Q: "How did you get started?"
A: I was taking a photography class in college and the assignment was to shoot a "still life." I guess I took my teacher a tad too literally.
Q: "What is the correct protocol for shooting pix at gravesides?"
A: There's really no formal protocol for photographing graveyards, but I always try to show respect for the living mourners and the buried deceased. It might seem superstitious, but I never walk or dance on a grave. If someone is at a graveside, I always give them their space and wait until they leave before I shoot any photos. I've only picnicked once at a grave site (at Graceland in Chicago....I couldn't resist...there's a nice island where the Burnhams are buried). I know people who have had sex in a cemetery (quite a reaffirming statement on life), but I think it's rude (besides, the monuments are usually hard and cold).
Q: "In your top ten cemeteries list, you call Forest Lawn "the horizontal Hollywood Squares," who is buried there?"
A: Forest Lawn is JAMMED with celebrities. Pick up the book "Dead Ends" by David Cross & Robert Bent AND/OR "This is Hollywood" by Ken Schessler (this book can be bought in LA at many of the souvenir shops). Both books have extensive info on who's buried where and the Schessler book has helpful diagrams to help you locate the tombs (it's a great book....one of my all-time fave raves!).
Just a few of the celebs buried at Forest Lawn include Sammy Davis Jr., Walt Disney, Errol Flynn, Carole Lombard, Clark Gable, and Jean Harlow (a grave that's VERY DIFFICULT to visit.....I consider it the "The Holy Grail" of celeb grave sites!). Most of the more famous stars are in The Great Mausoleum (which is incredibly big with several floors of remains!). Forest Lawn is quite an adventure for anyone interested in seeking out the final resting places of the stars!
Q: Was it Joe who purchased the crypt next to Marilyn?
A: DiMaggio does not have the crypt next to Marilyn Monroe. He was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California (just south of San Francisco). Marilyn is surrounded by unrelated people....Bruce Fred Fischer is in the crypt to her right.....and, the person in the most envious position, is Richard Poncher. Poncher has the crypt above Marilyn's. He has the bragging rights to being "on top" of Marilyn for eternity.
Q: Is there any truth to the rumor that Hugh Hefner has a crypt next to Marilyn?
A: Yes, it is true!! I had always heard that this was just a rumor, but a spokesperson from Playboy has confirmed it. According to Bill Farley, Director of Communications for Playboy, Hugh Hefner as secured the crypt next to Marilyn.
"There are several reasons for this decision," says Mr. Farley. "For one thing, the Westwood cemetery is located just a few blocks from the Playboy Mansion. So, the proximity is nice. Then, Hef never met Marilyn in life. They were never in the same place at the same time, even though she had been featured in the first issue. Finally, there are other people buried in the cemetery that Hef wants to be near....like (jazz drummer) Buddy Rich and Dorothy Stratten (the famous Playboy centerfold, who had been murdered). And, he's also made arrangements for his estranged wife, Kimberley, to be in the same cemetery."
Q: "What is your biggest pet peeve?"
A: People who misspell "cemetery!" It's amazing! Every second Email I receive has this word misspelled. With easy access to "spellcheck" these days, it's mind-boggling to see people spelling it "cemetary." Just remember, three E's."
Q: "How do you want to die?"
A: Peacefully, in my sleep...while I'm dreaming.
I want to be cremated, as I don't wish to take up any room. My ashes are to be thrown secretly into Lake Michigan, off of Navy Pier. I believe it's illegal to throw human remains into the water....but, I always enjoyed breaking the rules.
Q: "What scares you?"
A: The NRA, right-wing religious zealots who feel their way is the ONLY way, and Paulie Shore movies.
Q: What is your favorite cemetery-related party game?
A: Good question! "Wake the Dead," which was played at the end of "The Addams Family" (1991) movie. Grab a shovel and play along!
Q: Have you ever felt a strange "presence" while you were in a graveyard?
I often feel "cold pockets" around burial grounds and wonder if spirits are present. The only time though that I felt very uncomfortable about a "presence" was at the site of Nicole Simpson's murder (and Ron Goldman, of course)...I was in L.A. during the OJ Trial and happened to be at her condo while there was testimony about the murders taking place (I recall hearing the gory details on our car radio as we drove up to the residence). I got out of my car and walked up to the gate to take a picture of the front stoop where she was murdered and I have to admit I had a very sudden ill-feeling overwhelm me. I backed away quickly and left the area.