LAST CALL: The road to Hell, MI, is paved with good PR intentions

You'd think promoting Hell would be one tough job.

Actually, no, says Todd McKinney, creative director for Hell, a town tucked into the the hills of southeastern Michigan. 'It's a PR guy's dream to market a place like Hell. I mainly just look at the phone and it rings.'

For starters, disc jockeys love phoning, especially around Halloween, to find out if their towns are hotter than Hell, or if Hell has frozen over. That's fine with McKinney. 'Our intent is to make Hell Halloween 365 days a year,' he says.

Founded in 1841 by a man too busy to pick a proper name ('Just call it Hell,' he said.), the town has no population, just the Dam Site Inn restaurant, the Hell Country Store and Spirits, and the new Screams Ice Cream Parlor.

Hell has long been popular with motorcycle enthusiasts and, on the lighter side, vacationers, who come to take advantage of the surrounding Pink Knee Recreation Area.

Last year businessman John Colone devoted himself to making Hell a tourist attraction. His Abaddon Enter-prises hosts two Web sites: Hell2u.com, which sells souvenirs such as dirt from Hell; and DamU.com, which offers 'degrees' from Damnation University.

Well suited to PR types is the Bachelor of Electronic Communication, which can be earned by performing such tasks as taking or making cell phone calls in church, during a movie or while making love.

Lots of PR jobs are worse than being the spokesperson for Hell. 'I recognize what hungry monsters the media are, and I'm trying to feed them as best I can,' McKinney says.





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