Eloise: The Film

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In the back of my mind, I always believed that the story of my second home, Eloise Asylum, would make a great film. And I just learned that’s it’s actually happening! Holy shit!

Eloise

I want to tree-branch for a moment before I go into the film. I try to pay attention to which of my posts get the most views or searches. My posts on Eloise Asylum and Eloise Cemetery have consistently been at the top and I expect that to spike a lot higher once the film actually comes out. (Free promotion is never a bad thing. Sorry I’m not sorry.) I am not a historian or an expert on Eloise, but I have done extensive research on it. I have physically visited the asylum numerous times. Unlike most people who go there, I’m not really interested in the ghost stories or illegally breaking into the buildings for a good time. That’s not what Eloise should be known or remembered for. I only have positive intentions. I just wanted to make that clear before I continue because in the past people have believed my intentions were not pure. Honestly, I’m still upset about that.

Filming will soon begin for Eloise, a psychological thriller starring Eliza Dushku from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Chace Crawford from Gossip Girl. I actually love them both and I think they were perfect cast choices. The movie will be filmed in the old asylum (only one building of which is still used to this day) in Westland, Michigan. The subject matter aside, how rad is it that a movie is being filmed so close to where I’ve lived my whole life?! The premise of the film is that four friends break into Eloise to find a death certificate that would lead to a large inheritance for one of them. They don’t expect to discover the horrors that occurred here or to learn about their own unfortunate histories. Sadly, real-life break-ins are very common at Eloise. Dumb teenagers are curious and want to get a good scare. But, the remaining buildings from the massive complex are falling apart and not fit to walk around in.

Stairs

I’ve never seen the stairwells before…that’s creepy.

I was happy to learn that the artifacts on display in the asylum museum have been removed prior to filming. I definitely didn’t want them to be damaged by a clumsy cameraman or special effects gone wrong. Some of the film will also be shot at the Masonic Temple in Detroit, which is right next door to where I attend meetings for work. A lady from the Westland Historical Commission is collaborating with crew members so that the positives of Eloise are highlighted. I think that’s very important because while horrible things happened here, the intent of the staff and creators was never malevolent. People just didn’t know what they do now about mental disorders. There’s no excuse for the horrid treatment that many patients received, but I’m just trying to give some perspective.

fire

The old abandoned fire department…

Of course, I have mixed feelings about this film. Eloise is very special to me. It’s become my secret place and a massive inspiration. I mean, the name of my blog and my name “Asylum Attendant” came directly off of a badge that the staff at Eloise wore. I almost don’t want people to find out about the asylum. That makes zero sense, as I’ve only tried to raise awareness about it since the start of this blog. I feel like a part of me is disappearing. Everyone will soon know about Eloise. It won’t make me unique anymore. My identity will be gone.

asylum attendant

I know, I’m probably overreacting. Who knows, awesome things could come from the film. I just want the legacy of Eloise to be honored and cherished. I don’t want a crappy horror movie to destroy its image even more. Eliza and Chace are great actors and I trust them to take their roles seriously. The subject matter that will be addressed deserves respect. Many people were tortured, locked up and died here. It’s not a joke.

I look forward to seeing the final product. I will keep all of you posted. Whatever happens, please remember the original Asylum Attendant. They can’t take my home away from me. I’m here to stay.

One Year Anniversary

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Wow, my little blog is already a year old. Technically, the anniversary was back on February 25, but we all know I don’t get to anything in a timely manner. 😛 I’m both surprised and proud of myself for keeping at it thus far. I may not have been consistent with my posts, but I refused to give up. This blog is like my sanctuary from the real world. And writing is how I cope with hardships.

The intent of this blog was to express myself in ways I felt I couldn’t in my daily life. I started it to reveal the real me. From crazy photo shoots to personal stories, nothing was off limits. I quickly discovered that as I opened up through blogging I also became much more comfortable with myself. I was beginning to transform into the person I had always wanted to show to the world. No more hiding. No more trepidation. I can’t quell my sass!

The Asylum Attendant persona is who I aspired to be. Fierce, successful, and honest. I didn’t like the life of Jonathan. He was too scared, too selfless, and much too boring. I wanted to escape his reality and enter a world free from restriction. This blog was my portal to a new identity. I like who I’ve become. 🙂

I really enjoy sharing my love of music, androgyny, Gothic culture, poetry, psychology, and cute boys 😉 with such a rad audience. I know my next year of blogging will be even more exciting and unpredictable.

Much love from my asylum to yours,

~Jonathan

Sassy

Pensive

Super Sassy

Updates: Hair, V-Day, and Emilie Autumn

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I really am terrible at updating this blog. Instead of an insightful or exciting post, I’m going to discuss random stuff going on in my life. Hooray!

So, I got my hair done recently and I must say that red hair really suits my personality. My badass, blue-haired stylist went for a brighter red this time without telling me (she knows I’m up for anything) and I really like it. I get compliments on it pretty much everyday, which is very nice. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to my natural hair color again. If you don’t like something about yourself, then change it. A little hair dye never hurt anyone. Some people don’t like my red hair, but it makes me happy. That’s all that matters. 🙂

Valentine’s Day was a lot of fun. I put on all my festive heart accessories and blew bubbles with the kids at the clinic. Who doesn’t enjoy bubbles? One adorable little boy in particular danced around the lobby popping all the bubbles. Every time he comes in he’s smiling and so happy to be there. I so appreciate his random dance breaks in front of my window. I don’t know why he comes in for therapy or what his history is, but I will always smile with him. His positivity and bright spirit are infectious. Why do adults lose that playful innocence? It’s so important to play and be carefree sometimes. I would much rather interact with the kids than other staff members. Maybe that’s why all the kids like me best and draw me lots of sweet pictures. 😉 To the other little boy who asked me to draw him a rainbow and a unicorn (reminds me of the wall art pictured below that I found at Pride last year), you are awesomely unique and special. The Disney Princess movies were always my favorite, too. I kind of wish I had done another themed photo shoot like I did last Valentine’s Day. I had a blast putting that one together. There’s always St. Patrick’s day…

MCP 001

Now on to the main event: The Emilie Autumn concert! Last weekend, I got to see EA live for the second time and the show was epic. Not even a lovely Michigan snowstorm could keep me away from the Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls. Alice In Wonderland’s “In A World Of My Own” proceeded the start of the show, which set the atmosphere for the descent into madness. (Emilie claims to be the descendant of Alice Liddell, the real-life girl who inspired Carroll’s books, so the song is certainly fitting.)

The show itself was more like a circus than a concert, complete with fire hula hoops, stilt walking, and feather fan dancing. Emilie and her Bloody Crumpets know how to entertain. The girls’ handmade costumes were gorgeous and Emilie went through a myriad of wardrobe changes throughout the show. I will say that I missed EA’s violin playing from the last show. I hope she brings it back to the live shows at some point. I never would have guessed that Emilie was starting to lose her voice during the performance because she sounded so strong. She would cancel a show before she would ever lip sync.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Equally as exciting as the concert was looking around at what all the fans were wearing. Plague Rats are super crafty and original…we learned from the best, after all. The girl with the sky high pink mohawk, stripey Beetlejuice pants, and dangerously tall platform boots fit right in amongst the eclectic crowd. I could tell that many people had constructed their elaborate outfits themselves. I felt right at home amidst the fabulous freaks and outcasts. I wish I had dressed a bit crazier, but I still represented with my stripes and combat boots.

I definitely went through a range of emotions from start to finish. From empowerment during “Fight Like A Girl” to despair during “The Art of Suicide”, EA succeeded at creating a moving experience for her Plague Rats. I almost teared up at the end during Emilie’s heartfelt speech to us all in which she thanked us, applauded our individuality, and gave us the keys to the asylum. She’s a class act and I left that show feeling so special and inspired. I may not feel as close to Emilie as I once did, but she’s still one of my favorite musicians of all time and a massive inspiration to me both personally and professionally. Us asylum inmates have to stick together. 🙂

Grav3yardgirl

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Bunny Meyer (Grav3yardgirl on Youtube) is the sassiest beauty vlogger around. She hails from the swamps of Texas and loves all things creepy, from graveyards and ghosts to strange old photographs. Bunny’s Christmas tree is even Halloween themed, which is something I would do. She loves beauty and fashion as well, but Bunny isn’t your typical beauty guru. She’ll be the first to admit that she doesn’t think she’s talented with makeup. Bunny surely breaks the mold with her goofy antics and alligator obsession.

Along with her lovable personality, I admire Bunny’s fashion sense. I would love to raid her closet and steal borrow all of the cool clothes she owns. Bunny shares my skull and spike obsession. Some would say she’s a hipster, but Bunny’s style could be anything from Grunge to Nu Goth depending on the day. She finds the best stuff from thrift stores. And she alters a lot of the things she buys to make them even more epic. DIY makes anything better.

Grav3yardgirl

Bunny OOTDFor Halloween last year, she dressed as a Victorian insane asylum escapee…um soulmates? Yayus! That’s how we do it on the swamp!

I can really relate to the story behind Bunny’s Youtube channel. She suffers from anxiety and depression, which is nothing new for me. Before making videos, Bunny used to jump in her car and drive around for extended periods of time in the middle of the night when her anxiety would surface. That’s clearly not a healthy coping mechanism. So, a friend suggested Bunny should start making videos to quell her anxiety. It worked and Bunny’s been at it ever since. I, too, find that creativity drives away my depression and anxiety. That’s really why I started this blog. Okay, I also started blogging as an excuse to post sexay photos of myself, but that’s not the point…;-)

Bunny encourages individuality and acceptance among her fans, known as the Swamp Family. She embraces her flaws and quirks without hesitation. Bunny is an awesome role model with a stunning collection of Jeffrey Campbell shoes. She’s certainly inspired me to stay strange and keep it extra sassy. And to never ever be ashamed of drinking tea like a Muppet. I use her lingo all the time in real life and no one ever gets the references. It’s all good because I just come off super original. Yay for Bunny!

Muppet Bunny

Eloise Graveyard

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It’s time to get creepy, y’all. Not too long ago I blogged about Eloise Asylum and its creepy history fraught with medical experimentation and locked psychiatric wards. The nightmare doesn’t end there, though. Few people know that Eloise Asylum had its very own graveyard. Many patients died in the asylum, so this was a necessity. It is said that more than 7,000 former patients were buried in the graveyard between 1910 and 1948. Poor patients with no family to claim their bodies were dumped here. Today, the unkept field doesn’t even resemble a graveyard, but with a little research I managed to find it.

Being the weirdo that I am, I visited Eloise Graveyard just the other day. What I discovered deeply disturbed me. Now, the graveyard is not new to me. I had been there several times before and I don’t find the graveyard itself to be very scary. It’s located across from a low-income housing complex and the other buildings in the area are pretty dilapidated. The area is often frequented by the police because of a crime problem. Let’s just say you wouldn’t want to be caught there at night. I’ve always visited the graveyard with friends in the past, but this time I decided to go alone. I felt comfortable with it and I was familiar with my surroundings, so I wasn’t worried.

I entered the graveyard through a gate and followed a path into the field. On my right was a farmer working the land, so I felt at ease that I wasn’t alone. Sadly, the graveyard hasn’t been cared for in years and many of the gravemarkers have been covered up by overgrowth. There are no tombstones with the names of the dead; just numbered blocks. The graveyard is enclosed by pine trees and a small forest. It’s very peaceful and beautiful. The random shopping carts strewn at the entrance detracted slightly from its beauty, though.

I love to investigate and discover new treasures at every visit. Finding gravemarkers is a challenge, but it’s exciting when you see them. I spent my time taking pictures of the graves and the pretty nature. I even played around in the forest a bit. I definitely want to do a photoshoot here with the forest as a backdrop. Of course I’ll wear crazy outfits and make a fool of myself as usual. 😀

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyways, I came upon some graves that I had never seen before in a far corner of the graveyard. They appeared to have been recently cleared of overgrowth. I saw something white sticking out of the ground near one of the gravemarkers. It was a long white candle! This warmed my heart. The graveyard had been visited by someone who took the time to clear some brush and leave a token of acknowledgment. And here I thought I was the only one who knew and cared about this place! I found candles placed on several gravemarkers, which was really cool. Nearby, I saw a large hole had been dug between two of the gravemarkers. I thought this was odd, but continued taking pictures and exploring. I can be so slow on the uptake sometimes. 😉 I found some pretty flowers and an interesting clump of fallen branches. But, that weird hole remained on my mind, so I made my way back to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I read the numbers on the graves at either side of the hole: 665 and 667. Oh FUCK. I had finally realized it. Gravemarker 666 had been dug up and stolen. I couldn’t believe it. Who would do such a horrendous thing? That is beyond disrespectful and so very wrong. Then I thought about the significance of the number 666. From what I know, that’s the number of the devil. I’m not religious at all, but that’s fucking scary. I just stood there in horror. The person who cleared off the graves had only done so to find one to steal. So disgusting. It ruined my whole visit. I can’t say that I stayed much longer after this discovery. I was really freaked out and upset. My hope is that someone left the white candles on the surrounding graves to cleanse the area and make peace with the disturbed spirits. Perhaps they made the same discovery as me and tried to make it right. If the candles were left there for a sinister reason, then that makes me sick. Vandalizing a grave is pure evil in my book.

There is another old graveyard (William Ganong Cemetery) just down the road that is said to have vandalism problems. Pentagrams have been found painted on some of the tombstones. Supposedly a kettle was found there with bones and feathers inside of it. I would never set foot in that graveyard, but maybe the same people who vandalized this graveyard stole the 666 gravemarker. The graveyards are so close to one another that I don’t think they are coincidences. Regardless, I doubt I will be back to Eloise Graveyard anytime soon. I don’t feel safe there anymore with crazy people stealing gravemarkers. It makes me really sad, because I truly love this place. I like to visit the spirits and show them that someone cares and remembers them. Their stories need to be told and I won’t let them be forgotten. The asylum will always be a part of my life.

Eloise Asylum

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Eloise Asylum is a huge part of my life. As the Asylum Attendant, this is the only home I will ever know. Lately, Eloise has been on my mind a lot. I thought I would share a little history behind the asylum and of course some creepy photos. Eloise began as a poorhouse in 1839 in Westland, Michigan. At first, Eloise had very few residents (only 35 to begin with).  Gradually, the grounds were expanded and more and more people came to live here. By 1868, a separate building was erected to house the insane. This was the start of the asylum. At its height, the Eloise complex sat on 902 acres of land and housed about 10,000 inmates, I mean patients. Forgot for a minute whether this was an asylum or a prison… Eloise was essentially its own self-sustaining city. It was huge and had a schoolhouse, fire/police department, bakery, powerhouse, railroad station, and even an amusement hall. Many of the staff lived on the grounds. There was no need for anyone to leave Eloise for anything, which was great because you wouldn’t want the general public to know what was really going on behind the iron gates. An elaborate tunnel system was constructed under the grounds as well. This made it possible for attendants to transport patients from one building to another. Looks like fun, huh? Overcrowding quickly became a problem at Eloise, but it was fine because some patients just ended up sleeping on the floor. 125 women would have to share 5 toilets. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was used on patients at Eloise starting in the 1950s. I have read that it can help people with severe depression, but knowing that ECT electrically induces seizures in people is unsettling to me. I don’t care how safe people try to make it sound. I’m not buying it. No wonder some of the patients made their own shanks for protection… There was also television therapy. We still use that today to control unruly children and entertain the elderly. Sad, but true. Birthdays were also celebrated in the asylum. The bakery produced cakes for patient’s birthdays, which was a sweet thing to do. An interesting fact that I discovered about Eloise was that a patient pageant was put on in 1936. I don’t know what it involved, but that sure sounds like a strange thing to occur at an asylum. Patients putting on a show… I can’t decide if that’s cute or super messed up. At least Eloise had cool sewer lids. Eloise closed in 1984 and most of the buildings were demolished. A few still remain and they tell a story of pain and despair. I know that not much about mental illness was understood during the asylum era, but I am shocked at the way the mentally ill were treated in the past. Locked wards, leather restraints, spinning chairs, lobotomies…how was this allowed? It was allowed because society didn’t care. As long as the insane (or the bothersome sane people) were removed and out of sight, it didn’t matter what happened to them. These patients suffered alone in silence and I think their story deserves to be told. I won’t let Eloise be forgotten. To lighten the mood, here is an Emilie Autumn performance. I think it’s relevant since I’m discussing a Victorian insane asylum. She’s pretty much responsible for my love of all things asylum-related. Who doesn’t love crazy girls dancing around in corsets and copious amounts of glitter? Good times.

Fear

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Fear is evil. Nothing good ever comes out of being afraid. We know our fears are irrational. Stupid. Restrictive. So why do we let our fears rule the way we live? Because it is the easy way out.

Let’s say you are thinking about getting a new job. The pay is better, it seems like it would be more enjoyable, and you’re ready for a change. This is when fear comes in to mess up all of your plans. Fear is like a tiny devil inside your brain. It wants you to constantly second-guess yourself and remain complacent so that it is in control. You’ll stay at that crap job  because you are comfortable there, it’s easy work, and you secretly enjoy complaining about it all the time. In your mind, change is too hard and you’re just not willing to face your fears. Fear has won.

We often fear the unknown. What will I do once I graduate from college? How will people react to my change in appearance? Will I be alone forever? We are too afraid to learn the answers to these questions so we do nothing. And our anxiety goes away, which just reinforces fear and helps it to grow stronger. Fear can be very powerful, but we can always overcome it if we choose to.

I know I still have fears. I’m afraid of failure, social interactions, and insects, just to name a few. But, I generally try to not let fear control my existence. Whenever I get scared, I try to figure out why I feel that way. Can I justify the fear? Or is it something that I can overcome? Most likely I can overcome it. And when you push past fear, you can do anything.

I used to be really afraid of what other people thought of me. I wanted everyone to like me and I stayed away from doing things that society might disapprove of. Potential negative reactions and hate from the outside world kept me in a comfortable little bubble. Life was easy in the bubble, but it wasn’t fun. So, I started to poke holes in the bubble by facing my fears.

Changing my appearance was a big fear I had to face. I don’t want to look like a normal male. I love makeup, long hair, and feminine clothing. I worried about how people would react to me if they saw how feminine I looked. What if I was shunned by society? Would some people react violently to what they saw? I didn’t want to be rejected, but of course I wanted to be happy. So, I gradually started wearing more and more makeup and dressed the way I wanted. Yeah, I got some negative reactions from people, but others really supported my new look and liked it.

I have come to realize that my fears are stupid and should just be ignored. I don’t want to hold anything back in this life. I want to do what I love, look how I feel, love who I want to love, and experience everything that I possibly can. In 100 years, no one will remember any of us. So why not just have fun with life, make some mistakes, and learn many great lessons along the way.

Don’t let fear win. It’s the absolute death of creativity, fun, and love. That’s why I stomp the fuck out of fear with my 7 inch platform boots. It works every time. Demonia boots are useful in so many ways.

Peace.