It was smoke and mirrors. Theater at an intimate and terrifying level, heightened to the edge of abuse.
I left in a daze, calling my best friend Mike, who had asked for an immediate reaction to what I’d just been through when (and if) I survived.
I don’t remember that conversation, but I do know what came next.
“Blackout” changed me. The direction of my life was profoundly shaken by that night. “Blackout” spoke to me the way that, I suspect, it speaks to most of the people who will be reading this.
“Blackout” is The Thing that decidedly isn’t for everybody, but for some of us it just makes sense.
A tweet came out not too long after my first “Blackout” that a documentary crew looking for people to interview who had gone through the experience. I responded, and soon found myself in a garage in Pasadena telling the filmmakers what had brought me into “Blackout” and what continued to draw me to it.
(L-R) Allison Fogarty, Bob Glouberman, Rich Fox, Kris Curry, Russell Eaton, and Abel Horwitz attend the “The Blackout Experiments” Premiere during the 2016 Sundance Film Festival at Egyptian Theatre on January 24, 2016 in Park City, Utah.
(Jan. 23, 2016 – Source: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images North America)
The documentary was spearheaded by a husband and wife team: Rich Fox was the director and Kris Curry was the producer. Nice people, if not a bit suspect. Who were they, really? What was their connection to “Blackout”?
They’d laugh when I expressed concern over their motivation and they’d ask me to say it again, this time on camera. In fact, any time these thoughts popped into my head they requested me to take out my phone and record myself asking these questions.
Who were they? What was “Blackout”?
This went on for a few years.
Sometimes it would be months without hearing from them. Sometime they’d ask me to record voice memos to them, or ask if they could come into my apartment and film me looking at my computer to recreate the moment when I first purchased tickets for “Blackout”.
And then one day last December, Rich wrote me e-mail: “Something big might happen tomorrow.”
That “big” was Sundance. The film was ready and would premiere at Sundance, during the Midnight Selection.
I knew I had to be there. Mike said he’d come, too. After all, he’d been there since the beginning. We roped in our girlfriends and took a day off of work to drive to Park City.
On Friday night we left Los Angeles. We drove four hours to Las Vegas and slept at a friend’s house. The next day we drove another six hours to make it to the festival. Our girlfriends — both Southern California born and raised — were wary about the snow, which I found kind of funny.
Sundance was surreal. That place where I’d always wanted to be, but now that I was here it was a bit overwhelming. I tried to leverage my inclusion in a film into party invitations, but being the fourth lead of a documentary doesn’t mean much when Daniel Radcliffe and Nick Jonas have films premiering there, too.
Rather, we spent most of our time there walking up and down main street. Popping into branded storefronts hoping to score free coffee, water bottles, beer. Anything, really.
I was recognized once, based off of the clip of me staring at my computer. That was surreal. I guess people were genuinely curious about the film.
Finally the time came.
I had to remind myself to stay present. To not worry about the parties we didn’t get into or the snowy roads we’d have to drive to get out of Park City. That ultimately we had come to enjoy the film. To celebrate the hard work of the production team and the subjects in front of the camera. To celebrate “Blackout” for all of its violence and catharsis.
When the lights went down and the film began I suddenly felt exposed. Far more than I had thought I would.
Going through “Blackout” is a personal experience. It is an individual walk through something intense. To see myself (and my fellow “survivors”) on screen was scary.
Afterwards we stood onstage for a Q+A. The “Blackout” creators, Josh Randall and Kris Thor, were onstage with us as well. For me it was a bit tense to be that close to them.
Reviews have started to come out about the film, calling it “faux” or a “mockumentary”. It’s odd to read that critique because I know that the film is real. I was there. That’s my face in front of the camera and that’s my name in the credits.
Russell Eaton and “Blackout” having a friendly chat. (Michel j. Pepin / Ferocious Entertainment)
Yet at the same time I understand where these reviewers are coming from…”Blackout” can’t be real. It’s too intense. Too strange. If you don’t “get” the appeal of “Blackout” then why would you think anyone would be so willing to subject themselves to its violence?
On Monday we drove home. On Tuesday I was back in the office. Back to my day job.
“How was it?” coworkers would ask. “Did you have fun at Sundance?”
I don’t know, honestly. I’m thrilled to have gone, thrilled to have participated. But also nervous. What comes next?
I remind myself that almost four years ago I bought a ticket not knowing what would come next.
I guess we just have to wait and see.
Jan 27, 2016
Next Serial Killer Speed Dating is Valentine’s Day themed. We got a write-up here:
I’ll write about Sundance, I promise. Still processing it…
Jan 19, 2016
Holy crap, you guys. Sundance on Sunday…
Jan 17, 2016