March 12, 2020

The Pale Men speak to Clay McLeod Chapman about “The Mattress King”

THE PALE MEN (Glenn McQuaid & Larry Fessenden) speak to Clay McLeod Chapman about “The Mattress King,” now streaming on TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE The Podcast.

THE PALE MEN: Bug Horror tends to gross people out, and, in fairness, Mattress King certainly has its icky moments but there is something very haunted, even dreadfully sad at the heart of the horror, can you talk about where the idea for the piece came from?

Clay McLeod Chapman: The idea coalesced from a few stray thoughts… Living in New York, we tell our children to steer clear of the errant mattresses that line the curbs for fear of bedbugs. In my neighborhood, I have witnessed the very same white van without windows trawl our blocks for abandoned bed mattresses. I kid you not, this gentleman driver will pull over whenever he comes upon a mattress, hop out, pluck the mattress off the sidewalk regardless of its condition and toss it on the stack bungee-corded to his van’s roof. I’ve seen him with a mound of five or six mattresses on some days. And thus the Mattress King was born.

CMC: Beyond that, I’ve always been curious about ghost stories and how we’re haunted… and whether or not there are new ways in which the supernatural can penetrate the world of the living. I thought bed bugs — and the blood they’ve ingested — could be an interesting way to explore new narrative territory when it came to ghosts. Haunted mattresses? Possessed bedbugs? Has that ever been done before?

THE PALE MEN: It is a sad twist of fate that we find ourselves releasing Mattress King at a time when there are even more dire contagions than bedbugs. We also recall a certain story you pitched called Seasick… Is there a pattern there…?

CMC: For better or worse, I am personally obsessed with societal order disintegrating and our civilized culture regressing. Global pandemics are wonderful catalysts for this. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, we’re only one sneeze away from collapse.

THE PALE MEN: You’re mainly known as a writer, how was the experience of directing Mattress King live?

CMC: It was petrifying, to be honest. I was terrified. I felt the awesome responsibility of working with such heavyweights as Kate Flannery and Martin Starr and… and this Larry-fella, what’s his name. Being a part of SpectreVision’s SpectreFest was amazing, and rummaging around LA with the rest of the Glass Eye crew was wonderful, but as soon as the show got underway… it was crippling. I felt like a conductor. I just had to lean into the script, the music of the moment, and just ride the words. At one point I remember feeling the audience at my back, hearing them react, and it was such a huge relief. Thank goodness they went along for the ride.

THE PALE MEN: You have written several radio plays for TALES on your own and in collaboration. Do you enjoy the form…? maybe speak to how it relates to your own oral performance work which predates TALES.

CMC: I feel like the oral tradition is at the core of most if not all of my work, regardless of the medium. We’re all sitting around campfires of some sort, whether that’s in a movie theater or with our ear buds. What’s great about Tales and how it dovetails with what I love about live storytelling, is that it truly intimates the listening experience… Onstage, the audience tends to close their eyes and lean into their ears. With these plays preserved and presented for the podcast, that live performance is in effect a frozen moment in time, an insect trapped in amber. Maybe a bedbug?


Clay McLeod Chapman (Brooklyn, NY) is the creator of the rigorous storytelling session “The Pumpkin Pie Show.” His previous publications include Rest Area, Miss Corpus, and The Tribe trilogy – Homeroom Headhunters, Camp Cannibal, and Academic Assassins (Disney). He is the writer of TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE’S “The Mattress King,” “Like Father, Like Son,” co-author of “Tales We Tell PT 1 & 2” and performs in several Tales including “Reappraisal,”  “In The Wind,” “Cold Reading,” and “No Signal.”

March 12, 2020

TALES FROM BEYOND THE TALE The Podcast Episode #23 “The Mattress King”

Episode #23 The Mattress King

A sleazy entrepreneur tries to make love and
money out of the back of his van in downtown L.A.

Written and directed by Clay McLeod Chapman.
Featuring Larry Fessenden, Kate Flannery, Martin Starr
Ana Asensio, Clay McLeod Chapman, Glenn McQuaid

performed Live October 29 2014 • poster by Trevor Denhamfor more TALES physical media, info and Swag, visit

March 5, 2020

TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE The Podcast Episode # 21 “This Oracle Moon”

Episode #22 This Oracle Moon

A rescue team of astronauts visit a distant moon and encounter elusive creatures with a mysterious origin.

Written and directed by Jeff Buhler. Story by Glenn McQuaid.
Featuring Ron Perlman, Doug Jones, Mark Kelly,
Molly Bryant, Jeff Buhler, Zed B. Starkovic, The Nam.

Premiered November 16 2010 • Poster by Gary Pullin.

February 27, 2020


JT Petty on “Johnny Boy” his Tale From Beyond The Pale now available on the podcast

“Parenthood is about as scary as shit gets. And I’m saying that as the dad in the equation. I know I got off easy. I didn’t have to submit to a transformation that would make Cronenberg queasy. I didn’t have to somehow push a watermelon through a wallet.

“But even as the dad, just witnessing something so obviously supernatural unmoored a lot of my comforts and cynicisms about the world. Watching my wife give birth made me think a less dramatic transformation like, I dunno, lycanthropy wouldn’t be so far fetched a proposition. And the day-to-day transformations of our daughter from dumpling to human are equally amazing. Watching the fontanelles come together and fuse, the sporadic inch-a-night growth spurts; I wouldn’t be all that surprised if she woke up one morning with webbed toes and leathery wings.

“Even outside the Rob Bottin material, there are the obvious fears of parenthood: a.) no matter how good you are, you will eventually fail your children, and b.) eventually you will die and they’ll have to figure out all this shit on their own. So I thought, man, that sounds like fun listening.

“And working in pure audio is such a good opportunity to actually scare people. It’s clichéd advice by now to cover your ears if you don’t want to be frightened watching a horror movie. You don’t have that safety net for a radio play. If you don’t want to be scared, don’t listen at all. So I hope you enjoy “Johnny Boy.” It may not be as disturbing as the Ron Howard/Steve Martin meditation on parenthood, but it’s definitely scarier.”

Statement from Nov 2010. Top: JT Petty, Bottom Left: Shea Wigham and Amy Seimetz; Bottom Right Troma vet Bill Weeden

February 27, 2020

TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE The Podcast Episode #21 “Johnny Boy”

Episode #21 Johnny Boy

A curse follows a young couple from the Streets of New Orleans to their baby’s nursery.

written and directed by JT Petty
featuring Amy Seimetz, Shea Whigham,
Bill Weedem, Tom Knutson, Brenda Cooney

Released November 23, 2010 • Poster by Gary Pullin