Haunted Hotel: For the Record by Ashly Nagrant


Welcome to day six of the Haunted Hotel Writer and Illustrator showcase!

You can find a list of all participants here.

Come back each day, the entire month of October for a scare! Today’s story comes from room #237!

Thornewood Hotel 237


For the Record


Excerpt from Rolling Stone “20 years later” interview with the members of Violet’s Diary, October 2016:


Rolling Stone: Okay, so let’s get right to the elephant in the room: where do you all stand on the ghost or the demon thing?


C.W.: Look. I’ve said everything I’m going to say about it.


S.F..: Actually? It’s about time I said something:  none of us wanted any of that attached to the album.  We knew what was gonna happen.  We knew that’s all anybody would want to talk about.  We had bigger problems.  We were falling apart as a band.  We were failing each other as friends.  We wanted the whole thing changed, especially that fucking title that was only there to capitalize off of tragedy.


T.V.: But our label were assholes about it.


S.F.: I mean, they had just paid a hell of a lot of money for us to be able to make the album.


T.V.: Yeah, and they kept paying you afterwards, when you kept working for them.


S.F.: I know what choices I made.  But I needed a job after we split up.


C.W.: And that was my fault.


T.V.: No, Steve was the one who…


C.W.: But I was the one who started the whole mess.


S.F.: None of it was your fault.


C.W.: I think that’s the first time you’ve said that in 20 years.


Rolling Stone: Now, Cassidy, you’re talking about the incident…


T.V.: We’re not talking about that.


Rolling Stone: Just bringing it up as a matter of record.


S.F.: Anyone who’s reading this interview knows what happened.



Transcript of MTV News segment, October 31st, 1997:

This is Kurt Loder for MTV News with a breaking story.  We’ve received word that Cassidy White of the band Violet’s Diary has been hospitalized following an incident at the Thornewood Hotel in Hollywood, where she and her bandmates have been living while recording the follow-up to the first album.  White was described as in “critical condition.”  MTV sends our thoughts and prayers to her family and her bandmates.  More on this story as it develops.



Rollingstone.com article, November 6th 1998:

Violet’s Diary has announced that they will call it quits after they have finished their remaining dates on the Psychomanteum World Tour.

“This has been a difficult decision,” bassist Steve Forte announced.  “Violet’s Diary has meant a lot to us.  But we feel it is in the best interest to all three of us to dissolve the band at this point in time.”

When asked if this had anything to do with lead singer Cassidy White’s rumored substance abuse and mental health issues, Forte insisted he had no comment.

White was arrested earlier this year on a DUI.  She was released on bail.

The band has been on the road since March to promote their second album, Psychomanteum. The tour continues through December, with a few remaining dates in the UK and Europe before a planned “homecoming” show in New York City to celebrate the anniversary of the album’s release.



Excerpt from police report on Cassidy White’s suicide attempt:

At around 3:47 AM, White was found in room 237 in the Thornewood Hotel.  Her body was surrounded by broken glass.  Every mirror in the room had been smashed apparently with a heavy object of some kind.  While several objects in the room could have been used, none of them show any damage or markings consistent with the rest of the evidence.



Excerpt from SPIN interview with Violet’s Diary lead singer Cassidy White, June 1997:

SPIN: You’re working on the new album, right?

Cassidy: Yes!  It’s been such a weird experience.

SPIN: Weird how?

Cassidy: Well, the first album we wrote over a couple of years.  It was written while we were living back in Pittsburgh, I mean, I was still living with my parents for a lot of it!  Now we’re out here in LA and can concentrate on just writing and we’re living in this super old hotel.  It’s just completely different and it’s definitely having an effect on what I’m writing.

SPIN: Your first album had a lot about heartbreak on it.  What kind of themes can we expect from the follow-up?

Cassidy: Like I said, living in a hotel has really affected what I’m doing.  The thing I’ve always loved about hotels is that you can be anyone you want in them.  Nobody knows who you are so you can literally be anyone you want and they won’t know the difference.  There’s a freedom there, like, choose whoever you wanna be for the night.  You start to figure out how much of who you are depends on what people know and expect of you and ask who you could be if that wasn’t a problem.

SPIN: Sounds like the perfect environment for you.

Cassidy: Only thing that bothers me is how many mirrors are in my room.  I keep thinking I see movement out of the corner of my eyes and it scares the hell out of me.

SPIN: Did you ask anyone if the hotel was haunted?

Cassidy: [laughs] It’s an old hotel.  I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t haunted!



MTV Interview with Anthony “Tony” Vissek, drummer for Tanked and Violet’s Diary, August 2003:

MTV: You recently reunited with former Violet’s Diary member Cassidy White.  Is there a chance of a reunion?

Vissek: No, no, I’m killing rumors right here.  There’s not gonna be a reunion.  It was just good to see Cassidy again.  None of us, me, her or Steve, none of us have really talked since the split and so much has happened.  There was so much stupid bullshit drama around everything that happened back then and I think people thought we were all mad at each other but we weren’t. Or at least I wasn’t.  I was never mad about any of it.  Cassidy was going through a lot of shit and I still don’t understand it, but I do know that the label for some reason kept making it worse.  Like, Psychomanteum wasn’t supposed to be the album’s title, did you know that?  It was the title of a song that didn’t even make the cut, that we never even finished writing, because it was just…did you ever hear a song that just fucking breaks you inside?  You hear this song and something inside of you knows that when it’s finished there’s no going back?  That’s how the song was.  We scrapped it.

MTV: But you still used the title for the album?

Vissek: The label liked the title and pressed us to use it for the album even if we didn’t use the song.  I always thought it was super shitty considering what it meant and what had happened, but we owed them money.  They’d put us up in the hotel, they’d given us whatever we needed to write and record and we were fucking kids.  They took advantage of us.  And that’s what ended up breaking us up.  Everyone wants to blame Cassidy’s issues, but I’ll tell you something: she didn’t start using until after the suicide attempt.  Like, she’d drink, but she didn’t get drunk.  I was always the party kid out of the three of us, Steve’d smoke a joint now and then, but Cassidy was fucking clean.  Then all of a sudden she has that breakdown and starts drinking and doing some other shit And it was after the label wanted her whole life and our whole album to be based around one fucked up night in a hotel room.



Draft of “Banishing” lyrics taken from The Psychomanteum Grimoire, published 2002:

You don’t like the blood

You need only the honey

And the gold and they aren’t buried very deep

I wear them too well

I will not be lost

I will not

I will not

I will not



I have swallowed brambles

I have swallowed fire

I will bring them back up before I leave your kingdom

I will not be your sacrifice

I will not be lost

I will not

I will not

I will not



You wash your hands in milk

You wash your hands in milk and you smile

You were burnt

You are empty

I will not let you take what you need from me

Because I need it more

I will not let you sacrifice

My eyes

My tongue

My heart


You will cut my hair

You will break my hands

You will prop me up so that I can better smile

I will grit my teeth

I will not be lost

I will not

I will not

I will not







From a Billboard.com article on the Psychomanteum release party, December 1997:

There was an eerie feel throughout the event, and a lot of it was obviously intentional.  After all, the hotel had very obviously draped black shrouds over the huge mirrors on every wall, limiting their ability to reflect any of the low light present in the grand ballroom.  But it was hard to ignore the deeper meaning and symbolism to the carefully draped fabric: this was, after all, the same hotel where Cassidy White suffered her much-talked-about mental breakdown during the album’s recording. Mirrors played into her apparent suicide attempt, so making the mirrors in the room, or more accurately the attempt to hide them, the centerpiece of the decor felt genius but also carried a cruelty with it.

It’s hard to tell if that affected the band’s performance later in the evening.  They have barely appeared in public in the wake of the tragedy and rumors have been spiraling about a possible split. And while it was certainly a different Violet’s Diary that took the stage Friday night, it was still a united one.  The band still shared quick looks and glances that helped them seamlessly build their impossible wall of sound, but there were less grins, and the few that could be seen on the face of drummer Tony Vissek didn’t quite reach his eyes.

As for the new music, if you thought “Spirits” was incredible on the radio, wait until you hear it live.  There’ve been suggestions that the echoing of the vocals was a result of overproduction on the track.  But in a live setting it almost feels like the echos were necessary in order to lessen the haunting sensation in White’s voice.  “I’m afraid to set them free/I’m afraid of what comes next” was sung in a soft half-whisper, but somehow felt so strong I swear I heard the mirrors around me shake in response.  “Banishing,” the album’s all-too-appropriately titled closing track, left the crowd stunned, equal parts satisfied and unnerved by the strange lyrics and White repeatedly shrieking the phrase “I WILL NOT” over dissonant guitar feedback.

Maybe the most incredible feature of the night, however, was an actual Psychomanteum chamber set up in a corner of the ballroom, draped in black velvet, a hidden fog machine generating an atmospheric mist on the floor around it.  Guests were invited to step inside and try it for themselves, and a long line of brave souls was present the entire night.

I passed on the experience, personally, and so did at least one member of Violet’s Diary.  I ran into Vissek while grabbing a drink at the bar and asked if he planned on giving it a go.  “No,” he said, seriously.  “Pretty sure we’ve had enough of that shit for one lifetime.”



Public statement from Crimson Needle Records, August 2003:

Crimson Needle is aware of the accusations made by Anthony Vissek in an interview with MTV.  We are displeased that Mr. Vissek would take to such a public forum to air old issues with what he feels was mistreatment of himself and his bandmates (Steven Forte and Cassidy White) during the recording of their album Psychomanteum.  Crimson Needle provided Vissek, Forte and White with significant financial aid during their writing and recording and had only the best interest of all parties involved in mind.

It should be noted that Crimson Needle has housed many acts before and since in the Hawthorne Hotel and none of these other bands or artists have had any sort of complaint.  Furthermore, Forte has continued to work with CNR as a session musician and producer and no accusations have ever been made by Miss White herself.

CNR believes this is Mr. Vissek’s attempt at drawing attention to himself or demanding more money in light of the digital reissuing of Psychomanteum due out this fall.



Excerpt from Another Girl’s Diary: A Memoir by Cassidy White

There was something in that hotel that wanted me dead.

I’ve had every single psychotherapist I’ve spoken to try to get me to claim it was all hallucination or metaphor. That would make sense, after all. I was under pressure to deliver a follow-up to a hit first album, I was afraid of being a one-hit wonder.  I was the one with all the media attention pointed right at me, and there were rumors that my bandmates resented me for it. So if I had gone off the deep end and started imagining demons were coming after me, who could blame me?

But the truth is and always has been much more simple but less rational.  The truth is that there is something inside of that hotel.  It has been looking for a way out.  It wanted to use me and my band and our music to get there.

And when I denied it, it tried to kill me.


From OhNoTheyDidnt commenter “vamphedgie” October 17th 2007:

okay but you guys have heard the weirdest part, right?

they said they found her surrounded by all the broken glass, with cuts all over her arms and her wrists slit.  okay, seems pretty reasonable, she got fucked up, went crazy and smashed stuff and then tried to kill herself.  or something like that. but she kept saying she didn’t break the mirrors, she was telling them that as they were taking her out of the room on the stretcher.  nobody believes her.

supposedly the guys they brought in to replace the mirrors took a closer look.  they commented that the whole thing seemed weird because there was like no damage to the areas behind where the mirrors would have been, like there should have been if somebody took a shoe or a guitar or something to them.  it seemed like the mirrors would have been broken from behind but they were all wall-mounted.  nothing could have gotten behind them.

so if they weren’t broken from the front and they couldn’t have been broken from the back…



Vice red carpet interview with recording artist K.P., May 2017:

Vice: You stayed there while recording?  You know, that place has a history.

K.P.: Oh, I know! I know! Like, my favorite album ever was written there!  Psychomanteum by Violet’s Diary.  That album made me want to go into music.

Vice: That’s actually what I was referring to with the hotel’s history.  That’s where Cassidy White went crazy in the 90s.

K.P.: I know, I’m staying in the same room she stayed in, room 237!   Actually, reading a lot of her early quotes about being there, a lot of her stuff about identity?  That really helped me while I was working on the songs for this new album. I found the whole experience really inspiring, to be honest, and I hope it comes through in the music.

Vice: Well, we’re looking to hearing it.

K.P.: I promise, it’ll be an album you’ll never forget.



From the liner notes to the album Psychomanteum by Violet’s Diary:

A psychomanteum chamber was meant to be used to try and communicate with the dead.  It was a small, dark place, about the size of a walk-in closet, with a comfortable chair.  The only other object inside was a mirror, hung so that whoever was sitting in the chair could not see their reflection.  The idea was to stare into the mirror and try to summon spirits.

The problem is that once you summon something, it can be impossible to put back.




About the Author

Ashly-Nagrant-author-picAshly Grace Nagrant is a Pittsburgh based writer and Library Pirate.  She is a former ghost tour guide, music journalist and drama club geek.
She hates writing about herself in the third person.
You can find her at @newageamazon and on newageamazon.com, but NOT in the New Age section of Amazon.com.


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