Feb 3, 2023

Researching the Liberace of the Circus


I don't usually do reality tv, but paranormal documentaries are ok, especially the Disney Channel's My Ghost Story, about people who filmed their hauntings.  Episode 5 is about "two men who retire" and find their house haunted.  They had better be a gay couple!

Scene 1:  Sensationalistic quotes: "I don't feel safe.  I think it will harm me" as a pick-up truck drives through Milton, a small town in western Florida about 30 minutes from Pensacola (ugh!) and 30 minutes from the Alabama border (double ugh!  I can't imagine even driving through, let alone living there!).   Two elderly guys, Raimond Orszak, who uses a cane, and Michael Wright, who is rather portly (I'm into chubs; I'd date him), are surprised when a homeowner agrees to half of her listed price, without negotiation.  The only drawback: the house is near the Old Holy Cemetery, a white-only cemetery unused since the 1920s.   

Scene 2: They move in -- it's a double-wide trailer -- and start furnishing with potted plants, leopard-stripe pillows, and movie posters.  Things start turning up missing; doors slam by themselves; there are icy spaces -- standard haunting stuff.  They start taking pictures, and capture the ghostly image of a person hanging from a tree, and another lying on the ground (I just see fog).  

Scene 3: Mike is getting tired of the ghosts' mischief,  so he dares them to push him off a stone bench.  They make it shake hard, but not hard enough to dislodge him (maybe he is too heavy; he looks like he weighs over 300 pounds).

Next he asks the ghosts if the KKK had anything to do with their hanging (he could have just asked if they were lynched).  Suddenly the letters KK appear on the ground (I don't see anything.)  

Scene 4: They are sad and low-energy inside the house, but once they pass the front gate, they are full of energy.  (There was a place like that in West Hollywood.  I was perfectly energetic outside, but inside I felt like a battery being drained.)  A psychic tells Mike to not leave the trailer at night, or something bad will happen. 

Boldface font: "Michael and Raimond are unable to find a buyer for their house.  They feel trapped and in danger."

Then on to the next story!

Wait -- no resolution?  This was just one of three 9 minute segments in the episode.  

Are Michael and Raimond a gay couple?  It seems obvious, but they never state it, never display any affection.  They only appear together in one scene.  It seems that the Disney Channel wants to maintain deniability, to allow heterosexuals to think "Of course they're just friends. Gay people don't exist."

Research reveals that My Ghost Story originally appeared on the Biography Channel between 2010 and 2013.  It later moved to Lifetime, and reruns aired on FYI and the Travel Channel.  That may explain the deniability.

A 2010 article in the Bradenton Herald states that Michael and his "housemate" aren't afraid of the ghosts. Some of the images they have captures are pleasant, smiling faces and little girls in their best dresses.  I guess they revved up the terror for tv.

Housemate?  Deniability again.  But living in rural west Florida, wouldn't you avoid saying "gay," too?

A 2014 article in the NWF (North West Florida) Daily News covers several haunted sites in the region, including Michael Wright's house: "When he first bought the home...he was having dinner when,,," and so on.  Rai is not mentioned.

An obituary in the Lewiston Sun-Journal reveals some of Raymond Orszak's biography. He was a magician, then a circus ringmaster, dubbed the "Liberace of the Circus" for his flamboyant stage presence.  (The term does not appear in a Google search).  

Later he toured with his "beloved partner, Michael," in a humorous magical act called "Señor Rai and Tillie."  He retired in 1999, and died in 2018, at the age of 81.  "He is survived by Michael, his partner of 43 years, nephews and nieces, and friends."

One gets the impression that Michael wrote the obituary, but at least it outs Rai Of course, the term "partner" still has some deniability: "Aww, they mention his business partner.  How sweet!"  But there really isn't a better way to signify the relationship.

 Señor Rai and Tilly still have a Linkedin page entitled: "Ghost Encampers!  Come if you dare!"  Apparently they were able to make a little money from the haunting, even if coming out was not in the cards

1 comment:

  1. Disney gays are only there for publicity- so they can be cut out of the movie when they show it in China


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