My Huckleberry Friend…

By Shannon Scott

Some of my fans and friends out there have already read this but wanted to add it to my blog as its been a popular request. Really looking forward to the expanded version of this story one day so people can really appreciate what a great friendship I shared with Paul Blatner and what a great man he was to this life!

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So I have a theory on why I saw the ghosts two days ago. It was today that I learned that on the same day, one of my very good friends, mentors, teachers, Paul Blatner died. He was an amazing man who I will never in my life forget and he was just 58. He was one of the most amazing collectors I have ever met and very distinguished in his accomplishments. He started The Savannah History Museum, was an archivist at The Smithsonian and some of the objects on permanent loan there in the black studies collection, are considered priceless and the most valuable in the museum itself. He was funny, like a brother and I just talked to him less than two weeks ago for the last time and we shared some laughs. I am currently writing a story to honor his memory and our friendship and will be sharing it with everyone soon. A funny moment occurred this morning. I did not know his funeral was in Bonaventure at 10:30am but as I walked my tour to the map board there, I see the red funeral arrow bearing his name. I briefly mentioned him to my crowd, and first person to drive in and up to me was Professor John Duncan (Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil character) and naturally he asks me for directions. So for about 5 minutes I stood there and directed everyone towards Paul’s plot. I believe this was the universe operating yet again and Paul was smiling on this. Our friendship was about stories and ribald and while he was being sent to the Great Beyond, I was peppering the grounds shaman style with the energy of my storytelling. Naturally I intend to make him a stop on my tours in the future. Yes, later I went back to have a word with him and wanted to take him something personal that was “of me” and “of us.” As he was one of the great bottle colllector’s of Savannah, and almost literally, “The Father Of,” I placed a broken 19th century Savannah made Ginger Beer bottle at his grave as a flower vase. I found this in Bonaventure awhile ago and to me, the broken aspect, symbolic of the end of our earthly friendship and that yes, an earthly gesture that there will never be another like him. Bottles can be seen as the foundation collection of real collectors and shows humbleness and the ability to see beauty in simple things, which too are often very valuable as objects. At core bottles show others that you’re willing to really get dirty and dig to find something great and that you’re more than high brow academic or snooty antiques’ dealer. I kid the reader not, but I could bring Paul a pile of mixed glass out of a hole in the ground and Paul could tell me where and when every piece if it was made! The other object is a miniature of the statue to the Unknown Confederate Dead that you find in Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta. Paul was a Reb through an’ through and had one of the most amazing Confederate collections in America, including the rifle surrendered to Sherman by the Savannah Mayor. Interestingly, Paul was also buried with his father today. Howard Lee Blatner who died in 2009. I also knew him and he was a great man who grew up in the orphanage, Bethesda, America’s oldest orphanage begun by Ben Franklin in 1740. His father had been cremated and Paul had his ashes in a closet the whole time so Paul’s sister interred both of them together and as they were really a team for so many years in so many things, it was only right. I am grateful that Paul doted some amazing story objects on me as collector and that these things are now part of my storytelling. I consider it a blessing that I will always be evoking his name with the ways that I continue to inspire people. In that sense, we too will always be a team. And to some degree, this is why I believe I saw the two children spirits with their Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn hats. We were two friends that like children, delighted in the world around us and made one another giddy without any thought paid to who was watching. Long live Paul Blatner. The South mourns you fine sir.

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My Song Dedication To My Friend Paul Blatner

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To Dance For A Vampyre (Feat. Shannon Scott)

WARNING: Contains Adult Subjects, Some Profanity & Sexual Situations)

In 2005 I was invited to read for film about vampyres. I didn’t care much about them or for them, but the film paid, had some talented people involved, and after a test kiss with my female co-star, Tara Rinko who had stunning eyes, I was in for the 12 weeks of shooting. It also conincided strangely with my own time spent with a vampyre house, which was more like a group of tragically deluded children. I’ll write about them at a later date as they were a true, sanguine, or blood drinking house (I did not participate). The film became a strange allegory for my own life and sorting out its demons. I was always a person tortured by lusts and passions and it was only until shooting the film that I realized this was the crux of the vampyre personality and all the more reason it was in my life as a project. I was confronting my own darknesses and torments. We filmed this in an unoccupied house in downtown Savannah, a strip club called The Gold Club, along with Bonaventure Cemetery. My life ran a regular pattern for those 12 weeks. I would film the vampyre film all day, doing one or two ghost tours, then go back to the set to do more filming. It was like while confronting my own demons, while making art, I was becoming even more like a vampyre in my own life.

The story is basically about Francis the vampyre who has been alive since The Civil War, if not before, and long before the 21st century, he had lost his lover, Bathory to the war itself. After a century and more for searching for her, he finds her working at a modern day strip club, although its from sketching her in a random way, that he begins to realize this is indeed Bathory. He becomes decided in his mission to seduce and kidnap her, realizing that she is not “awake” to her former self and that he must resurrect her unconscious vampyre mind to once more join him in their journey. She eventually does, but only after staking him in the heart (Spoiler Alert!) and he dies in her arms. Strangely, but I could relate to that actually.

One interesting character note was that instead of having my character sleeping in a coffin, they decide to use a bed that I own that is made entirely of cemetery gates from Laurel Grove Cemetery here in Savannah. The gates probably date from the 1850s but the “headboard,” are these arching acanthus vines that would have been the entrance arch to a family plot and then the “footboard” is part of the fence from the plot with running boards coming from another part of the fence’s original foundation. The bed once reposed insde of the Hamilton-Turner House of Savannah and believe it or not, was in their wedding suite! Oddly its the only time the bed was really used by me or since and is just sitting in my garage in pieces. For a time, I had it on disply in my house for ghost tours and you can see it there in the photograph in this article in a picture that was taken for ESQUIRE Japan. That’s also my dog Mina in the bed with me who ironically, I named for Wynona Ryder’s character in the film “Bram Stoker’s DRACULA.” And she was my Mina for 16 years passing on in 2007.

The Victorian House in the middle of summer was beastly hot which to some degree was fine as I knew I would be doing a sex scene and that I wanted to lose some weight before filming it. The day we shot the sex scene was beyond surreal and interesting. Probably 10 crew members in a tiny little room, all hovering around the bed, camera lights and a rather larger 35MM film camera with crane, creening down and hovering over the action. Not trying to sound too cheeky but it did give you some empathy for your every day erotic film players. I’m pretty sure we spent somewhere around 8 hours or more, filming that scene. I had decided that since I was a regular walk-around-the-house-in-the-buff type, and frequently sunbathed in the nude, that I was going to take the whole thing in stride. I just pretty much walked around in ala birthday suit and did the scene unapologetically. You pretty much have to either cast any doubt to the winds or as I did, I just told myself, “Man, you look GOOD.” And I did so there. Plus my sexy costar made it easy and I was actually shocked, but she was much more nervous than I and at times it was really tough for her to be the object of focus. Thankfully there were some libations on the set that day!

So that’s that really. The 21 minute film, which is not on video, but actually shot on 35mm celluloid, was a fun little project. It showed at the one of the Savannah College of Art & Design Film Festival events and funny, but at one of the after parties where the crowd was dominated by many Spanish girls, I got recognized and they all kept saying suspiciously, “Vampiro! Vampiro!” Sadly, they did not ask for my autograph, nor a date. I believe the test film later sold in Hollyweird for a bigger project but do not believe that it was or has been made into a longer film. I had lots of fun doing it and learned a lot about myself too. It became part of the story of self, and shaking off my spiritual darkness and am glad I have the memory…