Jeffrey Dahmer murders fueling sick Milwaukee tourism trend
A Netflix-driven surge of interest in cannibalistic killer Jeffrey Dahmer is boosting tourism in Milwaukee, local businesses say.
Ryan Murphy’s wildly popular show for the streamer, “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” has true crime buffs itching to retrace the killer’s creepy footsteps in the city once better known as the home of “Laverne & Shirley.”
Their presence is highly welcomed by Bob Weiss, operator of Milwaukee’s “Cream City Cannibal” walking tour, a 75-minute excursion of the places where Dahmer “poached seven of his 17 victims.”
“It is incredibly popular now,” said Weiss, owner of Hangman Tours, who added that while he dealt with considerable backlash upon debuting the dubious offering over a decade ago, the only problem he’s been facing lately is how to handle an overwhelming number of new bookings.
Since the show debuted, Weiss has gone from the usual four tours per weekend, which are eagerly promoted by some local hotels — you can even book your time slot at Marriott.com — to a whopping 16 walks.
“We have brought a lot of people [into town],” Weiss said. “The tourist industry is very happy.”
While plenty of domestic Dahmer diehards are flocking to his old stomping grounds, Weiss noted that Europeans — whom first swarmed the city in 2018 when the stroll was featured on Netflix’s “Dark Tourist” — are the ones he sees mostly nowadays.
“We have people that fly in from Barcelona, Frankfurt, [to] take our tour,” Weiss added, noting that nearly 90% of his customers are female, often aged between mid-20s and early-40s. Nearly everyone has been curious but respectful, and if they’re not, Weiss said “buffoon”-like behavior isn’t tolerated.
“We don’t glorify anything that Dahmer did, we don’t make light of anything, there are some significant lessons that I think society needs to be reminded of,” Weiss said, noting that FBI officials and other members of law enforcement have taken the tour as part of their studying of serial killers.
Not all Milwaukee business owners are interested in being associated with one of the city’s darker chapters.
Charese Gardner, owner of Wall Street Stock Bar, the former site of the infamous Club 219, where Dahmer picked up many of his victims, can’t stand to hear his name, or to think about what he did to her hometown.
While true crime tourists have flooded her bar, she’s not interested in encouraging them in the slightest, she told Fox6.
“We’re not doing a drink, we’re not doing a mural,” said Gardner. “I redid every single thing. It doesn’t even look like the place anymore.”
Ever since the Netflix show premiered, the bar has also seen an increase in nosy passersby who are curious enough to walk past, but not come inside, she said.
“I have face marks on my [windows] outside because people are like, trying to look in,” said Gardner. “I don’t really understand the obsession.”
Since the Dahmer series released, the 86-year-old father of the killer, Lionel Dahmer, has had “fans” of his son appear on his Ohio property. Some are dressing up as Dahmer for Halloween and throwing parties in honor of the psycho.
“It’s just kind of traumatizing to see how people would praise a serial killer,” Gardner said.