The Friday 2/27/15 show marked the New York premiere of Boneyards after my performing it regularly in Philadelphia since its launch in the 2013 Philly Fringe. The concluding séance was my first one at the Morbid Anatomy Museum and the results are in: that sucker’s haunted.
My antique 1917 Ouija board with 1920 planchette was personed by audience volunteers Aaron and Chris while audience volunteer Josie stood aside and served as questioner. The rest of the audience stood in a circle watching the disturbing, heart-breaking events unfold.
They contacted a presence/spirit/demon/subconscious ideomotor impulse (depending on your beliefs) named R U S T Y who was 7 and died In 2 0 1 0. Did he see the show? Y E S. What did he think of it? U 1 which I cheekily interpreted to mean “you’re number 1.”
Was he still in the cellar with us? N O. He was upstairs on the T O P F L O O R of the two-story museum. How did he die? G U N. By whom? D A D.
Later he told us he had wafted back down to us in the cellar and that he was hovering at the C E I L I N G. Previously I had told the audience that from past experiences speaking with children on a Ouija board they tend to indeed talk like children, giving brief answers and also misspelling words. This was borne out when we asked if he could see us he said Y E S, thanks to the M E A R (mirror).
A full-length mirror is part of my set and is used at various times during the show. I also point out just before every séance that it’s there to provide a window for the spirits to see us and the show as, according to James Merrill’s epic supernatural poem The Changing Light at Sandover, ghosts get the best views of the living via reflections.
I excitedly ran to the mirror to bring it closer to us, but meanwhile Rusty told the group at the Ouija board N O, so I left it where it was. Then he told us L I G H T S O F F so I turned off most of the lights, leaving just enough for us to see our way around in the dark.
“Would you like to speak with us electrically?” I asked, as I always inevitably do during the seance portion of the show. N O.
“Well, do you mind if I turn it on anyway to see if maybe someone else there wants to speak?” Y E S. Rusty clearly was getting annoyed with us. But the show must go on, so for better or worse I ignored him and ran across the room to switch on the spirit box and plug it into the loudspeaker. Meanwhile the Ouija session concluded:
“Are you happy here?” I asked him. N O. “Did you used to live here?” N O. “Why do you stay?” B L E E D. We weren’t sure how to interpret that.
“Is there anything we can do to help you?” asked Josie. L E A V E.
Okay, okay, we can take a hint. “Goodbye Rusty, and thank you,” I said immediately. The planchette floated down to GOODBYE on the Ouija board and we stopped the session.
The spirit box had been running for the past 6 and half minutes and I shut it off as well. In analyzing it this week I can now say for certain that Rusty was not alone that night. The joint was jumping with spirits. I haven’t heard this many distinct voices during a single ghost box recording in some time. EVP video and transcript with my comments below:
Organize your trip. Isn’t that what the whole show’s about? Preparing for the Underworld? In fact, my packed suitcase is a key prop.
They’re liars. Not sure if this is a reference to the other ghosts or to the audience.
There’s a lot of ‘em. Ditto.
Candlelight. Although the show is electrically lit we had dimmed the lights at Rusty’s request. Also a Jewish yahrzeit candle for commemorating the dead is discussed in the show, and an image of one is part of the looping slideshow.
Players. A reference to the Ouija volunteers.
Lord and shepherd. Not unusual in my experience to come across religious or admonishing ghosts of various faiths.
Don’t quit it now, come on. A reference to those at the Ouija board who were surely growing antsy at this point.
Patient work. Indeed it is!
Upstairs…Top floor. Amazing synchronicity here with what Rusty was telling us on the Ouija board about his being on the top floor.
People…Circle. Yep, that would be us gathered round the Ouija board.
Check the Internet. This wouldn’t be the first time during an EVP session that a voice had urged me to “look online” and similar phrases.
The top floor. Another Rusty reference.
That last name came across so distinctly that I decided to take the previous spirit’s advice and “check the Internet.” A simple 3-word search, not even with quotation marks (kyle smith brooklyn) yielded a heart-rending tragedy from crimesceneblog.com and a June 19, 2008 New York Times story among the first few hits. I urge you to do the same search, read them and weep on your own.
That was enough horror for me for one evening. If anyone wants to take up the Rusty story from the Ouija session and try to find a possible once-living counterpart that confirms his yarn please do so and report back.
As usual I have slowed the audio down but maintained the original pitch, added a little noise reduction, and whittled down the 6.5-minute raw video to 2 minutes of highlights —