The BOO Hags by Lisa Marie

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I’m Savannah-born, Savannah bred, and one day I’ll be Savannah dead.
– Lisa Marie

This article originally appeared in the Jan-Feb 2018 issue of SOUTH Magazine and has been lovingly edited where needed but have maintained the original vignette flavor.

Savannah is considered one of the most haunted cities in the states, attracting millions of curious and inquisitive folks from all over. Lisa Marie reveals the inside scoop on the blue painted houses seen throughout the city.

Lisa Marie knows the ins and outs of Savannah history. Walking through Columbia Square, she pointed out building after building, all rich with history. “The Kehoe House is haunted by twins. That house over there with the white trim? Its haunted by a cat.” There’s little paranormal activity around here that Lisa doesn’t know about. Pointing out some of the ironwork on historical buildings, she divulges that after The Great Depression, families would steal from their plots in Bonaventure Cemetery and bring the ironwork back into town to decorate and fence their houses. Lisa Marie is so in touch, she can identify where in the cemetery some of the pieces originated.

The quick relaying of facts didn’t stop there. We passed the oldest slave quarters still intact and she shared that Miss Margaret’s place, too, had the mysterious blue paint we see on the outside of houses and on the inside ceilings. So what is it about this blue paint? Ever heard the phrase “Boo Hag” thrown around? Maybe not, but it was once word with real weight.

The neighborhood near Price Street that was once an Irish ghetto still has a prime example of just what the phrase Boo Hag meant. At the end of The Civil War, the Gullah people would knock on every door in the area. They would come up to the door and they would say, “You got a lot of sick people in there? I bet you’re having some bad dreams? Have you been losing a lot of people? Sounds like you got a Boo Hag.”

A Boo Hag is an evil spirit that comes out of a voodoo doll that hangs on your back. The legend goes that if you have a Boo Hag, at night, it picks your skin and hangs it up in your closet while you sleep. Taking your muscle body out into the city, it collects all of the evil and bad luck and brings it back before slipping back into your skin in the morning. This was considered to be the cause for lack of work, sickness and death. Of course the people were afraid, so the Gullah people would sell the cure. First, to rid yourself of the spirit and if you see skin in your closet, sprinkle salt on it. When the Boo Hag slips on your skin, the salt will make the spirit itch and burn. Second, to get the spirit out of the house, you need a broomstick. Once the spirit jumps out of the victim, it’ll attach to the broom and you can sweep it but in the morning when you’re sweeping away the dust. But still, the Boo Hag can always come back into your house, right? You need this special paint to keep the evil away. This sounds expensive, but can you put a price on your family’s life? On your own future? These people couldn’t. They Gullah people made paint out of cemetery dirt, indigo, and, what Lisa Marie says, “a sacrificed cat,” which most likely means the bones considering the Gullah people’s ties to voodoo practices. This paint was called the “haint blue” paint because it kept the haints away. A “haint” was another name for an evil spirit. The Gullah people walked with away with extremely full pockets after every house they stopped to offer their services.

Lisa Marie is a highly rated storyteller at Shannon Scott Tours/Bonaventure Cemetery Journeys and gives both public tours and private tours. Lisa is an immensely talented portrait artist, writer and has worked as a fashion model and actress (X-MEN: FIrst Class) 

To Dance For A Vampyre (Feat. Shannon Scott)

WARNING: Contains Adult Subjects, Some Profanity & Sexual Situations)

In 2005 I was invited to read for film about vampyres. I didn’t care much about them or for them, but the film paid, had some talented people involved, and after a test kiss with my female co-star, Tara Rinko who had stunning eyes, I was in for the 12 weeks of shooting. It also conincided strangely with my own time spent with a vampyre house, which was more like a group of tragically deluded children. I’ll write about them at a later date as they were a true, sanguine, or blood drinking house (I did not participate). The film became a strange allegory for my own life and sorting out its demons. I was always a person tortured by lusts and passions and it was only until shooting the film that I realized this was the crux of the vampyre personality and all the more reason it was in my life as a project. I was confronting my own darknesses and torments. We filmed this in an unoccupied house in downtown Savannah, a strip club called The Gold Club, along with Bonaventure Cemetery. My life ran a regular pattern for those 12 weeks. I would film the vampyre film all day, doing one or two ghost tours, then go back to the set to do more filming. It was like while confronting my own demons, while making art, I was becoming even more like a vampyre in my own life.

The story is basically about Francis the vampyre who has been alive since The Civil War, if not before, and long before the 21st century, he had lost his lover, Bathory to the war itself. After a century and more for searching for her, he finds her working at a modern day strip club, although its from sketching her in a random way, that he begins to realize this is indeed Bathory. He becomes decided in his mission to seduce and kidnap her, realizing that she is not “awake” to her former self and that he must resurrect her unconscious vampyre mind to once more join him in their journey. She eventually does, but only after staking him in the heart (Spoiler Alert!) and he dies in her arms. Strangely, but I could relate to that actually.

One interesting character note was that instead of having my character sleeping in a coffin, they decide to use a bed that I own that is made entirely of cemetery gates from Laurel Grove Cemetery here in Savannah. The gates probably date from the 1850s but the “headboard,” are these arching acanthus vines that would have been the entrance arch to a family plot and then the “footboard” is part of the fence from the plot with running boards coming from another part of the fence’s original foundation. The bed once reposed insde of the Hamilton-Turner House of Savannah and believe it or not, was in their wedding suite! Oddly its the only time the bed was really used by me or since and is just sitting in my garage in pieces. For a time, I had it on disply in my house for ghost tours and you can see it there in the photograph in this article in a picture that was taken for ESQUIRE Japan. That’s also my dog Mina in the bed with me who ironically, I named for Wynona Ryder’s character in the film “Bram Stoker’s DRACULA.” And she was my Mina for 16 years passing on in 2007.

The Victorian House in the middle of summer was beastly hot which to some degree was fine as I knew I would be doing a sex scene and that I wanted to lose some weight before filming it. The day we shot the sex scene was beyond surreal and interesting. Probably 10 crew members in a tiny little room, all hovering around the bed, camera lights and a rather larger 35MM film camera with crane, creening down and hovering over the action. Not trying to sound too cheeky but it did give you some empathy for your every day erotic film players. I’m pretty sure we spent somewhere around 8 hours or more, filming that scene. I had decided that since I was a regular walk-around-the-house-in-the-buff type, and frequently sunbathed in the nude, that I was going to take the whole thing in stride. I just pretty much walked around in ala birthday suit and did the scene unapologetically. You pretty much have to either cast any doubt to the winds or as I did, I just told myself, “Man, you look GOOD.” And I did so there. Plus my sexy costar made it easy and I was actually shocked, but she was much more nervous than I and at times it was really tough for her to be the object of focus. Thankfully there were some libations on the set that day!

So that’s that really. The 21 minute film, which is not on video, but actually shot on 35mm celluloid, was a fun little project. It showed at the one of the Savannah College of Art & Design Film Festival events and funny, but at one of the after parties where the crowd was dominated by many Spanish girls, I got recognized and they all kept saying suspiciously, “Vampiro! Vampiro!” Sadly, they did not ask for my autograph, nor a date. I believe the test film later sold in Hollyweird for a bigger project but do not believe that it was or has been made into a longer film. I had lots of fun doing it and learned a lot about myself too. It became part of the story of self, and shaking off my spiritual darkness and am glad I have the memory…