Tea Krulos’s latest non-fiction book is titled Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers. He has also been published in a wide variety of other publications including the New York Press, The Guardian, Boston Phoenix, Scandinavian Traveler, Doctor Who Magazine, The Onion, and Pop Mythology. Some of his favorite subjects to explore and write about include unique subcultures, people, and places, as well as art, music, and pop culture.
Jonathan Lowe) In The Purge, on one night anyone can “even the score” with those they hate as a group or individually. Is there a desire for revenge among preppers and monster hunters, or is it mostly defensive fear?
Tea Krulos) I think for preppers it’s really a defensive fear, a fear of mankind gone mad because they haven’t properly prepared and so they will attack people for food and supplies. “The haves and the have nots” is how one prepper described the breakdown of society in an catastrophic event. Most monster hunters and paranormal investigators are mostly in it because they are curious and hoping to prove that a mystery exists.
JL) Have never understood zombies. The books are usually better than the movies and TV series. The movie Z was ridiculous from a credible standpoint, although visually stunning as escapism. Thoughts on the metaphors at work at Zombie Con and Zombie Squad, and why the pop attraction to animated brain dead flesh? What was your involvement like?
TK) Zombie Squad is a fun organization that uses a zombie apocalypse as a metaphor to prepare for disasters. The idea is if you can train to survive zombies, you’ll learn basic survival skills. They also like to watch zombie movies and have an annual camping trip called Zombie Con. I joined them for Zombie Con a couple years ago in Missouri. It was a fun and interesting weekend. I think the attraction to zombies is that they’re classic and often a metaphor for a braindead consumer culture.
JL) What states and areas have the largest numbers of Supernatural, Big Foot, UFO, and survivalist fans, and why do you think that is?
TK) I’ve found that there’s quite a wide spanning interest in these topics, and I’ve been all over the country to meet people involved. Many survivalists are more rural, but not all, there are urban preppers. Bigfoot sightings have happened in every state but Hawaii and UFOs are seen around the globe.
JL) Wondering about Hawaii. Over three and a half million of these people in the United States. They spend a lot of money on surviving, yet are worried about money becoming worthless, and hoard gold instead to barter? Seems like the sales industry loves survivalists. Booming business?
TK) Some preppers do stockpile things like gold, silver, and items to barter like bottles of liquor. The idea is that if society crashes and cash becomes worthless, these items will be useful to barter. The prepper business is booming and has been for some time. It’s a niche market, but one that caters to people that are willing to spend money on gear, food, books, and classes. They view it as a sort of insurance policy against disaster.
JL) It’s both sad and amusing that politics plays a role in gun sales and shelter building. Do the stats swing the both ends of the spectrum?
TK) Traditionally speaking, preppers have leaned conservative, and the prepping industry boomed under the Obama administration. The election of Trump, though, has led to a growing number of liberal preppers. I didn’t see them represented at the expos I went to, it may be that they’ll need to get their own expo going. And I should mention that a good number of preppers probably would identify as Libertarian or no political affiliation.
JL) What exactly defines a “society-ending event?” Are UFOs ever involved, like the “Heaven’s Gate” group?
TK) There’s many ideas of what a society ending event might be, including extra-terrestrial invasion, nuclear annihilation, extreme weather, an electro-magnetic pulse attack, angry God, out of control technology, or a pandemic, just to list a few of the major ideas.
JL) Raven Ridge or Raven Rock survival bunker for politicians… Missile silos interest me because I once explored one for a story I wrote for an article. People may not realize how many there are, and also how many are live, not just abandoned, with antique equipment and lax safety standards. Many accidents and near catastrophes have happened, chronicled in books. What has your experience been like? How much does a survival condo cost?
TK) I was fortunate enough to get a tour of the Survival Condos, which were built in a former Atlas missile silo in Kansas. It was an interesting and surreal experience. The former control room for the missile silo is now a hydroponic center and there’s several levels that include a swimming pool, classrooms, a movie theater, and then half or full size condo units priced between 1.5-3 million dollars.
JL) Why not just stock a boat and sail the ocean like a ghost ship, or set up camp on a garbage island? Will they be playing Pacman or Space Invaders when the big one hits, like it almost did in North Carolina with an H-Bomb?
TK) I think a boat would not be as confining as a bunker, but might be more vulnerable to attack on the open water. I think both Pac-Man and Space Invaders are good for survival skill reflex training!
JL) I’ve been to Biosphere 2, too, and the movie made there was a comedy. Thoughts on movies related to these subjects?
TK) It just goes to show you how popular the idea of the end days is in pop culture. In addition to thrillers and dramas, there’s popular video games, and quite a few comedic takes on the concept– Biodome and TV shows like The Last Man on Earth. I also attended a fun festival called Wasteland Weekend, where people party like it’s the end of the world out in the Mojave Desert.
JL) Final thoughts on fear of the “other guy” coming for our guns, our food, like brain dead zombies?
TK) Our American society is filled with paranoia, fear, anger, distrust, and hatred. I’m not saying that’s what preppers are all about– many of them simply want to be able to survive a disaster. But that level of fear about society and how dangerous it is certainly is a factor.