The zombie king & queen

Richard Riggs
Even zombies need leaders. Meet Richard Riggs, founder of Krewe of the Living Dead.

By day, Riggs works in a marina in Madisonville, Louisiana. By night, he leads a zombie gang that’s known citywide by its intials, KOLD.

The 38-year-old Riggs was born and raised in New Orleans, which is where 100 journalists will interview 30 of KOLD’s members this Saturday evening.

Gideon GrudoWe call it Zombie Stories, and its director (and former SPJ national board member) Gideon Grudo says it couldn’t happen without KOLD…

What really strikes you is how they’re simultaneously fully devoted to anything undead – just follow the group’s Facebook page to see what I mean – and then very laid back about its culture and “rules.” They don’t care how you feel about the undead or what level of fandom you fall under. If you like a good zombie, they’ll crack a beer with you. That’s more than I can say for some holier-than-thou journalists out there.

Neither KOLD (nor Zombie Stories) would exist if not for a largely forgotten 1981 John Landis horror-comedy. Recalls Riggs…

My mother and aunt took me to see American Werewolf in London when I was 7 – and it horrified me. That pretty much changed the course of what I was interested in. From that night on, I went from a little kid obsessed with Star Wars and sci-fi to being obsessed with Famous Monsters of Filmland and Fangoria magazine. The first Zombie movie I saw was Return of the Living Dead, which didn’t impress me too much. But it did lead me to rent George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, which impressed the hell out of me.

In 2011, Riggs launched his krewe – basically, a social group of horror-flick fans. These days, KOLD’s pub crawls can turn out 150 zombies who shuffle from bar to bar.

Bryanna Leger
If Riggs is King of the Zombies, Bryanna Leger is their queen. Although her family thinks she’s crazy.

Leger is assisting Riggs with Zombie Stories because her day job requires her to be hyper-organized: “I am the Attendee Coordinator for the New Orleans Investment Conference. It hosts as many as 600 attendees and has many speakers who are well-known in the political and investment arena.”

Leger has been a KOLD member for about a year and a half. But it was a fresh breakup and not an old movie that got her involved.

“I had recently gotten out of a long-term relationship and was looking for fun things to get involved in and ways to occupy my mind and time,” Leger says. “I’ve had a morbid fascination with all things horror for as long as I can remember.”

Her relatives never understood that…

I come from a very close family, and although they may not understand all of my interests, they’re aware of them – and love and respect me unconditionally. My 78-year-old grandmother thinks that zombies are ‘disgusting’ – but she’s helped me make some of my costumes.

Zombie Stories

Think you can extract similar quotes from other zombies?

Then come to Zombie Stories.

You’ll interview real (and real interesting) people. If you can cobble together three good questions and elicit three good answers, you’ll win the grand prize: Getting made up as a zombie and embarking on a KOLD zombie pub crawl.

Of course, if you ask dumb questions, you get punished. KOLD zombies will smear your shirt with fake blood. Then again, we give you the shirt. And there’s no cost to play. So even if you suck as an interviewer, you walk away with a free (if bloody) shirt.

Want to know more? Email Grudo at

Zombie Stories is sponsored by SPJ regions 3 and 12 and SPJ Florida, the 2010 Chapter of the Year. So now you know who to blame.

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