"We try to make the costumes and props as affordable as possible for new members," Haynes says (the group, by the way, does not charge membership dues). "If you look on eBay for a good Ghostbusters costume, it's in the $2,000 to $3,000 range, easily. It was one of our goals to make it at least half that for club members, because they're using it for charity."

People sometimes try to grab the Arizona Ghostbusters' proton packs, even pulling on them while the members are out in public. The AZ GB's hate it when people do this, and it's one of the reasons they try to avoid appearing at events where people are drinking. They also avoid drinking at events themselves. In fact, the group has a new "code of conduct" that forbids members from drinking at group meetings even when they aren't in costume.

The code of conduct came about after the group's membership grew to about 16 active members, aged anywhere from 20 to 40. Some minor drama went down, as generally happens with that many players. Some members complained about the way other members dressed at events after they'd finished Ghostbusters duty; others griped about members' girlfriends hanging around the group but not helping; still others protested that their proton packs weren't being finished quickly enough.

Jamie Peachey
The Ghostbusters meet at Matt Haynes’ house, where movie memorabilia — including the Stay-Puft marshmallow man and a painting of Vigo — fills every room.
Jamie Peachey
The Ghostbusters meet at Matt Haynes’ house, where movie memorabilia — including the Stay-Puft marshmallow man and a painting of Vigo — fills every room.

Nobody's ever been kicked out of the group, but there have been tense moments. Most of the tension arises from stress — the group members often spend their entire weekends doing Ghostbusters stuff. When they participate in charity walks, they do so in long-sleeved uniforms with 30-pound proton packs on their backs.

Sometimes, they'll man a donation booth at a comic convention or on a First Friday in downtown Phoenix for up to eight hours at a time. They rarely get breaks on such shifts, as there's a constant flow of people wanting photos.

Not that they could grab a beer to take the edge off on a break, anyway, per the new "no drinking at events" policy. That's been another point of contention.

But prior to the code's existence this past summer, members did sometimes go to bars in costume. In fact, that's where they recruited their two female Ghostbusters. Esther Groves, who estimates she's seen Ghostbusters at least a hundred times, met Jeff Lewis at Club Mardi Gras Bar & Grill in 2007.

The Arizona Ghostbusters met Christina Glover at Club Palazzo on Central Avenue one Friday night last year, when they made an appearance in costume at Tranz, the club's weekly goth event. "I went out to the car to get something, and there were these guys in jumpsuits and proton packs getting out of Matt [Haynes'] truck," says the blonde, blue-eyed Glover. "I was like, 'No freaking way!'"

"The best part about that night was, the bar next to Tranz [Amsterdam] thought we were serious," Matt Sremaniak says.

"They thought we were male strippers or something," Lewis adds.

None of the members will admit to being "obsessed" with Ghostbusters, even though Sremaniak, a stout auto-parts salesman with a full beard, says he doesn't think his mother has a picture of him as a child when he wasn't wearing some kind of Ghostbusters shirt. "Does not taking the movie out of my DVD player count?" he asks.

Being a Ghostbuster looks like a lot of fun, but there's a serious side to the group, too.

"We're more organized, more disciplined, more professional in how we conduct ourselves in public than other costuming groups," says Neal Tracey, who bears a startling resemblance to Ghostbusters actor Bill Murray, minus the pockmarks. "We don't have helmets or masks or anything obscuring our faces, so we have to be a lot more interactive with the public and let our personalities really shine in these costumes."


The members of Arizona Ghostbusters are meeting (out of costume) on a recent Friday night at the Macayo's at 19th Avenue and Thunderbird. A giant pink-and-green wooden parrot perches above their table as they munch on chips and salsa while discussing upcoming charity events.

Although active year-round, the Arizona Ghostbusters stay particularly busy from the beginning of September through the end of November. Every weekend, they attend events to either raise money for or promote awareness of particular charities.

On the third weekend in October, the group participated in multiple events, including three in one day: two charity walks in Prescott (one for the American Diabetes Association, the other for a multiple sclerosis group) and the Light the Night Walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society that night at Tempe Town Beach Park. Other charity groups the AZ GB's have worked with include the American Cancer Society, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Salvation Army, and the Phoenix Children's Hospital, where they sometimes appear in costume to cheer up patients.

After raising $2,000 on its first multiple sclerosis walk in 2007, the group says it's participated in more than a dozen walks since, and raised an average of about $500 per event. They recently raised $350 at the zombie walk during October's First Friday art walk, doing people's zombie makeup for donations.

For some Ghostbusters, the volunteer work is all that matters. When asked why he dresses up like a Ghostbuster and does this, Jeff Lewis starts crying.

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2 comments
Ralph Demark
Ralph Demark

I think its kind of funny that people are actually taking the paranormal serious and for many its a daily job. I've never been real big into believing those things but if there is evidence then I won't doubt it. College Grants For Single Mothers

Tom
Tom

Why do I have the sinking feeling that the scrooge or grinch who actually owns the Ghostbusters trademark is sooner or later going to threaten a lawsuit for copyright infringement?

 
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