My First Encounter

My Little Story Behind this Phan Page

My first encounter with Erik was at a wax museum known as Castle Dracula at Panama City Beach, Florida. The year was 1976, it was my first trip to a wax museum, and Erik was the first display. When I saw that display, I was mesmerized. He was sitting at his pipe organ, without his mask, quietly playing away. He had a skeletal head with yellow glowing eyes. Recently, I realized that he was one of the only displays in the whole museum that moved. His head looked from side to side as his hands swept across the organ. It made him more "lifelike" from my perception, much more than just a three-dimensional display.

I probably "should" have been at least startled by the "death's head," but I simply was not afraid of his appearance. Part of the reason (besides knowing full well he was only a wax figure) was because of the way he sat there, with a pensive aura about him. He was extremely well-dressed and had an air of gracefulness about him. I felt very drawn to him and wanted to know so much more. I could not stop thinking about him. The spell had been cast!

The funny thing is, I had no idea what a Phantom or what an Opera was at the time. Do Phantoms of the Opera grow hairy and eat people? Do they grow long teeth and try to bite your neck? Do they at least rattle some chains and laugh wickedly? These are questions that kept going through my simple mind. Yes, a silly dumb simple kid I was. (Does a mock, "Oh, wow, he is like... so far out!")

Christine Daaé may have expected something trivial such as smallpox scars, thus her reaction. I, on the other hand, was already a "veteran" of Hollywood gore at the tender age of 8 years. After all, I had already seen films such as "Frogs" and "Sssssss" at the drive-in theatre, not to mention loads of Vincent Price movies on "Scream Theatre" many Saturday nights on TV! (Laughs at self) Anyways, I entered with a "Gimme your best shot" attitude. Instead of a scary monster, however, I saw an elegant musician.

As I traveled through the wax museum, I got my monsters alright. Or should I say, I saw displays of the results of real monsters. Graphic displays of Medieval torture came right after the Phantom. I wanted so badly to go back and look at the mysterious ghostlike figure playing such a soothing, melancholy tune on the pipe organ. (Then again, the graphic blood stuff was just so groovy and far out, too! Bad me, I know.)

Over the next few years, I was able to come across several movies about Erik. Although I enjoyed them, none of them fully satisfied me. Their portrayals did not capture that mood of gothic beauty that I saw at the wax museum that day. The movies could not even agree on the location, Erik's past, or how and why he became the Phantom. It was not until I discovered that the story was based on a novel that I was finally able to get many of my questions answered.

Many of my questions were answered, including the ever-so-famous one concerning his visage. When I read the novel, I was actually quite excited to learn that the wax figure was extremely loyal to Leroux's description. I then became even hungrier for more about this infatuating Erik after reading Leroux's brief biography of him near the end of his novel. When Susan Kay published her novel and I was finally able to read it, I felt like that infatuated 8-year-old all over again.

The next thing I know, my Erik-mania swept over me again. Thus this Fan Page, which hopefully speaks for itself when I say I am just slightly Erik-obsessed.

I recently discovered through the grapevine that Castle Dracula unfortunately burned down in 1987, but the memory remains. The wax figure would probably look "hokey" by today's standards, but it had an impact on me as a kid. I even chose the purple satin for this page, because that was the color of the carpet in the gift shop, where visitors bought tickets. It was also the same room where visitors began and ended their tour. It's a sentimental thing, I suppose.

Ironic. I went expecting a monster, and I got me a lonely, loving Maestro who still has quite a few things to teach me.

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