Santa Paula Times

The Many Ghosts of Kirk Martin

October 08, 2010
Santa Paula News

He’s a headhunter by day and ghost by night. For three weekends each October that’s the life for Kirk Martin, a resident of Santa Barbara, returning to perform for his tenth year with Ghostwalk, the annual Halloween theatrical happening  benefiting The Santa Paula Theater Center.

“I love performing live in the street,” Kirk explains, “and each year I enjoy learning a little bit more history about Santa Paula.” The scripts often incorporate colorful, historic locations and events about Santa Paula’s early residents. In fact, Ghostwalk has become a fall tradition for many, affording Kirk recognition by those returning year after year who look forward to his impressive storytelling.

“Ghostwalks have been copied all over the place, but ours is the original one in Ventura County,” boasts Kirk. “This is our sixteenth year and I’m excited because we’re downtown in the railroad corridor. We have stories staged at a lot of the great vintage buildings like the Train Depot, The Mill, First Christian Church and the Glen Tavern Inn. It’s a great atmosphere to perform in this year.”

The characters often take on a personality of their own. “ It’s a lot of fun when the audience lingers a bit to interact with your ghost. I did a character one year who was the only Santa Paula policeman killed in the line of duty, and officers actually conversed with me as though I was one of them. I chatted back with them, staying in character of course.”

Kirk is a stickler for details and loves the hunt he does on his own for authentic costumes and props. He finds them in thrift stores, private collections and estate sales. He has a pair of glasses for each of his ghosts, and does a lot of research to present his character appropriately. “One year we did Ghostwalk at the Airport, and I got the pilot of a small plane to take me up over the Sespe Mountain where my ghost character actually died.”

Kirk Martin has a wonderful history of community service, as well as experience as a community theater and professional actor. In Santa Barbara he is an Airport commissioner and raises considerable funds each year for The Santa Barbara Zoo. He’s a “Toys for Tots” coordinator, but his after-Halloween gig is as “Santa Clause,” something he’s been doing for 39 years.

Asked if he minds the commute each night up and down the coast, Kirk smiles explaining he’d truly miss street theater with its challenges, “like the train crossings, noisy bar patrons with the drunks that try to interrupt you, and an occasional visit from a junkyard dog.” A pet peeve of his are the audience members who rudely text while you’re performing. “I just keep on going, but direct my lines right at them until, self-conscious, they stop. I don’t want to give the wrong impression here though. Most audiences are very attentive.”

The many ghosts of Kirk Martin have told yarns with some very interesting deaths, such as a mine explosion, plane crash, motorcycle wreck, being hoed to death, pitch-forked, electrocuted and shot by a gunslinger.

Of the unseen, beware… walk with us if you dare. Ghostwalk 2010 is in its sixteenth year and the tour will take place in downtown Santa Paula in the railroad corridor. The first tour leaves at 6:30 and the last at 9:00 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, Oct. 15-31. Guided tours leave every fifteen minutes.

While adults cost $15 each, during the first weekend this price is dropped to $10. Students (7 and over with ID cards) pay $8. No infants or strollers please. Advance reservations are recommended and can be made by calling the Haunt Line at 805-525-3073. Please wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a flashlight.

For information, including directions, call the Haunt Line at 805-525-3073, or visit the website at All proceeds benefit the Santa Paula Theater Center.