Running from the living dead can be tiring work. Jumping fences, dodging trees, and catching a few winks on a hard floor can leave a survivor feeling pretty stiff and sore. It’s comforting to know that there’s at least one zombie out there who isn’t looking to eat your brain. Zombissage offers massage with an undead flair, to customers who are both living and otherwise reanimated!
A couple of weeks ago, while at HorrorHound Weekend in Columbus, I first heard about Zombissage. It seemed like wherever I went, people kept asking me, “Did you see that there’s a zombie massage therapist in there?”
This all just sounded like too much fun so I had to learn more. I tracked down Erin Farnlacher, the creator of Zombissage and UMT (Undead Massage Therapist). She was happy to answer my questions and I thought I’d share her answers with you all.
I think folks will get a big kick out of hearing about your service. How did you come up with Zombissage?
I’ve been a horror freak all my life, absolutely obsessed with zombies–my younger sister and I ignored every other section of the video rental place we went to as kids. I’ve been a Licensed Massage Therapist for 5 years, and started Zombissage last year. My friends had introduced me to Horrorhound the year before; they always go in costume, and I went as Janine Melnitz for their Ghostbusters theme.
After hours of walking around the con in high-heeled boots, my feet and legs were killing me, so I looked around to see if there were any massage therapists with a vendor booth. There weren’t any, and I figured that I couldn’t be the only one getting sore and tired after all the festivities, so I started working toward combining my passions for massage therapy and the horror genre.
This past Horrorhound Weekend was my first convention as Zombissage; I had a great time and a very encouraging reception, and I’m very excited to see how this goes in the future.
Your service is quite unique, especially considering the “typical” fare for these type of events. How did you find the reaction of folks during your first time out? I would imagine they were a bit timid at first and then opened up a bit once they saw you with a customer.
Yep, that’s about how it went; people passing by seemed amused and intrigued, but it took a bit for momentum to build. For my first con, I thought it went very well. I was very grateful to the fantastic people at the Troma booth next to me, who helped promote me, and even took some of my business cards to some of the guests.
Your make-up is fantastic (and to be honest, scary as hell). Do you actually talk with your customers or do you sort of stay in character throughout the process?
Thanks! I wasn’t sure how I should approach the character, and decided to play it by ear. I ended up just talking to people more or less like I would in my regular practice; part of that was the giddiness of being at a horror convention (I started grinning even before check-in, as soon as I started seeing familiar faces outside the hotel) and the excitement of being a first-time vendor. In the future I might play with the character and try making the interaction more zombie-appropriate. I’ll see how things go and what people seem to enjoy.
Did any of the celebrity guests at HHW happen to stop by your booth, either as a customer or just to see what was going on?
Ken from Fright Night Film Fest (who was a massage therapist for 16 years) brought Tyler Mane to my table, and we worked on him in tandem. Tyler was super nice, and easily the tallest person ever to be on my table.
So, with HorrorHound under your belt, what’s next? Do you have any other appearances planned?
I’ll be at Blood on the Beach in Virginia Beach and the Cleveland Zombie Walk in April, Fright Night Film Fest in Louisville, Kentucky in June, Days of the Dead III in Indianapolis in July, hopefully returning to HHW for the Indianapolis show in September, and possibly some other events this year.
If folks want more information or someone would like to book you for an event, where can they find you?
Finally, what’s your favorite horror movie?
It’s always hard to pick one, isn’t it? Pure cheese, but I always go back to my first zombie love, Return of the Living Dead II. My little sister and I (we were probably around 8 and 10) discovered it at the local video rental place and became obsessed with it and anything else involving reanimated corpses. We were… weird kids. And now we’re happily weird adults, especially with being surrounded by our childhood obsession in popular culture.
As always, thank you for reading. For myself, I just love hearing about someone being able to take their hobby and run with it. Know of any other unique businesses with a spooky twist? Leave me a comment or drop me a line. I’d love to help spread the word.