For well over a decade, Columbus Ohio’s beloved Nina West has written, produced and performed a Halloween variety show live in her hometown, with fans traveling from all over the country to check out the show, as well as contribute to some amazing causes. West, who would sell the shows out within hours, raised over $1 million dollars for LGBTQ charities.
This year, West & her producing partner Patricia Taylor are taking the Heels Of Horror digital, but the show will definitely have the same wonderfully eerie vibe. Split into three different episodes each featuring three distinct Halloween themes, it is an entirely new show and new way for us to check in on Nina and her spooky friends. There will be some guest stars like Hamilton star Sydney James Harcourt (along with some surprises yet to be revealed) and the event of course, will be sponsored by Equitas Health, a regional non-profit health system serving the healthcare needs of the LGBTQ+ community in thirteen Midwest cities.
I caught up with one of Columbus Ohio’s most beloved talents, Nina West and we discussed changing up Heels of Horror this year, what it’s like bringing the spooky during some truly revolutionary times in our country, & why it was crucial she gave back to the community and showed that quintessential West philanthropy now more than ever.
Michael Cook: Heels of Horror is a little different this year with a digital show; why was it important to make sure you presented this content at this time?
Nina West: Even though things in the world look very different this year and COVID presented a challenge – (You know I love a challenge!!), I wanted to be able to still continue the Heels of Horror legacy we have built here in Columbus with twelve amazing sold out years. Ultimately, we decided to take the show digital as we wanted to make sure that our performers and ultimately our audience were safe. Halloween is going to be very different for a lot of people this year and we wanted to be able to give them some familiarity and something fun and spooky to watch from the comfort of their own home.
MC: This show also has a purpose; tell me about the charitable aspect of the show.
NW: Our partner Equitas Health provides “Healthcare For All” and they are providing healthcare for all facets of the LGBTQIA community in Ohio and beyond. We are raising money to keep LGBTQIA people safe during this pandemic and keep them able to stay healthy and work and feed their families. Going into this very important time with the election imminent, I wanted to reaffirm and reinforce my commitment to the LGBTQ+ community and how important it is to use our voices and platform to stand up for one another.
MC: What can the fans that tune in expect when they tune into Heels Of Horror this year?
NW: Fans can expect a different kind of experience that we can only do digitally. We have a live band, we have produced video pieces, music videos, visual storytelling, special guest performers and content we couldn’t do in a live setting. We want fans to see the work we have put into making this as unique and special as possible while still remaining true to the Heels brand.
MC: Columbus, Ohio has plenty of talent; anyone you can mention that is appearing?
NW: Ohio native and OG Hamilton on Broadway star Sydney James Harcourt is joining us along with local Columbus drag king Jamz Dean and Bette Midler impersonator Jennica Tastrophe. There are some other surprise guests but we we don’t want to reveal too much; you will have to tune in to see!!
MC: The world has been very spooky; what has been keeping you centered and grounded during these times?
NW: Reaching out and talking to friends and family and reminding myself that I’m not alone and that we are all in this together has totally kept me centered and sane. Pouring myself into projects like Heels has kept my creative juices flowing and allowed me to share my ideas with the world. Hopefully something magical will come out of it and something like Heels of Horror will help people connect this Halloween season.
MC: Favorite Halloween memory; go!
NW: OMG- Last year, I released a music video with a character I created, Lisa Frankenstein, and it was so surreal to see children and adults dressed up as her for Halloween. It may be one of the best things I have ever seen!
Tickets for “Heels of Horror” are Tickets are just $30 and are on sale Wednesday Oct 7th at 10am EST and are available for purchase here