Horror hostess Janet Jay is one of the best-known personalities to horror fans in the Cleveland area. Besides co-hosting her show The Mummy and the Monkey as her alter ego, Janet Decay, and her personal appearances at horror events, Janet has appeared in quite a few indie film productions. She has become a favorite of Cleveland-based filmmaker Robert Kotabish. Her numerous short films include Robert’s Nurse Candy, Dr. Help Me!, and Body Ache. Kill Them Right! (2012) and Moon Shine Vixens (2017) are among Robert’s full-length videos Janet has appeared in. Dustin Mills’ 2013 Easter Casket (2013) and Jay Summers’ Revenge of the Spaceman (2014) are also two of the more notable comedy-horror films in which to catch Janet.
Janet is also a reseller of collectable items and has a thriving eBay store. In many of her videos at The Mummy and the Monkey‘s Youtube channel, she tells how she’s turned decent profits on some of her finds from the various garage sales, swap meets, and second hand stores she frequents, as well as offering tips and tricks on flipping the gems she acquires. Learn more about “Cleveland’s Yummy Mummy” in the following interview. All accompanying photos courtesy of Janet herself.
JANET JAY: Robert is a great guy who respects his actors and actresses. I was in a handful of his films like Tarot Killer, and Kill Them Right!. We even put together a collection of comedy shorts for a DVD with my name on it (how nice). R.A.K Films is a small indie studio, but without a doubt, Robert gives people wanting to get started a chance as long as you show up to work. He’s also a great friend to have.
CHRIS: Are you a Cleveland native?
JANET: Yes, Cleveland proper.
CHRIS: Tell us how you came up with your alter ego, Janet Decay, and please give us some background on the character.
JANET: It all started with charity zombie walks in the Cleveland area around 2010. Everyone is dressed up as a zombie, raising funds for the Cleveland Food Bank, and I thought; “how can I be different?” Well, I made a mummy costume since mummies were the original zombies, but with less rotting flesh and more bandages. So that’s how my character was created. I would attend these events in my mummy wraps to have a beer and hang with friends. A few years later, I gave her the name “Janet Decay.” Not the most original, but easy to spell, easy to remember. The name was used at the time to help write film reviews for a friend’s website that is no longer around. Later on, said friend was trying to take creative control over my name and character, but that didn’t settle well with me so I resigned from writing reviews, and he wasn’t my friend anymore after that.
A year later in 2013, Robert Kotabish met with another indie filmmaker who was putting together a cable show in Cleveland called “The Daughter of the Ghoul Show.” Supposed to be an homage to The Ghoul, Big Chuck and Lil’ John; those classic movie hosted shows from TV of yesteryear. The guy putting it together wanted a female hostess/personality on the show so I auditioned for it (thanks to Bob for telling me).
JANET: Well in 2013, on the set of The Daughter of the Ghoul, I met a character named “Grimm Gorri.” Part chimp, part man, and all schlock. The man behind the mask, James, is a talented artist and volunteered on the Daughter of the Ghoul, acting in skits and putting graphics together. We became friends, and later started dating. In late 2014 to early 2015, when we had a feeling Daughter of the Ghoul wasn’t sticking around long, we decided to work on videos together and we were trying to figure out a name for a show both our characters could host. In October of 2014, we visited the Medina, Ohio gazebo/downtown area in character, getting video of their Halloween decorations and we were giving candy out to the kids. We heard the little kids shouting very clearly; “Mummy ….Monkey! Mummy, Monkey!” and later that day I suggested to James; “That’s it, that’s the name of our show. The Mummy And The Monkey.” We let it gel awhile and felt that this was the best name. It was easy to figure out and to the point, and almost six years later it continues to be. In 2017, I married the Monkey and we produce, write, edit, direct, and star in the whole production. Some people have a crew ….we are the crew.
CHRIS: Is there anyone in particular you’d like to have as a guest on the show?
CHRIS: Did any horror hostess in particular inspire you?
JANET: Vampira if I had to pick someone legendary. It sounds cliché, but she started that whole genre and was way ahead of her time. She made her own costumes, applied her own makeup, and very much had a passion for the genre. There is a hard to find book called Vampira And Her Daughters, and I was mentioned as being “her daughter” as someone who was inspired by her creativity. Other inspirations are from our local TV legends in Ohio, silent film actresses, and ancient Egyptian culture.
CHRIS: You’ve made quite a few film appearances. Do you have plans to do more acting in indie horror?
JANET: Well I act on our own show, and I do still get acting gigs from time to time. My last one was a part in the movie/documentary called MOMO: The Missouri Monster (2019), available on Amazon. If you liked Legend Of Boggy Creek, you’ll dig it.
CHRIS: Who are some of your favorite Scream Queens?
JANET: My favorite would have to Brinke Stevens. I was in a movie once with her (Post-Mortem, 2010), and later interviewed her at Cinema Wasteland in 2018. Brinke is a sweet lady in real life. Debbie Rochon is awesome too, and she has been in a ton of films.
CHRIS: What have been your favorite horror conventions or events you’ve attended, either as a featured guest or as a spectator?
JANET: As a guest, I would have to say Ghoulardifest, Cinema Wasteland, and Akron Comic Con. Those are my favorite Ohio conventions. It’s great to attend many conventions. There’s a lot that I like, but my favorite ones are the ones were they bring you on as a guest. The fans are awesome. We love our convention fans and friends.
JANET: Yes, some things, but after awhile you need to declutter and make room. Most things we acquire we resell. Some vintage Halloween blow mold lights, and vintage things of that sort, we keep. Some things we keep if we can use as a prop for our studio or show. I also keep a lot of sentimental things fans have given us. I started reselling full time in 2017 and for three years had a brick-and-mortar shop in Lakewood, Ohio. Now we sell online on eBay, Poshmark, and Mercari apps.
CHRIS: What have been some of your best thrift store or garage sale finds/flips?
JANET: Well so far, a good find was a Seiko watch that was found at a flea market for $1 and sold for $600. Another one, a shoe box full of “The Girl From U.N.C.L.E” doll and accessories by Marx Toys (1960s) sold for $700, paid $1. Those are some big home run flips. We sell a wide variety of collectibles and any sale we are grateful for. I’m really happy to be working from home on my own terms especially right now with things being so uncertain. On our Youtube channel, The Mummy And The Monkey we have a “Monster Hustle” playlist talking about the reselling aspect in more detail.
CHRIS: Are you an avid collector of anything?
JANET: Vintage Halloween, some jewelry, vintage Nintendo Game Boy, and sentimental things from my various experiences. Even though we buy a lot of things to resell, I’m not a materialistic person. I love the thrill of the hunt, but happy to let a lot of things go and make a paycheck.
JANET: It’s really hard to say because we love conducting the interviews, and hope we can next year when hopefully the pandemic calms down, but some notable ones are Lloyd Kaufman from Troma, Tom Sullivan, special effects mastermind for the first two Evil Dead films, Eddie Munster aka Butch Patrick, and of course, Big Chuck, Lil John, Hoolihan, and Superhost, our local TV legends.
CHRIS: As you mentioned, this interview is being conducted during the coronavirus pandemic, and we’ve all had to change our lifestyles because of that. What would you say you are currently missing the most?
JANET: Hugging our friends, high fiving our fans, posing for photos, hanging out at conventions. We also miss shopping the flea markets and thrift stores. We pretty much miss everything. I miss giving my mom a hug.
CHRIS: Do you have any skills or hobbies most only those close to you would know about?
JANET: I talk to my cats and I can wash dishes with scalding hot water without burning my hands, but seriously, I can sew and draw a little bit, and type all this out (laughs).
CHRIS: With that, I’ll thank you so much for doing this with me, Janet. In closing, any shout-outs to anyone?
JANET: My mummy.
CHRIS: Oh, just one more question: In order, how would you rank the monster cereals, Franken Berry, Count Chocula, Fruit Brute, Boo Berry, and Yummy Mummy?
JANET: Well, Yummy Mummy is number one, then Chocula, then the berries. Not sure, I like chocolate cereal more.
The latest episode of a segment featured on The Mummy and the Monkey,
entitled “Hairy Scary Hangover.” See more at the Youtube channel.
Thanks to Robert Kotabish of R.A.K Films.