Twisted Pulp Magazine Issue 030

Twisted Pulp Magazine returns bringing along with it the tales of the riff-raff and sad dreams of the hoi polloi that you expect from this peculiar pile of paper. Tired of all that refined writing with stupid ideas, agendas, and messages? Are you looking for a glass of fiction-OJ with a decent amount of pulp? This month’s offering to the alter of the retro B-list includes interviews with The Imbalanced History of Rock and Roll and the United States of Murder Podcast. We got the fiction you need from Lothar Tuppan, Mark Slade, and Gavin Chappell! Weave in articles on rock and horror, creepy cartoons, some darlin’ dames in their dainty thangs, and you have yet another awesome example of what a magazine should be.

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  1. Editorial: Swords, Sorcery, and Cancer
  2. Inteview with The Imbalanced History of Rock and Roll
  3. The Frozen Warrior By Lothar Tuppan
  4. Music Mystery of Jim Sullivan
  5. The Queen of Death by Mark Slade
  6. Charles! The Barbarian
  7. The Haunter of the Catacombs By Gavin Chappell
  8. Nine Questions For United States of Murder
  9. A Bloody Good Time: Review of The House That Dripped Blood
  10. Pinup: Kryss Rockz
  11. Performer: Scarlet Viper
  12. Pinup: Siren LaBelle

Editorial: Swords, Sorcery, and Cancer

In the interest of planning ahead, this issue was supposed to be the Sword and Sorcery issue, but it ended up being the cancer issue. (If you haven’t noticed this mag is coming out 5 days late.)
Lately my family has been dealing with a lot of cancer. My dog has cancer. My father-in-law is currently hospitalized with lung cancer and coming to terms with the fact that he is probably never leaving the hospital.

Then, to make matters all the more exciting, my long running visceral issues hit a head and I was feeling a lot of pain. One colonoscopy later and guess what? That’s right, I have cancer. In my case it’s colon cancer. After a couple of days and a lot of tests, I’m set for an operation and all looks good. With any luck, as of a week from you reading this, I will be cancer free. If you never get one of my editorials again, you’ll know how it went.

Finding out I had cancer made me think about a lot of things. All the things you would expect a person to think, I’d guess. But cancer brings with it one thing that is becoming more and more elusive as I enter the dawn of my twilight years. That thing? An epiphany.

As a dreamer, I used to be swimming in epiphanies. I’d lose a job and BAM an epiphany. I’d date a girl and BAM, I’d lose said girl… again BAM. But, as life has gone on, stability came with it, and nothing kills epiphinies like stability.
So far I have had two “cancer epiphanies”.
One, my life has been a good life. For all the mistakes I’ve made, I’ve done a decent job at making up for them. I have raised a good family. My impact on them, and theirs on me, is enough for me to die and feel that my existance was worth while.

The second is, “What the fuck am I doing?” We all live this life chasing an end that never comes and when it does come we think, “Is this it?”. I don’t know if it’s video games, the hero’s journey, or our own inability to view life in the grayscale in which it is delivered, but we all seem to be chasing a completion point, a milestone, a point where we can sit down and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. The problem is, as a human, there is only one completion point, death. I don’t mean to be morbid, just honest in reminding myself and hopefully you that waiting for an ending only really means one thing. So stop waiting and change things up. I’m not saying carpet bomb your life, just that your life is what you make it. If you make it a waiting game, then that’s what you will be doing.

So I hope to see a lot of positive changes in my life, and with any luck, there will be more epiphanies around the corner. We’ll see.
P.S. To the model that said that we were ruining your career by putting out the magazine late… fuck you. Nah, just kidding, but please try to remember that other people have shit going on too.

~ Chauncey Haworth

The Imbalanced History of Rock and Roll

Inteview with The Imbalanced History of Rock and Roll

Born and bred Rock n’ Roll enthusiasts, Ray and Markus bring their combined 50+ years of rock and roll radio experience to explore the vast and intricate world of Rock! Their aim is to strike a balance in the historical narrative by delving into untold stories, highlighting pivotal events, and celebrating the artists who shaped the genre.

Where are you from? What is your background?

Ray:I was born in Philadelphia. Lived around here most of my life. I’ve been in radio and music, as a job for almost 40 years. In that time, I spent 7 years at FMQB, a Rock radio trade magazine, and 5 years at a record company, CMC International. I went back to radio “for now” in 2001… still doin’ it!

Markus: Denver, Colorado. Been in Radio for 30+ years.

What inspired you to do a podcast about Rock N Roll, and what is the reason for the title “The Imbalanced History of Rock N Roll?”

Ray: I got a taste for podcasting in the limited amount of it that I was involved in at my former radio job. Markus and I had known each other for years. We felt like we had the right idea, had lunch one day at a pub near his house, and worked through a lot of ideas that basically boiled down to the elements, and the name, once we settled on “imbalanced,” I knew we were on track.

Markus: Ray and I had been having incredible rock conversations over the years. So, we decided to explore the history in a non-linear way. Lots to talk about. We outlined our plan for six months and then launched. And, here we are. Thank you for finding us.

What was the first Rock N Roll song you heard as a child?

Ray: Can’t recall exactly but my Mom loved Buddy Holly and “Every Day” has always tingled my musical DNA. Later, I heard the girls across the alley screaming over “Love Me Do!” I was 5.

Markus: “Monday, Monday” and/or “California Dreamin’” by The Mamas and The Papas.

What performer or artist/writer inspires you the most?

Ray: I can’t pick one person, band or album that’s the most inspiring. As for art and music, there are dozens. Most of my inspiration comes from average stories about life I hear, and the people around me.

Markus: There are a lot of people who inspire me. No one inspires me the most. When I hear music I love, it’s inspirational because of how it moved me. Rival Sons, Living Colour, Rammstein, Jack White, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Danielia Cotton, and a few others are at the top of that list these days. But, I can find inspiration in any song I like. There are artists like Frida Kahlo, Tamara Lempicka, Keith Haring, Salvador Dali, Jean Michel Basqiat, and Henri Matisse who’s work has moved me quite a bit. Authors like Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Albert Camus, Douglas Adams, Neil Gaiman, Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak, Voltaire, and Brad Meltzer. So many whose words have been an inspiration. Again, it’s like with any art medium. If something catches your eye or moves you, it becomes an inspiration.

I recently listened to your episode on Plasmatics. How is it Hollywood hasn’t made a film about them or Wendy O Williams? And we’re there any subjects you wanted to tackle but were afraid of censors online or cancel culture?

Ray: Part of our imbalance is not being overly concerned with that stuff. We’re positive progressive minded people for the most part, and we occasionally speak our minds on an issue. As for Wendy, she was marginalized then and some people made sure that she stayed there. Shame really.

Markus: Hollywood could not do The Plasmatics justice. I don’t feel like anything we’ve done is controversial at all. I’m not afraid to tackle any subject. It’s just the history of Rock and Roll. It’s beautiful and ugly. We are sharing it as best and honestly as we can. I’m good with uncomfortable. It is history, and it should make us feel uncomfortable. Many shitty things and criminal things have happened in the history of rock and roll. Those are just facts. Some of them really suck and are really awful. Some are amazing and magical. We as people learn better when we are learning uncomfortably. We are also less likely to make past mistakes when we learn the uncomfortable truths of any history.

Do you think your environment, where you live, has an effect on the type of art you create?

Ray: Yes, if you consider our audio creations art, and we do, I think we have great local connections, but our global scope causes us to think wider overall. It’s great to see the podcast impacting all over, really, after almost five years of “excavating.”

Markus: Yes, of course. Being in a city like Philadelphia where there are so many talented artists of all kinds is inspiring. Philadelphia has an extremely rich history. I am so so so very lucky to have met many great musicians and artists of all types in the 21 years I’ve been here. I’ve interviewed hundreds and hundreds of artists. I’ve watched super rock star pros in the media do their magic in the studio, and live in person. I’ve seen thousands of live shows and had fascinating conversations with artists from everywhere. I am inspired by life that happens around me. We can learn so much by talking to people around us.

In your opinion, what do you think is the best album of each decade, from the ‘50s to now?

Ray: I have no “best of” anything, that just causes division. My varied taste within each decade and overall makes it near impossible to pick one. It becomes an impossible question for me to answer. Too much from all eras and genres, all arriving in my life at varied times. And still, we are discovering music.

Markus: I will amend this by saying my favorite. I can’t pick a best. No such thing to me.

  • 1950s: Kinda Blue by Miles Davis
  • 1960s: Are You Experienced? by Jimi Hendrix, Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin I.
  • 1970s: Songs In The Key of Life by Stevie Wonder, Cheap Trick at Budokan, What’s Goin’ On? by Marvin Gaye, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars by Bowie.
  • 1980s: Vivid by Living Colour, Wha’ppen by The English Beat, Diamond Life by Sade, Boy by U2.
  • 1990s: Dusk by The The, Badmotorfinger by Soundgarden, and Cure For Pain by Morphine
  • 2000s: Language, Sex, Violence, Other? by Stereophonics, and “Dog Days are Over”by Florence & The Machine.
  • 2010s: Feral Roots by Rival Sons, Give The People What They Want by Sharon Jones And The Dap Kings, Graffiti on The Train by Stereophonics.
  • 2020s: Tie between Darkfighter by Rival Sons that will be out June 2nd, and Jack White’s Fear of The Dawn.

What do you think popular culture will be like in ten years?

Ray: Moving forward, like anytime in the modern era, but culture will be different, more global in focus, I think. I hope more inclusive views, holding onto what’s been gained. But change is the main thing to expect, along with the unexpected

Markus: FAKE and totally lost in AI. Pop culture will be much grosser than it is today.

What other things would you like to explore as a podcast?

Ray: There are a handful of things we’ve tried to foster for others, and a couple of our own ideas, too. I’d say follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with that.

Markus: I want to keep finding missing pieces of the Rock and Roll Family Tree and sharing that information with people. I want us to find new information that hasn’t been shared before. I also want to Write fiction podcasts.

What projects are you working on now?

Ray: We’ve just completed a fantastic episode run that started just before Punk Rock Month in April, through our 3rd annual PRM, and into May with episodes about Peter Gabriel, The Police, Janis Joplin, and The Bridge To The ‘90s! We have tons of Bent News each Friday, and new episodes on Mondays!


It keeps us busy!

Markus: A few new episodes for Imbalanced History of Rock and Roll. Producing a wonderful accessibility podcast called Article 19. We have a few ideas for future podcasts, etc.

Inteview with The Imbalanced History of Rock and Roll
The Frozen Warrior By Lothar Tuppan

The Frozen Warrior By Lothar Tuppan

He had expected to have fallen by now. Part of him wanted to but his feet kept trudging through the snow. The cold had stopped bothering him and all he wanted was to sleep but some stubborn, thoughtless, and uncaring sense of survival kept him walking southeast across the arctic wasteland.

His sword hung reassuringly on his back. The furs he wore sheltered his body from the sharp bite of the cold. Only his face was unprotected and this he covered from his nose down with a strip of blanket. His large pack was lighter now that his tinder and food were almost depleted. He was starting to feel as empty as his meager supplies.

The powdery snow stretched out in all directions. It beckoned to him with the promise of a peaceful rest, pretending to be a comfortable down mattress instead of the frozen death he knew it to be.

With my luck I wouldn’t die. He thought with a self-mocking smile, I’d wake up with my leg frostbitten having to crawl.

His laugh drew frozen air into his lungs, turning quickly into a harsh cough. He spat bitterly into the snow, resigning himself.

“I don’t know why I’m such a fucking masochist.”

He kept walking.

After a while the landscape started to rise and the slight incline turned into a hill. He struggled to the top as the soft unpacked snow gave way under his weight, making him work to keep any ground. He wondered if the snow was conspiring against him since most of it had decided to nest in his boots. Reaching the top, he sat down, pulled off his gloves, fumbled with the straps of his boots, and pulled them off to evict the cold and the wet from them.

Just as he began to pull his boots back on, the wanderer’s balance shifted and he cursed as he fell over backwards, tumbling down the other side of the hill. The snow now proceeded to find its way into his pant legs as he rolled down the slope. He thought briefly of the proverbial snowball rolling down a mountainside, gaining mass as it rolls.

Coming to a rest at the bottom of the hill, the wanderer looked up and saw two figures not more than fifty feet away. An old man wrapped in furs similar to his own (except that the old man’s were quite a bit drier) was holding the remains of a staff in a defensive stance. He was fighting a Pyakani. Pyakani are particularly vicious lesser demons with a taste for human flesh. Despite superstition these demons do not like heat. They thrive in the cold.

The old man kept his back towards a stone shelter that was on the side of a hill larger than the one that the disheveled warrior had just come over. The old man tried to strike the demon’s windpipe with the staff but the swifter Pyakani grabbed the staff and pulled the weary defender off his feet. The adventurer realized that the Pyakani would finish the old man at any second. He quickly got to his feet and drew his sword. His talismans were lost and the pwinyan that the Jhokor had given him was used up. He would not have any allies to help him in this fight. His only magic was in his sword.

At first the Pyakani looked puzzled at the appearance of the wet and barefoot man wielding a sword that radiated power. Enough power to kill the demon. Instinct quickly took over and the mouthless snout quivered as challenge came back into the kill. The swordsman settled himself into a ready stance as he saw the bloodlust in the creature’s obsidian eyes.

Lucky for me that Pyakani never were very bright. He mused.

The demon lunged for him but the warrior was ready, parrying the lunge and following it with a downward slash that removed one of the six fingered hands from the demon’s arm. The Pyakani wailed as it stared in disbelief at its wrist that flowed like a fountain in a town bazaar.

“I’ve always wondered how Pyakani manage to howl like that without mouths.”  the adventurer said as he thrust his sword through the chest of the demon. The wail became louder until the body of the demon turned to smoke. The Pyakani had only been sent back to one of the myriad Hells. The swordsman knew that it took more than a sword to actually kill a demon.

“My thanks sir,” said the old man as he came to where the warrior stood. “I’d like to repay the favor if I could. It looks as if you won’t make it too far in the shape you are in now. Come on inside and let’s get you warm and fed.”

“That sounds good. Thank you,” said the swordsman with a thick foreign accent as he started walking away from the old man; towards the way he came.

“Where are you going?” asked the old man.

“I have to go get my boots.”

The Frozen Warrior By Lothar Tuppan
Music Mystery of Jim Sullivan

Music Mystery of Jim Sullivan

by Jessica Ann Catena

Who doesn’t love a good mystery. Do you know about musician Jim Sullivan? If  you were to ask that question, the answers would either be: “Yes,” “No,” or “How is  this still unsolved all this time?” Sleuthing was a popular hobby people did during  lockdown, believing they could help research answers to unsolved crimes of the past. There’s been theories, podcast episodes, and interviews about Jim Sullivan’s  disappearance, but no confirmation what could’ve happened. I’ve been asked to  critique his music, and looked up different sources mentioning his biography. Get your  thinking cap ready reviewing Jim Sullivan’s profile. 


James (“Jim”) Anthony Sullivan was an only child, born 8/13/40 in Nebraska. His  parents moved with him near San Diego, CA, eager to pursue defense employment. Jim got exposed hearing blues in the area, and got interested in trying out music  himself. His first gig was playing guitar in a local band called The Survivors, where he  met two women that literally changed his life: the lead singer Kathie Doran, and her  sister Barbara. Jim and Barbara met while in middle school, and married after high  school graduation. His heart was still set on music and started writing songs as a solo  artist. When Barbara got offered a secretary position at Capitol Records, they moved to  L.A. with their son Christopher. 

Jim Sullivan created a crowd playing at small venues, and received an  investment offer recordinga debut album on Monnie Records. Singing lead and playing acoustic guitar, U.F.O. came out in 1969 accompanied by the epic session musicians The  Wrecking Crew. This record runs about a half hour, consisting 10 storyteller rockabilly songs. Whether money was focused on producing the record, I wonder if they were  puzzled on how to market it. U.F.O. remained an underrated indie album that’s slowly  getting recognition to this day. As tough looking Jim Sullivan’s physique looked being  6’2”, long dark hair, and handlebar mustache, he had a sweet tenor singing voice. I  thought about which known artists I’d compare his music to, and came up with 3: The  Moody Blues, B.J. Thomas, and Three Dog Night. The Moody Blues’ psychedelic  songs including piano, and stringed instruments, just like “Nights In White Satin”  (1967), “Tuesday Afternoon” (1968). Jim’s vocal range was slightly high for a male,  reminding me of The Moody Blues’ lead singer Justin Hayward, B.J. Thomas’  “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” (1969), and Three Dog Night’s artistry. One of  Jim’s idol was country singer John Prine. 

Barbara Sullivan tried networking at her Capitol Records job to assist Jim, but  unfortunately nobody was interested. Adapting to 1970s folk singer/songwriter era, a  second album was released under Playboy Records. (Yes, a record label was affiliated  with Playboy’s brand from 1972-1978.) Jim Sullivan put out a self-titled album in 1972,  still not making a dent commercially. By this time newborn daughter Jamie was born,  Barbara felt overwhelmed being the breadwinner for their family. She and Jim both  started drinking and experienced marital problems. Hoping third time would be the  charm, Jim had one more determined idea to fulfill his music dreams: traveling to  Nashville, TN, where his sister-in-law Kathie Doran developed better connections. 

Barbara didn’t want to leave L.A., so Jim ventured alone in a Volkswagen Beetle on  3/4/75. Making a stop in Santa Rosa, NM, his final contact was calling her on a  payphone. 

Music Mystery of Jim Sullivan


Not the cliffhanger you were expecting, right? There are some fact-checked  moments that occurred after the phone call home.

1. Jim Sullivan was pulled over by Santa Rosa’s Highway Patrol, suspecting  intoxication from his swerved driving. He was brought in to take a sobriety test, no  substance detected and most likely fatigued driving 15 hours straight!  

2. Following that incident, it was suggested Jim should check into a motel to rest. Records show he paid for a room at La Mesa Motel, however didn’t go in with any  items or use a key. 

3. The blue Volkswagen Beetle he drove was found at a ranch owned by The Gennitti  Family. It’s rumored that Jim Sullivan accidentally trespassed, may have resulted  dire consequences. 

4. Last place Jim Sullivan was seen was buying vodka at a liquor store, and holding it  taking a walk near a desert land. 

5. La Mesa Motel’s room was empty because all of Jim’s belongings were in his car!  Money, suitcase, guitar, and his recordings!  

6. No missing reports have been archived under Jim Sullivan’s name in Santa Rosa’s  public files. The closest thing was a newspaper obituary of an unidentified  decomposed nude man’s corpse found 8 miles west of Las Cruces, NM. Using a  modern map, that’s about 4 hours away and 245 miles apart! Jim drove 15 hours,  could he have walked that far on his own, or someone could’ve placed his body  there without getting caught?  


Crazy to think how, why, and what led to Jim Sullivan vanishing? Did he come in  contact with someone or something dangerous? Was he suddenly suicidal or  undiagnosed with a mental health issue? Or, did he simply get lost back to town? My  instincts believe that Jim could’ve been drinking the vodka bottle, unaware of the  directions he took hiking there, unfortunately dying from dehydration, heatstroke, or  starvation. Seems eerie that someone who wrote a “U.F.O.” title track would be  missing, though it gave Barbara Sullivan solace. She believed that her husband  could’ve been abducted by aliens, rather than told tragic details. 

Music Mystery of Jim Sullivan
Jim Sullivan - UFO

Reading/Listening Between the Lines  

Kinda creepy how some of Jim Sullivan’s lyrics referred to being gone, lost, and  remembered. 

U.F.O / Track 1: “Jerome”  

“Is it a place out there? 
Just a town down there 
If you’re driving slow 
Where is where it’s at Jerome? 
If you take your magic slow 
Maybe you can find Jerome 
Sits on top of a hill 
Overneath a hole  
If you’re driving slow 
Maybe you can find Jerome” 

U.F.O. / Track 2: “Plain As Your Eyes Can See”  

“Yes it finally got to me and so 
It’s doubtful that I’ll ever be 
Someone that you love 
Plain as your eyes can see” 

U.F.O. / Track 3: “Roll Back the Time”  

“Oh, the clock on the wall is a fine clock Chasing the minutes in a climb 
And the clock on the wall is a fine clock; Why can’t i just roll back the time? 
Why can’t i just roll back the time? 
Sweet Mary, I thought you’d been faithful and true I guess not 
You gave me the business while I sat there grinning; Thanks a lot! 
And you haven’t sold me a ticket of tears for a while A trainload of anger that boils up to danger in a pile” 

U.F.O. / Track 6: “Highways”  

“There’s a highway 
Telling me to go where I can 
Such a long way 
I don’t even know where I am 
And it’s easier to stay here 
Think I know my way here 
I’m gonna lay here, alright 
Tickin time now 
Said alive ain’t my cup of tea 
As a fight now 
Some tickin’ life goes to the sea”  

U.F.O. / Track 8: “So Natural”  

“It’s my time to go, I just want the wind to blow 
My ashes until they’re completely out of sight 

Jim Sullivan - Jim Sullivan

Jim Sullivan / Track 4: “Biblical Boogie (True He’s Gone)”  

“True he’s gone 
Gone away on another round 
And the fools all, like me, know 
He’ll be around again 
All the wise men come 
Lend a hand and then leave again 
Yeah it’s a land 
That he worked for another man”  

Jim Sullivan / Track 5: “Lonesome Picker”  

“I often get the feeling that I’m talking to the wind and no one hears No one listens in 
Then I start singing songs and music makes the whole world feel like home Sing a song and you’re not alone 
Oh I’m believing, believing
Believing that when I’m dead and gone 
Baby, some lonesome picker will find some healing in this song”  

Jim Sullivan / Track 8: “You Show Me the Way to Go”  

“And there’s times I’ve been drunk 
Stoned out of my mind I couldn’t say my name 
You offer me a helping hand 
You show me how to be a man 
Then you came along, took me in your arms 
Showed me the way to go” 

Jim Sullivan / Track 10: “I’ll Be Here”  

“I’ll be here when the rain coming down 
And the sun shines brightly and clear 
I’ll be here when the snow flies in August 
I’ll be here” 

Music Mystery of Jim Sullivan


I’m truly fascinated and sympathetic about Jim Sullivan’s life. It’s a real shame  that his music is getting some posthumous attention, and unreal he’s never been  found. Barbara Sullivan died in 2016, and their daughter Jamie in 1988. Christopher Sullivan has spoken in some interviews on his father’s behalf, and was 7 since he last  saw him. If you’re wondering what happened to those demos and recordings that were  left in Jim’s Volkswagen Beetle, I have good news. Those tapes were remastered by  Light in the Attic Records in a 2010 compilation If the Evening Were Dawn; overseen by  Matt Sullivan (coincidental last name!). My favorite Jim Sullivan song is “Tom Cat”,  Track 7 from his self-titled second album. He sounded cool singing in character, and  used a deeper part of his voice. It’d be interesting if there’s any media biopics or  closure to this music mystery.

Listen for Yourself

Check out this playlist of the songs discussed in the article.
The Queen of Death by Mark Slade

The Queen of Death by Mark Slade

Make no mistake. I murder people for silver and gold. 

I know when everyone sees me, they see a slave-girl at first. That is why I can only live in so many palaces and so many kingdoms. Harek and I devised this plan to achieve status among the wealthy. Harek sold me to my first slave master last year. Dougal of the flat northlands in Quada. Cold and bitter lands, only a third of Qauda’s population survive to old age. I slit his throat one winter night and let his blood soak the sheets on a bed we shared. Dougal’s children are now King and Queen, and already have asked me to murder each other. I refuse on account of being in demand. Harek is a jealous sort, but I tell him it’s all a part of the game to bed my victims and one day he can have me for himself.

Rumor quickly spread throughout the Seven known lands. A young girl appears as a ghost and kills those in power. Everyone is frightened of the Queen of death and no one in the Seven kingdoms are safe. Queen Farah in the southlands has murdered more than fifty young women in hope of destroying this terrible spirit. Little does she know that I have already become one of her many slave girls and she will become my next victim.

“Slave girl,” Queen Farah levied her voice over the clearing od the dishes from the royal table. “How long have you been in my royal keep?”

I didn’t know how to answer that question. I dare not raise my voice above a whisper nor any lower than a breath. “Only a fortnight, my Queen.” If I spoke any louder, Farah would be insulted, any lower and she would mistake me for one of her many wives. 

“Come here,” she demanded. I paced myself toward her. “Stop!” She screamed. “No further,” her voice trembled. “You look like a girl who has haunted my nightmares. Would you press a blade to your Queen’s throat?” 

“No, my Queen. I haven’t a murdering bone in my body.” I said calmly.

Queen Farah sighed, and looked away. I would like to believe that. You have an innocent face.” Her dark, thick eyebrows lowered. “You wear no sandals, yet you bear the confidence that no one owns you.” I began to speak, but her stone face deterred me from doing so. “It is very unsettling. Usually I can read others by their body language. I cannot make up my mind to have you executed. This weighs heavily on my mind as well as soul.”

At that point, her advisors burst in. Two extremely tall men and one rotund man, all in white robes, pointy hats and black stockings. 

“My Queen,” One advisor with the long nose spoke and bowed. “The enemy is at the gates!” 

“They seek to murder you and usurper the crown for their leader, Goroh of the Ghalos,” the rotund man spoke with the most annoying lisp.

“Please my Queen,” the other tall advisor croaked. His hands shook as if he’d been in an earthquake. “Wake the army and protect your beloved southland!”

“Silence!” Queen Farah screamed. “We shall not discuss this in front of the slave girl.” She rose from her chair and exited the dining area. Her advisors trailed behind her, each one had a walk sillier than the other.

I took the dishes to the kitchen where a deformed servant was stirring boiling water. He grunted, urging me to throw the dishes in the pot. He stepped toward me, his eyes focused on my bosom that clung to my soiled top. I gave him a wry smile, his rough hands squeezed my breasts gently as if he were picking a tomato from the open markets. He grunted and licked his twisted lips. I closed my eyes. My thoughts were with his ravaged little mind. He quickly removed his hands and dipped them into boiling water. He kept them in the pot until I told him to remove them, not uttering a single syllable. 


Later in the night, I carefully took the stairwell down to the garden. It was there where I saw the flaming arrows enter the dark skies. Goroh and his men send a message to those they plan to uproot, rape and pillage, then leave a city in ruins before he brings his own people in to rebuild and help repopulate the land. It is how Goroh leaves his mark. Pale skin and green eyes become dark brown and often time’s golden eyed.

The leaves on the spikey cattle bush shake and the three advisors appear. They stared at me and smiled, their rotten teeth protruding from their purple lips. 

“We have sent the money to Harek,” the fat one said.

“Five hundred in gold,” the tall one sighed.

“Three hundred in silver,” the old one croaked.

“Harek has not confirmed he has the money,” I told them.

“There isn’t time for such non sense!” The fat one declared.

I stepped forward and they took a few steps back.

“Don’t anger the witch-girl,” the old one patted the fat one on the shoulder.

“I am not angry,” I said. “Although, I am enforcing the rules of the game. I wait for confirmation of payment, then your Queen will meet her death.” I paused for dramatic effect. “But! Only if I receive word we have been paid in full. Do you understand?” I growled. They nodded nervously in unison.

“We only want to rid our land of the monarchy and set up a republic.” The rotund advisor moaned.

The tall advisor gave a pat on the rotund advisors shoulders. “How best can one serve his public, if one only cares for themselves? A senate will care for each village or district of the cities!” He added.

The old advisor could barely speak in between heavy breaths. “Do you not care for politics, young lady? Or is it silver and gold that drives your soul?”

“Politics,” I scoffed. “Just lies from liars! Declarations should be used for wiping asses as well as stroking fires.”

“You seem angry,” The tall advisor said.

“Why didn’t you tell me Gorah and his hordes from hell was coming to the party?” I paced around the fools. Old men and their ideals are the reason the world cannot get along together.

“We had no idea,” the rotund advisor pleaded. “I swear!”

“Listen to us… we still need you to—”

“Murder Queen Farah? If her crown is about to be levied to hellhounds, you better pray for your souls… or run. That’s what I am about to do.” I told them.

“No!” The tall advisor grabbed my arm. I shook him off, but a strange sound caught my ears. A whisper… no… a sigh. Then I realized they were arrows. I turned and saw the rotund advisor and the tall advisor lying on the ground with arrows in the chests. The old advisor was trying to hobble away.

He sold the other two advisors out. But why? He was getting what they wanted as well. Or was there more that he wanted… like the thrown itself! Of course. I’m sure if Gorah took the southlands he would make the old advisor Governor or some sort of title.

Heads appeared above the wall surrounding the palace. Men began climbing over and arrows were dropping from the skies like dead flies. Suddenly, Gorah and his men stood in front of me. The soldier flanking his right drew an arrow in his bow, aiming at my head. I was unarmed, unprotected, and overcome with fear and exasperation. Then again, just to them, I was just a slave girl.


The siege was over quickly and all of the guards were killed by arrows. The staff and slaves were mostly unharmed except a few servant girls. For some reason, I was spared. I was taken to the room where Queen Farah ruled her kingdom. Gorah sat on the throne, the legs of the chair buckling under oversized man’s weight. He only wore the skin of some dead animal and a belt that held his sword. He was staring at Queen Farah’s crown, twirling the silver head piece in his hands. He appeared to be hypnotized until he spoke.

“Where is Queen Farah?” H barked, his voice echoing.

I didn’t speak. I was too busy trying to concoct a way out of this situation. The old advisor stepped forward and began to speak, but Goarah held up his hand to quiet the man.

“I want to hear what she has to say,” Gorah whispered. The old advisor bowed and stepped back out of view.

“I really don’t know, your excellency.” I said.

Gorah let out a hearty laugh. “Already you are worshiping me? I have yet to take the city, let alone this pathetic crown.”

“I wish to be respectful,” I lowered my eyes to his bare feet. There were strange markings on the top of his feet, looked like brands made from a hot poker. I looked around and noticed his legion bore the same markings on their feet. 

“In hopes to stay alive, I gather?” Gorah said. “There’s something strange about you… I can’t place it…”

“Your excellency, ” The old advisor spoke up again, walking toward Gorah. His guards reacted quickly, drawing their swords. The old advisor laughed faintly. “Perhaps we should use this moment to look for Queen Farah, have her abdicate the crown?”

Gorah rose the throne, chuckled. He waved his left hand, and the guards sheathed their weapons. He held the crown in his right hand, twirling it on his fingers. Goarah took a few steps and was face to face with the old advisor. He placed the crown on the old man’s head. The old advisor flinched, then a forced smile appeared on his thin lips.

“Is… this what your old heart desires? Don’t speak. I know what you desire… Then you shall have it.”

“Your Excellency… I don’t know what to say…” The old advisor croaked.

“No need to say anything. The crown, the land, the people are yours.” Goarah waved his right hand. The guard closest to the old advisor unsheathed his sword and swung fiercely, the blade severed the old man’s head from his neck. It rolled a few inches and stopped at my feet. The shock and horror was etched on his face. Those lifeless black eyes stared at me. I felt a shiver rise up in me.

Gorah laughed as he bent down. He removed the crown from the old advisor’s severed head. He glared at the crown before stepping toward me. “I think… you should have this,” he offered to me. “From slave girl to… Queen. Does that not appease you?”

“No,” I whispered.

“Power? Does it not… excite you?” Gorah sniffed my neck.

“I do not need a crown on my head to feel powerful,” I said.

Gorah laughed. This time a wheezing cough interrupted his thunderous bellowing. When he finally composed himself, he tossed the crown at my feet. “On behalf of the Brotherhood of the Shadows, I command you to place that crown upon your head!” 

I did not flinch. He nodded and his guards drew their weapons simultaneously. I smiled, bent down and took the crown in my hands. “If I do not do as you say?”

“I think you know the answer to that question, slave girl.” Gorah said.

I tossed the crown at his bare feet. I shrugged. “So be it,” I said.

The guards moved closer to me, their swords, mace and battle axes, ready to strike. A blustering wind came through, taking their weapons from their hands, even carrying a few of them inside the small cyclone that came through. Two more rushed me and found that their swords began slicing each other. Other guards just fell to their knees, their hearts burst, or they choked on their own bile.

Everyone in the room was dead except Gorah and myself. 

I smiled at him, walked toward him. He stood there, shaking like a child frightened of a thunder storm. I handed him the crown. Gorah began to weep. I noticed his long dark mane was now the color of snow. I seemed to have that effect on people. Tears streamed down his face. 

“Oh, your majesty, there is no need for tears,” I whispered to him.

He stuttered as his chest heaved. “You’re not-you’re not going to k-k-k-kill me?”

“No,” I said as I made my way to Queen Farah’s quarters. “I do not kill unless I am being prevented to do my job. And you will not stop me from killing Queen Farah.”

Queen Farah’s quarters was decorated in all the trappings of a royal, right down to the silk bedding. No candles were burning, complete darkness. I felt her presence in the room. The floorboards creaked under my feet. Suddenly, a pair of red eyes flashed. 

I lit a candle, pointed it in all directions, but did not see Queen Farah. I was perplexed. Where was she? Then I heard a whisper. I looked up and saw Queen Farah hanging upside down from rafters. Her red eyes shined, sharpened fangs protruding moistened, bloody lips. She held Gorah’s limp body in her claws, draining his blood into a silver challis. 

“I was hoping Gorah would finally come to my palace,” Queen Farah hissed. “The blood of another royal only makes me stronger.”

“So the reason he did not try to kill me himself after I disposed of his men was that you already had him in your spell.” I said.

“Oh, yes. I thank you for the distraction. I might not have succeeded in getting his power if you had not ‘disposed’ of his guards. I understand Gorah was quite the warrior.”

“Now what?” I asked.

“Yes… what happens now?” She dropped Gorah’s body. It hit the floor hard and bounced once. Blood splattered her silk bedding. Queen Farah lowered herself down, her body twisted in two different directions, snapping back in normal position when her feet touched the floor. “What do we do? Here we have… the queen of death… and the queen of the undead? Certainly… a troublesome play in our little game.”

I heard footsteps, several of them in fact, enter Queen Farah’s quarters. I saw all the dead guards had sprung back to life, oozing what body parts they had left and dragging entrails behind them. Then Gorah came to life, rising slow as he gasped for air. He placed a hand over the bite marks Queen Farah’s fangs had left. He wiped away the remaining blood with that hand and licked each digit as he laughed.

“There is nothing either of us can do to each other,” I said bluntly. “There are no living humans to hurt or frighten or slowly drain their life from their bodies. I would say, it is best we carried on without each other acknowledging the other.” 

I waved my hand and Gorah and his men promptly fell to the floor, and remained motionless for several minutes until Queen Farah batted an eye and they rose up once more, hissing and gasping, posing with their weapons. It was quickly becoming a farce, with my commands and Queen Farah’s commands, the undead rising and dropping to the floor. Finally, my patience was at a loss and the guards burst into flames. Piles of black ash fell in clumps and promptly swept away by a strong wind. Only Gorah remained.

Queen Farah laughed. “Quite a show,” she clapped her hands. 

“I wish to leave,” I said, gritting my teeth.

“No one is stopping you,” Queen Farah replied.

“But I leave with your fortune,” I said.

Queen Farah thought about this. I had no idea how this situation would resolve itself. So I asked for one of two things royals hold deep in their hearts: money or power.

“I can offer you something on par,” she sighed. 

“I’m listening,” I smiled slightly.

“You can have Gorah and all of his kingdoms. Do what you like with the barbarian. Destroy him… or use him as a puppet. I only ask that your path to world domination stays clear of the southland.”

“Or… what?”

“Nothing… like now. It is… a friendly request.” Queen Farah’s eyes glowed red.

I shrugged, then bowed. “My Queen, thank you for being… so generous.”

Queen Farah bowed back. “Of course, Queen of death…”

I left Queen Farah’s palace, Gorah trailed behind me and we rode back to his camp. I had my king and soon more kingdoms will be in our grasps.

The Queen of Death by Mark Slade
The Haunter of the Catacombs by By Gavin Chappell

The Haunter of the Catacombs By Gavin Chappell

1. The Death of Beauty

Talon was a thief.

This wasn’t the way he’d envisaged his life, it was just something he was doing until something better came along. So, he was a thief. Oh, and sometimes he cut throats. Purses, too, on the more profitable nights. Or maybe none of that was true. Because Talon was also a liar. A thief and a liar. And a cutthroat. But this was only temporary. One of these days he would really be somebody.

Talon the Cutthroat, some people called him. But seldom twice. And even Talon the Rogue. He didn’t like that either.

That night, that fateful night when it all went wrong, he was making his way through the Forest of Light in the direction of the holy Lawberg, not as a plaintiff, or a jury man, or even a sightseer, but as a thief. He had a plan to rob the ancient catacombs beneath the citadel, home to the mortal remains of Lord Zennor’s august predecessors. If he pulled off this job, it ought to net him enough coin to settle down, go straight, become a force to be reckoned with in some real line of work. That was what he thought. That was what he hoped.

No thief wants to be famous, it’s bad for business, but how it had warmed his cockles to learn that he was notorious in some quarters. Thieves’ quarters, of course. In the stews and the brothels of the cities of the western continent, he was known to all the wrong people. Sometimes that was a help. Often it was more a hindrance. 

Regardless, he had little to fear on that score, not in these parts. The wrong people simply didn’t go near the Lawberg… Except as prisoners.

Six times had the greater moon chased the lesser from the night sky before he finalized his plans. He much preferred the planning stage to the venture itself. Usually, the latter was either tedious—that was when the plan went off without a hitch—or terrifying and needlessly adventurous, leaving him reflecting, sometimes from the dank confines of a dungeon, that he was really getting too old for this. When the plan just didn’t come together. When it all went wrong. 

It was all going to go wrong tonight, far worse than it ever had before. But right at that moment, as he flitted from glowing tree to glowing tree, his eyes fixed on the Citadel of Justice that topped the Lawberg like an accusing finger pointed at a recalcitrant sky, he had no notion of quite how sour the plan was going to turn.

He pulled up sharply, hearing the clank of metal shod feet on rock. Darting into the cover of a glowing tree, careful to avoid contact with the radiant foliage, he peered out. 

Coming up the path, the crash of their armored feet providing a discordant counterpoint to the ceaseless tintinnabulation of the iridescent crystalline leaves, were two guards, bearing halberds. A patrol! Nothing he had gleaned from a dozen quiet enquiries had prepared him for this, patrolling guards in the Forest of Light. Its lethal vegetation was seldom traversed by any but the most rash. Gamblers. Daredevils. Those who would face all risks in return for a quick profit.

Yet here they were, and from the scales of justice emblazoned on their armor, he knew them for imperial guards of the High Council of the Lawberg, possibly even Lord Zennor’s personal troop. 

He sat tight in his hiding place and waited for them to pass. But what was this? Both had halted mid-path and were staring at the starry sky. Talon glanced upwards and that was when he spied what had alerted them.

Tumbling through the night towards the Citadel, clearly in trouble, was a tiny dot that abruptly resolved itself into that rarest of flying beasts, a hippogriff. On the back of the hippogriff sat an armored figure.

Elenara Moonstar held on tightly to the reins of her steed as its wings beat the air. It spiraled wildly towards the landing platform on the citadel like a leaf in a storm. The hippogriff, perhaps the last of his kind, was severely wounded, the broken off shaft of an arrow jutting from his breast feathers. 

Elenara’s armor also showed signs of recent fighting, scored and battered as it was and even burnt in places. Her eyes were wide with horror as she struggled to guide her steed down. It was imperative she bring her message to Lord Zennor and the High Council. A terrible tale it would make.

At last, the hippogriff landed on the smoothly polished stone of the landing platform, a wide expanse big enough to hold hundreds of such mounts, hoofs clicking and clopping before he collapsed, sending Elenara sprawling, undignified, on the stone. But as attendants hurried out from the citadel to aid her and her steed, she spared no thought for her own pride. 

The hippogriff was dying.

Elenara had raised him from the egg. All the imperial paladins had reared their own hippogriffs—an inseparable bond was thus created, one that lasted until either paladin or hippogriff died. And even as an attendant helped her rise, and the rest tended to the mortally wounded beast, she knew they had reached that point. Bleakly, she accepted wine from the attendant, but it did little to wash away the pain. 

One of the others approached her tentatively. “Ma’am,” he said, his insect like mandibles clicking as he helped her remove her armor, “we’re very sorry. We were too late.”

“He bore me long and far, through the dimensional gates,” Elenara said with a sigh. “And already his wounds were mortal. I will see he is interred in the most ancient of the catacombs beneath the citadel. But just now I have urgent news. Where will I find Lord Zennor?”

“He and the High Council are gathered in the Chamber of Justice,” clacked the attendant. “They await news of the war.” His compound eyes were hard to read, but Elenara knew that he was curious himself. However, she refused to slake that unspoken curiosity. She could not tell him that Evil had utterly triumphed.

“I must go to them,” she said. ‘But I will return to see that all is done as it should be for my steed.”

Fair locks whirling around her head like a lion’s mane, she turned and strode across the platform towards the high ivory gates of the citadel.

The two guards were talking in an undertone. Talon was growing impatient. They stood between him and his destination, showing no sign of moving on. The hippogriff who had caught their attention was out of sight, no doubt having landed on the citadel above, although at this point it was impossible to see due to perspective. 

With one hand Talon hunted about in the dry soil. Then his fingers closed what he had been searching for—a stone pebble. He flung it into the trees on the far side of the path. The clatter rang out harshly over the jingling of the leaves. Both guards whirled round.

“What in Ti’s name was that?” one asked. Both had their backs to Talon now, but still their armored forms blocked his path.

The other guard issued a challenge, but there was no response.

“We must investigate it,” urged one of the guards.

“No sense in us both going,” said the other. “You go, but be cautious. I’ll keep the path guarded. Remember, raiders have been sighted.”

Talon tried not to giggle. One guard was now forcing his way through the glowing trees, halberd at the ready, searching for any sign of interlopers. But his companion remained, guarding the path. Talon considered trying to make his way through the trees, but he was unarmored, and the crystalline leaves were sharper than any thorns. They would cut him to pieces before he had got a man’s length further.

Only one thing for it. Silently drawing his long knife, he slipped out of his hiding place and padded across the rocks towards the guard. Still the man kept his back to him. This would be only too easy.

The guard stamped his feet. It was a cold night, and the steam of his breath issued from the ventail of his horned helmet. He gripped his halberd in one gauntleted hand and watched where his mate had gone. In the eerie light of the lesser moon, he could see little but the gleam of the man’s armor.

Then something was on his back like one of the legendary vermin of the catacombs.

Talon gripped the armored man by the throat with his left forearm, forcing the ventail upwards. Instinctively the man caught Talon’s arm in his gauntlets, metal fingers bruising his flesh. Cursing inwardly, Talon thrust his blade through the resultant gap, felt it slide slickly into flesh, gritted his teeth again as he jerked the knife across in a horizontal slash. As blood jetted from the guard’s helmet a gargling cry of alarm burst from his lips, then he fell with a clatter. 

His corpse lay in a heap of ironmongery, blood seeping sanguinely across the stones in the light of the lesser moon. The thief cursed. This was what he always hated. The plan had gone awry. That appalling, inhuman noise would have alerted the other guard, who even now could be heard blundering back through the crystalline vegetation. Not stopping to wipe his blade, Talon ran down the path in the direction of the catacombs entrance. 

2. The Solace of Shadows

Elenara strode into the council chamber, head held high, though her heart was heavy. She endured the questioning stares of the High Councilors as they gazed down at her from the serried ranks of seats, dwarfed as she was by the immensity of the chamber. A hush descended upon the robed figures. 

She reached the bottom of the three steps leading to the podium. Lord Zennor sat upon his modest stone seat, watching her approach. She knelt on one knee, inclined her head.

“In the name of the Sword and the Ring, may I speak with his lordship?” she asked, her voice clear and carrying.

“Of course, child,” said Lord Zennor. Was that anxiety lurking at the corners of his ice blue eyes?

Elenara ascended the steps, made another obeisance.

“Enough of this bowing and scraping, child,” Lord Zennor said gruffly. “Please make your report in the usual fashion. Tell the High Council why it is that only you return from the thousand strong force that issued forth.”

Tears threatened to manifest in her eyes. She turned to regard the whole chamber. A galaxy of eyes gazed back at her.

“My lord, august councilors, we paladins encountered the Sons of Darkness mere worlds away. Their army was vast, comprising of ranks upon ranks of hideous creatures, norns, and corrigans, dark knights and things for which there can be no name, only that they are horrors. We were desperate, seeing the smoking ruin they had made of that world, a once pleasant forested place known as Ebonvale. Grizzled General Melanicus led us in the fray, his armor glittering in the harsh sunlight of that dimension, his red cloak fluttering behind him like a banner. I did not see what happened to him, being beset myself by many foes. But when I saw how many had been lost I realized at last that we had no hope.”

“Paladins were slain on that field?” asked a High Councilor.

“Paladins were lost,” Elenara corrected him. “Some were slain, aye. But more were… altered. I saw the change come over them with my own eyes. Their gleaming armor grew black as if darkly corroded. Their eyes changed, their faces too. The hippogriffs also altered under the baleful influence of the black sun that rose above the field, became twisted and horrific, until they were the foulest of manticores and hippogriffs no longer. 

“I saw in the end that it was hopeless, futile. A message must be sent to the High Council. I sought for someone who could go but could find no one. So I went myself. As I did, an arrow caught my hippogriff in the breast. He flew long and hard before he came to this dimension, this world… The exertion was too much for him. He died on my return.”

“You fled the field?” another High Councilor taunted her. “Confess the truth! It was you who deserted your comrades!”

Elenara shook her head. “That is not true. Besides, by the time I commanded my hippogriff to fly for the dimensional gate, I had no comrades to desert. Do you not understand? It was the corrupting power of Evil… some spell, perhaps, some baleful influence of the black sun that shone above the field of fight. I remember the same story from when I was young, before I joined the paladins. Time and again have they set out against the Sons of Darkness. Time and again have few returned. All told the same tale. 

“And now none but me, most recently raised to their ranks, are left. The corrupting rays of the black sun… the dark flame… it is not just that paladins have been slain, they have been… converted. Gone to swell the ranks of evil. August councilors, my lord Zennor. Darkness devours light, night swallows the day. evil eats up good. Evil cannot be fought, for those who fight it can only do so by committing evil acts themselves. By fighting Evil, we join its ranks…”

Lord Zennor tugged furiously at his long white beard. ‘If what you say is true, child,’ he interrupted, “we have no defense against the Dark Ones. Our every endeavor will be futile. Evil must be fought, or it will consume us, and all the worlds. But only evil can fight evil. Were we to raise a new army, it would be in vain. The champions of Good cannot prevail, cannot hope to prevail.”

“Only evil can fight evil…” Elenara repeated his words, gazing at him wildly. “Therein lies our hope! We must pit the forces of Evil against Evil itself.”

“And how can we do that, child?” Lord Zennor chided. “How can we hope to induce Evil to fight against itself?” He rose stiffly to his feet, with the aid of his ornately carved staff. “This meeting is ended. We have heard enough. Return to your duties.”

As the meeting broke up, Elenara turned to depart.

“Where will you go now, child?” asked Lord Zennor gently.

“First I must see to the entombment of my hippogriff,” she told him. 

“Very well,” said Lord Zennor. “When it is done, come to me in my chambers. There is something I would speak with you about…”

The clatter of armored feet echoed from the singing trees as Talon ran towards the catacombs. The guard was after him! He had been seen! Seldom had a job turned this sour before.

Down a narrow cutting in the stone he went, with the great cliff of the Lawberg rearing high overhead. The stone was wet and slippery, and the steps that had been cut into it in places were hard to traverse. But soon he was at the gates, which were of beaten brass, richly ornamented, and as tall as three men.

He paused, reaching into his shirt for the forged key. The tale of its procuring would be a long one, best saved for the tavern. He inserted it into the keyhole, then paused, about to turn it. The clatter of the guard’s armored boots was growing louder.

Talon looked over his shoulder, to see an armored shape silhouetted at the far end of the cutting. At that moment the greater moon rose above the horizon, and the cutting was flooded with its yellow light.

Cursing, Talon turned the key and shoved at the gates. With a grinding and rumbling they slowly opened.

“Hold!” The voice was loud and booming, magnified in some way by the armor the guard wore. “Hold still and submit yourself to judgment!”

“Not likely, friend,” said Talon. He could see only one hope for it. As the rocks rang to the sound of the guard descending, he gave the gates another push and shove. The one on the left slowly opened to a crack, and darkness seemed to ooze from the catacombs within.

Talon darted inside, seeing only darkness, feeling the cold of the tomb, smelling the spicy scent of flesh embalmed with natron. Into the darkness he hurtled, seeking only to lose his pursuer in the catacombs. Later he might be able to rob at will, but the richest and oldest tombs were on the lower level, and he would find them when he had the time and the leisure.

As he fled down the long, night black passage, he thought he heard strange scuttling noises from the rock above. Things were rumored to lair down here in the darkness, despite the best attempts of the guards to cull them. Quite what things they were nobody seemed to know. Nobody who had met them had lived to tell the tale.

There was a great roaring crash from behind him. Talon spun round to see the gates had been forced fully open. A man stood in the arch, armored arms akimbo, the light of the greater moon gleaming from his horned helmet and his halberd.

“Give yourself up and you will be treated according to your deserts,” boomed the guard’s voice. Hardly a persuasive argument, Talon thought wryly, as the moonlight flooded the high vaulted passage. Seeing in its gleam a doorway hewn from the living rock on the left-hand wall he darted inside, seeking the solace of shadows.

Colliding with a carved stone slab in the darkness, he halted. Glancing back at the doorway, he saw the light was increasing. But mingled with the cold glow of the greater moon was the flickering light of flame. He smelt smoke drifting down the passage. The guard had lit a torch, and was coming after him.

A tortured scream rang out, the torchlight winked out, and then there was only silence. For a long time Talon crouched beside the slab, eyes on the doorway, trying to control his shaking limbs.

What in the name of Zorn had happened to the guard?

The Haunter of the Catacombs by By Gavin Chappell

3. Into the Labyrinth

Eventually, after an aeon when he had heard nothing but the distant drip of water, Talon crept out of the room of the carven slab and paused in the passage. All was silent and dark, except for the hazy moonlight but it did not reach as far as his position. A star winked in the darkness nearby. A fallen star? He caught a whiff of smoke.

Kneeling down, he discovered that what he had seen was the guard’s torch, guttered down to an ember. He snatched it up and blew on it until this ember blossomed with new flames that illuminated the great vaulted passage. Above his head the shadows still swallowed up the light.

He held the torch high but saw nothing. No one. No sign of the guard, not so much as a bent vantbrace. He held the torch as high as he could, and still the light did not shine on an armored form, alive or dead. But it stirred up movement somewhere in the shadows high above. Something scuttled across the unseen roof.

He turned and hurried deeper into the labyrinth.

He had tombs to loot this night. Riches to reap.

Elenara stood gazing down at the great carcass. Guards and attendants stood respectfully back as she crouched, stirred her hippogriff’s dorsal feathers for one last time. The bird like head, once warm with life was cold, the body limp, no more than dead meat.

She rose, and made a curt gesture to the attendants. They moved forward jerkily, and lifted up the creature’s carcass on a palanquin of spears. One of the guards began to beat solemnly on a kettle drum. Elenara standing tall amongst them, they began to march down the flight of steps that led to the foot of the Lawberg, to the vaults where the hippogriff would be interred.

“And so passes the hope of the Citadel,” she murmured to herself as she trod the stone steps solemnly, and the pounding of the drum sounded like the slow footsteps of a somber giant. The hippogriff had been the last of his kind, just as Elenara was the last paladin fighting for the forces of Good. Rumor had it that a clutch of eggs was concealed in some part of the kingdom, but none knew where.

Once there had been a great, merry band of paladins, sworn to defend the worlds of Light from the encroaching Sons of Darkness. Now the rule of Good obtained in only one world, this world where the Lawberg stood in the light of the greater moon like a statue to some embodiment of justice. The drum sounded the death knell not only of her dearly loved mount but of the hopes of fairness and honesty and justice in all the dimensions, all the worlds.

She knew that Evil existed everywhere, and was to be found even on her own world, but in former days it had been countered by equal amounts of goodness. Now Good was beleaguered, forced back to this one world. And Evil had become so strong that it could not be fought. It was the age old moral quandary made manifest. How to take up arms against Evil without becoming that which one fights. From what she had seen in the battle, it was no longer a mere philosophical abstraction. Those paladins who had not been slain, their hippogriffs with them, had renounced their vows, joined the forces of Evil.

They reached the foot of the Lawberg where the Forest of Light cast its hazy glow in the moonlight, only to find that Evil had struck once more.

Talon had reached a crossroads. Holding his torch up high, he gauged his chances down each one of the dark passages. Each wall was lined with doors, which led into tombs like the one within which he had concealed himself. He had inspected each one to learn to his dismay that these must have been the resting places of paupers, or those so vowed to a life of poverty that their grave goods were non-existent. 

Another likelihood was that these tombs had been rifled by long dead thieves. Some still had doors, but usually their hinges were corroded, even if they had not been forced by earlier rogues. It had been an easy matter to gain entrance, but the effort had not been worthwhile.

Something scuttled across the roof high above him.

Talon increased his pace. These catacombs had become home to creatures of dire provenance, lairing within the ice cold passages during the night. Nothing had shown so much as a mandible as yet, but he was beginning to speculate about the fate of the guard who had come after him. The guards and the paladins and other high up folk from the Citadel of Justice neglected these vaults. Or perhaps they allowed dangerous creatures to take up residence to deter thieves.

But Talon was no ordinary thief. No ordinary thief, and this was no ordinary theft. This was the one that would make him rich, rich enough to quit this life of stealth and sleight, set up in a respected profession that had convenient working hours. He rather fancied training to become a lawyer, but no. He wanted to give up being a thief, and what were men of law but the biggest thieves imaginable?

What else, then? A royal minister, that would suit him down to the ground. He would implement the policies of some great king, working for the greater good, taxing the populace to pay for his king’s righteous wars, along the way taking the opportunity to put by certain funds that would never be missed… but no! He wanted to give up being a thief.

Then maybe, with all the gold and treasure he would amass tonight, he could buy himself a position as an archpriest. Lead the commonalty in prayers and sacrifices to Zorn or some other equally pompous deity. Tithe his flock to pay for his own luxurious life like all the archpriests did. But he wanted to give up being a thief.

Was there any line of work that was anything other than thievery writ large? He was in the wrong profession. And he wanted out.

Turning a corner, he saw that the passageway beyond widened into a long, wide hall. Carven niches lined the walls and in each niche was a statue, or the remains of one. Solemn, lordly faces gazed blankly down at the small thief as he crept beneath them, torch held high. Between each two sets of statue was a large stone doorway. And all but one was shut fast.

No detritus lay on the floor, no signs of neglect were visible on the walls, other than the inevitable stains of moisture. He had at last reached the deeper catacombs, the ones he had heard whispered about. Where the treasures lay stacked in great pyramids of gold, heaps of silver, mountains of rubies and emeralds and sapphires. With his left hand, he wiped his mouth dry from the drool that had unconsciously gathered there, as he approached the largest of the doors.

He searched for some kind of keyhole. At last he detected one high up, out of reach. Producing a slender rope made from dead women’s hair he fitted it to a grapnel, then swung it round several times and cast it high so it wound itself round the statue to the left. Now he began to foot it up the doorway, holding the torch in one hand, until he was level with the keyhole.

The statue’s hand looked as if it was intended to grip something, as if it had originally been depicted holding what, a spear? A flagpole? Grinning cheekily, Talon inserted his torch into its grasp.

These vaults were ancient, sturdily built, but the art of lock making had come on since those antique days. He examined the lock, probed it with lock picks. It would take time, and it would hardly be comfortable, picking the lock one handed while hanging from a rope, but it would all be worth it. No thief had rifled these vaults in the thousand years since their construction.

He had just picked the lock and was gazing at the riches that surrounded the interred corpse within when a cry of horror echoed down the endless corridors and passages of the catacombs. It seemed as if it came from the direction of the main entrance, although sound travelled strangely underground. Talon panicked. Had someone found the gates open, or the dead guard he had left in the Forest of Light? 

Perhaps it was that echoing cry that inspired the scuttling thing that had been trailing Talon to make its attack. After gathering its many legs to itself up where it hung from on the shadow cloaked ceiling, it sprang at him.

4. The Haunter of the Catacombs

The first Talon knew of the attack was when a heavy, chitinous weight struck him between the shoulder blades and he was knocked from his perch on the rope, falling helplessly to the hard stone floor. The thing attacked him in a frenzy, and he tried to fend it off despite the ringing in his skull. 

Rolling on his back he looked upwards to snatch a glimpse of an immense creature with far too many long, hairy legs, a constellation of staring eyes, a pair of clacking mandibles oozing venom. All this in the flickering, uncertain light of the torch that remained held in the stone hand of the statue.

He managed to free his long knife and jabbed upwards, catching a lashing leg clumsily. Then he hacked back and forth, flailing in horror at the barely illuminated monstrosity. It snapped at him with its fangs, and he scrambled backwards with the aid of one hand while flailing at the creature with the blade in the other. His retreat was curtailed when his back collided with the stone door of the vault.

“So you’re the haunter of the catacombs,” he said, gazing back into those staring idiot eyes clustered above the mouthparts. It must have been this creature that had attacked the second guard, carrying him off to its cobwebbed lair high overhead. 

It struck again. Talon lurched to one side to avoid its fangs but it caught him a glancing blow to the shoulder. He felt no pain, only a light punch such as a hearty man might give in fun. But when he stabbed at the many eyes, a wave of nausea overcame him and he fell to one knee. The knife slipped from his hand, skipping and clattering across the stone floor, vanishing out of the ring of light afforded by the torch.

His opponent, fat and hairy, chitinous and glistening, lowered itself onto him, crushing him down to the floor. This job was really going wrong, he reflected as he lay helpless and paralyzed. It should have been easy. He had planned well, done his research… 

As the thing industriously wrapped him in bone white, sticky silk that oozed from the rear of its abdomen, he cursed the paladins. What did they think they were doing, allowing wild and dangerous animals to lair in these vaults? It was downright negligent of them. What would their ancestors think…?

Numbness crept through his brain. Everything seemed to happen so slowly. Aeons passed, and still he was being enfolded in silk, until he resembled some antiquated mummified king of the kind he had seen in the vault. He could no longer move his eyes, although he could see perfectly well until a greyness began to swim up on the sides of his vision. 

Almost the last thing he was aware of was a clatter of metal shod feet which he felt through the stone floor rather than heard. Then the impression of a kind of lightning strike. The creature jerked as if it were a puppet and the puppet master was going into spasm. Absently, Talon noticed some kind of war hammer jutting from its head. Darkness swamped his mind.

“Then this is he, child.”

Talon didn’t understand. Oh, the words made sense, spoken in a rich, rolling, sonorous voice, a little crackly with old age. But what in the name of Zorn did the speaker mean? The sentence was so vague as to be meaningless. He tried to say so, but somehow he couldn’t open his mouth. He tried to struggle, but he couldn’t move. He felt nothing, saw nothing. 

It was as if he were nothing but a disembodied consciousness, hanging in the dark void. Talon had never believed in ghosts and spirits, but was that what he had become? Was he now an ethereal spirit? He ought to panic at the notion but he felt nothing. No emotion. He was numb in every sense.

And yet he could hear.

“Yes, my lord. He who killed one guard and led another into the grasp of the arachnid.”

The new voice was female, strong, vibrant, spirited, assertive. Humorless. He didn’t think there was much hope of him sharing a flask of wine with its owner, followed by some intimate conversation in the private booth of a tavern.

“Now the attendants have finished stripping him of the spider silk, we will be able to bring him round for questioning. Happily you stumbled on him in the catacombs just before the arachnid began to suck out his juices. Now he can face justice.”

“Yes, Lord Zennor. Had I not slain the beast, he would be a withered husk like the guard we found. Those catacombs would be purged of such horrors, had we the means.”

Lord Zennor! Talon was in the presence of one of the most powerful men in the empire, the Lord of Lawberg, Chief Judge of the Citadel of Justice. He avoided judges at the best of times, and this was distinctly not the best of times. As for the other voice. Was this female the one he had to thank for his life?

“It has been tried. But perhaps it is better we do not slay them,” Lord Zennor said, his voice coming closer. “They do not trouble us in the citadel, and they are effective guards against those who would come to the catacombs to rob and plunder.”

Talon felt a flash of pain. It came from where his shoulder ought to be. Gradually, feeling returned. His hearing improved, the greyness that had obscured his vision shrank back like cobwebs before a flame. He found that he could move somewhat.

Painfully he turned his head.

“The prisoner has recovered,” observed the woman. Talon glimpsed cold, classic, austere, icy loveliness gazing dispassionately at him. At the side of this statuesque virago was a white bearded old man who leant on a staff, a glowing wand he held in his other hand. Beyond them…

They were in the middle of a large chamber. Daylight streamed in through openings in the distant roof. He stirred again and found that his movements were hampered. He was bound to a stone post, and yet the paralysis that he had felt earlier had now lifted.

“Let me go,” he pleaded.

The old man—Lord Zennor?—placed the now dark wand in his belt and shuffled forwards. He peered into Talon’s eyes. “When the paladin Elenara went into the catacombs to inter her slain hippogriff, you were found before an open tomb. She rescued you, slaying the arachnid that had attacked you.”

“I’m very grateful.” Talon gave the woman—Elenara, a pretty name—what he wrongly thought was a winning smile. Coldly she looked away. “I’m indebted to you. Now please set me free.”

“You have been tried and judged while you were still unconscious,” said Lord Zennor, silencing his protests with a further, “and your sins are deemed to be most grave. You murdered one guard, endangered the life of another—happily he is recovering in our infirmary. But those are not the worst of your crimes. Only a very evil man would rob the riches of the ancient dead.”

“Oh, come on now!” said Talon. “That treasure was benefiting no one! Better I should redistribute it amongst the poor—innkeepers, brothel owners, and the seedier kind of alchemists would benefit from my generosity—than that it should spend all eternity in some underground crypt.”

“You are evil,” said Elenara with a snort.

“Evil?” Talon was offended. “I’ve done wrong in my life, but who hasn’t?” His nervous laugh tailed off in the cold blaze of her withering scorn. “You don’t know enough about my life, my background, to judge me. I was an orphan, living on the walkways of a floating city in the Sea of Many Islands from an early age. Even before that, life was harsh. I was beaten every day by my mother after my father ran off with another man. When my mother died in a knife fight, I ended up on the walkways. I had to steal to survive. I had no chance to make a better life for myself. But I didn’t ask for this life. Lord Zennor, you’re a powerful man. You can afford to be merciful. Give me a chance and I’ll change my ways, become a better person.” He trailed off as Lord Zennor shook his head.

“But we want an evil man,” he insisted. “We need evil to fight Evil. We have chosen you as our assassin. You will travel through the dimensions to the world of the Sons of Darkness, there to gain access to the halls of the King of Darkness. You will slay him.”

Talon’s face cleared. “You want me to kill someone? Well,” he added with a laugh, “why didn’t you say? Just set me free, point me in the right direction, and I’ll set out at once. I’ll need a knife.”

“He’ll bolt and run at the first opportunity,” said Elenara, to Talon’s chagrin. That was exactly what he had been considering.

Lord Zennor gave a smile. In a man less famed for his goodness of nature it might be called cruel. Even evil. With a suddenness that was almost as shocking as the action itself, he thrust out his hand and it sank impossibly into Talon’s chest. The thief gasped. He thought he felt fingers clutching tightly round his heart as Lord Zennor uttered some kind of incantation.

The lord withdrew his hand, leaving no sign of any hole in Talon’s chest. “A geas has been cast upon you, a sorcerous compulsion,” he said. “You must fulfill this quest else die in the attempt.”

“But I don’t know how to travel between the dimensions,” Talon carped.

“I will accompany you,” Elenara said quietly. “I know the way. I will guide you to the Lands of Darkness.”

“Why don’t you kill its king, then?” Talon asked. “If you know how to get there.”

“Evil consumes good,” she droned. “Were I to set myself up against the King of Darkness, I would become evil like so many paladins who have tried before. Even if I cast him down, I would be corrupted by power, perhaps even becoming Queen of Darkness in his place. You are evil…”


“You are evil,” she insisted. “So you will be able to prevail where a paladin would fail. That is why Lord Zennor chose you as our champion.”

Talon looked from the paladin to Lord Zennor in horror. All his life there had been people like this, sanctimonious, mealy mouthed hypocrites who dedicated their lives to pushing him around. None of this was fair, but he was under a sorcerous compulsion now. He had no choice. It seemed he had no option but to do as they wanted. A hopeless quest across the dimensions, just him and this lady paladin against the Forces of Darkness. There were faster ways to commit suicide.

Numbly he heard his foolish mouth say, “So when do we set out?”

The Haunter of the Catacombs by By Gavin Chappell
Nine Questions For United States of Murder

Nine Questions For United States of Murder

United States of Murder is a true-crime podcast that discusses a range of lesser-known crimes, unsolved cases, serial killers, and more by co-hosts Ashley and Lacey.

Where are you from? What is your background?

I (Lacey) am from Gassville, Arkansas and Ashley is from Memphis, Tennessee and we now both live in the Little Rock, AR area. I have a background in graphic design and Ashley works for a local hospital.

What inspired you to do podcasting, specifically about true-and serial killers?

We both listened to a lot of true crime podcasts, and we thought, “hey, we can do this!” We try to cover cases that don’t get as much attention as others. Sometimes it is a case that many have heard of, but we like shedding light to the ones who are under the radar and still need to be solved.

What was the first thing you remember seeing on TV or at the movie theater?

Oh, wow. I think it was Homeward Bound in 1993. 10/10 would recommend.

What other areas of art are you involved in?

I’m a graphic designer, but very involved in fine arts as well. In particular, I like to paint, and I even have a few murals in Little Rock.

Do you think your environment, where you live, has an effect on type of art you create?

Honestly, not really. I have moved around a lot, and while it have evolved over time, the overall style has remained the same.

How much research goes into every episode?

That is hard to say, I don’t know that I’ve ever actually jotted down exactly how much time I’ve spent into it. I will say, some cases so take longer than others. Sometimes, the sources are harder to find, especially if it’s an old case without a lot of publicity. Also, some cases really make me go down rabbit holes. Several hours, that much I know.

What do you think the popular culture will be like in ten years?

That’s a good question, and honestly, I have no earthly idea.

What other things would you like to explore as a podcast?

We are attempting to explore YouTube and Video episodes which is totally foreign to us.

What projects are you working on now?

We are currently preparing for Season 3, which will air later in March.

Nine Questions For United States of Murder
The House That Dripped Blood

After the review, watche the Trailer or the Complete Film.

A Bloody Good Time: Review of The House That Dripped Blood

By Mark Slade

“TERROR waits for you in every room in The House That Dripped Blood.”

That’s the tag line for this great anthology horror film The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

There are four tales that make up this film written by one of the greatest writers to ever hold a pen or tap at a typewriter key, Robert Bloch. It also includes one of the best ensemble casts in horror and Science Fiction. The greats, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Jon Pertwee (The Doctor of Doctor Who) and of course the first lady of Hammer studios, Ingrid Pitt. But this isn’t a Hammer Production. This film comes from another great English Horror house: Amicus. They took the early ‘70s by storm with films like Asylum (another film written by Bloch) Tales from the Crypt, From Beyond the Grave, and a few others. They were a solid film studio who knew there audience. An audience, I have to say, left them in the lurches just as they did Hammer.

All the stories have wrap around stories. The opening of the film we see DIC Holloway investigating the disappearance of film actor Paul Henderson. He goes to the Police headquarters in the village where the strange house stands. He gets the skinny on previous tenants and the stories begin.

In the first tale called “Method for Murder,” it stars Denholm Elliot as a horror writer Charles Hillyer, Who is struggling to finish his latest book. He and his wife (Joana Dunham) take up residency in the house. The house inspires him and he creates the murderous villain Dominic. At every corner, he sees Dominic. Things get even weirder when he sees Dominic strangling his wife, but she accuses the writer of trying to kill her. So off he goes to a psychiatrist. The twist in this story is pure Robert Bloch.

The second story is “Waxworks,” staring legendary Peter Cushing. Two friends (Cushing and Joss Ackland) are enchanted with a wax figure of Salome holding a plate with John the Baptist’s head on it. The two friends remember a time when both were in love with Cushing’s wife and they discover the wax figure looks just like her. The owner of the wax museum tells Cushing his wife was both a murderess and a murder victim.

Unfortunately, this is the weakest of the four stories. As usual, Cushing’s acting is a tour de force. Also as many times it is proven, his acting abilities cannot save the pictures he appears in. That’s the case with this segment. Something else should have been added or perhaps; something from the original short story was deleted that was needed. In any case, I will say the director of this film sure had a flare for camera movements and almost gave this segment a shot in the arm.

The next story is called “Sweets to the sweet.” It stars the prodigious Christopher Lee as a widower looking for a quiet get away for him and his eight year old daughter. He decides to hire a Tutor for his daughter to avoid sending her to school. Lee hires an ex-school teacher (Nyree Dawn Porter) and we quickly find out his daughter is afraid of fire, withdrawn, (even forbidding her owning a doll) probably because Lee’s character is so harsh on her. Porter takes the job and makes very good progress with the little girl. Porter convinces Lee to let his daughter have some toys. In this conversation, we learn his daughter does not play well with other children, but he does agree she can have some toys. Porter does a great job with the little girl, too good of a job in fact. The ending gives caution, social services would be the wrong decision here.

The performances are wonderful in this segment. Even the little girl gives a heart wrenching presentation in the beginning. Of course you get a masterful act from Lee, and it seems one of the few roles he received without it being more sinister. And Porter was perfect as the Tutor. It seems her career was spotty, a lot of TV (a two year stint on a soap opera with Ian Hendry of The Avengers fame) but not much else. It’s a shame. She was a solid character actor as the viewer could see in this segment. This segment has to be my second favorite in the film.

Now for my favorite. Last but not least, “The Cloak.” There’s a few reasons this one stood out to me. Ingrid Pitt is one reason (Vampire Lovers, several Hammer films). But the main one was Jon pertwee. It’s always fun to discover actors in roles they did before the one that made them famous. I’m talking about Doctor Who. Pertwee played the character from 1970 to 1974. I’m pretty sure this film was made before or just as he was cast and audiences had not discovered this cherished actor as yet.

The story, as said in a few paragraphs before, concerns the disappearance of high and mighty, egotistical horror film actor Paul Henderon (played by Pertwee to perfection). Holloway has finally made his in the investigation to interview Stoker the real estate agent. The agent tells Holloway the story of what happened to Henderson. The agent has rented the house to Henderson while he works on a film.

Henderson arrives on the set of his newest movie, The Blood-suckers. He sees everyone in charge or involved, are nit-wits who can’t even get set pieces right. He storms off to his dressing room and discovers a card left for him by a weird antiques dealer.  Henderson calls on the dealer looking for an authentic Vampire cloak. He buys the cloak at very low price and the dealer says he is closing shop for good and is very glad the cloak will be put to good use.

Cut to filming on the set. Henderson is to kiss his leading actress Carla (Ingrid Pitt) and a few seconds later, bite her as per instructions of the director. He does so in such a hammy(and hilarious way) that it brings the best and worst of Vincent Price( who by the way was first approached to star in this film, but turned it down because of contract agreements with A.I.P.) A few seconds later, Henderson dons the cloak and teeth are bared and he bites Carla to shock on lookers. A little later, Henderson discovers there are powers in this cloak.

This story was just too much fun and the ending (both endings of the film and segment) you wouldn’t see coming. This movie is a lot of fun. Okay, so there isn’t any gore, as a matter of fact there no blood in this film at all and the title came from the producers to spice things up. The movie did well in America, but barely made a dent in England in its initial run. Years of TV and internet play has been kind to it. Placing it among the honor of becoming a cult film, as most of Amicus productions ended up. The company first folded in the early eighties as did its rival, Hammer studios. Just like Hammer, the studio has resurfaced in the 2000’s, even producing Stuart Gordon’s film Stuck

Raise a cup of blood and toast both Hammer and Amicus for producing great films and even greater actors.

The House That Dripped Blood


Full Movie

Pinup Kryss Rokz

Pinup: Kryss Rockz

Where are you from? What is your background? 

I am from Little Rock. I have been an Administrative Assistant for the past 15 years

What inspired you to become a model?

I did some modeling when I was younger, and I got away from it. I started a family, life and career, but I missed it. I always wanted to get back in it and just see how far I can go! 

What are the pluses and minuses of modeling?

Some of the pluses would be the travel, the money, and it builds self confidence! Some of the minuses would be the negative vibe that some people in your personal life spread when they find out you’re modeling. Some people misinterpret the art form that is modeling.

What performer or artist/writer inspires you the most?

The fashion & beauty of the Kardashians have always inspired me. Their beauty tips/secrets, their drive for success and the results they have achieved are impressive.

What other areas of art are you involved in?

Car karaoke & singing in the shower lol.

Do you think your environment, where you live, has an effect on the type of art you create?

I do have some limitations in regard to time and photo shoot sites because I am a mom of three beautiful children who still live at home.

What long term goals do you have?

There are many places across the world that I would love to have an opportunity to do shoots in, such as Italy, the Maldives, and other exotic places. I aspire to be published in a variety of publications, whether it be glamor, lingerie, or boudoir type projects. 

What do you think popular culture will be like in ten years?

That is really hard to say, the world has changed so much just in the last 10 years. I feel that we will see more and more people expressing whatever form of art that is relevant to what is going on in the world at that time. It seems that the rules are becoming looser with each passing year.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked to do in your profession?

I was recently approached by an agency in Los Angeles, they offered me $5,000 and all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles to do a porn shoot for a private pantyhose site!

What projects are you working on now?

I just recently started an only fans page that will have Playboy style content, I have several modeling projects in the works where I will be reviewing lingerie and hosiery for various companies, multiple boudoir shoots between now and the end of summer.

Pinup Kryss Rokz
Pinup Scarlet Viper

Performer: Scarlet Viper

Where are you from? What is your background?

I am currently living in Scotland, where I grew up, but I have had the opportunity to travel and work abroad as a performer. My background has always been dance from a young age, amateur and professional shows in a variety of styles.

What inspired you to become get into burlesque?

After taking a short break in my dance career and change of living location I was looking for something new to challenge myself and have the chance to perform again. I have always loved the idea of burlesque but wasn’t sure if I was a perfect fit for that style. I attend a local group. Marvelesque Burlesque and Cabaret and wow every single person is an inspiration and I knew I had to be part of this culture and learn all I could in the art of burlesque

What about modeling? What inspired you to do Pinup?

It is something id always wished I could do. The glamour, the confidence and everything with it. excites me. I can put on a costume and become a new character and the camera catches it all.

What’s the best thing about being a modeling burlesque, and what’s  the worst?

The best thing is being part of the photoshoots. the buzz of finding new ways to pose, the new costumes and the thrill of viewing your images. I don’t have many complaints so far for the worst although corsets are extremely beautiful after a long day of wearing them and modeling, they get tiresome.

What performer or artist/writer inspires you the most?  

Most people are drawn to the likes of Dita von Teese and high-profile artists who take to the stage and rightly so they are such an inspiration and wonderful. However, my inspiration comes a little closer to home. Tequila Diamond who is one of the directors of Marvelesque and my teacher, she teaches me new things in every way both on and off the stage in a way I am so thankful for this. I see how hard this performer works not only for herself but for the company and includes everyone. She is simply breathtaking to watch on stage and a pleasure to work with.

What other areas of art are you involved in?

I have been involved in dance and amateur dramatics all my life, however, my main focus is now burlesque and I can not see that changing any time soon. I am always up for new challenges 

Pinup Scarlet Viper

Do you think your environment, where you live, has an effect on type of art you create?

I am part of a fabulous local group which drive me to create great acts to be part of their shows.

What long term goals do you have?

My goals for the future are to be able to continue where I am, but grow as a performer have more networking and just be happy.

What do you think the popular culture will be like in ten years?

I believe in ten years time the burlesque scene will be even bigger and brighter than it is now. with more people accepting their body and body positivity fuelling the way forward, I think we shall see new performers, bigger shows, venues and audiences.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked to do in your profession?

So far I must admit I have not had anything too strange. but then again as I said I am always up for a new challenge.

What projects are you working on now?

Currently working with Marvelesque Burlesque and cabaret on their upcoming show The classics tease. and preparing for a fun-filled busy 2023.

Pinup Scarlet Viper
Pinup Siren LaBelle

Pinup: Siren LaBelle

Where are you from? What is your background? 

I’m born and bred in Norwich, Norfolk in England. I’ve always been a performer in school I was in every school show and then I got a job as a holiday park entertainer when I was a young adult. Now I model and perform burlesque and love it!

What inspired you to become a model? 

I’ve always wanted to do it as long as I can remember, I just love the artistry of it and being able to create something beautiful.

What are the pluses and minuses of modeling?

It can be loads of fun, you meet some great people, make some beautiful art and it can make you feel beautiful. Although if you see a bad shot of yourself it can be damaging to your self confidence, you put your image out to the world and not everyone will like it so you can get nasty comments. I’ve also had people pretend to be me and use my images which also is not great.

What performer or artist/writer inspires you the most?

Charlize Theron, I think she is so beautiful, talented and fearless.

What other areas of art are you involved in?

I am also a burlesque dancer and perform with a troup of wonderful people. I also sing but as more of a hobby.

Do you think your environment, where you live, has an effect on type of art you create?

Definitely, Norwich is such a historical city and I think it has an effect on the art we create. Also the people around me have a massive impact on the images created.

What long term goals do you have?

I’d love to one day put on bigger performances and make my way into more magazines. I used as a pinup and hopefully be in a position to help others get ahead in the industry.

What do you think the popular culture will be like in ten years?

I’d love for more people to be able to see the art behind burlesque and pin up and it not to be as taboo. I think we will be seeing lots more platforms online where images and videos will be shared for the world.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked to do in your profession?

For one performance I have had to lay in a coffin and I’ve also been gunged more than once in front of hundreds of people.

What projects are you working on now?

I’ve got a few burlesque performances coming up this year with my double act “Red Velvet Vixens.” There are also many more photo shoots in the pipelines.

Pinup Siren LaBelle