Created by the “Walt Disney of the Funeral Business,” the Vidstone is a gravestone that memorializes your loved one with an embedded video of the deceased.
In the new web series Grave Hunter, macabre history aficionado Malia Miglino goes graveside to dig up Colorado pioneer history at the Black Monarch Hotel and Victor Cemetery.
Malia Miglino, host of Macabre Mondays, is going cemetery exploring to exhume the bizarre and fascinating stories of the past in her new web series “Grave Hunter.”
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“‘Grave Hunter’ was honestly born out of a desire to tell people’s history and raise awareness about the growing epidemic that is the disassembling of pioneer cemeteries,” Malia said of the show’s origins. “My first show, ‘Macabre Mondays,’ which will always be my first baby, was a much more vague topic on creepy locations, which I loved, don’t get me wrong, but I when I started realizing how much of our history was disappearing and the countless stories attached to it, I felt like I needed to do something. ‘Grave Hunter’ is the quest to bring humanity back to our past and hopefully make people care about preserving it.”
In the premiere episode “Soiled Doves and Gold Mines” (above) Malia visits the unique ghosts and dark Wild West history of two Colorado pioneer towns – Victor and Cripple Creek – where it quickly becomes clear that her journey, as well as her passion and excitement for the subject matter, is just as fascinating as the stories she digs up.
“It was a really strange experience from beginning to end, honestly,” she told me. “The whole episode started with learning of the serial killer-themed hotel in Victor, The Black Monarch. I reached out to Adam (the owner) about filming a bit there and he was super on board. So it went from being an idea to a reality in a VERY short period of time. I found a cheap flight to Colorado and started researching the hotel which then led me to researching the gold mines and it all snowballed from there.”
Even this taxidermy wolf at the Black Monarch Hotel has a story
During her stay in Victor Malia spent the night at The Black Monarch hotel, with rooms named after historical figures and folklore such as Nikola Tesla, Elizabeth Bathory, and the Black Annis. It stands to reason that the room someone chooses to stay in probably says a lot about them, so I had to know – which room did she choose?
“All the rooms were awesome,” Malia said, “but the H.H. Holmes room was only ever going to be my choice, haha!”
The Black Monarch, a casino and brothel in its past life, has its share of history and ghosts, but in Victor, where serial killer Harry Orchard committed one of his most notorious crimes, and hundreds lost their lives to disease and war, Malia found much more in Victor than she expected.
“I’m not sure I was prepared for the amount of history that I was about to experience and I feel like I only scratched the surface,” she said. “Literally everywhere in Victor is a blast from the past; demolished mines and their parts are everywhere, pretty much all the buildings are original and everyone in town wants to talk about it. Personally, I have a love affair with all old brothels and both Victor and Cripple Creek are full of them so that was really exciting for me because I got to stay two nights in one, got to explore another and was given a private tour and allowed access to document at the Old Homestead in Cripple Creek where Madam Pearl de Vere used to live and work so I sort of fangirled out a bit. If anything my 2 days in the area just made me really eager to go back, spend more time exploring the cemeteries and researching more of the people buried there. These towns are literal gold mines of history (cheesy pun intended.)”
Sunnyside Cemetery in Victor, Colorado
Fangirling about brothels? That’s all part of Malia’s intrigue.
“Oh man, my love affair with brothels is a deep rooted thing,” Malia confessed. “Honestly, I think a lot of the reason I’m fascinated by Victorian and early 20th century brothels has a lot to do with the women who ran them. From my perspective, these women who built and ran these high class parlours were taking charge of their lives. In a time where women-owned businesses were VERY rare, they capitalized on the most precious commodity, sex. When so many women were forced into prostitution by men for pennies, these Madams built and ran houses that paid their women well, helped give them an education and made sure they had medical attention. Many of the women that worked in these brothels had flourishing almost high society lives once retiring from the parlours and that was in large part due to the money they were able to save while working and even in some cases, because they got married to one of their millionaire clients.
“Pearl de Vere for example charged $9,000 in today’s money to stay a night in her parlour and that was after you had been approved by her after she’d received proof of your income. Lastly I will say in many cases, like with Pearl; she was one of the richest people in town and contributed handsomely to the towns development. So to put it short – these women were badasses.”
Malia at the grave of Pearl de Vere in Cripple Creek
The horrors of Victor and the final resting place of Pearl de Vere are just the beginning for Malia and the series. What does the future hold?
“I really would love to see Grave Hunter find a home on a network,” she says. “To tell the stories I want to tell and to do them justice would take a larger budget than I have personally, not to mention the lack of a proper crew has gotten almost impossible at times. So pitching and shopping the show around are immediate goals that will hopefully lead to an awesome and larger future for the show.
“As for locations – really the sky is the limit but most pressing I would love to feature Sunnyside cemetery in Long Beach, CA which is currently in threat of being disassembled. Long Beach and the South Bay Area are home to some of my favorite historical people like the Banning family (who are coincidentally buried in my favorite LA cemetery) so that’s probably first up.”
Watch future episodes of Grave Hunter and catch up on Macabre Mondays on Malia’s Youtube channel.