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People who are in the business of making things scary are drawn to him like zombies to fresh meat. Sideshowmen, freak-show proprietors, hungry film students. He has a skull for every budget, a hand-wrapped mummy for every personality.
Verisimilitude is the goal. To get more realistic-looking foam tombstones, you’d pretty much have to die. “BJ does good work, and his prices are reasonable,” one satisfied customer says. “For example, say you’re in the market for reusable latex intestines. You can search all week and you won’t beat his price: only $8 a foot — and you have a choice of large intestines or small intestines. If you just need to rent your intestines, you can do so at half price.”
You can even rent the very skeletons that danced with the cast of Bones in a TV commercial. Or the brain that starred in Young Frankenstein the Musical. But those desperate for a chupacabra are out of luck. Winslow’s sold to a carnival in Florida. “No,” he reconsiders, “I mean, it escaped.”
People who require things that are unintentionally scary come to him as well. He spent the morning taking Internet orders and dealing with the mole penis bone people from the Bacula Society. “I can get you one, no questions asked,” he says.
An order for fake daggers came in, and then someone needed a skull for a production of Hamlet. “This skull’s name is Marcus,” Winslow says, “but he’s going to play Horatio.” He puts the skull on a table already crowded with human and animal specimens with assorted maladies — ax to the head, 22-caliber shot, bashed, machete-chopped, etcetera.
“I used to pick up stuff like this all the time,” he reminisces while on hold, phone cradled on his shoulder. “Well, not the tiger! I didn’t grow up in Africa.”
More recently, some television producers needed tapeworms in a big hurry. “Well, we don’t keep tapeworms in stock,” he says. So you can imagine his glee calling the TV station and ultimately declaring: “Your worms are in the air.”
“I’m only looking to get one torso,” he says, turning his attention to the person on the other end of the line. “Those are gone? There’s zero of those left? Darn.”
Next month Winslow will start hosting artist nights where people come in to sketch from the skeletons. He figures these nights will be called Drawing Blood.
It should be said that none of the human remains are real. He once got a request for human brains. “You’ve come to the right place,” he said. “We’ve got more brains than anybody in the city. We’ve got foam brains, silicone brains, jello brains, deer brains, sheep brains, cow brains, small brains, big brains, any brains you need.”
“No,” said the caller. “It’s gotta be real human brains.”
This was in the first few months he’d been on the job, before he learned to ask why someone might want genuine human guts. He tracked down an organ broker. “The organ broker was like, ‘No, dude. You can’t have a brain.’” It was a gross mistake.