I’ve had quite a few people ask about our trip to Massachusetts last October for Salem Horror Fest. I can say for certain that it was a trip worth talking about. As a whole, the trip was an amazing opportunity. The city was beautiful and a dream to visit in October. I made several friends and built awesome relationships, both personally and for business. Dark Room Horror now has merch in two shops there, Black Veil Studio and Die With Your Boots On. We got to hang with the Murray brothers and almost met Bill Crisafi and Hogan McLaughlin. But, there was a darker side to the trip that has been casting a shadow in all the wrong ways. It’s time to address the mammoth in the tomb. As amazing as this trip was, one event soured most of our experience there… getting stiffed by Elvira. This sounds like a punch-line, and I wish it was.
Let’s start at the top. Salem Horror Fest was gracious enough to have our Blood Booth at their Haunted Harbor, free of charge. We had a large, Haunted Harbor branded backdrop and provided our merchandise and services for 2 weeks of their festival. We had the opportunity to meet and shoot with some amazing people, including Amelia Kinkade, Linea Quigley, Rachel True, Andrea Subissati, Alex West, Jason Marsden, John Kassir, and Quinn Lord. All of which came through our booth, and were genuinely marvelous people. They were all happy to come into our booth, hang out with us, bring in fans to take pictures with, and really seemed like they were there to have a good time. I can easily say that some of those days were the best that I’ve ever had working.
During our evening with John Kassir, the infamous voice of the Crypt Keeper, David and I (author of our short story, The Groaning Man) were given a mind-blowing opportunity to also be in a separate room, offering our printing services for the photo op with the Mistress of Dark, Elvira. This was not an opportunity we were planning on. The festival had hired a photographer specifically for her shoot. Needless to say, we were stoked to get to offer prints at our additional cost of $10 for a high quality 5”x7”, for those who wanted them. I sent David down the hall with the printer and I stayed set up for the panel with Mr. Kassir.
After a few sales, David was approached by Scott Marcus, Elvira’s Agent. It was at this point that he introduced his idea of not charging for prints and including them in the paid package fee to expedite the customer process in a now heavily, overcrowded room. According to David, this was taken to Kevin Lynch, the Festival Director, and he went with it. I feel it necessary to add that I was never consulted during this decision process. I would have been happy to go along with it as well, after making sure that things were set in place to make sure that my employee and I were taken care of.
As the evening went on, we naturally ran out of ink in the middle of the process. This is when I was told about what was going on in that room. As far as we had been told, there were a total of 256 people who purchased tickets to this event to have their picture taken with Elvira. After being filled in on the “deal”, with the already backed up line, I had to shut down my station to run out for more ink.
Naturally, I was stoked to have this opportunity. The slight frustration about not being consulted about a major decision like this was put to rest, knowing that we would be compensated for our efforts. We now had the potential to break even in one night. I ran out, put more money on my already hefty credit card, and got back to the event with ink for the rest of the photographs. David spent the remainder of the night, both at the hotel and at our Air BnB, printing the rest of the photos to be picked up the following day.
We had succeeded the following day in providing all of the prints that were asked of us. They were then organized and placed in the hotel lobby for people to locate and take the print that was now part of their original purchase.
After the event was dying down and business was being taken care of, Kevin, who had assured me that we would be paid according to the agreement, met with Scott Marcus and immediately became elusive. I chalked this up to his demanding schedule and felt no insecurity, due to them being so accommodating previously. After a few ignored phone calls and unanswered texts, I started to worry. I then found out that Scott Marcus had collected his money and bailed, and called the “photo thing” a rip-off, refusing to pay it. This, of course, was through the word of others who were working closely with Kevin, and not from Kevin himself.
After finally getting word back from Kevin, I received a short text that read “no contract, no deal”. To Kevin’s credit, he eventually got back to me expressing his disappointment in the way things went down and that he didn’t have the money to pay me, which wasn’t that big of a deal because I had been told that the responsibility fell on Scott Marcus and Casandra (Elvira). I then invoiced Scott for the number that we were told needed to be printed. After a couple “reminder emails” this became our conversation…
Scott Marcus (firstname.lastname@example.org):
We did not order any photos. Our deal with the Salem Horror Fest was a certain amount of the photo opp, went to the photographer/printer.
You need to work this out with them.
Thanks for getting back to me. I’ve gone through this with Salem Horror Fest. Their contract never involved prints. I’ve been told by multiple sources that a call came from you that each person who purchased a ticket would walk away with their digital image and a print, all included in their ticket price.
My business and I were not consulted in this arrangement and I only found out when we ran out of ink the first time.
I believe the bill is going to the right place. Do you have a higher-up that I can speak to about this?”
“I am the highest person you can speak with and we never had a deal for this either written or verbal.
It was at this point that I realized I was getting nowhere with either Kevin Lynch or Scott Marcus. I turned to anyone and everyone who was involved that night to find out where the responsibility lay for our compensation. The Guest Liaison for Salem Horror Fest, seeing how entirely fucked up this situation was getting, took the time to write out a full account of what went on from behind the doors of Salem Horror and Elvira’s agency. She sent this email to Kevin, Scott, myself and two others.
Kevin immediately responded in defense of himself, stating that the evening was far more chaotic than anybody expected and that the requested $2,560 was “an inflation of the actual value provided – especially seeing that only 221 checked in and even a smaller number was actually printed.” Also, information that had not been presented until now.
He then offered us $750 and said this would “more than cover the actual cost of goods” and ended with the statement “October is a long month for all of us, and we still have another week to go. I suggest we put this behind us and move on.”
I did not accept the $750. Based on my employee’s review of the events, as well as Salem Horror’s Guest Liaison, Scott Marcus was still responsible for the bill. I found Kevin’s response confusing, frustrating and a little insulting. Scott Marcus gave no reply.
I adjusted our invoice to reflect the 221 who checked in and re-presented it to the group, asking for Scott Marcus to fulfill his verbal agreement. I’ve yet to hear anything.
Kevin’s odd response led me to believe that more went down between him and Scott than he told me about. I’ve been left with the assumption that Scott and Kevin agreed that the burden was placed on Kevin. Again, this is only an assumption since Kevin has never actually mentioned that. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me, seeing how he jumped in the middle with such a left-field offer. This told me that Kevin was taking a side. He had every opportunity to jump in and say something like “hey man, you asked these guys to do something, be cool and pay for what you asked for.” but to my knowledge, he never took that opportunity.
I don’t feel like what I’m saying or asking is unreasonable in any way. We provided a service and deserve proper compensation. This is something that I personally feel is not cool. At Salem Horror Fest, I found myself in a position several times where all of us were taking steps to help each other out. The camaraderie that was built between the staff, a few other vendors and myself was something that I’d love to write a full blog about. I suppose camaraderie can be deceiving.
Salem Horror Fest has announced that they’re setting up for 2020. Despite the great times we had, and the amazing connections we made, we will not be attending Salem Horror Fest. I will not work with an organization that refuses to have your back or acknowledge that they messed up without throwing out excuses to let themselves off the hook. We’d found a group of people who were awesome to be around. This is a group of people and an event that I would love to support, but the way things ended left me in a deeper money pit, and very few people who I’d like to associate with.
A word of caution to those attending and getting involved with Salem Horror Fest: its a fucking brilliant idea, but I got the impression on more times than this, that they don’t have it all together yet. Yes, there is a need for grace, but as a whole, they probably won’t have your back when you need them to. Don’t put yourself in any sort of situation where you’re depending on them to back you.
This is a situation that I still wish to be resolved. Having met Casandra in passing, who seemed like a cool enough person, I can only assume that she doesn’t know anything about this situation. I would expect someone of her stature to fulfill her agreements herself or through her management. I believe Scott Marcus to be the primary issue here. He has acted unprofessionally and irresponsibly. Unless Kevin Lynch or Scott Marcus want to fill me in on the entire story, I believe that I am owed $2,210.00 for a completed service that was promised compensation.
If you feel like helping out, post the pic below and tag @Elvira @Scott Marcus @Salem Horror and us, or simply share one of our posts on Social Media.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. We hope this long-overdue issue will be resolved.
Josh T. Romero