Quite a long and fruitful weekend of carousing the Manor has had. To begin, our house let us out for some beautiful dark carnival themed burlesque at Atrocities. Inadvertently avoiding the show for so many years our curiosity glands had drawn us to the sticky floors of the Rex for their 2013 show. Heavily makeuped dancers and a half tent, looking a lot like it had been rendered from the trunks of our own traveling show, opened the evening with an incredibly well choreographed welcome. Lining the sides of the converted movie theatre were various obscure vendors hocking their creepy trinkets. Our friend Steph Sciullo had her bizarre sculptures available for the masses as her beau, Doug Bradley, sat avoiding eye contact with his fans, but in a cute way. Liquor had easily slid down the well of our guts and fuzzed out most of the rest of the show but I know it was blazingly professional and entertaining by my remaining swelling jealousy at their talent that staved the next day. What a performance.
The next day was spent waking from our stupor and preparing Trixy and burgers to bring to the after party of Atrocities at the great Grand Midway Hotel! Owned by Blair Murphy and hidden along the railways of Windber, PA, this haunted hotel has been filled to the brim with stories and mystique since the 1880s. A bohemian flophouse in the purest sense, the walls are crawling with inspiration, artistic expression, and tons of taxidermy that made my mouth water. When we arrived we saw why everyone thought we should have visited sooner. It was an awe and jealousy inspiring sight.
Read more after the jump!
Throw away the pretentiousness of knowing that you have something awesome and the outward snootiness that many people love you and what you are doing and add in an artistic fascination for anything different to get Blair Murphy, the owner of the Grand Midway Hotel. It’s hard to find people who have something so cool as what he has built and have them be humble about it. He’s a surprisingly easy to talk to individual with excitement in his eyes and ideas rattling past that. Blair was more a Trundle than we had hoped. He was an amazing, gracious host who we hope to collaborate or just hang with in the future.
We were given a tour of the Grand Midway Hotel by one of the live in artists who provides compelling light photography of guests, Adam Blai. Dripping down the chins of our previous host bodies was the past knowledge of the Midway’s hauntings and discoveries laid out in compelling detail. Adam also locked us in his dark room behind the angel-adorned door for shots of us with a sand filled monkey and Trixy’s skull. The velvet covered table and wall had us wondering what to expect before the shooting began.
Covered in gaping wounds of the past, we were now ready to be infected with our own occurrences in this three-story Mecca of inspiration. We find ourselves wandering off alone quite often, the two of us. I have a hard time experiencing a new place while being inundated by the musings of those who have their own stories to tell. As the night rolled on Velda and I settled in by ourselves to play chess and soak in the booze and wanderlust left behind on the seats of the café. Or was that beatnik sweat? It was hard to discern. Although the coffee shop, which was obviously the hotel bar at one point, looks like it is ready for the town’s poet laureates and bikers to have their joe, you’re more likely to find the ghost of William S. Burroughs filling the air with cigarette smoke from the back booth away from prying eyes. If you want the brown stuff they are only open one day a week officially. See, the beauty of the Midway is that it’s a private residence and, while plying the owner, Blair, for how he operates, I learned that tours were not as welcome as one might think. It’s his home- which if you aren’t a friend of a friend you may not be wandering his halls. And rightly so, to be honest. It’s not like at Trundle Manor; where the guided tour encompasses our bottom floor. It would be easy to lose a degenerate pretending that a tour is all he wanted from the Grand Midway.
The small after party on the front porch continued to grill and laugh as some sort of film crew wrapped up their work for the night. Beaten by my Velda at a game I just taught her I decided we should wander more. Since Trixy was allowed to park right in front of the Midway I figured I would try and get her flames rolling again. Activating the main power and yanking her skull out I fiddled (this is sounding raunchy) with her buttons until orange licks of fire came dangerously close to the balcony eliciting cat calls and whoops from the tipsy crowd. The inky night filled with dancing demons of heat and light as Trixy gave her offering to the magnificent Grand Midway. I felt compacted with explosive pride that I could bring something there to add to the festivities besides crumbly burgers. Seriously, I know how to make burgers and that pissed me off.
We were offered the most haunted room in the hotel, the Canopy Room. I’ve heard illicit tales, read unnerving articles, and been warned about this room. Hair found in the walls, furniture acquired from a practitioner of the black arts, and about as much light as a coal mine put my hackles on end just thinking about it. We were prepared for a night of blood curdling, flesh twisting, and sweat inducing tossing and turning agony. We slept like babies. I want to say I felt the caress of an absent minded (and bodied) hand where Velda’s weren’t. I desperately strive to believe and be wowed. Honestly I am afraid of the dark. I fear the unknown and the chance to have my ankle grabbed from under the bed. We slept like babies in one of the most haunted rooms in Pennsylvania. At times I have a distinct inkling that my collection and my house have a protective nature to them. Our villainous nature and fascination with the corpses of any living entity might have jaded us in some way. It’s not that we don’t believe the stories. Truly. Like Houdini in his search for his mother we are slogging through the world of the occult with open eyes. I want to spend an extended time at the Grand Midway Hotel to allow the cheek brushes and goose bumps to soak in. I want to sit on the floor of the Monkey room for an entire night with nothing but a candle and a ouija board. I want to stare at Velda in the deepest black of the Canopy Room and listen to the hotel tweak. Some day that will be our vacation.
I was told that we avoided the hazing of the Hotel but it was probably because I am one of the hardest individuals to disturb once in repose. We did hear of a young girl there who was made irate by the addition of a Linda Blair dummy to her room. I feel bad that we are harder to unnerve.
People say that you take something home from visiting a place that has had so many through it. Like any revolving residence there is bound to be some things that have happened there and stuck. I like to feel like we brought back a friend for Charlie to play with at the Manor.
We headed home on Monday. Away from the deliciously chilled halls of the Midway, back to the chilled embrace of Trundle Manor, and with a new respect and new ideas. We were saddened we could not extend our stay.
Although the dark, swirling innards of the over filled sack we call the Manor is home we would love to summer in the ancient beat-inspired hostel for the creative.
Our bellies were slashed by the slithering through awesomeness we experienced this weekend and are logging the ideas that have flooded our brains in to the idea files and thank everyone involved for their grandiose natures.