Around Town

Halloween Queen

For SugarMynt Gallery Owner, Spooky is a Year-Round Thing
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SaraRose Orlandini on a bed she’s set up at the SugarMynt Gallery that recreates a memorable scene from one of the “Halloween’’ movies.

SARAROSE Orlandini lives in a world I barely know.

She loves the spooky. And to her, every day can be Halloween.

That’s her favorite holiday and the name of her favorite movie. Thanks to being curator and owner of SugarMynt Gallery, at 810 Meridian Ave., Orlandini can wallow in the spooky, and say to the world: “Come on over to my place and share the scare.’’

“There is a community of horror lovers,’’ Orlandini said. “I’m more into spooky-looking movies, black cats, ghosts, movies like ‘Halloween.’

“Some people call it ‘Horror.’ I call it ‘Halloween.’ Halloween to me is a lifestyle. I like the spooky, but not the gross. I’m a Halloween fan.

“I never relate to extreme gore like some people. I’ve always been a spooky girl. Not a gory girl.’’

SugarMynt Gallery is a tribute to the John Carpenter-directed movie, “Halloween,” which was shot right in our hometown. The house where masked Michael Myers kills his sister is right next to the gallery. The house where he kills another young woman is a destination point for lovers of the movie. It’s right across the street from the library. There is a bench there dedicated to the producer of the film.

The hardware store in the movie is now the Indian restaurant on the corner of Meridian and Mission. The hedge where Michael pops up is on Montrose Avenue. Many of the exterior street scenes are houses that have now been replaced by the townhouses on Meridian Avenue.

Boy, have I learned a lot. I’ll never look at this town the same way.

Like Orlandini said, “Halloween is a home movie of South Pasadena.’’ The only problem is that the movie is supposed to be set in Illinois, and those darn palm trees keep showing up.

The exuberant woman who runs the gallery has created a mecca for people just like her. Step right up. Pay $10 to go behind the curtain and see proofs of behind-the-scenes photos taken while the movie was being made; buy art connected with horror movies; or stage your own death in a photo-op room made to look like that of one of the girls who was killed – complete with a tomb stone at the head of the bed.

But to mix movie metaphors: Like the voice said in “Field of Dreams”: “If you build it, they will come.’’

A display at SugarMynt Gallery.

And come they do. I sat with Orlandini and her dad John last Saturday and watched a steady stream of people come in and put down their money. One couple came from San Bernardino. Another couple came from Beaumont. One day the prior weekend, Orlandini entertained almost 150 people just like her.

And if you want, she is showing her favorite movie two times a night in the gallery’s back yard. Jamie Lee Curtis was introduced as an up-and-coming actress in the movie.

Casey Dionne and his wife Lily came from San Bernardino County to indulge their love for horror movies. Lily was wearing an orange dress with black bats on it.

“I love horror movies. I could watch them every day,’’ she said. “Our first date was to see (the movie) ‘Poltergeist.’’’

How romantic. I would have been under my seat asking if the scene was over.

Karine Oravete came from Beaumont to see the exhibit – the fifth time that “Halloween’’ has been a feature at the gallery. Last year was the first time that Orlandini went all-out.

“I love horror movies,’’ Oravete said. “I watch them probably twice a month.’

It’s a family-owned business, and SaraRose’s dad confirmed he was an accessory to his daughter’s way of life.

“Me and her love Halloween,’’ John said. “Every Halloween, we’d go over to Staats (the place to indulge your holiday decorating wishes, which used to be on Raymond Avenue in Pasaden). Every year, we’d get something bigger and bigger. Every year, our front yard would be decorated more.’’

Orlandini is one of those people who can still remember the houses that were the “good ones’’ where she grew up in Pasadena. Those were the houses where she could get full bars of candy or the ones that gave out Twixt or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

She says that, growing up, some people called watching horror films kind of nerdy. But Orlandini likes to think she’s a “cool nerd.’’ She said she’s not the kind of woman who would “geek out over horror.’’

“I really like any good movie,’’ she said. “I like Hitchcock films. I like good music. I’m not the one who is going to be talking only about ‘Halloween.’ I like to think I’m a well-rounded person.’’

But around the bend of that well-rounded person, the Halloween side of her is lurking. The 33-year-old puts on a costume on Halloween and gives out candy. Her favorite costume is the one she wore last year – a bumble bee onesie, complete with antennae.

Her definition of horror includes spooky, and she’s already had a display of the movie “Hocus Pocus.’’ You can see a display from that movie in the gallery’s back room.

The “home” of “Halloween’’ fiend Michael Myers on Meridian Avenue.

Once Halloween is over, Orlandini will have to hurry to get ready for the Nov. 9 opening of a exhibition about “Harry Potter.” Harry falls under her definition of spooky, in case you thought she was lowering her standards.

During the summer months, she’ll show horror movies of her definition on the back patio of the gallery.

“That’s what they want to see. It’s a cult following,” she said.

Word has gotten around. And thanks to the decision to start charging admission, the gallery has stayed open since 2015. Her Instagram account has jumped from 4,000 to 11,000. The word is out. For a good spooky time, see her Instagram page.

Orlandini will go only so far with her friends steeped in horror lore. She knows all the movies, but she doesn’t love them all.

“As for gory movies, I don’t mind them. They are just not my thing,’’ she said. “I want to be scared, not grossed out. ‘The Exorcist’ is gross, but it’s also scary and is so well-made.”

So if you want to celebrate Orlandini’s favorite holiday, you better hurry to get the full effect.

But don’t worry. The theme of the gallery is “Every day is Halloween.’’

“And this is Halloween,’’ she said with a big smile.

And it will always be Halloween in SaraRose’s heart.

“I was born in October and I’ve always loved Halloween,’’ she said. “I always thought, ‘It’s my birthday.’ Oh, boy, it’s almost Halloween.’’

My email is ALippman@gavilanmedia.com. Please write if you have any story ideas about people, places or things of interest to South Pasadena residents.

Andy Lippman

A former Los Angeles bureau chief for the Associated Press, Lippman writes weekly about some South Pasadena person, business, issue or trend.

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