We wish this was a joke. We really do.
Fab four fanatic transforms North Carolina home into Beatle shrine
Wed Jan 6, 2008, 3:31 PM
By Jacob Winston Clemens
The Associated Press
RALEIGH, NC. – John MacLeon, a man who affectionately refers to himself as ‘MacLennon,’ is a habitually caffeinated Beatle fanatic who is taking care of business eight days a week at the antebellum home he calls “Liverpool Two.”
Knock on the door anytime. It’s OK to arrive at 4 in the morning, and the 75-year-old former dancer will escort you through his disconcerting, floor-to-ceiling collection of photos, records, figurines, cardboard cutouts, candy wrappers, clocks, lunchboxes and other random kitsch featuring the Mop Tops.
“I’d kill myself right now if it would bring them back,” MacLeon says in his odd Southern US meets Liverpool hybrid drawl, greying hair trimmed with a bowl, in the style of the early 60’s.
MacLeon says he rarely leaves Liverpool Two, rarely sleeps, and is powered by up to 24 cans of Beatle Cola a day (Beatle Cola was a short-lived Coca Cola product that MacLeon bought by the case in 1984 and has been drinking ever since). “When I run out I’ll just start on another Beatle drink, there’s Beatle Heinekin, Beatle Gatorade, Beatle Punch, and Beatle Pale Ale. I do happen to like the soda though.”
Liverpool Two is in New London, North Carolina, a town with a population of 326. It’s a convenient stop for fans on a Beatle pilgrimage, situated about between Birmingham, Alabama where the infamous Beatle record burnings started in 1964, and the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tennessee where they played their last US performance after a firecracker terrified the band onstage.
Until Liverpool Two became a magnet for off-beat tourism, New London was best known for its traditional shotgun homes and Spanish moss gardens.
“He’s our number one attraction,” says Nellie Winchell, assistant director of the local tourism bureau and general store.
Nellie reports that people often call for information about Liverpool Two, and that the Japanese and the British are the largest groups of overseas visitors. MacLeon doesn’t have a working telephone, so the townsfolk holler to let him know when visitors are coming.
MacLeon is so obsessed with the Fab Four that 26 years ago, he named his only son after the man he considers the world’s greatest entertainer and humanitarian. “My son was born John-Paul Geogingo MacLeon. Folks’ll sometimes ask if his name is French and he always says, “Sont les Mots qui vont tres bien ensemble.” He laughs.
Floors creak beneath visitors’ feet as they walk through the 157-year-old home warmed by space heaters that sit perilously close to raggedy Beatle wigs and stacks of papers and magazines.
For $5, visitors get to experience sensory overload, lit by mood lights and lava lamps.
Doorways are decorated with several Sgt. Pepper patterned curtains in ’70s-era hues of turquoise and paisley. There are photocopies of a newspaper with MacLeon’s all-time favourite headline: “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.”
A poster-sized display in the entryway declares — “Nothing’s gonna change my world..”
“My ex-wife told me, ‘Make up your mind. Either me or the Beatle collection.’ So that put an end to that,” MacLeon says with a giggle.
MacLeon says he has owned his home since the mid-1970s, and that he’s had 399,000 visitors since he started opening it to strangers since the late 1980s.
Gerald Thompson, a 27-year-old drama teacher at the nearby University of North Carolina, said he has been to Liverpool Two a half-dozen times and recently took his wife and three friends for a nighttime tour.
“It’s kind of surreal.” Thompson says. “It kind of puts in your mind, ‘WTF? Is this guy for real?’ You don’t ever know. But it doesn’t matter because it’s a good time.”
MacLeon says that he became a Beatle fan when he was 13, and that he attended 120 Beatle and Beatle tribute concerts. “If they know a Beatle song, I’ll pay good money to listen,” he jokes.
In Liverpool Two, MacLeon claims to have 35,000 records and 25,000 CDs. He says he has 185,000 square inches of carpet that once was in Abbey Road. He constantly monitors radio and TV shows and records any mention of his idols, claiming to have 31,000 videotapes and 43,000 audio recordings. There’s a scrapbook filled with tiny slivers of paper — 1 billion mentions, he says, of the Beatles.
“There’s my burial suit up here to come back and haunt my ex-wife,” MacLeon says, pointing to a double-breasted pink military number, complete with sombrero, in one of the front rooms.
Caesar Lennon of Los Angeles, who has performed 21 years as Los Beatles Fabuloso (The Mexican Beatles), says he has toured Liverpool Two at least a dozen times and is attracted to its folk-art glamour. He once donated one of his stage outfits to MacLeon’s collection — a vintage crushed-velvet marching band jacket with a rhinestone studded Blue Demon luchador mask.
He says John-Paul Geogingo MacLeon is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to the Beatles, and he also helped his father give tours for several years. “The son would translate in a high pitched, whispered monotone: ‘What my father said was McCartney slippers…,'” Lopez recalls.
The younger MacLeon moved to an undisclosed location in the mid 1990s. A phone listing for him could not be found, but it’s rumoured he’s involved with the anti-Beatle website Suck My Beatles.
Lopez cautions that Liverpool Two “might be a slight warning about what too much love can do. All you need is love, sure, but this much love kinda creeps me out.”
The ceiling of the TV room is covered with baseball card-size Beatle pictures and visitor comments printed on fluorescent pink, blue and yellow paper. Wrote one man from Pensacola, Fla.: “This is as close to Heaven as a Beatle fan can get. This is FAB!!!”
Copyright © 2010 Canadian Press
Special thanks to Gary Ligi for alerting the world to this sad tale.