As part of this blog’s Halloween celebration, a look at the Transmat House Of Horrors starring Derrick “Ghostly” May…

Should you be in the American city of Detroit this weekend, you may well indeed be looking for something to do to get you in the mood for trick or treating tonight.  Well, this blog knows of a fine place for precisely this purpose. Sadly, access is very restricted – for example, I probably wouldn’t be allowed in, but a source has helped me put together this guide as to what to expect.

The address is 1494 Gratiot Avenue and the destination is Transmat Records HQ – there’s usually an art gallery downstairs, but the upstairs of the building has been updated with scary new attractions for Halloween. When you first arrive in the venue, you will notice there is smoke everywhere. And I mean absolutely everywhere.

Legend has it this is a mysterious smoke which forms because it is allegedly where Detroit techno was born. In reality, it comes from the endless supply of cigars the person who frequents the building smokes each day – but don’t tell that to the tourists who’ve travelled a long way!

You might also notice the house is filled with stolen goods. Many of these were acquired in the 1980s through a credit card scam.  Also included is the machine which he once claimed to have sold to Frankie Knuckles for $1000 – although before you have an opportunity to ask any questions, you’re immediately whooshed away on the next part of the tour.

At which point we arrive in a room filled with lifesize statues of Carl “Cackling” Craig, Juan “Jittery” Atkins, Kevin “Scary” Saunderson and, of course, the star of the show designed to make you shriek, Derrick “Ghostly” – or should that be “Ghastly”? Both work – May.

The next room has a large picture of Derrick “Ghostly” May and Juan “Jittery” Atkins dressed as witches, stirring a large cauldron. Inside it are the heads of Thomas “Terrifying” Barnett, Blake “Bloody” Baxter, Rik “Ruthless” Davis and Michael “Malevolent” James. Ghastly – sorry, I mean Ghostly, keeps stirring this pot frenetically in the hope all their questions about the origins of Detroit techno go away.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard Ghostly and his gormless accomplice Juan “Jittery” Atkins stir the pot, they refuse to disappear into the cauldron. This results in Ghostly and Jittery occasionally losing their minds – whilst Kevin “Scary” Saunderson pretends he’s not paying attention.

Deep in the house amidst the cigar smoke, another sight makes itself present – the infamous painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat which Derrick “Ghostly” May continues to claim he owns. And the haunting sight follows of a man who plays the piano – yet all that emerges from the instrument is a deafening, eerie silence.

The next room shows an even more bizarre scenario. Visitors are invited to take photographs of themselves on dodgy Polaroid cameras with the so-called originators of techno. Yes, you can have your photo taken with Derrick “Ghostly” May and Juan “Jittery” Atkins – but what the average person does not know is when you look at the photo afterwards, they don’t appear in the photo. Draw your own conclusions as to why…

The scary tour of the house ends with a meeting with Derrick “Ghostly” May himself, dressed as his least favourite thing in the world – a clown! Such is his dedication to swindling the public that he’ll dress up as something he absolutely detests.

After that, visitors have an opportunity to purchase souvenirs from the gift shop. Gifts include rocks – the sweet sort, not what you’re thinking, Duane! – and various bits of unsold vinyl from the glory days of Transmat. These include old Dr Motte records which “Ghostly” May never bothered signing contracts for – and can be wrapped up and put in a pretty bow by a lady called Patricia.

Who’s adamant she only works in the gift shop and has never had anything to do with Transmat in the past, ever. It’s at this point the tour ends – and you leave with a mixture of disappointment and a desperate urge to go home and get the smell of all those cigars out of your clothes…

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