Hi Tim, to start, can you give us a quick history of yourself?
I guess my official biography will work! –
Tim Starnes is an American playwright meets entrepreneuritainer – current owner and CEO of Ethereal Crack, largest provider of ghost tours in the United States, and other tourist trap attractions – he claims credit as being one of the world’s few “backyard theme park” owners. When not running Ethereal Crack and wrangling staff and his family, he writes stageplays that seem as if they have come from the pages of an irate history textbook left to go on an endless loop on an endless rollercoaster in an endless rainstorm, with periods of history shamelessly pulped together with fictional characters based on real figures, and then heavily peppered with autobiographical stints tinged with aspects of horror-comedy, cheap thrillers, German expressionism, and film noir.
Interested in comedy as black as licorice floating in the darkest corner of space (where nobody can hear the critics scream,) punchy satire, absurdism-tainted realism, and biting hard, he is here to prove that it is great fun (and exercise) to be run out of town by an angry mob, especially when you have style about it.
Can you tell us what makes Ethereal Crack’s ghost tours so different?
Well, we keep things pretty simple, there’s a few bullet points to follow, for that:
Our tours are designed to be an hour long and move rapidly, with 8-10 stories of true paranormal occurrences. There isn’t much time for lollygagging!
While other tour companies may march you around like an 18th-century militia, lecture at you, and continue on – we don’t do that, and never will. Our tours are conversational in nature and tailored to your tour group. No tour is going to ever be the same!
As we operate in purely small towns (for the most part) our tours are a first-time hybrid for the industry. On many of our tours, if we walked to every location, we would be walking all day, through woods, over fences, under bridges, slogging through bogs, and onto people’s private property, which we can’t do. Following this – our tours are downtown walking tours (enjoy the sights and sounds of downtown and check out the local businesses!) paired with a ghost tour. If we can’t go to the exact spot, we’re going to go somewhere that gives the story background.
We don’t do “my mom said…” and “my grandma said…” ghost stories. Every case we report on the tour is verifiable with research. You have just as many tools at your fingertips as we do. We encourage all guests to research the stories and figure out what they believe.
We don’t use “ghost hunting equipment” or spiritual mediums. Those are easy to fake – and we aren’t here to mislead you.
What are the usual questions that people ask before the tour?
You: Are people going to pop out and scare us?
Us: While it would be pretty funny, no, nobody on our staff will try to startle you by jumping out or doing anything crazy, like at a haunted house. This walk is all about the true stories, not getting a scream out of you.
You: Is it too scary for my seven-year-old?
Us: We wish we could help you, but we don’t know your child. Some of the stories can be a little intense, so practice your better judgment. For children who want to go but are a little scared of going in the dark, we suggest our 6 P.M. tour option – it isn’t so dark then.
To aid in your decision making, our tour guides are trained in catering stories to groups. If you have younger children in your group, the stories will be told in a way that the ghastlier details will go over their head, but still get to yours.
You: How much walking is there?
Us: Our tour is designed to move at a moderate pace for one hour along the streets of downtown. We suggest all participants be able to endure normal levels of activity and go up and down stairs.
You: Is the walk handicap accessible?
Us: We try our best to make all tour routes as accessible as possible, however, it is sometimes difficult on historic downtown streets. Please contact Ethereal Crack’s ticketing department to arrange accommodations.
You: Can I bring a flashlight? Can I record or take pictures? Can I bring “ghost hunting” equipment?
Us: Absolutely. We only ask that you do not use flash photography, as it is distracting and can blind your guide and other guests. Don’t (think that you) have a flashlight? If you’re carrying a smartphone, you do! – Also, yes, hunt away!
You: Is it safe?
Us: We love our guests, so, yes; of course, our walk is safe. We expect that all guests are mindful of their personal safety, as we are walking on the sidewalks of public, sometimes busy, streets. Stay on the sidewalks, watch for cars, and obey traffic laws just as you would when not on the tour.
You: Can I bring my pets?
Us: Sadly, we cannot accommodate pets.
You: My guide did a great job. Can I tip them?
How about your social media? Website?