Orange Countys 31 Scariest People

Photo by Myles Robinson1. RICHARD NIXON'S HEAD

Walt Disney's cryonically chambered noggin was once the scariest severed head in Orange County, but that was before the Richard Nixon Library, Birthplace and Deathplace unveiled sculptor Robert Berks' terrifying Richard Nixon's head on Aug. 14. Disturbingly wide-open eyes! A shit-eatin' grin! And—scariest of all—pockmarked skin designed to make the work appear cutting-edge but actually makes Mr. Nixon look like Hannibal Lecter wearing Edward James Olmos' face to get past a phalanx of cops. In fact, can we end this item right here? I'm getting a major case of the creeps just looking at this photo of the death mask. LOOK, IT'S STARING BACK AT ME! ITS SMILE JUST GOT WIDER! MAKE IT GO AWAY! DEAR GOD, MAKE IT GO AWAY! MITIGATING FACTOR:It's not real, right? It's made of clay, right? Nixon's dead, right?

2. Dr. Robert Simonds

The president of Irvine-based Citizens for Excellence in Education, Dr. Robert Simonds, makes his debut on our list this year after more than a decade of terrifying conduct that could have easily landed him atop previous lists. How did we miss him, you ask? Simple. The reserved Simonds just doesn't have the sex appeal or filthy richness of other OC ultraconservatives, such as the Reverend Lou Sheldon or Howard Ahmanson. But make no mistake, the retired Orange Coast College math instructor is every bit their equal as a wing nut. Remember a few years back, when righties were scrambling to stack local school boards with far-Right Christian activists? Simonds provided the blueprint for that movement with his 1988 book, How to Elect Christians to Public Office. Happily, the effort to create a school-board theocracy failed miserably, and Sheldon and Ahmanson opted out of the educational-advocacy game, at least for the present. But Simonds remains, and his organization now claims more than 1,700 chapters representing 350,000 members nationwide. Last year, however, Simonds told USA Today, he decided "after a lot of prayer and consultation with Christian groups, it was a hopeless affair to try and reform public education." Discouraged? Maybe. Giving up? No way. Simonds' newest campaign is called "Rescue 2010," a systematic effort to lure more than 20 million Christian students from the nation's public schools by the year 2010. And if Simonds' monthly letters to his flock are any indication, it's clear he intends to achieve his goal the old-fashioned way: by scaring the shit out of Christian parents. Simonds' monthly missives about public schools make you think his computer is programmed to randomly insert the words "pornography," "drugs," "psychotherapy," "alternative lifestyles" and "unborn babies." Simonds doesn't just scare us—he scares his own followers, too! MITIGATING FACTOR:No more Chick comics at recess.


In English, the name means "Vietnamese Organization to Exterminate Communists and Restore the Nation." Ouch! This murky right-wing death squad has its roots in Orange County's Little Saigon and has claimed responsibility for at least five unsolved murders there and in other Vietnamese communities around the U.S. during the 1980s. Perhaps the most famous of the slayings occurred in 1987, when Westminster publisher Tap Van Pham perished during an arson attack on the headquarters of his magazine, Mai. (Pham had refused to pull advertisements from the magazine that offered exiles a way to send money to relatives in Vietnam.) The group claimed responsibility for killing Pham and four other journalists in cryptic notes sent to such Vietnamese newspapers as Little Saigon's Nguoi Viet Daily News. None of the murders was ever solved, despite investigations by local law-enforcement agencies and the FBI. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the group is suspected of being made up of veterans of the Army of South Vietnam (ARVN) who boast U.S. training in the arts of terror and sabotage. MITIGATING FACTOR: They've been quiet for a decade. Real quiet. Maybe too quiet.


Scooby Doo, the big Great Dane with the courage of a French poodle and an accent as irritating as Crocodile Dundee's, is 30 years old—that's 210 in dog years! The cartoon series debuted on CBS in the fall of 1969, moved to ABC in 1976 and these days is the No. 1 show on the Cartoon Network. Combined with its airings on TNT and TBS, Scooby Doo plays more than 40 times a week and reaches more than 40 million households daily. A new home video, Scooby Doo and the Witch's Ghost, was released this month. And each show has the same plot! MITIGATING FACTOR: The show is rife with analogies to sex and drugs and counterculture, from Scooby Snacks to Shaggy to all those kids gettin' busy in the back of that Mystery Van.


Under the dean of UC Irvine's medical school's watch, there've been human embryo scandals, mysterious radioactive waste discovered on a researcher's backside, secret research protocols, and bodysnatching. This ain't a university, it's a friggin' episode of The X-Files, and it sends our Heebie-Jeebie Meter into the red zone just thinking that if we ever wound up there, we could possibly be bred with thin, reptilian aliens intent on colonizing the planet. "But Mulder," you say, "surely this is just garden-variety ineptitude and corruption and not a secret government conspiracy to make way for an extraterrestrial invasion." Yeah, right. The truth is out there, and we don't care if we're friggin' bleeding to death, send us anywhere but UCI. It's bad enough we've got that thing about needles. Brrrr. MITIGATING FACTOR:Nice school mascot, that anteater.

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