A $1.6 Million House Made Of Headaches And Terror
9:56 AM EDT on October 23, 2021
There is a house in my neighborhood that was owned by people who I have to assume were eccentric and interesting. I assume this because they have a persimmon tree in their front yard, which I find exciting, and also because the way they decorate is terrifying in the most accessible sense. They never put out pumpkins or cobwebs or witchy things. What they did put out in their front yard (which was covered in ivy and plants all the same dark green that should only exist in autumn) was much spookier. Throughout the year things would come and go: vases, blue stones, little bells, a bird-feeder, stringy Christmas lights in multi-color. But all year, for the seven years I've lived here, the most haunted item in their yard has been a statue. A mannequin?
I'm not sure what it's made of but based on the discoloration and the green growing on the woman's left breast, I have to assume it's some kind of porous stone. The mannequin does not have a head. It does not have a left arm. It has part of a right arm, and is posed with one hip cocked up the way most classical Roman sculptures are. What's scary about the sculpture is that it is positioned in just a way that still, even though I walk by it once a day at least, my brain registers it as a person and clicks into hyperdrive. The fear jumps into my heart and my instincts work faster than my brain so that I am spooked well before I remember that I see this all the time, that it is not a person. That I must calm down. No one is stalking me out of the ivy.
I am a child raised on Law & Order: SVU. My instincts were honed by pure terror and over-dramatized ideas of stranger violence. It has taken years for me to learn that the people most likely to hurt you are those you know. My body does not know this. It still jumps at the mannequins. And when I tell you that it took every muscle in my body to overcome the instincts to flight raging within my body just to get through the photos of this week's house, I am not lying.
The house was sent to me by reader Brendan and oooh boy are we in for an absolute NIGHTMARE. Brendan told me that his sister found this house because she lives in Jersey and is "always perusing the local beach house seen." He terrifyingly mentioned that the "video tour of this house made me car sick and I'm just sitting at my desk at work. I thought you might appreciate it." Unfortunately, that is true, but before we get to that let's get into some specs.
This house is listed at $1.625 million (woof). It apparently has five bedrooms and seven bathrooms, but very few of them are pictured in the listing. "One of a kind" the summary begins, and it does not lie. I asked Defector's Dan McQuade what it meant that this house was located in Margate City, New Jersey. He told me it's an Atlantic City suburb and, "it's sinking into the ocean (REALLY narrow beaches, esp. for jerz) and the homeowners don't wanna do anything about it cause it'll 'fuck up their view' or whatever." So that would be a non-buying point for me if, uh, everything else about this house wasn't terrible. Let's look at it.
Here is the outside:
Do you feel that tug in your gut that says no? Ignore it. We must look.
Alright first off we have the weirdest white picket fence I've ever seen, in that there are no pickets and also it is gating off a tiny yard that doesn't seem to be used. The grass and bushes are so green that I don't trust them. There is a stuffed (?) monkey hanging from the tree by the driveway. There are two mannequins climbing a ladder to nowhere? What? Why? There are planters on the border of the walk up to the front door that have legs? I hate all of this so much. Also, there are many flags. We have one for Israel, one for both the United States and Israel combined (what?), and one for the Eagles and one for the 76ers. The flowers look fake. The whole of the house is decorated with primary blue and white. What is happening here.
Let's get closer.
OK here we have ... a lot of things. Theres some posters on the wall that are supposed to look vintage I guess. We've got a strange statue with a sign that says, "Wife and dog missing. REWARD FOR DOG," which is a type of humor I grew up with constantly and fills my spine with prickly hate. We've got a life-size statue of Obama. A statue of a dog. A statue (I think and gather from other angles) of Trump. The wind chime and the formerly nice wooden fan are painted to match the house. Let's look the other way. Oh it's a life-size cut-out of Joe Biden.
God, I am exhausted already. The doors to this house are glass. The handles are chrome. There are three doormats, one for aesthetic and two that look (and I am sorry for this) exactly like the ones in every strip club that I have never seen anywhere else. The panels of glass on the door are brushed or something so you can't see through them and they are decorated with shapes like rectangles with triangles on each end.
Now you are going to have to trust me. There are 21 photos on this listing but they are not in any sort of order. Usually, I order this blog for you so you can understand the layout of the house. This is impossible with what we have been provided. Luckily, Brandon's promised terrible video is available. I am embedding it here but I really cannot recommend enough NOT watching this. It will make you seasick. Plus, I have already sacrificed my body and soul for you to watch it. Is that not enough?
A cool thing about this video is that it looks like someone smeared Vaseline on the lens. Instead of normal sounds or descriptions of what we are looking at, this video has classical music in the background. So keep that in mind as we go. The rest of this blog will have some photos from the Zillow. Don't worry!
From the video, we can see over the little gate on the other side of the patio (it is up a few stairs). This section of the patio looks like my room in middle school, in that its main decorating decisions are the color teal and chevron. There are no mannequins up here, and I like that.
But now it is time to go inside. The door opens and immediately I am terrified. The light in here is purple? Blue? Death-colored? There are flashing lights on the table that look like the top of a cop car. The doorway is framed with blue rope lights. Above us is a two story atrium with a chandelier that looks like it would kill us instantly with 100 puncture wounds if it fell, which honestly might be preferable to going on.
All the light is blue. I cannot emphasize enough how much this looks like the kind of place where ... um ... one could employ a rolled up dollar bill to great success. It is a nightmare of a club, but a home. It is such a sensory overload.
We go to the left and now we are looking at a dining room. On the video, everything is so blue and smoggy that you can't really see what you're looking at, but here is a still from Zillow.
Mhm. A totally normal room for normal people. The floor is so shiny. The pillows are so shiny. The little decorations reflect the light of a thousand blue suns. The furniture is Villain Modern but the pillows are Sparkly Cozy. The vibe is Trance Music and Murder. There are blue rope lights everywhere. "A yearning for the old days but the old days may have been the 50's diner scene or 70's yacht rock cocktail time with a dog on the deck, or lots of coke in the eighties listening to Judas Priest," Brendan said. He is correct.
We walk by the couches and to our right is a dining room.
I am resting my nose on my two pointer fingers. I am taking a deep breath. I do not even know what to do with this. The shape of these chairs look like a Pixar rendering of what a chair could look like. The table is made of stone I think. In the video there are more emergency lights flashing in the background. The chandelier is a beacon of light.The print on the left seems to be from some lad mag. The sconces on either side are the color of fire.
All right. OK. Up the stairs with us.
Upstairs, the first thing we see is a bathroom.
More chrome in there. The chrome toilet seat is an especially weird choice. Where do you even buy a toilet with this short of a tank and a chrome rim? Do you have to add it yourself? Why is the sink so shallow? The bathtub has a little pillow that is also silver. Imagine trying to relax in here. Imagine lighting a candle only for it to bounce off the 500 silver surfaces, startling you. No, thank you. The light on the ceiling fan (???) is red.
According to the video there is this bathroom, the chandelier, and a bedroom not pictured on Zillow on this level. It looks like this:
All these pillows look like mums. This room has a "dancer" theme which is cute but everything in the room looks very un-cozy and sterile. The bed is also ... so high. It's like at-my-ribcage high. Maybe four feet high. It appears to be a twin or full-sized bed. Small and high. There is an attached bathroom. The accent in there is purple. Just like in this room, where some of the photographs are rimmed in purple tube lights. The weirdest part of this room in the video is when the videographer stoops as if he is going to show us under the bed and then decides not to [3:40]. I will not be thinking more about that.
Also on this level is an office that looks like a bar.
This room has another patio on it, just like the one on the first floor (the good one; not the one with the mannequins). There is a dog statue on the railing but that's fine I guess. The office itself is expected at this point. Nothing in here surprises me. Eagles helmet? Sure. Framed photos of vintage dog advertisements? OK. Couple of barstools by a fully stocked bar? Only makes sense.
Back in the hallway there is a another short flight of stairs. Looks like four stairs. Up here we have a landing with another patio. The patios are fine. They look like every beach condo patio. I would maybe even enjoy sitting on one, and thank god they are here or we might get overwhelmed in the mirror-wall house and pass out. On every patio there have been these bottles. Now, I considered not bringing this up, but there are enough of them that it feels unethical at this point not to. The bottles look (to me) like Johnnie Walker bottles. I am guessing this because the labels are slanted. The video is much to hazy to be able to tell. But Johnnie Walker (which is good) is usually the color of caramel. These bottles hold liquid that can only be described as Nickelodeon Green, florescent, transparent. I don't even want to know.
Also on this level we have a full gym, complete with stickers of basketball players and whatever is happening in this bathroom:
Sure, whatever. I am numb. I feel nothing. This shiny house cannot defeat me because I am dead inside. Orange means nothing to me. Next to it is a bedroom.
If that mirror as a headboard wasn't big enough for you, don't worry, the walls it faces are mirrored too. There is also an elliptical and a full weight-set in this room. I think the dog pictured at the end of the bed is fake because it does not move at all in the video, but it's also possible that this house suspends time and freezes reality and that it is a real dog stuck forever in a land of mirrored. The en-suite bathroom here also has a squatty tanked toilet. The accent color of choice is red.
Apparently that is all the terrors these floors have to offer. Down the half flight of stairs. Down the big stairs. I don't know how to say this calmly but THERE IS NOW A MANNEQUIN BY THE DOOR THAT I DID NOT SEE ON THE WAY IN!!!!!!!!
Run past it!!!! Whew.
This time we will go right instead of left. Here we have an ALL-BLACK bathroom. Whatever. I am bored of this kind of terror now.
Where, I am asking, is the kitchen? Oh this room has black and white tiles. That's my favorite kitchen tile! Maybe this is the kitchen. NOPE. This is a laundry room and a ... uh ... coffin? Is that a coffin? It's a coffin. Am I in there? Am I already dead?
No thank you! Away from here. To the right we have ... another bar with mannequins? Wait ... are those mannequins.
The person filming this zooms past them so quickly and into a bedroom (boring), but then we return and, yes, that's two mannequins on a date, sitting at the bar. FINALLY. We have found the kitchen. It is up five steps, but it is here. After the rest of the house, what could we have expected but this:
I have seen enough. I cannot figure out where the missing bedroom I haven't seen is. I cannot try and count all of the single-accent-color-bathrooms to see if I have discovered seven. I cannot question why (in this beach house) there are only doors to the patio (blacked out) and no windows. If we question much longer why there are mannequins in here without purpose we may ... what's that? Is your arm moving? Mine seems to be stuck. I'll just take a seat here for a second. I'm tired. Aren't you? My neck feels stiff. Better to just wait here until this passes.