Thursday, February 12, 2009

It CAN Happen Here (HERITAGE USA)

Some years ago, in this part of the Carolinas, there was a religious scam going down. Its popular name was "the PTL CLUB". Begun and operated by a couple of scumbags, it grew and thrived until it had become a 2400-acre theme park that rivaled the Disney operations in total attendance. The place was enormous and the growth potential was limitless, for there seemed to be an endless supply of clueless rubes whom the operators found only too easy to frisk of their hard-earned pesos.

Alas!Finally, the poorly constructed house of lies came to pieces. Like Bernie Madoff's theivery, the instigators were caught in the act and everything came crashing down. The outfit proved to be a tremendous Humpty-Dumpty, and even Jerry Falwell (whose jaws no doubt slavered at the thought of that wealth) couldn't put it back together. Neither could Morris Cerullo. The entire operation and all of that vast acreage fell into receivership. Some Asian gentlemen bought it all up for a song, and there it lay fallow for years, most of the place just wasting away into ruins.

The last time I'd been there, was in the company of authors Rick Hautala and James Morrow. That had certainly been an interesting trip, as at the time the PTL facilities had pretty much reached their apex of deterioration. Everywhere we looked the parking lots were jutting with weeds. Buildings were coming apart. Roofs were collapsed from lack of repair and water filled the buildings on which we spied through dark and smeared and shattered windows.

Today, I went back for another look. Much of the damage has been repaired, although many of the landmark buildings are still wasting away to the elements. But huge swaths of the 2400 acres are now filled with subdivisions. Those Asian gentlemen who had bought the land at such a reduced price seem to have done quite well for their small investment. I'd heard that they were Christians, but there's a certain kind of justice to think that some of those profits might end up in Buddhist temples. Who knows?At any rate, here are some interesting photos that I took on my brief journey through the old grounds of Heritage USA, aka The PTL Club. HAHA!

These are the towers that really got Jim Bakker in trouble. Apparently he'd oversold the condo units here. Like some kind of real-life Max Bialystok and Leo Bloom he'd sold several hundred per cent of the joint! HAW! HAW! HAW!

This place was really, really weird. It was an amphitheater where the rubes would go to watch the "Passion Play". When I saw it last, the part that's all red clay and brush was a twisted representation of what the builders saw as Jesus-era Jerusalem. It wasn't accurate, of course, but it fit the bill for the average idiot who attended these "plays". For some reason, the city part of the structure has already been demolished, so all that remains is the boarded up box office and the stadium-style seating. Adjacent to the ruins is a ramshackle time-share campground.

This was something called "The Upper Room". Sorry, I'm not a devout Fundie, so I don't know the origin of that term. It means nothing to me. This place was probably the strangest of all the places where I stopped for photos. I'll post details on just why when I get around to the small stuff tomorrow.

One place that I didn't see was "Kevin's House". I just didn't have time to look for it. Kevin's House was a big, rambling structure that had been built, ostensibly, for a hideously deformed young person whose name was Kevin and whom the founders of PTL had milked for all he was worth. People would get one look at the pitiful tyke and empty their savings account into the PTL Club coffers. I'm not sure what the theives had planned for that house once its initial use was done, but I'm sure it was for nefarious purposes.

I also didn't go to see the area once called "Main Street USA", because it's in use again by a religious organization, and I just didn't want to encounter any of those folk. But not too long ago that place, too, was in ruins, and I'm sure it would have made for some interesting photographs. Now, though, I wasn't keen on taking a look at it.

This spot was really creepy. It reminded me of that abandoned amusement park that used to be in Salt Lake City (the Saltair). That Utah spot had been used as a location shot and it featured prominently in the classic Herk Harvey indie film CARNIVAL OF SOULS. This building reminds me of the one from that 1962 film, and it is all that remains of the old Heritage USA water park. All of the pools and water slides and such have been bulldozed and demolished. Other than this decrepit "castle", all that's left of the old water park is a huge empty lot full of weeds and red clay. HAHA!


Tomorrow, I'll post shots and comments on some of the really creepy stuff that I noticed upon closer inspection of the area. (Shudders!)


Here's a link to a very cool short horror film directed by Mark Steensland, based on a short story by Keelan Patrick Burke, and screenplay by my old pal Rick Hautala. So go take a look for a quick chill!

PS: This is, apparently, my 500th blog post.

6 comments:

jewell said...

It sad to see people rant and rave about something when they don't even have all the facts... If you don't agree with what they were all about, why did you even go? Next time you want to get the Facts about a peace of History, try getting the true facts, like from people who were more apart of it then the media who likes to twist everything against Christianity. Oh and thanks for calling my uncle "hideously deformed" wow, thats journalism for ya! Don't you feel like a big man.

HemlockMan said...

Here's some more information on Kevin and PTL. I didn't write it, but it's good truthful stuff.

overcrown1 said...

WOW! you really are clueless! that's the biggest bunch of crap i,ve ever heard, who are you to write stuff like that anyway? You better not go back there, the big bad Christians might get ya!
LOL, HA HA HA, what a jurk!

HemlockMan said...

It was so much fun to watch it rot.

Onemanvolt said...

Scumbags? I've heard Jim and Tammy referred to in various ways but "scumbags" certainly is the worst and most inaccurate. The word idiot certainly comes to mind when I see such an uninformed reference.

HemlockMan said...

I never thought of them as idiots, but you may be on to something. I do know that anyone who admires them or followed them are definitely idiots. Especially anyone who follows the reconstituted scam-artist.