BY KYLEE MESSNER Easter Sunday 2006 began the first of Philly’s annual Zombie Crawls, in honor of the birth of J.C. Today, Philadelphia is the second city in the country to host an official zombie crawl, with events like Zombie Prom and the new Zombie Beach Party under its belt. Tonight marks the inaugural Zombie Beach Party and to mark the occasion we chatted up Zombie organizer DJ extraordinaire Robert Drake.
PHAWKER: Explain what the Philly Zombie Crawl is.
ROBERT DRAKE: For some it’s a chance to take make-up and costume design to an extreme and really embrace their inner zombie spirit. For others it’s just a chance to bathe in fake blood and have fun! The purpose of our Zombie events is to offer those in the city a chance to dress up, be creative and enjoy themselves… after dark! Sometimes people take themselves too seriously – but a night with several hundred undead folks will change that!
PHAWKER: Do you zombie-fy your look like the rest of the participants?
ROBERT DRAKE: Yes – well, except for this past Easter! We had so many people in line for make-up that I sacrificed my space for a participant and just went as a Coroner – keeping track of the undead. The artists started putting zombie faces on the participants at 6pm and didn’t end until almost MIDNIGHT!
PHAWKER: Along with that question, where do you guys find your makeup artists?
ROBERT DRAKE: The Philly Zombie Crawl make up team are truly the most talented gathering of artists around! Many are residents at the Eastern State Penitentiary for their annual Halloween season – but we like to think of them as part of the Philly Zombie Crawl family. Each event the demand for professional make-up artists grows; we’ll have at least six make-up stations at this Sunday’s Zombie Beach Party; and you can get your zombie face on for just $10 – more if you want more. The artists keep all the money, so it’s a perfect way to celebrate and support their talent as well.
PHAWKER: This Sunday is the first ever Zombie Beach Party. How does this event differ from the other Zombie Crawl events?
ROBERT DRAKE: After the success of our 2nd Philly Zombie Crawl in 2007 – we realized that there was a hunger for more! So, we created the Philly Zombie Prom; held the final Sunday in September at theTrocadero – and designed to officially welcome in the Halloween Season to Philadelphia. Over 600 zombies have dressed to the nines and danced the night away at the two proms that we’ve held so far (‘07 and ’08); complete with live bands, prom photos and even the official ringing in of the Halloween season by Mr. Halloween himself, Henri David. With the success of the Easter Crawl and the Fall Prom, zombies still wanted MORE! So, we decided what this city needed – to counter the smothering Welcome America campaign and the mystical Solstice celebrations – was a truly gritty city way to welcome the official start of summer; ZOMBIE-STYLE! So, the Philly Zombie Beach Party was born! This Sunday we’ll have legendary VJ Large Marge create a brain-blowing video mix of zombies and beach flicks on the big screen – plus a night of dancing and who knows – we might even have a limbo contest! TheTrocadero will be offering cotton candy, hot dogs, snow cones (both virgin cones and ‘ zombiefied cones’ with yummy shots poured over them) and if all goes well – and this wet weather dries up – we’ll have a zombie beach pouring out onto the streets of Chinatown!
PHAWKER: What is your favorite zombie flick and when did your zombie fetish start?
ROBERT DRAKE: Well, I go for the classic “Night of The Living Dead”, since it really lays the groundwork for the genre – and as much as others might like the gore aspect – I’ve always been a fan of the creative camp that many of our zombies offer. My zombie fetish started thanks to my friendship with Melissa Torre, bartender at Tattooed Mom and Sugar Mom. She is a Zombie Phanatic and convinced me that we should have a zombie-themed party on an upcoming Easter; in celebration of the world’s most famous zombie on His big day! That conversation in fall of 2005 went quickly from a zombie party idea to a zombie crawl down South Street and, with the help of fellow zombie and horror fan Dave Ghoul the first Philly Zombie Crawl was created and was held Easter 2006.
PHAWKER: Philly is not the only city that does the zombie crawl, New York being another. How did the idea come about for Philly?
ROBERT DRAKE: Actually – Philadelphia is the second city in America to host a structured Zombie Crawl … Minneapolis was first, but only by months. When we came up with the idea of the Crawl I did a massive search online and found that there were a few zombie crawl events in Canada (!) but only one in the US. I contact the organizers of the one in Minneapolis and quickly learned that they too had discovered that we were pretty much alone in the world of organized zombie events. They had hosted their debut Crawl around Halloween 2005 but we can safely rest knowing that we are the first (and perhaps one of the few) to actually host an annual Crawl on Easter in honor of the Big Man.
In 2006, over one hundred and twenty zombies gathered at Tattooed Mom to start off our first Crawl. Since our first Crawl back in 2006, zombie gatherings have exploded across America and worldwide (check out our Top Friends on our myspace page http://www.myspace.com/phillyzombiecrawl) and on Easter Sunday ’07 we doubled our numbers and had close to 300 zombies roam South Street in celebration of the undead. The numbers continue to rise (just like the zombies) and this past Easter, at our 4th annual Philly Zombie Crawl event, we had well over 400 zombies invade South Street Easter Sunday night – a blast indeed!
For more information on the Zombie Beach Party visit http://www.phillyzombiecrawl.com