More than 30 years after Michael Jackson’s legendary track, album and creep-out video stunned the world, it’s “Thriller” night again. Only this time, it’s got the kick ass edge of spooky-wicked, dimension-busting horror rocker Characula (www.characula.com).
More than simply a creepy-fun alter ego for multi-talented singer, songwriter and performer Cheri Anaclerio, Characula is her turned inside out, and upside down. She unleashes the demons in her powerhouse imagination to create, in a tip of the blood-dripped cap to Frank Zappa, blistering music about monsters, sex and rock ‘n roll.
Lady Gaga’s got her “little monsters,” named for a track on her multi-platinum The Fame Monster, but Characula is a full-time musical phantom, roaming and dreaming in a world where vampires, werewolves, space aliens and even your next door neighbor have looked good on her plate…and bed! That is when she’s not in her Clark Kent mode applying the other side of her brain to her day job as a hardware engineer working for a major electronics company.
Characula may not be able to hide her wild inner truth from anyone much longer, considering the momentum that’s been building since fall 2012. Before Halloween and for a few weeks after, her infectiously ghoulish single “Mummy Dance” snagged airplay on numerous Top 40 stations across the country; her follow-up, a blazing cover of Bad Company’s “Ready For Love,” recently jumped ten spots into the Top 50 on the Mediabase Activator Chart, just behind superstars Maroon 5, Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull, Bruno Mars and Mumford and Sons. Her singles are being promoted by Howie Rosen of Howard Rosen Promotion, Inc. (www.howiewood.com)
In her live band video for “Ready For Love,” she sports two different looks, one with a red “electro-shocked” wig, and the other with black hair and wearing a nightgown from the 1940’s —because in those old black and white horror movies she loves, the female victims are always wearing nightgowns. She is also shooting videos for “Come On Baby” (a searing blend of seduction and evil) and “Mummy Dance.”
When she’s not traveling back and forth in time, spending nights in the 69th and 666th dimension and prowling the streets after midnight hunting for lecherous monsters and lonely men, Characula is busy putting the finishing touches on her full-length debut album. The project is helmed by renowned rock producer Dito Godwin, whose vast resume includes No Doubt, Great White, members of KISS and Motley Crue.
With its over the top sound and tons of electric guitars and keyboards behind her in-your-face vocals, Characula promises the project will be “very sexy, the Cirque du Soleil of music.” The titles of some of the other tracks fit the alternate dimension theme perfectly: “Dead Light District Dolls,” “Werewolf Hunter,” “Vampire Fever” and “Graveyard Party.”
“I love the world of monsters because not only can everyone relate to them, they provide a door into an exciting life beyond my everyday reality,” she says. “I tell story songs like one of my favorite singers, Cher, did in the 1970s, but in my super-dimensional world, I’m luring in and being pursued by B-movie monsters. To me, the cheesy black and white monsters of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s represent the epitome of traditional masculinity: strong, silent and slightly dangerous! What’s even more alluring is that under their gruff exterior, they have the capability to be gentle and loving toward a woman they love—or are trying to seduce! Both Dracula and Frankenstein would make for much better dates than some of the ones I’ve had been on, believe me! And neither requires online dating to get a woman. Imagine that!!
“In a twisted way,” Characula continues, “these songs are about female empowerment. Characula is an insatiable she-entity that takes on the guise of a seductive woman to live out dark fantasies that have preyed upon man from time immortal. It baffles me that a man can be attracted to a woman and at the same time, not respect her. Characula uses this attraction to her advantage to lure her male victims and exact whatever fate she wishes upon them! And because she is not confined to this life, she’s not limited to human interaction. She can be friends with whomever she likes—space aliens, werewolves, vampires, Frankenstein. She can pick up anyone—or anything! She can cut continents and cross centuries like sailors voyage the seas. It’s complete freedom and allows me to go anywhere I want to in a song.
“It comes down to exploring and exploiting the world of imagination. Everyone has a ‘Characula’ inside of them!”
Even before the transformation from “Cheri” to “Characula,” the multi-faceted performer embodied the sheer boldness that would later infuse the character. She explored her musical abilities during grad school at UNC, when she used a KORG synthesizer with 16 tracks to write her first tune, the racy “I.F.U.F.O’s.” She began writing more and then started collaborating on tracks with a lab mate who happened to be a rock guitarist.
Though she put her graduate degrees in biomedical engineering from UNC and electrical engineering from North Carolina State to good use working as an electrical engineer, Characula couldn’t shake her love for music and the belief she could best express herself through the fantasy world she created in her songs. Wanting to work again with her original musical partner, who had moved to Los Angeles, she transferred to San Diego and got the ball rolling. Undeterred even after he got married, she started dating a guitarist and, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt, wrote “Mummy Dance”—which is loaded with powerful Egyptian imagery and trippy Middle Eastern sounds.
After she broke up with her co-writer, she penned some other monster-themed tunes and hooked up with a local producer to help flesh them out. As she explains it, he took moral and religious offense to her lyrics and wasn’t willing to devote the time or energy to her material that she felt it warranted. Soon after she did some online research and found Dito Godwin’s vibe and resume fit her style perfectly. Summoning that Characula-like courage, coupled with frustration after the fallout with her former producer, she contacted the well-known and respected Godwin online, explaining she had a Halloween song she thought could be a hit in the right hands. Godwin immediately saw the potential, turned solid tracks into hit singles and made a suggestion that changed the singer’s life. Together they created “Characula” as an outlet for her vivid musical imagination.
Like Elvira back in the day, Characula has unlimited potential as a multi-media character. One of her upcoming opportunities is appearing on the popular Texas-based TV show “Guitar Asylum,” on which she will be interviewing guitar players in full Characula hair, garb and persona.
“My parents both appreciate that I work as an engineer,” she says. “However, while my mom likes my whole musical vibe, my more conservative dad is worried that I may actually think I’m Characula! The best part of all of this is being able to create something from nothing, writing and performing a song like ‘Mummy Dance’ that draws people into a whole different world. I want to share my songs, inspire and perform for people and take the Cirque Du Soleil monster concept into many different dimensions. My goal is to overwhelm everyone with a glamorous horror show, featuring a hard driving rock band that will lure ALL into the cult of Characula!”
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