Ryan Nooe has always loved Halloween, dressing up in costumes and going trick-or-treating. Like many, though, there came a time when he decided he was too old for trick-or-treating, but he didn’t want to give up the seasonal fun.
“I still loved Halloween and I still loved dressing up,” he said. “Back when I was a kind of a young teenager, I saved up and I bought a werewolf costume. Initially, I was just kind of on the porch and I scared people as they came up, and it sort of advanced from there to me chasing people around.”
That was 15 years ago. Nooe, 30, has since moved to Los Angeles, where he works in the film industry, but said he comes back to his mother’s house off Carroll Road in Lawrence every October — or as many Octobers as he can — to don his werewolf costume and share some Halloween frights.
“It’s gotten to a point where the people in the neighborhood know it, they expect it, they enjoy it,” he said. “It just kind of evolved out of a love for Halloween when I was younger and realizing, ‘OK. I’m way too old to trick-or-treat, but I can still dress up and scare people and make the night more fun for all the families that are out there.’”
Nooe said even though he’s dressed as a vicious monster and tries hard to scare people, some kids he encounters on Halloween aren’t scared at all.
“There was this itty-bitty little boy who approached me when I was down on all fours and he put his hand on my nose and said, ‘doggie.’ Or this young girl who was — she was older than that, old enough that she could easily be scared. But she just walked right up to me, grabbed my paw and posed for a picture,” he said. “It’s like, ‘Oh man, that’s so freaking adorable.’ It meant a lot to me that I was essentially being accepted despite being this bizarre creature.”
Nooe said he loves that during the Halloween season, “weird” isn’t weird anymore.
“You see skeletons, you see monsters, you see people covered in blood and it’s like, ‘No, that’s cool,’” he said. “It’s still strange but people expect it and are comfortable with it. I think it was the reason why I love that season so much is because I’m surrounded by the fringes of society — sort of the strange things that lurk in the shadows, which is what I’ve always felt like, especially when I was younger, and I was figuring myself out.
“It wasn’t so much that I became somebody else. It was more that — I think the way I’ve always put it is most people around Halloween put on a mask. For me, I feel like I take one off.”
Nooe said he’s always been intrigued by werewolves, starting when he was 13 and having vivid dreams about the mythical creatures.
“Because I had so many dreams about wolves and werewolves and a lot of really kind of dark and supernatural stuff, I became fascinated with that stuff,” he said. “I was always kind of weird when I was in high school. I had friends, but in high school and middle school, I’ve always been more, kind of reserved, more of an introvert. I’m way more extroverted now because I’ve forced myself to be. But I’ve always kind of been an outsider, and … starting in middle school, I just started collecting a bunch of information about werewolves.”
Nooe’s werewolf persona includes more than a costume. He also howls.
“You can hear me from pretty far away,” he said. “I love people’s reactions because there have been a couple of times where I have my mask on and somebody’s like, ‘How does he do that? Oh, he must have like a voice changer or something,’ and I take off my mask and do it.”
Nooe said he developed the unusual skill over time.
‘One time when I was in college, just for the fun of it, I went to a talent show because I was trying to challenge myself — trying to break out of that introvert shell,” he said. “So there was a talent show and it was a huge crowd of people, relatively speaking, you know, maybe a couple hundred people, and I just got up on stage and howled.”
Nooe said he didn’t win the talent show, but that wasn’t his goal. He simply wanted to get over his stage fright.
Interest in werewolves inspires a novel
Ryan Nooe wrote a short story when he was still a teenager, inspired by his vivid werewolf dreams. “Greentown” started out as 13 pages, he said, and he kept going back to it through the years and now it’s a full-length published novel.
“The basic plot of the book, you can tell that it was based on a nightmare that I had when I was 13, because it almost sounds like a ‘Goosebumps’ episode or something, where a young man and his mother moved to a new town,” he said. “Very original, because that was essentially what I did when I was young in, like, 2001. But it’s a strange town in the middle of the desert. and everything seems OK, maybe a little bit off. But then eventually he discovers that the town is full of murderous werewolves.”
Nooe said the book is dark and might be a little too gruesome for younger readers. But it’s not simply a thriller. It addresses some basic philosophical questions.
“The three questions that I came up with while I was writing this newer version were: What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be alive? And what does it mean to be virtuous?” he said.
“Greentown” is available at Book Baby and Amazon. Nooe said he also is working with Barnes & Noble, but it’s more challenging to get print-on-demand books into those stores.
Locally, Nooe said he has a book-signing event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 5 at Half Price Books in Castleton at 4709 E. 82nd St.