Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Last week I gave you three hints to this week's haunted place -- Johanna, Walling, and "Anniversary Waltz."  Can you guess it?  Oh, wait.  It's in the post title.  It's Bobby Mackey's Music World, known by some as "The Most Haunted Nightclub in the USA".

The men's room, where a patron was
attacked by an evil (and evidently perverted) ghost
 Country singer Bobby Mackey purchased the roadhouse in 1978 and turned it into his own nightclub, with live music, lots of drinking, and later the requisite mechanical bull (which my father took great pride in telling me he once rode).  Ghostly encounters began almost immediately, with Bobby's wife Janet being an early victim of an unknown presence who, among other things, pushed the pregnant woman down a flight of stairs and tried to knock a ladder on top of her.  The other most famous victim was Carl Lawson, the caretaker who lived on the premises.  He was tormented nightly by unseen voices and a jukebox that played "The Anniversary Waltz"...even when unplugged.  The ghosts' behavior escalated to the point that he was supposedly possessed and required the services of an exorcist.  (His story is told in the book Hell's Gate:  Terror at Bobby Mackay's World, a really poorly written, but thorough, account of Carl Lawson's nightmare.)

So, why would a honky tonk be haunted?  There are a number of stories floating around.  The club is located on the former site of a slaughterhouse.  In 1896 a 22-year old pregnant woman named Pearl Bryan was murdered (by decapitation no less).  Scott Jackson and Alonzo Walling were convicted and hanged for the killing.  There are wild stories that the two were actually satanists who murdered Pearl inside the slaughterhouse as a blood sacrifice and dumped her head down a well that sent all the blood and entrails from the cattle into the Licking River.  No actual evidence has ever been dug up to substantiate this story, but that doesn't stop some from saying it's Pearl haunting Bobby Mackey's. 

Another story revolves around a woman named Johanna (also the name of one of Bobby Mackey's hits), who was a dancer at the Latin Quarter Club which operated inside the Bobby Mackey building in the 1930s.  Johanna lost her lover at the hands of her father and in her grief committed suicide on the property.  This story features prominently in the episode of Ghost Adventures filmed at Mackey's in 2008. 

The "portal to hell"
Is the location actually haunted?  There are a number of employees and patrons who will say it is.  I personally have not been there during actual operating hours.  I was inside, though, as part of a Haunted Cincinnati bus tour through Cincinnati Museum Center.  I can't say I experienced any ghostly vibrations, although I did find the place a bit scary.  It smelled strongly of tobacco and beer and the floors looked like they had 30 years of cowboy boot dirt embedded in the linoleum.  Our tour included the basement with its famous "Room of Faces", which features ghostly demonic and human images on the walls, and the aforementioned well.  It is speculated that when the well was uncovered after Bobby Mackey purchased the place, a "portal to hell" was opened which allowed in the evil spirits that went on to possess Carl Lawson.  (I will go on the record saying I don't believe in demonic possession or curses.  My son believes in both and when I try to argue my case against curses he pierces my poor Chicago baseball-loving heart by snarling, "Then how do you explain the Cubs?".)

We took a number of pictures, but admittedly only one showed anything unusual.  Is that an orb in the upper center of the picture?  Or one of many dust particles blown in from the busy highway outside?

The publicity doesn't seem to have done Mackey's any harm.  In fact, he seems to have embraced the ghostly spirits, at least in terms of marketing.  His official web site lists the club's signature drinks of the Poor Pearl, Hell's Gate, Johanna Bomb (with limited edition souvenir cup), and Ghost Punch. 

There's a good page on Mackey's official website with various articles, audio interviews, and video footage here.  The Ghost Adventures wiki has details of the episode here.


Things to Do in Cincinnati - Spring Grove Cemetery

Favorite Haunted Places - Mansfield Reformatory

1 comment:

lillianscupboard said...

Good post on this place.