For some people, every day is Halloween. Melrose is lucky to have two such people sharing their deep love for all things ghoulish at the delightfully dark Monster-A-GoGo.
Michelle and Ash Ghoulmore (for real!) started their partnership in work and in life while living in Scotland. Early on, Michelle learned body piercing and wanted to open a shop. They tried to get funding from the Prince of Wales trust, but the young entrepreneurs were turned down “because piercing wasn’t good for the image” so the focus shifted to fashion. By buying out a friend’s vintage clothing shop, and coupling vintage with fetish, they opened a brick-and-mortar store in 1996 called Retro Rebels. It supplied the local alts with cool and creepy things, and imported U.S. fashion brands like Lucky 13 and Lip Service (before skinny black jeans were mainstream).
“Every generation has a subculture,” said Michelle, and both she and Ash were personally invested in theirs. Michelle continues, “I get scared from poltergeists and spirits and possession, but monsters and quirky stuff…yeah!” Ash is inspired by comics, and “how fluid for exploration” they are. With this shared love of horror, kitsch, icons, and music, they set about to feed a like-minded clientele with carefully curated products.
When e-retail became a reality, they started an online store in 2001. A far cry from the ease and vibrancy of today’s eBay or Etsy experience (send your check or money order!), it still opened the door wide to the larger alt culture community and the business continued to grow.
With Ash’s innate design ability, he could strain knowledge of both classic and modern horror imagery through his own unique filter of playfulness. That became the obvious next step: launching their own clothing brand. In 2006, Kreepsville 666 was hatched.
Said Michelle, “It fit every scene, a really wide market. People love horror!” Mainstream fashion doesn’t require discovery; underground fashion makes you find information on your own, and people were absolutely finding Kreepsville. All was going well, but she “wanted to take things further and focus on making the brand bigger.” With a large customer base and production happening in America, they decided to sell store and move across the pond.
In 2011, Michelle and Ash landed in Los Angeles. It wasn’t a smooth move. They had no credit in the U.S. system – their good business practice didn’t count here – and “we needed a place to live, to work, something to drive. AND we’re in the middle of a season!” she recalls. Having to pay rent in cash just to get an address to open a bank account, they were able to secure an apartment near Melrose while renting a space in Highland Park from which to run the online business.
While there, a representative of iconic pop horror queen Elvira approached Kreepsville 666 about a licensing partnership. Ash’s quirky designs, that were making fresh statements and standing out, were a perfect match for translating Elvira’s personality to a new batch of merchandise.
Nothing about that first year in Los Angeles was going to be slow or small. Soon, the Kreepsville 666 business got a flagship store on Melrose. From lease to opening was only three months. Monster-A-GoGo joined the Melrose community just before Halloween in 2012, coincidentally, just down the block from Elvira’s birthplace at Groundlings.
It is the only brick and mortar for Michelle and Ash. Still totally independent, with no investors, they just put their “heads down and worked.” It’s a vibrant atmosphere throughout. Explains, Michelle, “It’s hard to have a store with everyone shopping online. People still do love to see stuff in store, but it has to be switched on, and do more than just look appealing.”
It’s not a massive space, but it is a complete experience. While Ash’s designs get copied (a lot), everything in the store is true to its core aesthetic and creative values – not bandwagon or trend. And customers both expect and appreciate that.
Said Ash, “We are big Elvira fans, but also big Vampira fans, too.” So they contacted the Vampira license holder to work out a merch partnership. And now Toxic Tunes, Mars Attacks, EC Comics (Tales from the Crypt and Tales of Terror) are all represented with exclusive designs.
“Melrose has prestige when it comes to fashion,” add Michelle. So they take their lines very seriously.
It’s probably not surprising that Alice Cooper has been to the shop. Or Rob Zombie, Dave Lombardo (Slayer), or Nick Cave. Miley Cyrus was recently photographed with the Kreepsville 666 eyeball purse.
But it’s the non-celeb customers who continually drive the exciting offerings at Monster-A-GoGo, especially this time of year. It’s great for people who don’t want to wear a packaged outfit, who are looking for something cool and special. “There’s a lady that comes in every year for a whole get-up to go to Knott’s.” While kids can get their holiday on, there’s definitely the spirit of Halloween for adults.
Online, there is a hand-picked “Every Day Is Halloween” feature (https://store.kreepsville666.com/collections/halloween) to inspire some costume ideas. And the store, usually closed on Mondays, will be open on Halloween day.
Oh, one more thing: CHOCOLATE! Monster-A-GoGo will be debuting its own fiendishly delicious Kreepville 666 chocolate bars this month. The perfect treat!