Apr 8, 2016

Crafting The Kills: How “Serial Killer Speed Dating” Was Born

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!

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