Monday, December 15, 2014

Krampus Rising - An Interview with Robert Cory of the Krampus Society

As "that other holiday" draws ever closer, I thought a nice antidote to all the false cheer being shoved down our throats would be a little more Krampus-y goodness. This time, I went to do an interview with someone who can only be descirbed as a Krampus Expert - Robert Cory, of the Krampus Society based in Texas. Here is the interview I did with him in full. Enjoy!
1)          Please tell us a little bit about yourself:
My Name is Robert Cory and I am a stay at home dad of triplets. I have been since 2009. I have two boys and a girl and they are the center of my world. I have always been drawn to the entertainment industry from stage to bit parts in local movies. I have many interests that have led me to the world of pro haunting and of course the founding of the Krampus Society with Daniel Baker and Bryant Watley.

2)          For those who don't know, who (or what) is Krampus and what does he have to do with Christmas?
Krampus is an age old tradition stemming from the Alpine region designed as a companion to Santa. The naughty list that we are all aware of used to be the domain of Krampus. Krampus normally comes on Krampusnacht Dec 5th and sweeps the towns looking for the misbehaved children of Europe. In most cases he uses his ruten “bundle of birch switches” to punish children and in extreme cases takes the child throws him in his basket and carries them to hell to be ripped apart and devoured. He has been distilled through time to be little more than the coal that goes in your stockings. But in the past few years he seems to be making a comeback as most of us are tired of the over commercialization aspect of the holidays and looking for a new way to enjoy the season.

3)           How did you personally discover the Krampus legend?
I can’t tell you the precise moment though in 2012 I remember a few haunters talking about german folklore while we were looking for different themes to introduce in the haunt community. We happened to find out about Krampuslaufs that took place in Europe on dec 5th and as we looked into it we were delighted to find this terrifying legend that went along with Santa Claus and kept all the children in line. Typically young men would dress up and roam the streets in a parade and shake their rutens at all the children and carry torches and normally end the night drinking and having a good time. It seemed like a perfect fit for us.

4)            What is the Krampus Society and what led to its founding?
We saw a gap in the Christmas celebrations that took place and wanted to start bringing Krampus to the states. There are actually Krampus Runs all over the country and have been going on for several years. I think the largest is currently in Indiana and this year there was the first one ever in Hawaii, we are in contact with most of the other groups that run these events, and we wanted to provide a place on social media where everyone could talk and exchange ideas, like how to start, best way to make costumes, where to get parts, etc etc. We did our first one last year and there was only three Krampus on Dec 5th and it was Bryant Watley, Daniel Baker and myself walking around Denton Square during an ice storm. Our costumes are all made by local artisits. Our first three Krampus masks were made by Allan Hopps from Stiltbeast Studios and our suits were made by Maria Albrecht. This year we still use those costumes but have added more suits made by Morning Hare productions as well as two more masks made by Morning Hare productions as well, and we had some wonderful bell harnesses made by leather worker Warren Albrecht. But there was and is another earlier Krampus in Denton Tx called Krampus Denton who made his entire costume himself and it’s outstanding. We worked with him to set up our first walk. As far as I know he is the First Krampus Walker in North Texas and does a great job.

5)            What is the mission of the Krampus Society, and what events has it participated in?
Well our mission statement is Krampus Society is made up of people who LOVE the Krampus Legend. We are driven to spread this legend throughout all of North America. JOIN US! Our primary goal is to have fun. Haunters work hard all through the year for a very short window of fun, think about building an entire world for you walk through to become immersed in terror. The main reason we do that is it’s a total blast to scare the hell out of people. The problem is it’s normally only 10 shows after a year worth of work and we still have the drive to make costumes and have fun. The best thing about Krampus is all you have to do is make a kick ass costume and where ever you go that’s all you have to do. Have Krampus will travel. Last year we did our first Krampus walk and then a tree lighting all in Denton Tx. We handed out presents and was photographed hundreds of times. Also last year Krampus Society got dressed and attended Texas Frightmare weekend and you should expect to see us there again. This year it’s a little different. This year we held the first ever Dallas Krampus walk in conjunction with the Denton Krampus walk. We got two Haunted houses involved in the walks, Dark Hour located in Plano, and Dan’s Haunted House located in Lake Dallas.  It was a huge success in both places. We were photographed by Ed Steele and featured in the Dallas Observer as well as the Dallas Morning News. I need to take a moment and mention Ed Steele. Ed is the official Krampus Society photographer and he really captures the magic. He is one of the top music photographers in North Texas and is a regular contributor to several newspapers. Chances are if you have seen any pictures of us it’s because of Ed Steele. For the rest of this year we have been invited to a Santa Rampage which is like a Krampus Walk only with tons of Santa’s and it’s simply a pub crawl. We have also been invited to a special event called Christmas with Krampus in which you bring your children to be photographed with Krampus instead of Santa, This event is hosted by Dark Hour haunted house in Plano Tx. 

The Krampus Society in action. Photo by Ed Steele.

6)            For those who have never participated in a Krampuslauf, what does it feel like being at that sort of event?
Well it’s your basic pub crawl only in costume. So we walk and visit a lot of bars and drink and make merry. The major difference is you get to pretend you’re famous while you’re in the costume. People stop and take photos, people want to pose with you, children either love or hate you. It’s a total blast.

7)            Krampus has really gained popularity across the world as a counter-culture icon of Christmas; why do you think that people are suddenly getting into this character?
I believe that Christmas has become less about a season of family and more about consume consume consume. And to me that’s scary. Also Christmas seems to start sooner and sooner and frankly I think most people are tired of this shit. I mean Halloween hasn’t happened and they are already clearing the shelves for Christmas, seriously what the hell is that about? It seems that every year Christmas starts earlier than the year before and by the time the actual holiday rolls around we could vomit carols and egg nog in our sleep. With this kind of pervasive environment it only seems natural that people would start to resent it just a little and look for other ways to celebrate the season without it being the symbol of over indulgence and shopping.

8)            There’s talk of a Krampus movie being made by Mike Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat). What are your thoughts on that?
 I’m very excited about this. There are several movies in the works about Krampus all over the world. Sadly I am not at liberty to discuss this however you will see some amazing work coming from some very talented people soon.

9)            Where do you see both Krampus and the Krampus Society in five years?
I am driven to help bring Krampus to the main stream of our shared culture. Me and the other members of the Krampus Society are working on Krampus projects year round. We are constantly reaching out to other groups and speading the good word about Krampus and his works. In the next five years we hope to go from a simple pub crawl to a full blown festival with vendors and bands playing and all kinds of wonderful experiences to share with your friends and family.  Point in fact we have already started planning for next year with the City of Denton and the City of Dallas to get the proper permits to hold the kind of outdoor festival we envision. We intend to shut down the streets in these areas to be able to walk freely without the threat of traffic. We want to provide music venues and bring people to these areas to fill the space and bring business to the community. We have a strong drive to give back to the community since it has given so much to us.

10)          I understand you also run a professional haunted house. Care to tell us about that?
 I helped design and build Dan’s Haunted House. Daniel Baker is the force that drives Dan’s Haunted House. There is also a great team of people that help Bring Dan’s Haunted House to life it is run by many wonderful people. My official title is Actor/Head of Costume Department/Social media manager. Dan’s Haunted house is a Japanese themed haunted attraction located in Lake Dallas and when I say Japanese themed I don’t mean the Japanese Horror movies, I refer to instead Japanese mythology. We ran a show called Ancient Fear Rising, which is part of a five year plan to bring the terror of Japanese mythology to the United States.  The Haunt’s motto is Fear is In Everything and we proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt this past year. We receive national recognition for doing something that had never been tried before. The thing is most haunted attractions tend to follow a formula. Clowns, chainsaws, zombies peppered with cannibals or some other supernatural monster and a series of startle scares or gross out factor. Our haunt had very little to no blood in it all. Our haunt is located in the woods with ambient lighting to guide your way through the Texas woods at night. You just never know what is going to be coming at you out of the dark.

11)          What are the best, worst, and weirdest memories you have with the Krampus society?
This may sound funny, but I can’t think of a single negative thing about Krampus Society. It’s just a total blast to be a part of and I am grateful to be included with this amazing group of people. We just have the best time together. And the talent that this project attracts just blows my mind. It started with just five people and now a year later we had around 30 people in costume in Dallas and over 2k people following our page. Our photos have been seen all over the world, and people just seem to love the idea of Krampus.

12)          Anything else you want to plug?
Nope, pretty much covered it. And thank you for the chance to speak about Krampus.

13)          Where can people go for more information? We are also on Twitter and Facebook. also on Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks very much to Robert for being willing to do this interivew, and to my friend Wednesday for suggesting I interview Robert. Be sure to check out the Krampus Society's Facebook page and website! And now, for extra fun, some behind-the-scenes video of the Krampus Society (video by A Haunter's Life):

1 comment:

  1. Great interview. Made my Halloween heart smile. Thanks for sharing.