gvd_master.jpgBack in the late seventies, when my folks and I arrived in the Northern Virginia-DC area, I started watching a lot of WDCA Channel 20. There was this oddball character named “Captain 20”, who presided over the afternoon-to-evening cartoons and shows of the day.

He was a vulcan kind of character in a starship uniform who did contests, displayed viewer artwork, and did various announcements in between shows. I thought he was the coolest, most offbeat character I’d seen hosting television shows yet. I could hardly imagine a neater thing than a local channel with it’s own futuristic character binding your show-watching experience together with imagination.

I got to see the King Kong cartoon, Marine Boy, Ultraman, Starblazers, weird B movies and a whole host of other shows you’d never see on television today. If the guy had been nothing more than a face for the magical, hope filled studies I performed as a young creature, he would have been a worthy soul I would fight to make a place for in my vision of the Valhalla-afterlife warm up.

My folks started watching a late night horror show on Saturday nights called Creature Feature. I joined in, because the show was playing movies that had the sort of dreams I wanted to experience. Okay, so Attack of the Mushroom People was a horrible movie, but hidden within the crumminess of such movies are realms of experience accessible only through the small budget seriousness that fails.

The sacrifice of the artist creates a void inside of which the sacrament of horror is transformed into miracles.

Back in the day, before the rulers of corporate television got the insane idea that they could make more money by having a monopoly on bad programming, local channels could get pretty inventive and interesting.

For Creature Feature, Captain 20 put on a cape and scary makeup to play Count Gore de Vol, the host of the show. In between the commercials and the movie segments he would crack bad jokes, read letters from fans and respond, talk back to the cameramen telling him to get a life, and have guest stars like Penthouse Playmates or local fans.

One such guest star I saw on the tube was a person I didn’t know at the time, but would later in life. By day she is honeysuckle, but by night she’s the Incorrigible Witch. We met each other at our mutual employer, and in a twist of fate that can only be called Twilight Zone meets Funky Town, discovered we both loved the Count.

As I stared at her photo album of her visit to the Count, I discovered I’d seen her on TV. I mean, it’s one of the more vivid memories I have of those days – her getting into the Count’s Coffin to gag jokes from the studio staff while her friend looks on in shock. Life is weird.

We both look up Count Gore, and find out he has a website. Then we find out he’d moved back to Northern Virginia! She manages to get a “date” with him and catch up on old times, since she finds out they live in the same area. This is freaking me out. I got to hand it to the Incorrigible Witch, she’s got some real brass and isn’t afraid to get into the thick of strange adventures!

The Count, as his daytime alter-ego, drops by our office and gives me a genuine autographed picture. Can you dig it? We both miss him, because he’s a ramblin’ man who strikes like a fiend in the night, but the fact that he stopped by means a whole lot to me. If as a kid, I’d known that one day I’d meet that girl on TV, and get an autographed photo from the Count, it would have made me levitate for days. Not that my folks would have minded.

All of us have the potential to be horror hosts of our own monster theater. Some of us, like the Count, are naturals who show us the way to our own individual formula for happiness. Exposure to such rare minerals at an early age leads to a healthy, productive life of beneficial insanity!

This development has my Mirage’s fungus prints all over it. Horror and scary stuff really isn’t my thing, but in the spirit of Halloween and Celtic New Year I suppose it makes a certain amount of sense. I can only guess what my Mirage is cooking up, with his strange ways of doing things. Yikes, Scoob!

In the meantime, I raise a glass of cold draft cider and toast to your good health, Count! Such as it is, being undead or something. There is no other horror host like you in my pond of memories. Wolfman Jack and Ghoulardi get props from me for the ground they broke in my psyche. But it’s your weird, wonderful imagination that stands the test of time in my dark soul!