Jennifer in full zombie mode!
Chubstr Crush features profiles and conversations with women who inspire us. This week, we’re speaking with Jennifer Muzquiz, founder of the San Diego Zombie Walk. What started as an interesting way to meet people and share a mutual love of zombies has turned into events with occasional Comic-Con and AMC tie-ins. Jennifer talks about starting the event, horror films as an outlet for our everyday fears, and making zombies obey traffic laws (it’s more difficult than you think).
How did Zombie Walk : San Diego come to be?
It started out as a way to meet new people when I first moved to San Diego in 2006. I’d been to zombiewalks in other cities (including my hometown of Los Angeles), but I hadn’t seen one take place in San Diego yet. I decided what better way to meet like-minded weirdos than to put together a group of the undead and shamble around one of San Diego’s landmark locations, Balboa Park? I ran the idea past a few friends, who were enthusiastic about attending. In June of 2007, I decided to make a MySpace page & put out an ad on Craigslist, figuring maybe a dozen or so zombies would show up to the walk. We got ten times that amount! We held another one at Comic-Con that year and it kept going and growing from there.
Have you always been into horror and zombies?
As long as I can remember, starting with watching Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” when it first aired on MTV. Scary movies, gore, and monsters have always fascinated me; well, fear in general interests me, as a psychological response. It’s so intriguing how everyone has their own individual triggers for fear and different roots for these triggers. Zombies seem like the ultimate fear trigger, though, because really… how do you stop a plague of that which is already dead?
It seems like your events are getting bigger each year – did you expect this kind of growth, or did it come as a surprise?
I really had no idea it would get THIS big or last this long. I’m glad it has, though. So many artists and writers I admire have gotten notoriety due to their ties with the zombie phenomenon and it’s been a blast to see them get well-deserved attention for their craft.
Sadly, I have a feeling the zombie popularity is currently at it’s peak. With the upcoming remake of Evil Dead (and if World War Z ever comes out), that may be the swan song. When dinosaurs get their popularity back, I’m going to have to figure out how to coordinate some sort of dinosaur flashmob. Yes, that’s my prediction for the next big thing: dinosaurs. I’m still crossing my fingers for Zombieland 2, though, before things die down. Yes, that pun was totally intentional.
What’s the hardest part about coordinating these events?
Other than finding time to actually apply makeup on myself before the event starts? I think it’s making sure zombies obey traffic laws. Because we have such a large horde, we need to meter the movement of the group to ensure the safety of our zombies and the living alike. Zombies vs. Cars isn’t a game we want to see played. We shouldn’t have to remind adults to stay out of the street and not walk against the light, but every walk we have, there are always a few participants who unfortunately think their makeup makes them invicible. Luckily, we haven’t had any injuries to my knowledge, but I wish people would stay on the sidewalks and pay better attention to the traffic lights.
A handful of people got mad at me for something I said before our Comic-Con walk this year; a slightly off-color remark referencing the tragic passing of a Comic-Con attendee who was crossing against a light and lost her life. Some people were rudely chatting while the pre-walk guidelines were being announced and sometimes dark humor is the only way to get their attention. To remind participants of how seriously we take safety, we donated a portion of our t-shirt sales to the Gisela Gagliardi memorial fund. We view Comic-Con as a community and love all our fellow attendees. We hope people recognize the incident as a reminder of how precious life is and understand we want to see them all at the end of the walk, safe & sound.
We’re seeing an increase in zombie related content in pop culture, with shows like The Walking Dead breaking viewing records, and video games, and books – why do you think we’re so interested in all of this?
As humans, we tend to believe it is socially acceptable to be afraid of a monster on a screen, but if we show fear in reality, we believe it will be perceived as a vulnerability. Horror, in general, allows for us to suspend reality and release that built up panic and worry of daily life on something less meaningful and “real”. I think with the economy having tanked, violence becoming more prevalent in the news, and so many things to worry about… zombies are the catch-all fear.
Most cultures have a zombie-like creature in their mythology and they’re recognized worldwide. Even the CDC has gotten in on the zombie craze with their Zombie Preparedness campaign
. It’s a great platform to spread awareness of the importance to be prepared for any disaster. As Dr. Ali Khan has said, “If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack.” Zombies truly are a universal monster, which people from all walks of life can appreciate… and fear.
You’ve got a big event coming up this weekend – can you tell us a little about it?
This weekend is our own celebration of all things undead! In addition to providing scares for Navy families on base Friday and hanging with the San Diego Derby Dolls at their Zombies vs. Monsters bout on Sunday, we’ll be shambling around San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter this Saturday, October 27th.
We invite zombies of all ages – eight months to eight centuries – to meet us at the corner of 4th & Broadway at 5:45PM on Saturday. Then at 6:00PM, America’s Finest Undead will take over America’s Finest City! We’ll follow up the walk with a pub crawl through the many bars & taverns along 5th Avenue, for the 21+ crowd, as well as a cupcake party at Heavenly Cupcake for the kiddos. So if anyone wants to join us… our walk is free, family & pet friendly, and as we always say… the more the scarier!
Learn more about Zombie Walk: San Diego at www.sdzombiewalk.com and at Facebook.