By Leigh Evans
Saturday the ninth of November found me standing in line at the local art house in Tulsa, Oklahoma, awaiting a meet and greet I thought would never happen. I stood there shaky and sweating while my wife asked if I was okay. Then Joe Bob Briggs stepped through the doors…but lets rewind this, to a chubby little blond boy in front of a television set.
It was around 1996 or 1997, my memory is hazy and clogged with age and a few vices. I had just breached those double digit ages where you’re not quite a teen but the mood is starting in. My family had always been into horror, mostly slasher flicks, so I was no stranger to the genre. Some weekends when my father had pulled good overtime, as a family we would make a trip to the local Drive-In. So when my good friend from across the street introduced me to Mostervision with Joe Bob Briggs, I immediately related.
Here was a guy who had an accent like a few of my family members talking about the movies I loved. Joe Bob went further than just relaying what was on the screen, he knew details that I just absorbed. I read books and watched as many movies as my mom and dad would buy for me. I was diving into this with both feet and loving it. Move forward a bit, I moved away from my friend and my access to Monstervision was cut off due to the family not being able to afford cable. By the time cable television was an option, Joe Bob was gone, and I began the journey he helped start on my own.
I replaced large groups of friends with studying. I would like to say it was for school, but it was all horror related. I poured over everything I could find that detailed the inner workings of the genre I loved. But what happened to the Bolo wearing light that lit my torch? What happened to Joe Bob?
As internet had come a long way from those formative years, I started researching my gateway into horror. I found out about the man behind the legend, John Irving Bloom. I found his writings and books, learning about his work as an investigative journalist. John Bloom is an amazing man.
Over the years I’ve learned that the Joe Bob persona is an exaggeration of John Bloom. Joe Bob does not say anything that John Bloom isn’t a believer in, and so Joe Bob Briggs is John Bloom. It’s a horror host thing, and Joe Bob is the king in my book. So why was I a nervous wreck when I was given a chance to meet him?
Well the simple fact is he is my idol and my hero. Its been said you should never meet your heroes. Well Joe Bob is the exception. He is just as nice in person as he is on the screen, maybe even more so. I always promised myself that if he came through Tulsa, I’d buy him a drink. He’s a busy guy with Shudder and the show I was there to see How Rednecks Saved Hollywood that everyone owes to themselves to attend. Realistically, buying him a drink isn’t that great of an option so I bought him the whole bottle. I presented him with my favorite whisky: Russell’s Reserve 10 years. It’s the least I could do. Joe Bob is and always will be my number two hero, sorry Joe Bob number one is my dad.
Joe Bob is my hero for opening my eyes to a world of horror and setting me on a path that has given me so much joy. He is the reason I began not only watching horror and exploitation films, but learning what goes into them and the people that work so hard to entertain us. He’s the reason Night Of The Horrorphile even works as it does. I’m a horror super fan because of Joe Bob Briggs and I’m passing it on to my kids because the Drive-In will never die.
Thank you John Bloom.
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