BY SUSAN M. BRACKNEY
Sharon Porter Phillips gushes like an excited teen with a new car as she describes her limo bus. “It has everything a limousine has, only bigger. Laser lights. Built-in ice chest. A killer sound system that vibrates the entire bus. It’s really fun,” she says. The bus is the vehicle that takes clients around town on Phillips’ Misguided Tours, which offers off-beat history, mystery, and comedy trips around Bloomington.
A professional actor for more than 40 years, Phillips rubbed elbows with Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Woody Allen, and Barbra Streisand, among others, when she was acting in New York City, but followed her husband to Bloomington about 16 years ago when he came to work at Sherwood Oaks Christian Church. She started Misguided Tours about five years ago.
Considering the hours Phillips spent researching content for her Bloomington tours, however, “misguided” may be a misnomer. “I found so much information that I had to break it up into three different tours,” she says. “That’s why one is a comedy tour, one is a history tour, and one is a mystery and ghosts tour.”
Loaded with insider information about the people behind names with which Bloomingtonians are already familiar (such as Batman, Waldron, Showers, Wylie, Henderson, and Monon), the tours might appeal more to locals than out-of-towners. Some stops include an Underground Railroad site, Breaking Away film locations, and “one of America’s most haunted buildings,” according to Phillips. Billionaire Mark Cuban and even the Symbionese Liberation Army (of Patty Hearst kidnapping infamy) loom large, too.
For Phillips, delivery is as important as accuracy. “As an actress, I’ve done a lot of accents for whatever play or film I’m doing,” she says. Phillips’ comic characters unfold on the limo bus’ 40-inch TV. “I have a cooking show where I play ‘Paula Bean,’ and she’s got the Southern accent,” Phillips says. Others — most notably an old lady from Brooklyn — she plays in person along the way.
Tours last about 70 minutes, cost $25 per person, and include local-trivia contests complete with local prizes. For groups of six or more, call 812-320-2002 to schedule a tour. For more information, visit misguideme.com.