Friday, August 9, 2013

Bobby Mackey's Music World - America's Most Haunted Night Club

Bobby Mackey's Music World - America's Most Haunted Night Club
About 10 minutes outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, in Wilder, Kentucky, there is a small brick building that lingers by the roadside like a stray animal. From the side, the two story building, with white wash façade, looks like a glorified prison and the barred metal doors and windows add to the ominous ambience of this notorious location. The most notable feature on the outside is the name, “Bobby Mackey’s” and it’s known as America’s most haunted night club.

Entering the front door, you will find a hand written warning posted in the window that reads, “WARNING TO OUR PATRONS, This establishment of [proported] to be haunted. Management is NOT responsible and [can not] be held liable for any actions of the ghosts/spirits on the premises”. Anyone who enters here should be on their guard and for good reason. This night club of nightmares has been stirring up ghost stories for over a hundred years.  

The location was originally a slaughterhouse, used until 1890. The well, now located in the basement of the establishment was used to drain the blood of livestock being butchered. Allegedly, after the slaughterhouse was closed, ritualistic cults dumped dismembered animals here and rumor has it, a human sacrifice or two. A farm girl from Greencastle, Indiana, named Pearl Bryan, was a young woman in love with an aspiring dentist named Scott Jackson. Pearl became pregnant in the winter of 1895, and Scott convinced her to move to Cincinnati, Ohio to have an abortion. He left Pearl in the care of his roommate, Alonzo Walling. Scott would later testify in the murder of Pearl Bryan, that he believed Alonzo murdered her in cold blood. Walling also testified on his own behalf that Scott Jackson had told him of his plan to lure Pearl to Cincinnati, poison her and dismember her body which, despite the identity of the killer, did happen. Pearl Bryan’s decapitated corpse was found on a farm near Ft. Thomas on February 1, 1896. Rumors associated with her spirit at Bobby Mackey’s are that her head was tossed into the well from the former slaughter house.

During the prohibition era of the 1930’s, the establishment was purchased by E.A. “Buck” Brady, and turned into a small bar called the Bluegrass Inn, he later changed the name to the Primrose. Mob activity was prevalent in the area during that time and Kingpins like George Remus, famous for his connections to after hour’s facilities and illegal gambling operations in “Little Mexico” (the Cincinnati and Newport areas), targeted smaller clubs like the one owned by Buck Brady. Remus’s organization, known as the “Cleveland Syndicate”, paid off federal officers and local police to avoid raids and prosecution. Buck was approached by a representative of the Syndicate named Red Masterson. He offered Buck the same deal he did everyone who owned a nightclub establishment in the area, pay up or burn it down. Buck took the matter into his own hands and waited for Masterson outside the Merchants Club casino on August 5, 1946. Masterson got in his car and Buck caught up to him a block later. Buck Brady fired several rounds into Masterson’s Cadillac that caused both vehicles to wreck and Buck left the scene. Masterson survived the shooting and later the Syndicate made good on their promise and set fire to the Primrose. Once the Syndicate took over the club in 1947, it was named the Latin Quarter and operated as a casino, nightclub and brothel.

The Latin Quarter was now under new ownership and a vaguely historical but well documented turn of events would curse the Syndicates proverbial ownership of the establishment. The daughter of the new owner was a club dancer named Johanna. She fell in love with a musician named Robert Randal who performed at the club. Johanna’s father ordered her to stay away from Robert but Johanna refused and her father had Robert Murdered. In a saddened state of grief, Johanna took her own life at the club in a small room above the stage. Just before she ingested a lethal dose of arsenic, she wrote on poem on the wall that is still visible today.

Subsequently the Latin Quarter was shut down by 1968 and the building sat empty but was periodically used to store records at one point and was also opened as Hard Rock Café (non-official business) for a short time. One of America’s deadliest nightclub fires occurred in Southgate, Kentucky on May 28, 1977, killing 165 people at the Beverly Hills Supper Club. Bodies were stored in the basement of the old Latin Quarter as a makeshift morgue.

In 1976 Bobby Mackey bought the establishment and started renovations on the building, turning it into a successful honky-tonk. During that time, Bobby hired a handy man, Carl Lawson. Carl had grown up in the area and was familiar with the ghostly tales that the place was haunted. He lived in the upstairs apartment of the club and was a sensitive and timid man when he wasn’t drinking. Carl had a few skeletons in his closet and his drinking habits could definitely bring out the devil in him. He had frequent run-ins with the spirit of Johanna and reportedly conversed with her on a regular basis. He is also responsible for finding the covered well in the basement. Shortly after prying it open, the spirits he allegedly saw on a regular basis at Bobby Mackey’s became a full fledge obsession and he was presumably “possessed” by an evil spirit named “Charlie”. Charlie was the brother of a famous mobster from the prohibition era. During this time Carl also started speaking languages like Italian and German, which is had no formal education in. He was often banned from the club for drunkenness but his obsession drove him to believe he was the reincarnated spirit of Buck Brady. Carl Lawson received an exorcism at Bobby Mackey’s in 1991, but this wasn’t the end of the spiritual activity that was building at the local haunt spot.

Wanda Kay, the official tour guide at Bobby Mackey’s, started working there as a D.J. almost 10 years ago. Since then she has put in a gift shop and has written her own book on the paranormal history of Bobby Mackey’s, “Wicked They Walk”. Wanda knew Carl Lawson for many years before his death in 2012 and stated she has had numerous experiences at the club and believes that anywhere from 30 to 40 spirits may be present at the location. Paranormal investigators from all over the country turn up new and intriguing evidence of the spirits and Wanda believes that the spirits encountered by Carl Lawson are, in fact, still there. The decapitated spirit of poor Pearl Bryan and the murderous duo of Scott Jackson and Alonzo Walling are part of the paranormal landscape here as well as the lovely spirit of Johanna, Buck and “Grumpy George”. Wanda spends 265 days a year at Bobby Mackey’s involved in some sort of ghost tour or paranormal investigation.

Other part time workers, like Duke Lucas say that Bobby Mackey’s is so haunted that he would “testify in court that this place is haunted”. Duke has had a number of experiences including chairs moving and has witnessed a flash light turn off during an investigation when the question was asked if the spirit of Johanna was present. Other people like, Dewayne, who politely showed me to the basement, when Mrs. Kay was not willing to go, expressed to me that he believes he has captured the image of a spirit that hides in the basement.

I eagerly drove 10 hours, from South East Alabama, to conduct this interview with Wanda Kay. I’d heard about the reports of supernatural activity at Bobby Mackey’s long before the days of it being aired on those familiar ghost hunting shows, but what I didn’t expect was to have something similar happen to me while I was there. Once Dewayne opened the basement door, I could smell the damp soil, like that of a fresh grave, it literally smoldered my nostrils. My eyes took a few seconds to adjust to the darkness. Dewayne pointed me in the direction of the well - the “Portal to Hell” as it’s frequently referred too. I looked it over and suddenly the crashing sound of glass jolted me as I jerked in the direction of the sound. Dewayne laughed and informed me that there was a bottle shoot from the bar. Glass bottle were sent down the shoot and into big garbage cans and collected in the basement for recycling.

As I laughed back at myself for getting spooked over something so silly, I took a few photos and suddenly felt the overwhelming urge that something was with us. It’s hard to explain, even as a paranormal enthusiast and investigator of over 20 years, I’ve never felt anything so prominent. The impulse to leave was so substantial; it took me a few seconds to subconsciously talk myself into not hauling ass out of there. I maintained my composure fairly well and stood my ground for a few more minutes. Once Dewayne made the effort to head for the door, so did I, without hesitation. I wanted to turn around and give once last glance to the basement, after all this was an exclusive interview I drove a long way to get. I wanted to take advantage of every minute I had. I glanced back over my shoulder and as if the dark had suddenly consumed my vision, even with the light of the open doorway, I could see nothing. There was no amount of light being retained in the room at all. Then suddenly, as if a curtain had been lifted, I could see the room. Dewayne asked me if everything was ok and I said, “Yea, but I think I just saw……no, never mind”.

I left right after that, driving into Cincinnati for dinner at the oldest restaurant in the city and wondering if by chance I had encountered a spirit in that basement. I’ve seen many unusual things in my travels to haunted places all over the country, but this wasn’t your typical spirit. It was a deep, emotionless, cloud of darkness. Some may label this experience as demonic or inhuman. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was evil or malevolent, but perhaps a combination of energies combined into one source, trapped in that hollow basement, waiting to be let out.

Wanda Kay was reluctant to go in that basement at all. She understands that the spirits at Bobby Mackey’s are capable of showing their presence at any time they want, but she has warned patrons and ghost hunters alike, that they do not take kindly to people who seek to provoke and taunt them. More reports of oppression and possession are happening according to Wanda and she continues to advocate for those resident spirits. No taunting the ghosts at Bobby Mackey’s Music World or you may be the next to be rendered a soulless vessel of darkness and void.

Wanda Kay - official Tour Guide of Bobby Mackey's Music World in Wilder, Kentucky & Faith Serafin - Official Tour Guide of the Sea Ghosts Tour at the National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, Georgia

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