It’s 2019 and it’s easy to feel confused as to why wax museums still exist, when it’s never been easier to feel closer to celebrities, who often post as regularly about their lives on social media as any peasant does. You go to the wax museum because ostensibly you’d like to take a lot of photos with mannequins that bear some resemblance to pretty people who walk red carpets. Maybe some of these photos make their way back to your grandparents in New Jersey, who squeal when they think you’ve actually met Sandra Bullock. You really got ’em, ha... ha.
But what seems more enjoyable these days is not actually being in the presence of an especially accurate wax figure, but being in the presence of a horrific one, like those that regularly go viral for being the stuff of nightmares. When surrounded by wax figures, of which I’ve now had the intimate pleasure of experiencing, it’s easier to catalogue everything that’s wrong with them rather than the other way around. And yet there’s also a weird sense of entitlement to that: instead of posing with wax Brad Pitt to pretend like I’ve met him, I sit on the sidelines and judge the wax Brad Pitt for not being more like the real Brad as I’ve seen him in photos.
When our summer series on moving to Times Square “Welcome to the Neighborhood” was discussed, I knew that I had to go to Madame Tussauds wax museum. Not just because I run a Twitter account dedicated to “haunted doll news” and have made cataloguing the uncanny creepiness of mannequins and the like a hobby of mine. I had to know what it felt like to have a hundred, dead acrylic eyes on me at all times. I had to know if they actually looked like their living breathing counterparts. And I had to see if they were haunted.
How will I know if they’re haunted? Just by feeling their energy. What energy, you might ask, aren’t these inanimate sculptures surrounded by dead air? To which I’d say, that’s what they want you to think. You can trust me, or you can not.
The wax figures in Madame Tussauds’ New York location, I was told upon leaving, change every three months or so, and so this list is by no means complete. These are the figures that just happened to be there when I wandered in one day in July. If they’re not still there, I do hope they’re at least in storage, and not wandering the streets at night looking for me.
She’s the first figure you see when you walk in basically and I had prepared myself for anything by quietly whispering “don’t look into their eyes, don’t look into their eyes” for 25 minutes before coming here. However, she is not haunted.
Hands in pocket seems like lazy work, but I did not dare see if his fingers were neatly manicured. This is not the weakest I’ll be during my visit. That said, he is not haunted. Nobody could be cursed wearing that track jacket.
Pale Guy (Anderson Cooper)
Cooper and a few other celebs live in this fake party room, where there is a fountain and an actual bar, which is so considerate for those who want to drink a strawberry daiquiri at 12 p.m. and stare forcefully into the eyes of a fake Robert Pattinson. I spent my time in this room accidentally bumping into figures I didn’t realize were not real people and it made me feel absolutely insane. At a certain point it’s hard to make out who’s a wax figure and who’s a German tourist family visiting for the weekend.
Anderson Cooper, who has the complexion of a glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut, is not haunted.
This figure is incredibly rude to Elton, who has far more hair than this. Remove the glasses and the tracksuit and I wouldn’t know who it was. I’m inclined to say he’s haunted because of his smile, the kind of smile that can launch a thousand tourists to turn around and get a refund. However, I do not think this figure is haunted.
Ummm? (Jane Lynch)
Who the fuck is this? Possibly haunted.
She’s fine. Not haunted.
Kitty Girl’s face and intimidating enthusiasm is reading not haunted to me, but the weirdly contorted body that makes it look as if all of RuPaul’s bones are broken inside him is distressing. I held my ear close to RuPaul’s mouth to see if I could hear the groan of a ghost begging to get out. Alas, I heard nothing. Not haunted.
The Kardashian Family, Which Is Confusing Because I Thought All of Them Were Already Made of Wax?
Not haunted, but Kris’s bowl cut probably is.
Not haunted, but great brows.
Somehow Tyra Banks
This smize is haunted but I’m not sure she is.
Deeply tortured, reeling with pain inside, and if my senses can be trusted, haunted but harmless.
When I walked into this party room of fake celebs, real people, and no real celebs, someone close to the bar caught my attention. I had the tingly sensation that someone’s eyes were on me. I looked over and saw Connie Britton. Or, rather, the wax figure of Connie Britton. For a second, I felt genuinely scared, in that I had confused a wax figure for a real person.
All of this is to say that Connie Britton might be the most haunted wax figure I saw this day. Please don’t ask me about it again, it’s a complicated moment in my life and I’m much too fragile to revisit it outside of this blog.
Not haunted and even if she was what’s she gonna do, take your photo in a 1950s bathing suit? Wow, I’m spooked!
His hands forever shaped into a heart, longing for a love he’ll never have, the flesh he’ll never caress. Despite this, he’s not haunted.
Cross-eyed, which is embarrassing but not haunted.
Surprisingly matte. Not haunted.
It’s at this point I realize how dated many of these figures are, such as this very circa-2003 Brad. He is not haunted.
Absolutely haunted and should be melted into a dick-shaped wax candle immediately to root out all evil.
She is an angel from heaven above and thus it’s sacrilegious to suggest she is haunted. However, I worry that there is a spirit trapped in her hot body. She is haunted, but possesses no malice to the pimple-faced teen boys who pay $30 a ticket to gawk at her.
He seems weary. Not haunted.
Edward & Jacob
Jacob, whatever his real name is, who can even remember, is not haunted. Edward’s forehead is haunted.
Andrew Lloyd Webber
I don’t care.
Depicted here in a dressing room for this Broadway musical themed section of the museum. She is not haunted, though I do wonder if she is bald underneath her turban.
Not haunted and frankly a nuisance.
Not nearly as haunted as every single demon in this trailer.
Goth Teenager and Her Older Goth Boyfriend
Yes, he’s a phantom of the opera, but I got nothing from these two. Not haunted.
Lion King Dude
Not haunted but seems happy to see me, which is sweet.
Local Drunk Woman
Someone please get her hydrated. She’s not haunted.
He seems too small, doesn’t he? Too small to possess an evil spirit. Not haunted.
Not haunted but disturbingly lifelike.
This is how I learned Judy Garland was about four feet tall. Her too-tiny eyes and toothy smile suggest a darker core. I think she’s haunted?
This feels cheap, I came here to see the human celebrities melted into wax. E.T. is not haunted.
By now you might have noticed that these figures are very shiny. In person, under very bright lights, they almost seem to be sweating, and Willis especially so. Is that blood fake, a small part of his costume, or did he just finish murdering a tourist who stayed too late the other day? I have my doubts about face Willis and am leaning towards him being haunted.
Whoopi is a treasure and would never let her figure become haunted, so that’s a no.
That Roshan’s plaque includes a quote about people feeling “hysterical” over him makes me even more uneasy. Has the piercing stare of this man caused exorcisms for those who come into contact with his wax figure? Who knows! But he might be haunted for these reasons.
Big Director Man
So haunted that I had to take this photo several steps away and zoom in.
Shah Rukh Khan
He looks nice, but he’s not haunted.
I need to clarify that seeing Jerry Springer’s wax figure means you’ve entered the media/TV area of the museum, which should tell you all you need to know about the media/TV area of the museum. He’s not haunted but the museum’s conception of journalism is.
I didn’t know wax figures could get botox. Haunted!
I feel like Don Draper is bloated with the haunted memories of what John Hamm did at his violent fraternity, and for that he’s likely haunted.
This is when I realize there are no women in this section other than Lucille Ball. And for that, all the rest of these men are cursed, not haunted.
Man Who Ruffled Donald Trump’s Hair
Madame Tussaud Herself, Creepy Ass Queen
She is perhaps the most haunted of all. Her mind...
This is the “culture room” which, can you believe it, is all men except for one woman.
Hemingway and his books are not haunted.
Really, this room just gets more and more thrilling which each new figure. That cigarette isn’t fooling anyone, Pablo is not haunted.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Dalai Lama
Nah, he’s cool.
As translucent as layers of phyllo dough, with bushy brows the consistency of fat caterpillars. He’s more a glamorous scarecrow than an excellent wax figure. I don’t think he’s haunted.
I hope she’s not as haunted as the muffin top wig they gave her.
I have no answers as to why he looks like he’s giving a hand job to a ghost. He’s not haunted.
How nice of her to set the most dismal looking lunch setting for guests. Madame Tussauds couldn’t muster up some wax petit fours or sausage rolls or whatever the Queen eats? I won’t even touch the lack of wax corgi dogs by her side. She’s not haunted.
I spent what felt like hours staring deep into the small gap between Middleton’s acrylic teeth and whatever gaping black hole made up her chilly insides. There’s something haunted in there.
At the very least I came here for accuracy when it comes to early male pattern baldness. A devastating mistake but alas not a haunted one.
Okay... so you made cars... and now you get a space in the “world leaders room?” Weird flex but not haunted.
Martin Luther King Jr.
*Kanye West voice* Madame Tussauds does not care about black people. This figure is not haunted, and this figure is not Martin Luther King Jr.
Great outfit, the modest prairie trend stays strong even for wax figures. However, she’s not haunted.
Nelson... Mandela ...?
*Squinting* This stranger is haunted.
Way too happy to see me, definitely haunted.
Don’t you just want to chop off of his head and play with it like a kickball? Not haunted.
President Kenny and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Absolutely haunted, just look at these spooky fucks. Also, was JFK really that ginger? I need a fact check.
Sorry, what references did they use to make this man? Coins? Everything about him is haunted, especially his mere existence. Get him out of my sight!
They flat-ironed her hair to death, poor Princess. For that she is a wee bit haunted.
Pope John Paul II
This is how I look when a hot new guy joins the house on Love Island and threatens to scramble up every couple I’m invested in. He’s not haunted.
Boring, not haunted.
We get it, Madame Tussauds, you’re cúltúréd and smart and do not merely possess wax carcasses of YouTubers lining your halls. He’s not haunted.
Seems like an old statue. But old enough to be haunted? No.
Oh my god, this room never ends. This place never ends.
Please, get me out of here.
President Barack Obama
You had to get in line and pay to take a picture with him. His inaccurately sleek hair is the most haunted part of him.
President George W. Bush
I left the room of world leaders without visiting Bush because that’s how little of am impression he had on me. He is not haunted.
Haunted and disgusting.
Disgruntled MTA Worker Who Can’t Tell Me If G Trains Are Running to Church Ave Or Not Bathed In Spooky Green Light Who I Did Not Get Closer To Because He Scared Me
I can see this any day of the week. Haunted!
Ghostbusters Slime Guy, Also Known As the Slimester, At Least I Think That’s His Name, I Did Not Google This
I don’t care if he’s a ghost, he’s not haunted.
You see, this is a full-blown Ghostbusters section. This makes sense given, as I’ve already established, the building itself is brimming with ghost-ridden wax figures and other cursed oddities. The question is, can you ghost-bust a Ghostbuster wax figure?
Leslie Jones the wax figure is not haunted.
She looks cute! Approachable! And not haunted.
It’s just hard or me to believe that any wax figure this closely tied to a themed, franchised section of the museum would be haunted...
...and I spoke too soon. This is a wax figure by way of Edvard Munch and indeed haunted because of it.
Some Zombie For a Promotional Virtual Zombie Thing I Didn’t Participate In Because I’m Cheap
Yawn, not haunted.
Poor place couldn’t finish their Zooey Deschanel figure.
Taylor Swift’s Ex-Boyfriend
So... moist. He’s not as haunted as my shadow on his body taking this photo.
King Kong (?)
Unclear if this is made of wax. This statue is frankly selfish in terms of how much space it takes up. I’m sending a note to the museum to “please make King Kong smaller.” That should do it.
Sad Hot Topic Employee
TFW you volunteer as tribute to hold everyone’s bags at the Billie Eilish show. Not haunted.
He raided every tomb to get to the, uh, candy shop that exists mid-way in the museum for some reason, in case the sight of all those deeply lubricated wax smiles made you want some Twizzlers. He’s not haunted.
Likely Not Iron Iron Man
I AMMM PLASTIC MANNN. Not haunted.
Samuel L. Jackson
A tragic eye accident appears to have happened to this poor Samuel statue. Is the museum so heartless they can’t just make him a second eye? Not haunted.
Somebody got fillers and je suis surprised (that’s Fashion for “I am surprised”). She and her faux, circa-2007 Marni-style get-up are both haunted.
Jean Paul Gaultier-Simpson
What? If a dude looks like he’s from Springfield, the dude looks like he’s from Springfield. He’s slightly haunted.
The next day you’re in, the next day your wax figure has more crows feet than Madame Tussaud’s statue. She’s not haunted.
Florence Griffith Joyner
This is the sports room, which was stressful to me personally. Florence looks good, but she is not haunted.
Football Guy (Eli Manning)
The small space between where his chin ends and his neck begins is haunted, please don’t touch it.
Basketball Guy (Carmelo Anthony)
The level of concentration in which Anthony is playing fake basketball here, forever frozen mid-throw into the void, suggests he is deeply, if not catastrophically, haunted.
Yeah, no. She’s haunted.
Not sure I’d fuck with Holyfield’s statue, but also wouldn’t fuck with the real him either. If he’s not haunted, he’s at the very least intimidating.
The stressed face screams “haunted” to me, but I don’t think the wax museum would let a haunted figure have a cigar. It’s just too on the nose, like I’ve seen The Shining too, you know?
Do you think real life celebrities feel pressured to keep up with the physique of their wax figure? If the celeb gains weight, does the wax figure? If the celeb wants their wax figure destroyed because it might be stolen and used in a sacrificial ceremony, does the museum allow it? Just some things I thought about while wandering dazed in the sports room.
Conor doesn’t seem haunted.
Baseball Guys (Derek Jeter, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth)
Haunted, haunted, haunted.
Other Baseball Guy (David Wright)
These sports dudes are killing me, Smalls.
Other, Other Baseball Guy (Joe DiMaggio)
You could peel a potato on those teeth, but this wretched man is not haunted.
Positively drenched in an unknown fluid, with a nose that looks like a door knocker, and a caesar cut straight from 2005? Haunted as hell.
Bad Gal RiRi
I am 5'6" and found that most of the statues were quite short, which made me feel enormous and made me question my understanding of celebrity heights, a source of endless fascination for me. However, Rihanna’s statue was several feet taller than me, though that might be in her posture which suggests that the statue’s spirit is reaching to the heavens asking God to let her escape her motionless wax form. All of this is to say the Rihanna statue is haunted and looks like it hasn’t been updated since Talk That Talk-era.
The Basic Selena
I like that they gave her a mic, otherwise I wouldn’t know what she could sing. It’s quite helpful! She’s not haunted.
The Real Selena
I am... disgusted. This is too disrespectful to be haunted.
Can someone please get Usher the Wax Statue a sandwich? A few crackers? Anything? He is haunted, by hunger.
This is what it looks like when doves cry and also when Madame Tussauds pulls stars from their archive and doesn’t even bother to make sure if their eyes are looking in the same direction. That said, dear Prince is not haunted.
Sleeping or Possibly Mid-Solo Jimi Hendrix, Who’s To Say?
Look up Jimi, and tell me if you’re haunted.
🎶 I’m in love with the shape of Ed Sheeran’s deformed wax head. 🎶
Oh baby, he’s haunted.
Imagine being cursed to reside in a wax figure for eternity and having to sit in this pose. Poor Johnny, he might be haunted.
The hair: Lynchian. The brows: pubic. The face: as moisturized as a Glossier model. The wax figure: hauntingly haunted.
I’m calling the manager to request the museum acquires Kravitz’s large scarf, but for now he seems peaceful and decidedly not haunted.
Katy Perry was one of the most cracked wax figures I saw, like her body had been airbrushed with a tan five years ago and never re-brushed. Something this simple already set her up to be one of the more haunted wax figures I saw that day. But it was her stressed stare, like that of a gymnast who is trying to hold perfect balance and a smiling face on top of a human pyramid, that made me feel for her. I decided that, like so many other celebrities I saw that day, whose oily, wax flesh looked melted under studio lights, whose cat fur hair and deeply period-specific costumes confounded me, that she was definitely haunted.