Phew. Memphis Zombie Massacre 2010 is in the books. We pulled it off again, and I think it went incredibly well. This time our numbers shot up and my own conservative estimate is about 500 people came out to participate. The number of people who came out to watch the insane processional had to be in the hundreds as well. I talked to a few onlookers, including a couple who’d gotten to Club 152 hours early to secure a spot on the patio, since they’d heard something interesting was going to be going down there. I hope they got a good show from where they were sitting. Our little “Thriller” performance was enticing enough that some bystanders jumped in and joined, which is so awesome it makes me grin. They knew the moves and it looked fantastic. (If you got video of the dancing, please please share it. I don’t have a clip of the whole thing and I am dying to see it from start to finish.)
The MZM team busted ass this year to promote the event. We’ve been trying to get the word out since February or so, using Facebook and Twitter mostly. (MySpace, as much as I would love to be contrarian and defend it, was mostly fucking worthless this year. The first couple of years, it completely drove our promotional attempts. I have no doubt that MySpace is largely responsible for the existence of the Memphis zombie walk, considering it was basically the primary way we spread the word in 2007. In other words, I spammed the hell out of people’s walls until enough people paid attention in 2007 and 2008. Yes, that was me. Sorry. But this year? MySpace was a complete afterthought. For whatever reason, our MS event page was spontaneously deleted some time in April, which really pissed me off. And we have been getting nothing but spam comments and messages for months. Karma, maybe. But these messages aren’t useful like our spam was. Ahem.) I sent PDFs of our handbills and flyers to anyone who wanted to download and distribute them, which I’m betting also helped. I asked some volunteers to get zombified and hand out flyers at MusicFest, but I have no idea if that actually happened (I had to work).
We got a pretty cool break from Edith at Fox13, who asked us to come be on Good Morning Memphis the day of the walk. I got off at midnightish that morning, slept a few hours, and then stumbled down to the studio at 9, only to see that Patrick and Duane, my makeup gurus, were already hard at work gorying up two very generous volunteers. I was nervous as hell (I am not a TV-ready kind of person, which you can tell because I got pretty rambly a couple of times) so Edith very kindly let me take a peek at the questions they were going to ask me so I could at least get a sense of what to talk about. I think it went well, and I’m glad Patrick agreed to be on camera at the last minute so I wouldn’t have to talk about makeup. (Video is here!)
The walk itself went pretty smoothly. Our pre-walk staging in that MATA lot down by the farmer’s market seemed to work just perfectly. Lots of parking space and plenty of green grass to soak up the makeup detritus. Having people hang out down there for a while put some relief on the congested Ernestine & Hazel’s corner.
A couple of hours prior to the start time, Kerry and I roamed around Beale and South Main, putting up directional posters. Until about 5:30, the crowd looked pretty sparse. We both got kinda nervous about that. But then it just exploded between 6 and 6:30. Like she says in her post, it was absolutely teeming. I couldn’t believe it. Before I could actually get up to the front of the horde and hold them up so our makeup crew could clean up and join us, someone had started the crowd in motion. That made the control freak in me twitch a little (but how stupid to think a mass of zombies can really be controlled). But it was hardly a big deal; Duane and Patrick caught up to us in no time and left our staging area beautifully clean. They are professionals.
On my list of things to get for next year: A velvet rope for the start so that we can make sure we’re ready to go before we go. A bullhorn (still don’t have my own). And the phone number of the guy on the Segway. (If you are reading this, please contact me!)
The variety and creativity of the zombies who came out absolutely floored me. It does every year. That’s without question my favorite part of the event. We had the Left4Dead crew running around, Adventure Time zombies, zombie Waldo, zombie Lady Gaga, World War II zombies, shopping zombies, zombie nurses, zombie brides, Disney tourist zombies, Wii injury zombies, sock-hop zombies, a Furby zombie, a Drank zombie, a viking child zombie … I could go on indefinitely.
On the agenda for next year: I think it’s time to evolve into a charity event. Now that we’ve got a pretty solid fan base, it’s time to see if we can use our numbers and our creativity to improve the community. Lots of cities’ zombie walks are food drives, so we’re definitely looking into that possibility. But we’re open to other suggestions as well.
Also on next year’s agenda: Get my ass in shape. I was dragging and my photos and general good time suffered for it. Year one, I was hopping around and running from the back to the front to the back again with relative ease. This year the extra pounds and the lack of endurance had me in a bad place. I’m glad other photographers were out there to pick up my slack. Yeesh.
Anyway, bonus: I got to meet (and have an incredibly awkward-faced photo taken with) Dr. Harold Toboggans, a Memphis institution. Once again he tried valiantly to appeal to the horde’s sense of reason, but I’m not sure he made much of an impact with them. Zombies are, if anything, quite stubborn.
Big big thanks to all the volunteers and everyone who helped get the word out about the walk. Big thanks to everyone who came out to support it, especially my pals who made it out. There is no way this event would continue to grow without everyone’s help, and for that I am quite amazed and grateful.
At the risk of forgetting someone (I am almost positive I will, and if I do, please know that I don’t mean to, but I am scatterbrained and will beat myself up for three years after I realize my mistake), I have to thank some people by name.
Thanks to Patrick French and Duane Craig for their total generosity with their makeup magic. Thanks to Kerry Vaughan for getting and hanging those badass posters. Thanks to Christin Reeder and her crew for orchestrating the “Thriller: dance-off in front of Club 152. Thanks to Shane McDermott for his awesome 2010 flyer art. Thanks to Jamie Sanford for all his fantastic zombie artwork, which adorns our various social media userpics. And thanks to Leah Wells for this cool writeup on Smart City Memphis. Thanks to you and you and you, and you especially.
Ladies and gentlemen, I tip my hat to you all. Let’s do it again.
Related reading and viewing:
Bait and Switch
Video from The Flyer
The Flickr group
The CA‘s Party Line: Video and story
My Flickr set