FSS #19: Lisa Van Buskirk & Madison’s Haunted Oyster Bar + a paranormal investigation!

In this episode, we welcome Madison, WI tour paranormal guide for American Ghost Walks, Lisa Van Buskirk. Lisa has been a friend of mine for several years now. It’s been so fun over the years to see her continue to grow into the role of storyteller and researcher. I think it’s fair to say at this point that Lisa is the source when it comes to haunted locations in the capitol city of Madison.

Something else makes this episode a little EXTRA special, which is that Max, Lisa & I were not only in the same room for the conversation (very rare in this age of Zoom meetings), but that room was in a haunted restaurant, the Tempest Oyster Bar. Also, after our interview, we also did a paranormal investigation of the building. Some clips from the investigation are also included at the end of this episode. Please let us know if you hear any EVPS!

Not only is this restaurant haunted, but it’s a prior funeral home. Let’s add on to that a dark connection to a very, very dark piece of recent American History. You wouldn’t think a location in the middle of America would have a connection to that famous mass-suicide event in San Diego that we know as the final act of the Heaven’s Gate cult, but, boy does it ever!

The bar area of the Tempest Oyster Bar restaurant in Madison, WI.
The bar area of the Tempest Oyster Bar restaurant in Madison, WI.

In fact, Madison, unfortunately, has multiple connections to this suicide cult. There’s the one we speak about in this episode with the connection to the Tempest (you’ll have to listen to hear that story) and one of the 39 deceased in San Diego was a one-time Madison resident and Madison area high school grad who found his way into the cult. In fact, it was only the year before the mass suicide that the cult was in Madison giving speeches as part of aMidwest college recruitment tour (at this time they were going by the name Total Overcomers Anonymous). They lead meetings with the topic “UFOs and their connection to the afterlife.” I could totally see former guest and <a href="http://<iframe allow="autoplay *; encrypted-media *; fullscreen *" frameborder="0" height="175" style="width:100%;max-width:660px;overflow:hidden;background:transparent;" sandbox="allow-forms allow-popups allow-same-origin allow-scripts allow-storage-access-by-user-activation allow-top-navigation-by-user-activation" src="https://embed.podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/fantastic-story-society-ep-13-tea-krulos-richard-mccaslins/id1482640950?i=1000503069817">journalist of the offbeat Tea Krulos attending one of these meetings – not as a believer, but as a witness to the absurd, of course.

Left to Right: Lisa Van Buskirk, Scott (Tempest bartender and eyewitness to something very strange) & co-host Max Timm.
Left to Right: chatting in our “Little Mermaid shell,” Lisa Van Buskirk, Scott (Tempest bartender and eyewitness to something very strange) & co-host Max Timm.

Whether Madison’s connection to the cult came from recruitment drives or simply from the internet is unknown. The cult was an early web pioneer, creating a web site for themselves and actually taking on clients as webmasters. Interestingly, their site is still online and appears as it did at the time of their March 1997 suicide.

In a wild twist, that site includes a page titled “Our Position Against Suicide.” However, a more apropos title could be “Our Justification For Suicide.” The page mentions their readiness to endure “psychological or physical torture (such as occurred at both Ruby Ridge and Waco).” In both cases, not exactly positive images to bring up. The page further states that they find it “permissible … to evacuate their bodies by a more dignified, and less agonizing method. We have thoroughly discussed this topic of willful exit of the body … and have mentally prepared ourselves for this possibility.” So, the writing was certainly on the wall.

Anyway, please enjoy our conversation with Lisa Van Buskirk, followed by some clips of a paranormal investigation of the premises that followed. Please let us know if you hear any EVPS!

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