We had the good fortune of connecting with Angel Melanson (AKA HorrorGirl Problems) and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Angel, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
Everything I do comes from a place of genuine love, passion and a desire to help whenever possible. When you’re running a small operation on your own it can feel nearly impossible to do things in a way that will benefit the community. In those situations, I ask myself what my skill set is and try to use that in a way that will be helpful. Sometimes that means screen printing shirts by hand to fundraise for charities. Other times that means using my writing to talk about my own experiences navigating the world through my own personal lens in a way that is very raw. I’ve learned that can help others in unexpected ways. I always have the desire to have a positive social impact but I don’t really ever assume or expect that something I do can implement change in a big way. It’s more like, approaching everything from the most genuine place I possibly can. If we can come together as a community to raise money for causes that are important to us collectively, that’s great. It’s more than zero and it’s a positive drop in the bucket. The same thing goes for anything I make. If one person can take something meaningful away from a piece of my writing or podcast or whatever form of media it is, that’s wonderful. If a million people are trying to help their communities in even the smallest ways, that’s a million tiny drops in the bucket which ends up being a pretty nice chunk if you look at it as a whole.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Horror is my ultimate passion and I realized that there are multiple aspects of myself that are underrepresented in not just the movies I love, but the horror community in general. I’m a horror fan, I’m also a woman, Latina, and LGBTQ. A holy trifecta of underrepresentation so to speak. I wanted to set out to change that, change the face of horror, make it feel more inclusive to a broader range of fans. Everything I do stems from wanting to make others feel seen and welcome. I know how important it has been in my life when I find spaces that make me feel not just safe but actively welcome. Contributing to that and finding ways to serve others with the kinds of things I create, is so important to me. That’s what makes it worthwhile.
I recently had an article published on Gayly Dreadful as part of their pride month fundraiser. I’m a very private person, that article was the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever shared publicly. It was hard to write it, harder than I could have imagined when I set out to do it. Once it was done, it was scary to put this raw piece out there for public eyes. It’s been a few days now and the amount of messages I’ve received from people sharing their own vulnerable stories and the way they have related to this piece makes me feel like there was a reason I had those words inside me, waiting to share. If anything, I always want people to feel seen, heard, and know they are not alone.
When I first started HorrorGirl Problems, it was initially mostly horror cosplay photos that evolved into a sporadic blog. A fun way to pay tribute to the movies I love. During the pandemic, I lost my full-time job and decided to finally expand and start the podcast I had always wanted to do. I didn’t know if anyone would listen, or if anyone would say yes to being a guest. But I love horror, I love talking to people about horror and that’s all that mattered. So I went for it. The list of people I’ve been able to chat with in the past year or so, absolutely boggles my mind!
The main lesson I’ve learned (and this was a really big and really difficult one for me) is- don’t be afraid to ask. Or, ask in spite of being afraid. You can’t get what you want if people don’t know what you’re after. By letting people know where I was heading, it created this space for them to say yes to things that would help me get there. The second lesson is- makers are going to make. Creators are going to create. I didn’t know if anyone was going to read or listen to what I was making. But I had to do it anyway, for myself. I was creating a space that would ideally serve to fill a bit of a void. I think maybe that passion resonates with people. Since creating my own podcast, I’ve also expanded HGP to a store where I hand make items mostly celebrating women in horror. I’ve also been able to host lots of Fangoria panels as a correspondent. Fangoria is basically the ultimate horror royalty, and every time I get to host for them, I sort of just take a second to stop and appreciate the fact that in a lot of ways, I’m already living out some of the wildest dreams of the monster-loving kid I was. Third- I finally got comfortable with just being myself. It’s really easy to worry about things like not wanting to look silly, etc. But at a certain point, I just figured- well. this is me in all my awkward, silly glory, and I am having so much fun. And I think coming to this as my most genuine self, not holding back, has really helped. There’s only one you. So when you do something as your authentic self, you’re bringing something to the equation that only you can offer.
This makes it sound pretty simple, I mean it’s pretty straightforward right? Maybe those three lessons come pretty easily for some people. For me, they were definitely a struggle. But I’m really glad I was able to learn those things and grow in the process of becoming more comfortable.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh gosh, I really love to tailor an itinerary based on the person. Let’s say it’s a horror lover visiting town! There’s a little strip in Burbank that feels like Halloween year-round. So I would definitely suggest The Mystic Museum, they have rotating exhibits (presently it’s a vintage video store theme) and lots of fun, spooky oddities for sale. It’s essentially like a three-in-one so you could spend a good chunk of time there. Right up the street is Halloween Town, which also takes up multiple buildings- it’s three storefronts of costumes, spooky props and decor. After all that wonderfully horrific shopping, we would definitely have to stop by Porto’s for some sandwiches and potato balls.
Of course we would also have to stop by SugarMynt gallery in South Pasadena. It’s an art gallery with typically horror themed exhibits featuring lots of local artists. They also do events, movie screenings and… it’s right next to the Michael Myers house from the original John Carpenter Halloween. Very fitting. Multiple locations from the 1978 Halloween are nearby, so a walk to the famous hedge would definitely be next on the list, and if they were a huge fan, then I would definitely drive them around to all the other Halloween filming locations nearby. For cinephiles, the Videotheque just around the corner from the Michael Myers house is an amazing video store with a killer collection and yes, you can actually rent movies!
Grill ‘Em All would be the next stop for some unbelievable burgers. Hollywood Forever Cemetery is also a must.
Downtown LA I think is often overlooked by tourists, so I love to take visiting friends to grab a bite at Grand Central Market. Basically whatever you’re craving, you can find it there. Which is cool for groups, because everyone can get something different but you still get to enjoy it together. And ideally you’ll get to sample whatever your friends ordered haha Angel’s Flight right across from Grand Central is always fun to show people, even when it’s not operational. The Last Bookstore is another place I like to take people, (also Vroman’s in Pasadena). Both of those offer a whole experience, so anyone who even remotely likes books is going to likely have their mind blown at both of those spots. And all the breweries downtown are always a lot of fun, but if you want to keep it horror themed, Phantom Carriage is well worth the drive to Gardena.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The team at Fangoria has been wildly supportive of me, along with everyone who reads/listens/watches the stuff I make. You all make this possible and I’m forever grateful for you wonderful creeps.