Jim Ghost (music historian): To understand “Monster Mash,” you first have to understand the whole vibe at The Lab. It was a crash pad for up-and-coming creepniks as much as it was a nightclub. I’m not sure how that place stayed in business. Zombie hipsters, or “Zipsters,” as they were called, didn’t have money to spend on booze and french fries.
Wolfman (eyewitness): There was a whole crew hanging out there at the time. Dracula and I had been regulars for years. Igor ran the joint. Boris waited tables or something, but mostly we just knew him as the weird kid with an accent sitting in the corner working on his poetry. The Monster, though, he was the new guy, having just been reanimated a few weeks before the night in question.
Igor (Owner, The Lab): The Lab was like a Studio 54 for ghouls and goblins, before we could be open about who we are. We were always coming up with new dances: The Funky Mummy. The Skankenstein. The Cemetery Shuffle. So much of what’s now mainstream Halloween culture was born—and appropriated—from that place.
Jim Ghost: The house band at The Lab was actually Jack & The O’Lanterns. They’d had a few hits on local radio and could pack a dance floor. Now, The Crypt-Kicker Five he shouts out in the song? They did that one show at The Lab and got booed off stage (except by the ghosts—we yell “you stink” when we don’t like something). They were too embarrassed to ever play there again.
Igor: Boris fancied himself a songwriter and claimed to be composing lyrics for the Crypt-Kickers. I only gave them the gig because he worked for me. Look, that’s show business. But they were never heard from again. Jack & The O’Lanterns, on the other hand? After a few personnel changes, they eventually became Fleetwood Mac.
Dracula (eyewitness): Boris says The Monster started doing the so-called “Mash” first, which is total bullshit, okay? The Monster was built from pieces of Dead Daryl who had been doing a version of the Monster Mash for years. We all called it the Dead Daryl Dance.
Wolfman: What would often happen is we’d be grooving and then some of the witches and warlocks would start a summoning circle and we’d all take turns dancing in the middle, showing off our new moves, just really spooking out to the music, you know?
Dracula: So the band is playing and this kid, The Monster, gets out there and starts doing his thing, really cutting loose. But he’s huge, we’re talking 7’ 11”… 8′ maybe? You couldn’t help but stand back and watch, mostly because you didn’t want to catch a decomposed elbow in your eye. Once we realized his stitches were holding, we all joined in.
The Monster: Look, I’ve never been comfortable taking the credit. The Mash was a collaborative effort, made up of bits and pieces from a lot of different people, much like my body. But that’s not how Boris saw it and that’s not what he wrote into the song. I just remember dancing my little heart out. Like, at one point it actually fell out.
Dracula: And, by the way, the actual dance itself was slower and more lyrical than the song would have you believe. It’s really beautiful… even transcendent when done right.
Wolfman: But, it didn’t catch on “in a flash.” People like to think dance crazes come out of nowhere. I would do a move and then bite someone and then by the next full moon they would have put their own spin on it. That’s how these things spread.
Jim Ghost: Was the song itself “a graveyard smash?” I mean yes, it had the biggest crossover appeal of any Gravecore track. But it’s not indicative of what was popular in the Literally Underground scene at the time. Go back and listen to “Hey There, Mr. Bones,” “The Swamp Creature Stomp,” even Drac’s single, the “Transylvania Twist.”
Dracula: I get asked about the “Transylvania Twist” line in the song all the time. I think I did, at one point, make some comment like “What happened to my dance, the Transylvania Twist?” The backstory there is I had a contract with Capitol Records and that was supposed to be my breakout hit. But the label decided America wasn’t ready for a vampire lead singer and they pulled the plug. Anyway, I said what I said sarcastically. It was an inside joke. But Boris didn’t have that dry sense of humor we all shared. To be honest—and I don’t mean this as a compliment—he sucked.
Wolfman: Boris was a shit poet. He never had much success other than writing the jingle for those “Have You Driven a Ford Lately?” commercials. But to give credit where credit’s due, he was smart enough to see this whole monster dance thing happening and he took the opportunity to capitalize on it.
Editor’s note: Boris died in 2013 and did not respond to multiple seances requesting an interview.
Igor: Like it or not, that song put us on the map. After that, The Lab became all bachelorette parties and this whole fake scene. I made out okay, but none of the gang ever saw a dime from The Monster Mash. Not even The Monster.
The Monster: Honestly, I didn’t care for the Mash song. I was into the folk-rot scene mostly. Bone Baez. Peter, Paul, & Scary. Bob Dylan before he went electrode, stuff like that. I’ve since found Jesus and operate a ropes course for church camp kids. But to this day, I still get people yelling at me “do the mash!” and I’ll give them a lurch or two. I’m at peace with it.