Risen From The Tomb: an interview with Janet Jay

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Janet Decay is everything you want from a horror host.  She works a full-time job and manages to make time to do what she loves, as well.  A well-established model and actress, Janet does what she does simply for the love of the craft.  Do yourself a favor and check out Janet on Youtube- it’s some of the most entertaining independent horror host work out there!

A self-made horror icon who has developed a strong fan following thanks to her work on a number of shows over the years, she also maintains a year-round schedule that is jam-packed with events and horror conventions.

The woman behind the eye shadow and hieroglyphics is none other than Janet Jay, whom I had the pleasure of speaking with recently about everything from her career in horror to the awesomeness that is Vampira.

 


MANGLED MATTERS:  You were a well-established actress and model well before you became a horror host.  Was acting what you wanted to do all your life?

JANET JAY:  As a kid, I would love watching the old Universal monster movies and the old black and white movies on AMC.  I thought it was something cool and glamorous but I was a really shy and nerdy kid, so I wasn’t dead set on becoming an actress.

It all really started out as Cosplay.  Back in the days of Myspace, I’d dress up and then local filmmakers started asking if I’d be interested in being a part of their project, and it was an interesting opportunity, so I was like, “Sure!”


MM:  And that, of course, is the origin story of Janet Decay.  How long has Janet Decay been a part of your life?

JJ:  Well, honestly, back in sixth grade we were learning about Egyptian history and the mummification process so, I don’t know, I think my morbid curiosity took over.  I was fascinated with the fact that they took the brain out through the nose and wrapped the body up to help preserve it and all that stuff (laughs).  So then in 2010, I started getting into the zombie walks and started thinking up ways that I could participate in these walks but be a little different than just your typical zombie.  So I thought, “Mummies!” and that is how Decay started.

 

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MM:  I imagine you get recognized around town.  How often are you stopped by someone randomly?

JJ:  Well, not too long ago, I went to a flea market with my boyfriend and a vendor stopped me and asked, “Hey, aren’t you in that horror show? You’re one of those scary girls” and I was a little confused at first (laughs) and then was like “Ooooh, Ok! That show!” It was awesome.  It’s nice to see local people that recognize you here and there or they’ll message me online and you kind of get taken aback.  It’s really neat.


MM:  Is there a personal favorite show of yours, one episode that sticks out in your mind?

JJ:  That’s a good question! Decay started hosting The Daughter of the Ghoul Show a few years ago, and I think our Halloween and Christmas episodes were two of the better ones.  Those were a lot of fun.  Now that I’m doing Janet Decay’s Rotten Reels and I’m working on The Mummy and The Monkey Show with Grimm Gorri, we did one in particular that I really enjoyed called The Cleveland Horror Hosts Conquer the Cons.  It’s actually being screened at Cinema Wasteland this year!  You can watch it for free online, but having them put it up on the big screen is something really special.  These shows are a lot of work but totally worth it when you see that people dig it.


MM:  Can you tell us about your newest show, The Mummy and The Monkey?

JJ:  Janet Decay has been around for a little bit and I ran into Grimm Gorri, who is a wild ape man.  He is Cleveland’s horror host missing link but his show was cancelled due to funding and so he was left to just hang out the eerie cinematery, where all these crappy old films have been buried!  So Janet Decay and The Monkey, both being Cleveland hosts, got together and we went to a convention together last year and a lot of kids were super excited, shouting out “Mummy! Monkey!”

So we were just like, “hey, easy as that- The Mummy and The Monkey! Boom!” (laughs)

We try to keep it as kid-friendly as possible, so the whole family can watch.  Even though I love the blood and guts and all that, with a show like this, you don’t want angry moms yelling at you!

 

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MM:  How long does it take a typical episode of your show to be completed, from start to edited finish?

JJ:  Well, I would like production to be a lot quicker, but with a lot of editing skills and all that, it’s sort of self-taught, so I’m learning as I go.  It normally takes a few weeks.  If we get a day off, we’ll shoot some segments- James (Harmon) will do his as Grimm Gorri and then I’ll go in and do Janet’s Rotten Reels segments.  Then we work on the segments as a team, dividing up the scenes, but I’m thinking, in the future, it will go a lot smoother so that we can put out an episode once every few weeks as opposed to once a month.  I have a deep appreciation for filmmakers now, because it’s a lot of work behind the scenes but it’s so much fun.


MM:  You are the definition of a self-made horror host.  Having a full-time job plus being Janet Decay, there’s got to be days where you are just worn out.  Whom do you attribute your work ethic to?

JJ:  My mom has always been a hard worker, raising my brother and me by herself.  I grew up knowing that I didn’t have anyone to fall back on but me and I’ve been pretty much working since I was twelve, on a paper route.  I’ve always taken care of myself and been very independent, a lot like Mom.  But yes, there are definitely days where you want to just curl up in bed and not do anything (laughs)


MM:  If you could sit down and chat with a horror icon or two, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

JJ:  Oh gosh, that is so hard to pick just one because there are so many I’d love to sit and chat with.  I am going to have to go with Bela Lugosi and Vampira, for sure.  Bela is my favorite Dracula- his mannerisms, the double-jointed hands, the accent.  He’s got it all.  Vampira was so ahead of her time and such a cool story.


MM:  Independent horror hosting, especially with social media and technology these days, has a huge following these days.  Why do you think so many horror fans gravitate to these horror hosts all over the country?

JJ:  I think there’s a certain charm to it.  It’s kind of like a lost art, a throwback to simpler times where you’d look in the TV Guide and wait for these hosts to come on TV.  You couldn’t record it or save the link, it was either you watched it when it was on or you missed it.  A lot of it, too, I think, is that it’s kind of new again.  I think everything comes full circle and I would like to see that tradition come back, especially in the Cleveland area.  There are so many hosts around here and horror hosts that have been a big part of the independent scene here in Cleveland for so long.

 

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MM:  Have you ever had the opportunity to collaborate with any of the other Cleveland hosts?

JJ:  Not quite.  We’ve met at horror conventions and such, but I’ve never really worked with them.  They’re all very nice people and it’s great getting to meet people who have the same passion as you do.  A few of us are working on an anniversary thank you video for Son of Ghoul.  He’s been on TV in Akron, Ohio for about thirty years now, so we’re looking forward to that.  But as far as working with other hosts, there’s still a lot of time.  You never know.


MM:  You’re a mummy, you’ve got all the time in the world.

JJ:  Yes! (laughs)


MM:  What are some of your favorite horror films?

JJ:  Well, for sure, the Universal monster collection.  I grew up watching those and still love them to death.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series is another favorite, and A Nightmare on Elm Street!  Rest in peace to Mr. Wes Craven, a Cleveland local and just someone who was such a brilliant talent.


MM:  As an actress, are there any upcoming movie projects coming up?

JJ:  I’ve got some projects coming up that I’m excited about, but they are under top secret lockdown.  I’ll be providing updates as soon as I can!


MM:  You’re a popular face on the horror convention scene.  Where are you going to be in the next few months?

JJ:  With the best season of the year coming up, there’s Cinema Wasteland on the first weekend of October.  That’s my all-time favorite.  I’ll be especially excited this year because of The Cleveland Horror Hosts Conquer the Cons‘ screening.

Then in Akron, there’s the Debord Halloween Festival.  Think of a Halloween-themed fair.  It’s all day long, families come, there’s costumes, fire breathers- it’s the coolest thing ever!  I bring a ton of candy and it’s just a huge trick-or-treat festival.  It’s so much fun.  Then I’ll be at Ghoulardi Fest on Halloween weekend.  It’s a blast- there are vendors, meet and greets, just a bunch of fun stuff.  It’s in celebration of Ghoulardi, one of the very first horror hosts.  I can’t wait to see and meet everyone!

 

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