Cold Ash


Sundays are much slower than Saturdays in the haunted house industry; that is an indisputable fact. That alone was enough to alter the vibe in the house but we also had noticeably less staff members than the previous night. In fact, aside from a couple of queue actors; we had just enough to place one person in each room. It’s amazing how much that can impact the dynamics of the show, but with that said it wasn’t a bad night.

By the end of the night we had double the amount of customers who had toured SIN on Thursday, so when framed in that context I suppose those numbers aren’t so bad for the second weekend in October. We had one group who had patronized the haunted house on Saturday return on Sunday, led by a goofy but likable young man named Zack. He was particularly taken with Vermin and Daffodil. His enthusiasm was unaffected even as we insulted him and offered backhanded compliments after he proudly revealed that he was a male cheerleader. He even performed a back flip on the sidewalk outside the building. He took the ribbing in stride and seemed to genuinely enjoy the entire experience just as he had on Saturday night.

Another notable group was in town from Philadelphia for the Lions/Eagles game; apparently it was one of those rare instances where the Lions didn’t find a way to lose. The father in the group had lost money on the tilt; information that was joyfully relayed to me by his niece. She elaborated that this was the second straight year in which her uncle had lost money on the game and I just couldn’t resist the urge to turn the screw. He was a good sport about it though and I really got a kick out of interacting with some out-of-state visitors.

Around 9:15-9:30pm a group of three teenagers pulled up to the curb outside and inquired about closing time. A conversation ensued, the female driver seemed curious, if not amused by the proceedings, a male passenger in the front of the car was quiet. From the back seat a scrawny male served as the peanut gallery. Things were well enough at first but then he began hurling insults at a co-worker that were tinged with just a little too much vitriol for my liking. There’s a difference between going back and forth with the character in front of you and harassing the person beneath the face paint or mask. You see the same thing at sporting events all the time when some drunk or wannabe tough guy takes liberties with a team mascot.

I don’t suffer the ignorance of fools lightly so as Vermin I turned up the heat a bit and insulted him with a volley of barbs that clearly got under his skin. His friends in the front seat seemed to enjoy every minute of it which served as a good tool for me to be sure that I hadn’t crossed the line from theater to reality. I think that’s important for haunt actors to remember. You can target and ridicule one person in a group as long as their company is laughing and generally enjoying the interaction, but if what you’re saying or doing seems to have put an entire party in a bad mood then you need to back off.

The kid was obnoxious and rude and possessed little to no understanding of social cues or context clues. Near the end of the exchange he was so delusional as to say, “I don’t think you know who you’re talking to.” I managed to stay in character but the laugh I issued was purely authentic. I reiterated several of my earlier insults and then bid the group farewell; after all if they wanted any more of a show they needed to come inside and purchase a ticket. Plus, I had no intentions of going to jail.

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