The Beautiful Belles
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to drive out to the lovely city of Florence, Alabama, to attend a performance of THE BELLES OF WHITECHAPEL: THE VICTIMS OF JACK THE RIPPER SPEAK at the historic Zodiac Playhouse, affectionately known as “the Z.” The staff at the theatre had asked me to do a question-and-answer session with the audience after the show, the first such “official” event in which I’ve taken part. (I wrote BELLES, by the way. It’s not like they just wanted some stranger to get up on the stage and talk to people. I mean, they might, at other times. I wouldn’t know. But that isn’t the reason I was there last night.) Getting to experience my first actual “celebrity” moment, when an audience member was genuinely and visibly nervous to be meeting me—ME, of all people—and watching my work brought to life by a talented cast and crew, all while I suffered a blood sugar drop and sat in the audience binging on a bag of donuts I bought next door at the Fred’s just before the show started…it was priceless.
I ate the ENTIRE bag of donuts, by the way.
The tech crew constructed gaslights for my ladies of the evening and used smoke machines to evoke the chilly London fog. Combined with sound effects and the slightly delirious mindset I was in due to the sugar rush, I felt I was actually back in London’s East End of over a hundred years ago, despite the occasional rumbling of the traffic from outside, muffled by the theater walls. Just like Mary Kelly, the play’s closing performer and Jack the Ripper’s last official victim, the one from whom he cut out her heart, I left my own heart behind at the Z. The Belles took it.
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS, specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced, and directed (and occasionally acted in) over two dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and True Crime genres. He obtained a doctorate in Occult Studies from Miskatonic University and is an active paranormal investigator. Is frequently told he resembles Anton Lavey. And Ming the Merciless.
Denn die totden reiten schnell!