When head creepy girl Allison asked me to write up a piece of about the recent closing of Morbid Anatomy it felt like another jab at what has left a ‘Death Becomes Her’ sized hole in my life.
I thought about doing a bit of investigative journalism, finding out the who, what, when and why of the closing. I thought about researching the Yelp reviews (for the love of Peter Murphy, what a dreadfully trolling site it is) to see if I could present my own theory. Truth be told, I do have several theories but what good would it do to present them?
Would it bring it back?
Would it magically provide the funds they so desperately needed?
Would it suddenly make Brooklyn-not-so-fuckin-trendy, and make real estate cheaper for those who helped make it the quirky and fantastic place I grew up in?
Of course, it wouldn’t. Stopping gentrification is way beyond this creepy girls ring-clad hands. As much as I like to complain, I love that place and I’m going to miss the hell out of it.
So, instead of doing a bit of Sherlock-style detective work, I feel the need to do something with this piece that is much more appropriate for the space.
I’m going to give it a eulogy.
Dearly beloved, today we remember…
I stumbled upon Morbid Anatomy a number of years ago.
I was never a full-on Goth, and I was never a full-on anime nerd, but interests were ‘strange.’ I was driven by a need to read as much as I could about forgotten histories and art, like post-mortem photography and American sideshows. My bookshelves were a mix of literature ranging from spirit photography to yōkai ; from mourning practices to Houdini.
Despite being in New York, I found it hard to meet folks who would love to have a conversation about the occult. It was difficult to find people to wax long hours chatting about Italian horror flicks. Most didn’t even know who Santa Muerte was. I kept it to myself because I was afraid of being dismissed.
I remember clearly when one of my deadly exes browsed through my Joel-Peter Witkin catalogues and berated me as a deviant because I even owned the book.
The Morbid Anatomy blog made it clear that I wasn’t the only person like this.
Once met, never forgotten…
When they were in the old location on Union Street in Brooklyn, one of the members had helped organize a bus trip. I didn’t know a soul, but I decided I could really use the day trip outside the city; and who doesn’t want to see hundreds of brains in jars? I paid my money and was off to see the Cushing collection. Being terribly socially awkward at the time, I remember keeping to myself and straying away from the group to take some pictures, but not talking to a single person. However, I remember overhearing a conversation behind me about pulsating anime arms, ramen noodles, body farms and forensics and excitedly thinking, “I HAVE to find a way to get into this conversation.”
Anxiety is a hell of a thing and I was unable to find the words. Instead, I fell asleep on my copy of “Storm of Swords” on the way back.
Halfway back to New York Joanna, founder and curator, woke me up to ask about the trip. She asked me if I enjoyed the Cushings Collection. We chatted a bit about books and films and Joanna mentioned my love of all things Japanese. This caught the attention of the pretty red-headed girl that had been talking about and body farms and ramen earlier. The conversation grew to include her friends, a quiet, tattooed French girl with pink hair, a girl that offered brain-shaped cookies and a tall, former Brown University student. Before I knew it, the ride was over and we were back in Brooklyn.
They invited me to join them for ramen and sake and I was over-joyed to finally- FINALLY meet some friends that got me! Not only that, but these folks have become and remain some of the best friends I’ve ever had.
Hell, I befriended Creepy Girl Travel’s founder Allison because of that place and I’ve never even met her! Morbid Anatomy was great for that.
It offered us the creepy kids somewhere to go and not feel judged.
It gave us a place to find like mind people.
It offered a place for people to see and learn about the bizarre, the weird and the eccentric.
It offered a safe space to talk about death.
It gave that confused teenager a place to feel normal.
It offered us a home.
It said, “Hey we get it, we get you, and it’s totally okay…”
Always loving, always loved…
Despite what some of the Yelp reviews said, it wasn’t a hipster hideaway. It forged an amazing community of writers, artists, scholars, eccentrics, Goths, performers, curators, filmmakers, rock-a-billy folks, illustrators, scientists and many more. Where else could you find a taxidermy workshop, a wax museum and a lecture on body horror?
It gave a community of people that didn’t have a name or a place somewhere to be and something to be a part of.
Sure, it wasn’t perfect. I’m sure there are things the staff may have done differently if they could. But, it didn’t have to be perfect, the community it forged wasn’t perfect either, but we accepted each other.
Until we meet again…
I’m hopeful that Morbid Anatomy will open again in another location and/or keep the lectures going in some other local venues. There is simply no other place in all of New York that offered what this place did.
My favorite memory, and the best way I can think to describe how fun Morbid Anatomy could be was a Christmas party back at the old location. I had been helping clean up, and I rounded the corner to find a drunk Santa Claus, Batman, a dominatrix and a burlesque performer discussing British comedy over cheap red wine.
It was just that kind of party that made it feel like home.
Remembered with love, Morbid Anatomy Museum - 2016
Written by CGT Society member J.R. Pepper. Find her on instagram @girlduality