Gwar's Day Off in Richmond, Virginia Is a Terrible Tour of Its Creepiest Landmarks
The metal band takes us through all their favorite (and most horrible) places in Richmond, leading us to haunted tunnels and spine-chilling prisons.
If you ask Gwar to describe Richmond, Virginia, they'll tell you that it's a "crap hole"—and that you should probably bring some pepper spray. You know, to defend yourself from all the crappy people who live there.
From a Gwar perspective, these are (probably) all compliments. The intergalactic metal band's love language is hating everything and everyone—including their fans, of course. They may call Richmond a crap hole, but it's their crap hole.
"Gwar is from Antarctica as you know, but [Richmond] is sort of our adopted North American home," Balsac the Jaws of Death, Gwar's guitarist, said in a recent interview with Thrillist. "We spend a lot of our time when we're not out on the road killing people here in Richmond. We have a long history with Richmond, and Richmond has a long history with violence and bloodshed. That's sort of why we were drawn here."
Gwar's Richmond is a terrible place to be, and it's gotten so much worse over the years, according to the band. "I don't even think you could call it Fist City anymore," said Bonesnapper the Cave Troll. "I think you might call it Tickle Feather City or something." Balsac the Jaws of Death just can't stand the lack of criminal activity. "Most of the drugs are gone, [and] all the violence [and] street gangs. You hardly see them anymore," he commented, disappointed. "It's not the place we fell in love with back in the '80s!"
In our series "Ride With Me," Gwar takes us on a Richmond tour to show us what, in their opinion, makes the neighborhood great—er, I mean terrible. Haunted train tunnels, creepy old prisons, and chilling cemeteries are all the must-see spots when you're in town, assuming you have the guts to visit them all.
So pack your (fake!) axes and (fake!) battlegear and get ready to discover Richmond with us. And maybe bring a real granola bar too—as Techno Destructo put it, "you might get hungry while defending yourself!"
Things to Do
Belle Isle Prison
Gwar used to absolutely adore this place back when it was a functioning prison. It was a "big field of gangrene" during the Civil War, said Techno Destructo. "It was great," he added.
It used to be an open-air prison where prisoners would die from exposure or from trying to swim away.
Now, it's just a big open field, which is just "totally boring." There's a BMX track, and people come here to sunbathe by the James River. Of course, they still need to watch out for Techno Destructo and his saw. He loves flying down from the sky and cutting people's heads off as he goes.
The Church Hill Tunnel
As his name suggests, Bonesnapper the Cave Troll is, in fact, a cave troll. According to the band members, he's also the one who discovered the gory history behind this tunnel.
Bonesnapper recalls that years and years ago, the tunnel needed some fixing because of its old age, so a train was introduced inside to get the work done. Yet, the unstable tunnel caved in, and ended up killing everyone inside. All the bodies and the train, though, remained trapped there, as it was impossible to get them out. And that's how the tunnel became infested with ghosts.
Balsac said that as they were sealing the tunnel up, a horrible creature came crawling out of the wreckage. "They said it was a vampire," he explained. "So they started chasing it down towards the James River. It ended up in Hollywood Cemetery at the mausoleum of WW Pool, who is a known Satanist and…"
"Local vampire!" chimed in Bonesnapper.
"So, [Hollywood Cemetery] has got to be the next place you go visit," recommended Balsac.
According to Gwar, a cemetery is a great way to get to know a city. "You learn a lot by how they respect the dead," said Techno Destructo. "How big the monuments are, that's how awesome of a city you're talking about."
Besides being the afterlife home to many soldiers and a couple of presidents, Hollywood Cemetery is also where Oderus Urungus, the late lead vocalist of Gwar, lies. His band members said his memorial is just a giant rock in the ground. "Oderus was a rocker," noted Bonesnapper. "And now he's under a rock."
"He wanted to actually have a life-sized statue of himself that women could come and have sex with after his disappearance," said Balsac. Fans visiting Oderus' grave bring all sorts of objects to honor him. The most popular one is bottles of Jägermeister liquor, but if you ask Techno Destructo, he'll tell you to bring "cold, hard cash."
Places to Eat & Drink
The Gwar Bar in Richmond is a dump, and the band loves it. "We're keeping Richmond sketchy," said Bonesnapper.
When you're at the Gwar Bar, you should definitely get a Gwar beer. While you're sipping on it, feel free to look around at all the weird and oddly cool décor of the place. Flattus Maximus' guitar and Oderus Urungus' sword are both on display at the bar, as well as a bunch of monster-looking heads and creepy ornaments. "All these are people we killed," said Bonesnapper proudly.
If you get hungry, the band recommends you try the Bacon-Executioner House Ground Meat Burger at the Gwar Bar, which comes with all-thing bacon, like deep fried bacon and bacon mayonnaise.