DNA magic delivers kindred spirits

Updated On: May 31, 2022

You’ll believe in DNA magic, too, after this episode of Family Twist. This chapter of our found family adventure introduces Kendall’s Halloween-obsessed sister, Monica. Our shared love of horror is showcased. Monica and Kendall recall their first conversation and why they’re truly kindred spirits – with a spirited love of all things spooky and scary.

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00:05 Welcome to Family Twist, a podcast about relatively unusual stories of long lost families, adoption, and lots of drama. I'm Corey. And I'm Kendall, and we've been partners for over 16 years. So we're going to start off with a little recap for this episode. So if you go back to the first two episodes we did, that was when Kendall found out that he does actually have a birth family out there.

00:30 In the second episode, we talked to his brother Chris on his birth father's side, and they kind of shared the story of how they found each other. Well, Chris has a full sister, Monica, and Monica is joining us today. Thanks for being with us, Monica. Thanks for having me. So I'll let you to talk about a little bit, just like, what that experience was like. One, Monica finding out that Kendall was out there, and two, like, how you guys first connected on the phone, and we'll talk about the trip out, the visit and stuff.

01:02 So I'll let you guys just jump in there. I'll never forget when Chris and I were on our very first telephone call, and in the first minute that he and I were on the phone, he's like, okay, so you don't really know anything about your past and our family. We have a sister, and she's obviously your half sister, Kendall, but she's my full sister, and she has a son, too, named Gage. And it was the most mind blowing moment for me and always wanting siblings.

01:34 And of course, at that point, we didn't know anything about my mother's side of the family and that I might have other siblings. But even if I had never found my other two sisters and my other brother, I was just so ecstatic. I'm like, oh, my God, I'm talking to one brother. I've got another brother, and I've got a sister. And I was just like, Tell me all about him. And he's telling me about you and Gage, and it was amazing. So it took you and me a couple of days, though, to connect them.

02:05 Yes, I think it was a couple of days. I remember getting the text from Chris, like, you're not going to believe this. Chris and I were so far apart in age that we didn't communicate back and forth about it. And when I found out about it, I was too little to really understand what was going on until later in life. We would talk about it again, but I just never thought we'd find you because there was no ancestry DNA stuff back then. Finding somebody long lost was, like, impossible when we were kids.

02:36 So I just kind of put it in the back of my head, like, we're never going to meet them. It's not that I didn't want to meet you. I just didn't put a lot of hope into it because I thought it would be whole broken and it wasn't going to happen. So I didn't want to get my hopes up, but, yeah, it was a couple of days, though. I'm not sure why. I know. I remember Chris being pretty guarded for you. I was like, give me your number.

03:04 And she was like, I will calm down, but let's ease into this a little bit. In other words, he didn't want you to be, like, freaked out. He's this man calling me because I would have called you immediately. I'm actually shocked that he was like that because he's the person that you would think would be more guarded about. I'm the most easy outgoing. I will take anything on. I don't judge people till you give me a reason. And I love a new adventure. I think Chris was just a little anxious.

03:34 Like, he doesn't know me at that point very well either. I've often told him that I appreciated how much he did, even for himself, really. He was guarded, even online, even when I think about his ancestry profile, because when I made the match and it said Christopher Clark, when I clicked on his name, he had chosen to I didn't know that he lived in Massachusetts. I didn't know his age. I knew nothing.

04:03 Yeah, I believe that. I get it. I mean, you don't know who's going to find you. I could have been a serial killer. And he's worried that now that's my brother and now he knows where I am, that would be a much better pot. And you didn't turn into a serial killer after all. Yeah, but I get it. And I've told him I'm like, I might have felt the same way if I was the first person to put that profile out there not knowing who you are.

04:32 There's a lot of people out there you never know what you're getting into, so that makes sense. But. Yeah, but when he did give me your phone number and I called you, it was just like this immediate connection. We just. You were the brother I always wanted. Love you, Chris. Sorry. Well, Corey and I have often talked about love the rest of you siblings, but you and I are the closest.

04:59 We share a lot of common beliefs and interests, and I feel the same connection. I instantly felt comfortable with you and just having a lot of the same beliefs and same compassion and heart towards other human beings in the world and the things we believe are right from wrong. And Chris and I are definitely very opposite on a lot of that stuff. And so I loved having you to be close with. And I definitely feel that we connected immediately that way for sure.

05:31 Yeah. Because I remember at this point in the story, Corey and I are still in California and living our best Liberal life out there. And I was like, when I talked to Monica, I was like, I finally found my Liberal sister. You know what I mean? It was just interesting and how I felt. And that was important to me because I'm walking into this whole new life of having all these new family members and not knowing how people really feel about things.

05:59 And I could tell that you and I just connected so quickly. I believe in accepting anybody for who they are, unless they give you a reason not to trust them or do something personally to me, I will accept anybody until I have a reason not to. And that's the way I believe all humans should view. So we're in California, which is obviously all the way across the country from New England, but we wanted to meet this family. Like, phone calls and texts are great, but it's like, when can we go? When can we go meet them?

06:29 So we didn't take too long because you guys connected in August, and by what, mid October, we were visiting. It was fast. This just kind of dawned on me. But it was like, we haven't met these people before. And yes, you're related by birth, but we could be lunatics. But both Chris and Monica invited us to stay in their homes during this visit.

06:57 I think we stayed in a hotel the first night and the last night, but otherwise, we were staying in their homes, which is, like, that's huge. I wouldn't have had it any other way. I knew as soon as I talked to you that I wasn't concerned about anything ever happening. I just knew there was something there that I didn't need to be concerned, because I'm definitely not good at trusting people either. Honestly. Even when I told Cory, like, oh, Chris and Monica have both said that we can stay.

07:27 How do you feel about it? And I think Cory just kind of totally left that up to me. Like, I can't have an opinion about. I'm sure that was overwhelming. Do I want to just go jump in their families and sleep in their house? That must have been overwhelming. It was, but I felt like it was. Well, A, I was so happy to have been asked, but B, I felt like it was a nice way to connect, to physically see how we live. Exactly. It's just like you feel like you're part of a family when you wake up in someone's home.

07:57 And that meant a lot to me for people that have never had siblings, you just don't know how it feels. I can't imagine. And never really, at that point, never spend a night like a dad's house or anything. Well, no one wants to spend a night. Yeah.

08:23 He also offers the people on the side of the road and anybody who comes and keep him company. That's a good point, but it was really sweet. I remember we were visiting at his house that visit, and he said, Anytime you guys come, you're welcome to stay here. I've got this extra bedroom, and Meanwhile, you were having to cut through the smoke with your hands to be able to see. Exactly. It was like, you don't even want to visit for five minutes and let alone sleep in that. I know.

08:53 I was like, I think I'll have a bronchial attack if I stay overnight with you, dad. But he was very nice, and it was sweet, and he's the best intention and was very delusional about how much smoke was in that place. Yes. No, it wasn't Smokey at all in his eyes, not a bit. That first visit was wonderful. So we actually met Monica and her son Gage and Kendall's Uncle Sean, all the same time.

09:24 So Chris hosted a get together so we could all meet and my dad. Yeah, that's right. I was just looking at the photos from that day this week, and it's just like, wow, you look Sean. Yeah. But if you look at the four of you, Monica and Chris, Kendall and your dad, you see the resemblance there.

09:49 It's just like, it's so interesting to see pictures of Kendall next to each of his siblings, because you could just get little pieces, and it's like, I know you're only half siblings, but it's like looking at the two of you now, it's like the eyes and nose. Definitely. That was, like, surreal. Yeah. But that was a good time. Yeah. Uncle Sean is a character. Yes. Most of us Clarke's are. It just so happened when we visited that weekend in Worcester.

10:19 There was a horror convention. Kendall and I are super passionate about horror movies, but we had no idea that Monica was also a huge Halloween horror person. So I was like, hey, that might be a fun thing for us to do with the family. It was actually perfect. It was a nice easy, like, something we can do altogether and not feel uncomfortable if anyone was overwhelmed. It was an event that we could each do our own thing if we needed to, but we didn't need to.

10:47 We're stuck with glue. Yeah, it was awesome. So we ended up taking, like, a group photo with a cane. Hodder, who is the guy who has played Jason. And the Friday the 13th movie is more than anybody else awesome photo. And, of course, then we shared the story. Like, he kind of wanted to know why this huge group of people was taking a photo with him, and so he thought the story was really cool. And I have seen him at subsequent events, and he remembers the story like, hey, how's it going?

11:18 How's it going with your adventure out there? So it's one of those. He's a real nice guy, too. One of the cool touchstones of this. And so after we got back, because I go to as many horror conventions as I can, I don't even remember which one this was, but it was back in California, and everything was still so fresh. So it's like, I'm telling everybody the story how we met the Kendall's birth family, and I was at this one by myself, but there was another guy, CJ Graham, who also played Jason in front of the 13th movies.

difference, but it was like,:

12:21 My name is CJ Graham. I'm Jason. And Friday the 13th, part six. I understand you and Gage are huge horror fans, so he's in front of me scoring points, getting you an autograph hockey mask. So I just want to let you know it's en route. We didn't expect you to answer the phone. It's about 100 in the morning there, but you'll have this message forever. Again, it's Jason Fry the 13th, part six, and I killed 18 people in the movie. You don't want to be 19. All right.

12:51 That was the best ending. I think I cried. I thought it was so sweet that Cory thought to do that. Well, I could go on and on and on about the horror community because I started going to comic book conventions when I was a teenager, and they're fun. But when I actually started going to just the horror conventions, it's like, these are my people. These are, like, awesome people. It's like they're not. We're all a little freaky, but just so nice, so polite.

13:19 People that aren't into the horror stuff think that we're all bunch of weirdo, and I think there's something going to be wrong with us. But we're all pretty great people in that community, and I wish I could go to as many conventions as you. I mean, granted, Halloween is more my thing than horror. We'll get there. But, yeah, I met a ton of great people. The ones I've gone with. You right. We'll talk a little bit about why you love Halloween so much. I loved Halloween as a kid.

13:47 We lived in a great neighborhood where there was one house every year that actually would, if I remember correctly, they would actually empty their furniture out and turn the downstairs into a walk through haunted house. And of course, it's nothing compared to my awesome stuff, but that was, like, my first taste of loving Halloween. And it's funny, because in second and third grade, the school I went to every year, second and third graders had to write a book and make a paperback cover and act like you were an actual author.

14:19 And I still have one of the books. And literally you could tell I was going to be into either. I was going to be a sociopathic killer, or I was going to be into stuff, like, horrible, because in second or third grade, which every year it was a route to book, it was like six pages, one sentence, each page. And it was like, I went home and nobody was there. And the next page is like, I heard a scream upstairs. And the next page is, I found my whole family dead. I mean, this was like, second and third grade.

14:49 And I was like, my parents must have been terrified that there's something really wrong with my daughter. And I'm guessing it was probably Halloween that started getting me into that stuff. I would assume or maybe I was just really twisted, and we didn't know that you would have been red flagged immediately. I know DCYF would have been like, what did you do to your child? And so that's where it all started. But I'm going to say, when Gage was God, I'm going to say seven or eight. I went and bought my first animatronic, and we call her Isabelle.

15:18 I actually think Gage called her Isabelle, even though he hated her and hated me deeply. For the love of Halloween, from that moment on, it grew deeper and deeper every year. And she is a creepy rising doll from spirit Halloween that, like, rises. She's like, Hello, I'm in a doll voice, do you want to come play with me? And then as the kids go closer, because she's scary, look at but great voice to pull you in. And then all sudden, she's like, the taste of children.

15:49 And she rises to 7ft tall. And from that moment on, I was like, I'm going to start building a haunted attraction at my house. I'm broke. I'm a single mom, and I don't know how I'm going to do this, but I'm very creative. And I started slowly buying PCV pipes and fittings and went. From the first year I had it along the side of my house. I used two by fours, dug holes and staples backdrops along the inside, and had my Isabelle scaring the crap out of people.

16:22 And I heard children screaming. And I was like, I love this. This is awesome. And every year from that point on, also, everybody loved it. It was like, this is awesome. And that was so small. And I built a lot of it by hand. I draw, so I did a lot of drawings. I bought a couple of things, strobe lights, fog machine, stuff like that. And that's where it started. And every year since I started, I think it's been six or seven years now.

16:51 Every year, the determination is it's going to be bigger and better than last year. The pandemic really messed things up. And every other year, the weather has really messed with me. The last time I did it, actually, Cory came and dressed up as Jason. For me, it was my first ever live act. I was a little bit bummed out. It's the first time I ever did it in my backyard. And most people were used to seeing it in my front yard.

17:14 Kendall was in the front and he was supposed to be directing people back, but he started getting into conversations, I think a little more than remembering to point people to the backyard because I usually get about 500 people a year that come through it. And these are just trick or treaters. I don't charge. I don't expect anything. I know a lot of people do it and they expect donations, at least to help cover costs. And I am one of those people who don't feel like I should, even though I should because I really can't afford to spend the money I spend. I now have seven animatronics.

17:44 I have so many different types of lighting and special effects. And now the last one was 25ft by 40 ft. Six halls. One hallway was the haunted mansion, the next was the insane asylum. And I am pretty obsessed with I love horror. Don't get me wrong. Freddy Krueger was my first love of horror movies when I was a teenager and watched them all then. But Halloween is my jam.

18:15 Yeah. We love it as well. Halloween is also called gay Christmas. Yes, of course. But yeah, I mean, it's love trick or treating as a kid. And then we had some pretty legendary Halloween parties in College. My roommate mapped one year. Every bedroom door had a mirror, like screwed into it or whatever. So he went and borrowed like he was in RA. So he went and borrowed the whole buildings mirrors.

18:41 So we just hung mirrors throughout the reflective surface everywhere. And we had like a body in the bathtub with dry ice. And it's crazy because the first year we had it was our freshman year and some friend of his showed up with a couple of guys not in costume and they stole a bunch of our CD, which she got back. So we said, okay, next year we have a party costume required because then we'll know that we've invited you, especially in calls. Yes. And people got really into the costumes and stuff too.

19:12 So I'll see if I can dig up a couple of those pictures to share on social media. I love to see that. Yeah. It's like we just Kendall and I, first Halloween together, we really got into there. So there was a midnight screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show and we went full on and it was cold that night. Yeah. As Kendall's in a corset and fish nets and everything. But yeah, we totally got into that. And I did meatloaf. Nice. So yeah, Halloween has been huge for us in our relationship.

19:45 And horror movies, too. I don't think a week goes by that we don't watch at least one horror movie, if not five. Right. I also learned that I'm really good at face paint. Yes. My own I've only done gauges a couple of times, but I have been offered jobs at Frank Kingdom in Nashville to do, but I don't trust that my OCD. I'm such a perfectionist that it takes me three to 4 hours to my own face.

20:11 And that's because I'm like, fix this, erase it, fix this, wash it up, fix this. And I'm like, I would love nothing more to do that, but I don't trust that it won't take me 10 hours to do one face by the time I'm done. But, yeah, I didn't know I could do it. I'm not great at my regular daily makeup, so I was a little shocked at how amazing. I just went on YouTube and started doing tutorials and taught myself, and I got some pretty intense faces. Yeah. I mean, she is not joking.

20:39 Monica doesn't know this yet, but we have a new photo in our hallway hanging at home, and it's actually of one of the images when you had done your own face painting. Yeah, it's really awesome, and it's great. Which one was it the clown or it's the green and Orange. Oh, really? Yeah. Okay. That's one of my least favorite, actually. She's being pretty modest. She is a wonderful artist and has done some really cool art for us, individual pieces that we have framed and we love.

21:13 Oh, the Chibi's. Yeah. I really want to try to see if I could draw some more horror chimps and try to just rent a little space on someone's table just to see how they do at a convention. But I'm so worried to put money into it and not be successful. But every time we go to a horror convention, I'm like, God, there's so much artwork and a lot of it's very similar. But I've never seen horror Chibis drawn, and I'm not sure if everybody knows what chippies are, but they're like those drawings of the big headed little characters with the smaller body.

21:45 And I drew Cory for one. It was Christmas, right? It was a Christmas gift. I had drawn him the Pennywise, Jason, Freddie Kruger and Michael Myers. And Michael Myers Chivis will say, I love the backgrounds I decided to do with them. And then I was like, oh, if I can make money on this, they can special order what type of backgrounds they want on it, stuff like that, or do prints. I really want to leap into it.

22:13 And I'm terrified that if it doesn't pick up because it costs a lot of money to get a spot at a convention and stuff. So then I'm like, maybe Ipsy trip. But I haven't drawn in a long time. I really haven't. Oh, and I did Chucky, and I made the three dimensional box. That's right. Yeah. The Chuckie was my favorite. And I was tempted to take it with me to a convention last year because a bunch of the Chucky people were going to be there. Actually the guy who voices Chucky was there, and I'm like, I'm scared to walk around with it because I don't want to.

22:45 Plus, I was so broke when I drew those that I put that together with just, like, scraps of old arts and crafts stuff. Then I'd be terrified that it might get smashed. And I didn't take it with me. But, yeah, I forgot about that one. That one that was like, for the moment things, too. I'm like, how can I make it look like he's in his good guy box? And I'm like, all right. And it actually came off really good. I was pretty psyched because we're into horror. I think everybody should be into horror.

23:15 It's kind of funny when Monica told us that Gage was not happy about the fact that she does stuff at the Animatronics, and he hadn't really watched any scary movies up until we started hanging out. And so once I got the approval from Monica to introduce Cage to horror movies, well, I was also worried of, like, he did have nightmares and get scared of stuff a lot when he was younger, and he had a huge imagination.

23:45 And I know I grew up with a huge imagination, and the things my imagination created for me sometimes were terrifying. So I was like, I held off on the whole horror movie, and I actually handed the torch to Cory and allowed him to break my son into the horror movie world. I didn't use him into it. We started off with A Nightmare on Elm Street. So Freddie Kruger, I mean, you got to go big or go home, which was my first horror movie, was Nightmare.

24:18 That was really cool. And now I'm going to say he hasn't reached our level yet, but we can get him there more open to it, for sure. Yeah. Well, he's going to be spending time with you guys soon, so I'm sure you have things lined up in your head already. So many horror movies, but yeah. So then at another convention, I'd already met Robert England, who plays Freddy a few times and interviewed him back when I was in St. Louis. But I was like, oh, man, got to get Gauge a Freddy autograph, because that was his first order movie.

24:48 So this artist was selling this kind of 3D art that was, like, looks like eight bit video games, like Nintendo or whatever. They had an eight bit Freddy. So, yeah, I had Robert England sign that for him, and I think I've got, like, a little video or something of him doing that that I'll put up on social. I will say this. That the mask. The hockey mask that you got. I have got two that you got autographed for me. Plus Linda Blair Exorcist autograph.

n't exist at all for the next:

25:51 Eventually that man will grow up and sign the picture of the little boy with his scalpel in his hand. Mommy want to play? It's kind of bizarre how things come full circle because I don't know too many people that are into horror, especially not people that are into horror and Halloween like we are. So that's been, like, certainly one of the highlights. My mom's hoping I will grow out of my face at 45 years old.

26:21 She actually even said it the other day. I was talking about getting ready to start building my Halloween stuff. She's like, Monica, it's me. I'm like, Yep, your point is what? And she's like, Maybe you'll move on to better things. I'm like, there's nothing better than Halloween. And I can't even believe you just said that to me. I mean, I see people in their seventy s and eighty s at these horror cons in New Jersey that are, like, really into it. So I know I'll never grow out of it. The parents love my hall. It's called the hall of Horrors.

26:51 That's the name of my haunted attraction. I have just as many adults as children. And when the years have happened, where the wind has been just too much and I haven't been able this is where the downfall of not having enough of a budget to work with that comes in, because I can't build it strong enough for New England wins in October. That's why I want to petition for a Halfway to Halloween holiday one so adults could go trick or treat. Did you see Nashville? Frank Kingdom is doing just an event last week?

27:21 Oh, they did. Halfway to Halloween. Yes. I think that should be, like a nationwide thing. It is so fun to go to one of these hundred attractions with somebody who is truly terrified. I know it is. And I mean, I'm not talking to children like grown adults. We are a little twisted because we do get joy watching those people so terrified. Back when I was working for the newspaper in St. Louis. Like, St. Louis has some really awesome haunted houses and a Halloween convention. Yes.

27:51 And so I interned for a company that did the promotion for some of these haunted houses, so I would have to take people on tours and stuff. Now it is pretty creepy knowing that you're the only one in the building at the time and you got to walk all the week. There's no, like, shortcut or whatever. You got to walk all the way through it by yourself. Don't get me wrong as much as I love this stuff I still get the crap scared out of me very easily and I'm always waiting for a jump scare to happen in my house when I know there's nothing going to come at me.

28:22 My imagination has not died down yet at all. It's still there. But yeah, I would have loved to have that kind of experience and my dream is that I will eventually have my own home where I can do something where I can start building something that stays permanent and with the strength to withhold the wind. Awesome. Well, we'll definitely be checking back in on the progress and I'm going to be putting you to work as a live act again.

28:55 I would love to do some freaky makeup. Yeah, that would be a lot of fun. You mean for Monica to do your makeup? Well, if I did my own it would definitely be freaky. I don't know. I was going to say I don't know how good this is going to look. Yeah, it could be a little scary. Yes. Awesome. Well, thank you for joining us. Yeah, it's been a lot of fun. It has been very fun and I'm glad I found my brother and my brother in law just like you.

29:23 You didn't have a lot of people into the horror and your direct life and it's always nice to share a common passion. I might say obsession for me a little bit with Halloween but I am so grateful to have you and I'm going to cry now because I wish I had you growing up and I'm just glad I have you now. This is the family twist podcast hosted by Kendall and Corey stalls with original music by cosmic afterthoughts and produced by outpost production and presented by savvy affair marketing communications.

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