Show and Hell with Calvin Von Crush

Ahead of his upcoming talk at Paracon 2016, here is an interview with Calvin Crush about his special collection and if ouija boards are really the portal to hell
Sarah Chumacero
17th March 2016.
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General, Interviews.
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Paracon Australia will be held in just a short couple of months time. After attending last year I can’t stress enough to anyone interested in the paranormal how great this event is. You get to meet all sorts of people interested in different topics of the paranormal and you also get to hear the best in business deliver their take on things. One of the international acts speaking this year is Calvin Von Crush who is presenting his collection of occult objects and bizarre artefacts. Calvin is an award winning tattoo artist out of Berlin, Connecticut in the United States. Aside from tattooing, Calvin’s passion is collecting macabre items from the past. Not only does he collect them, he stores them in his home. Haunted and cursed objects, skeletal remains and freak animals are just some of the things he sleeps amongst at night. Calvin was kind enough to give me some of his time to talk about his very special collection as well as the controversial Ouija Board!

So what we can expect to see from this presentation titled ‘ Show and Hell’?

“I came up with the tongue in cheek name because I wanted it to reflect on the grade school presentation ” Show and Tell ” where kids brought in something from home and talked about it. I never brought a ” normal ” item in. I always brought live lizards or something. So I guess I’m still doing it as an adult with the aid of airplanes instead of school busses. I get a real kick out of it. I’m bringing some items that are very uniquely American. From some of our weirdest reaching places. Items associated with crytozoology, curses, hauntings, and even communication with Angels. I can’t say too much though. I want to keep some mystery to it. I’ve run the item list by Alex and he thinks attendees will dig it, but he’s promised not to tell either. I think that’s part of the draw of the paranormal anyways. The mystery and intrigue.”

How did you venture into the world of the paranormal and how did you come about starting to collect obscure items?

“I’ve been a fan of the paranormal since I was a kid. It’s always been part of my life. I grew up hearing stories that my grand mother was a witch and how Ouija boards relayed messages from the dead that came true. It scared me but excited me at the same time. I guess horror movies and TV just amplified it. So as an adult I still had tons of questions about these phenomena and I wanted to play with fire so to speak. I wanted to give the paranormal every opportunity to present it self. I would do everything I could to make my home haunted. The experts always worn against that after all. I’d make it so my walls would bleed or chains rattled at night. So I filled my house with item after item connected to the occult and supernatural.”

Out of all of the items in your collection, do you have a favourite item?

“This is such a hard question to answer. I get asked all the time and no one item stands out. It sounds materialistic but being surrounded by all these fascinating things feels like home to me. I always had this sense of wonderment when I stepped into museums. Still do. And I feel like that when I walk around my home. The collection itself is a thriving creature that I get to feed with each new piece. I literally watch TV sitting on a couch nestled between the antique skeleton of a murdered Parisian prostitute named Monoque and an aquarium with a live two headed turtle. That’s my favorite place to be I guess. Right in the middle of it all.”

Have you come across that one object yet that you believe is really haunted?

“Not a single one. No piece has ever lived up to it’s intended purpose, devilish design, or terrifying tale. The search continues. In fact if anyone in Australia wants to try and change my mind and swears they have something that will provide positive proof in the paranormal I’d love to take it back home with me.”

On top of all of the above, Calvin is also one of the directors of the Talking Board Historical Society which aims at preserving the history behind Ouija boards and spirit communication devices from that era. After the talks are done on the first day of Paracon, there is a very special after dark event co-hosted by Cavin specifically aimed at Ouija boards and other traditional styles of spirit communication. It will be a hands on presentation where you can have the opportunity to use the Ouija board and discuss the theories on how it works and experience the ‘phenomena’ yourself…… if you dare! We all love to hate Ouija boards. Some believe they are a toy, whilst others believe they can open up a portal of trouble and should not be used. I must admit in the past I was hesitant to touch one due to the over hyped and elaborate stories I had heard of demonic possessions and apparent deaths caused by ‘Ouija Boards’. I have since used one and I am pleased to report that the worst thing that happened to me was that I got sore wrists from holding the planchet for so long.

Image by Sarah Chumacero Living Life In Full Spectrum

Image by Sarah Chumacero Living Life In Full Spectrum

How did the Talking Board Historical Society Come together and what is it all about?

“It’s really the brain child of the worlds foremost expert on Ouija and talking boards, Bob Murch. He literally has so much passion he had to gather up a group of collectors he met through the years and let us absorb some of his over flow so he doesn’t explode. So far it’s working. We are constantly uncovering new information on the inventors and innovators behind these devices. We held the worlds first talking board convention which was a huge success. We dedicated a landmark plaque in a convenience store that stands in the building where Ouija was named. Soon we will be installing a proper memorial on the grave of Helen Peters Nosworthy, the woman who named the board. We are also focused on the future as much as the past. Educating people on just how fascinating these boards are and helping to remove that sense of villainy they’ve been wrongly awarded thanks to pop culture and very real science and history. We are passionate about boards and hope we can cement their iconography further.”

What are you thoughts on the stigma around ouija boards being evil and something not to be messed with?

“I LOVE that people are terrified of Ouija boards. I really do. In the age of virtual reality and big budget video games, seeing that human imagination is still strong enough to work on 126 year old technology is refreshing. Imagination might be too harsh of a word though. Because Ouija boards do work. It’s its own tangible evidence. But when I say ” work “, I mean seemingly move of their own accord. The human body and mind are the catalyst, nothing paranormal though. By educating the science behind it all, I feel like I’m bringing people in on the joke. Letting them see behind the curtain where Oz is hiding. I want the legend to live on but I don’t like seeing people scared either. It’s a hard position to be in at times. Bottom line is it’s a game. The danger lies in the belief of the user.”

How much do you think the power of suggestion comes into play in the world of paranormal?

Nothing in life especially the paranormal is black or white. It’s never one solid reason ” why ” that we can answer. I think people experience or at least say they experience the paranormal for a number of reasons. I think wanting to believe is probably the most common core. Once the heart is set on something the mind usually gets brought along for the ride. And that is when suggestion can really gum up the cognitive gears. Whether it’s an outside influence or an internal struggle that creates the suggestion can be the deeper question here. I want to believe too but I expect results. The burden of proof lies upon the person making the claim. Not the person hearing the story. I was once told by a woman who believed she was a medium, that I don’t experience the paranormal because I have an army of angels looking out for me in heaven. Well they’re really clipping their own wings when it comes to making an atheist see the light because a spook or specter might go a long way in bringing a wayward lamb back in to the flock.”

Finally as a self described skeptic, what is it that you are looking for in the paranormal?

It is true I’m a skeptic, I will never say I believe to try and score a speaking gig or spot on a TV show. I never ever accept any statement about anything as true with out testing the waters myself. Be it food, music, movies or a demon making someone float above their bed. I always need to make my own judgement. But I was a fan of the paranormal from the start. I sincerely doubt I will ever find an item that lives up to it’s reputation. Nor will I ever see a phantom float through a wall. But I know I have zero chance just sitting on the couch with bare white walls. No one likes an armchair commentator on any subject and I feel that going out to the allegedly haunted locations and grabbing relics from our days of paranormal past, give me more support to my stance than someone who won’t get their hands dirty. By getting involved I’m speaking from a point of experience not speculation. The deeper I delve the less I believe. I see that human nature is behind everything. I think Dana Scully on X-files recently summed up how I feel about the paranormal with something she said. ” I believe you believe “. I don’t think everyone is just telling me stories they made up. These folks who touch ghosts, talk to angels, or saw big foot , all are telling me truthfully what they perceive as reality. So I guess I’m looking for the concrete truth. The evidence that can be real to everyone not just the beholder. Along the way I’ve found some amazing friends, incredible experiences, and countless opportunities I wouldn’t have had collecting baseball cards. So even without the proof I’m finding plenty to keep me coming around.”

Massive thanks to Calvin for giving me the time to pick his brain and also a big thanks to Alex from Paracon Australia as well. Sleep tight!

Want to see more and meet the man himself? All you have to do is get yourself up (or down depending where you are) to Paracon Australia held in the Blue Mountains in NSW. Tickets are now on sale but selling fast.

Visit www.paraconaustralia.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

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