Being Friends with Murderers and the World of Murderabilia

Painting by notorious killer John Wayne Gacy.

Painting by notorious killer John Wayne Gacy.

My life has been weird in most ways, and my work life is no exception. I have had some odd jobs in my day. I mean I really have. At one point I worked as a prisoner advocate for the ACLU, where I ended up meeting numerous prisoners, including a ton of murderers. It wasn’t like you might think. It wasn’t freaky or scary, it really was just like sitting down with some guy, (and the occasional woman) who was really psyched to see you. And it was interesting. There is no denying that moving among these people, at times as the only person in the outside world they communicated with, was intriguing to say the least.

Once I met a guy who was in prison for murdering his mom. He was schizophrenic, and when I met him in prison, he was just totally shattered. He wrote me a letter one day, I opened it and saw it was a cartoon. It was a drawing of Gandhi strangling Abraham Lincoln, whose famous top hot was askew. All it said was, “Dear Brian, I thought you would enjoy this.” Sadly, in some way, I did.

Another guy with an odd job is Eric Holler. Owner of Serial Killers Ink, he has been making money auctioning the remnants of murder and chaos since 2008. Holler is a dealer in murderabilia, which means he deals collectibles related to murders.

A lot of people think this is wrong of course, making money from horrific crimes, even tangentially, can make people quite upset. Victims advocates have attempted to have Serial Killers Ink Facebook page removed to no avail. Holler, and others in this business, have been going strong for a while now. He even has a Murder Girl modeling aspect to his brand.

I rapped with johnny trevisani, who I happen to know. johnny is the author and compiler of the rather wild new book Serial Killer Quote of the Day which is available on Amazon. A lot of people have been buying his book, so I mean people are into this kind of thing. Right? I asked him, “Why do you think people are into stuff that is so fucked up?”

He simply replied, “Why did Silence of the Lambs win academy awards? Or why is the Texas Chainsaw Massacre a brand? I think it’s the same thing that draws people to my book; it’s vile, despicable, and true. The fact that these people walked free on this earth, lived in neighborhoods, shopped at grocery stores… basically lived a normal American existence while hiding their demons is a universal fear. It’s like the adult version of children monster movies… except it’s real.”

I also talked to Eric Holler, who was kind enough to answer some questions:

BW: A lot of people are going to want to know, how did you get started in this business? What separates Serial Killers Ink from the competition?
EH I started writing to Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker back in 1997. We struck up a friendship and he soon asked if I would act as his art dealer. I did. I then began writing other infamous killers and selling items for them. As far as being successful – I’ve always focused on my own shit not worrying about what anyone else was doing in this industry.

BW: Can you give me some examples of the typical things that you guys sell? How about some of the oddest?
EH: Artwork, craft items, and letters generally make up the true crime collectibles industry. A few of the oddest items? Bullet fragments from the body of a surviving victim of the Aurora movie theater massacre. That would be up there. Yard soil from the yard of Anthony Sowell (The Cleveland Strangler), where he buried his victims. Panties that belonged to Christa Pike. Santa Claus suit that belonged to John Robinson aka ‘The Slave Master’ that he wore to children’s Christmas parties.

BW: What are some of the highest priced items you have sold?
EH: John Wayne Gacy paintings. Signed Ted Bundy items. A signed drawing by Ed Gein. Those all listed and sold in the four digit range.

BW: I like fucked up people way more than the next guy, but have you ever had to deal with someone that freaked you out?
EH: People in line at the local Quickie mart freak me out more than serial killers do. Serial killers are usually pretty cool people when you get to know them.

BW: I have always been fascinated by abnormal psychology, and people that do things far outside of cultural norms. I also love making people feel uncomfortable and pushing limits. What makes this type of work interesting to you?
EH: I too have always been drawn to dark or taboo things. When I first started writing to killers, the craziness of it all was the driving factor. But now, some 18 or so years later, it’s really the money that makes all this interesting to me. I still have a passion for all this crazy shit, but the money is why I still do it and is the driving factor. It’s what I do….