Tourists and reporters descended on Hell, Michigan, on Tuesday, one day after rapper and comedian Elijah Daniel tweeted that he purchased it — and changed the name to "Gay Hell." John Colone, a business owner and Hell's unofficial mayor, heard the same question over and over: Is this for real?
"It's just a joke, the whole thing," Colone told the Free Press. He noted that Daniel's "ownership" is only good for three days.
In 24 hours, Daniel's original tweet — which included a photo of him with Colone — was liked 259,000 times and retweeted 59,000 times. Media outlets from across the globe covered the story.
Colone said Hell was flooded with visitors — and he was flooded with people's opinions. About 75% of the feedback was positive, Colone said. But some people were upset. A motorcycle club that regularly visits Hell pledged to never come back because "it’s becoming a gay community."
Hell is an unincorporated hamlet in Putnam Township, located about 15 miles south of Howell. Its devilish name has made it a tourist attraction.
Colone owns several businesses there, including a putt-putt golf course, wedding chapel and the Screams souvenir store. “Our whole thing is to make people laugh and have fun," Colone said.
Daniel, who has a sizable YouTube following and raps under the name Lil Phag, has been to Hell before. In 2017, he became mayor for a day (an honor anyone can have for 100 bucks) and promptly banned all straight people from entering Hell, according to Mlive. He was impeached.
Colone said Daniel contacted him last week about temporarily owning Hell. "He's very big into the gay (rights) movement, and with the president banning gay flags from federal buildings … he thought he would show that he bought Hell despite the president and call it 'Gay Hell,' " Colone said. "And that was it." Read more via Detroit Free Press