PRESS: Bugbee Eyes – The leader of Philly’s True Crime tour has a unique way of seeing things.

Bugbee Eyes – The leader of Philly’s True Crime tour has a unique way of seeing things.

by Angela Valdez

Eastern State Penitentiary often hosts morbid events, from its surprisingly spooky haunted house to investigations of the supernatural. But this Election Day the 175-year-old prison presents a show that could deeply offend even the most hardened horror fan.

Entitled True Crime & Warped Minds, Shane Bugbee’s traveling circus of murder and mayhem is something like the Wild West of true crime. The variety show includes a tour of the prison, guest speakers from the nether regions of true-crime fanaticism (like Charles Manson’s son and the webmaster of Serial Killer Central), crime scene photography, “real evidence” and a new documentary about serial killer H.H. Holmes, who was tried and executed in Philadelphia (see “Holmes Sweet Holmes,” PW, Oct. 29, 2003).

Bugbee is especially proud to show home videos of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold waving guns around and shouting threats into the camera. Bugbee says members of the Trench Coat Mafia gave him the tapes just days after Harris and Klebold killed 12 students and one teacher in Littleton, Colo.

No stranger to hate mail and death threats, Bugbee has begun to carve out a niche market for extreme national tours. His last traveling show, the Angry White Male Tour, featured Jim Goab, a convicted woman beater, and Skitzo, a performance artist who vomits on demand. The tour also featured plenty of pornography and confederate flags.

Likewise, Bugbee’s website ( adds a sprinkling of porn and Satanism to his stock of true-crime DVDs and books. His weekly Internet radio program, Three Ring Radio, has covered everything from a fairly tame interview with Penn Jillette to a more controversial on-air beating by a dominatrix.

Bugbee will tell you he’s just a normal guy making a living–definitely not a white supremacist. His main source of income, he says, is a novelty button and T-shirt business. His wife Amy sells homemade cookies and writes horror stories.

Bugbee, 35, says he became interested in the fringes of society 20 years ago. What started as curiosity grew into a desire to give voice to those who’d otherwise be silenced.

“I look at myself as a journalist,” he says. “I have an insatiable curiosity and don’t have any fear of talking to anyone.”

Bugbee rails against the mainstream media for commodifying true crime and exploiting both victims and criminals for their stories.

“I’m an anti-exploiter,” he says. “My stuff is so hardcore, you have to look away. I don’t spice it up and make it really cutesy so you can run a mac-and-cheese ad in between.”

Of course, there’s plenty of merch for sale on the tour, including a book of recipes from Dorothea Puente, who was convicted of poisoning the residents of her boarding house with home-cooked meals.

True Crime & Warped Minds
Tues., Nov. 2, 7pm. $20. Eastern State Penitentiary, 22nd St. and Fairmount Ave. 215.232.9000


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