Archive for H.H. Holmes

Revelers & Mischief Makers

Posted in SIN Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2016 by bluefall8

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Friday, October 21, 2016

I arrived at the house at 5pm — two full hours before the doors were set to open, but I needed to use that time wisely. My good friend, John, and I had planned to wire the house with five security cameras so that I could capture some video of the cast in action for use in the documentary about SIN. I stood in the parking lot and chatted with Grace while I waited for John to arrive.

CLOWN LIVES MATTER

John did arrive shortly but not before an unexpected arrival. A slim dude in full clown regalia walked purposely toward Grace and I. He had bright blue hair and a billy goat beard. In his right hand he clutched a piece of paper and in his left was a yellow, rubber chicken. How could this not be interesting? I have no fear of clowns. Nope, not even with the recent spat of clown related strangeness that has taken place across the country. I actually find the clown archetype a fascinating character study. What does creep me out, you ask? Dolls, man. Dolls are unnatural, evil little posers possessed by the worst kind of malice. Fuck those guys.

But back to the clown. Grace and I stared silently at the approaching stranger who stopped at a distance just outside of my personal bubble and asked for the person in charge. Hey, at least this clown was direct. Having just arrived myself, I wasn’t sure who was even inside the house yet. The clown expressed an interest in working at the haunted house and it turned out that the piece of paper that he held to his heart was the waiver form required to work at the Jaycees Haunted House. Unsure who to direct him too and somewhat bemused by the whole encounter I asked, “You got a name, clown?”

It turned out that he did have a name. It was Adam. The clown’s name was Adam.

John had arrived with the hardware so he, Grace and I made our way inside the haunted house with a clown named Adam in tow. After a bit of searching, I located Danielle inside of the ticket booth and explained the impromptu meeting with Adam the Clown. She looked at me skeptically, even incredulously, and said, “Are you serious?” I was serious and so was Adam the Clown. He did have his form filled out after all. The initial weirdness faded and Adam was welcomed into the fold as the latest edition to the SIN family; he worked the clown hall and proved an enthusiastic, competent scareactor.

ADVENTURES IN VOYEURISM

With Clowngate in the rear view mirror, John and I set about the task of installing a series of security cameras throughout SIN — a process that was expedited by the aforementioned Danielle. Thanks, Danny! It required the better part of an hour to install all of the cameras but when we were done John was stationed in the back of the building with a live feed of all of the activity in the following rooms: Ripper, Clown Hall, Manson, Holmes and Gein. John just finished converting all of the video to a user-friendly format so I haven’t yet screened any of it but he did report the existence of quality reactions, most notably from inside the H.H. Holmes room. Way to be, Gracie!

The cameras did cause a few hiccups through the night but nothing that caused too much of a headache. The one stationed above the clown hall lost power which was an easy, quick fix. More challenging was the camera inside Ripper’s White Chapel District that had some how come loose from the mount and was found dangling by a cable. That required a fair amount of attention as I crawled about the floor in an attempt to locate the screw that secured the camera to the mount. I found it and dropped it three times; much profanity ensued.

A couple of times I had to retreat to the space connecting Ripper and Borden because groups were coming through the attraction. I considered exiting to the back of the house through Borden but then realized I was still holding the drill I was attempting to fix the camera with, so I decided to improvise and use the power tool to my advantage. When patrons exited Ripper I muttered gibberish, tugged at my hair and brandished the drill in a threatening manner. It did the trick until I was able to fix that troublesome camera.

COME ALL YE CHILDREN

Every third Friday of the month, downtown Wyandotte is host to a special event and on this day a parade of costumed revelers descended onto Biddle for trunk r’ treat. On the plus side, the occasion provided us a built-in audience albeit one that skewed considerably younger than the usual target audience for a haunted attraction. However, in order to safely organize the event, Biddle Avenue had been blocked off at Eureka and Oak. Naturally, this would strangle off any exposure SIN would ordinarily get from passing vehicles. In the end it was a fairly steady night and the trade off may very well have been a wash.

DRUNKEN SHENANIGANS

The night concluded with a visit from a lively group whose members ranged from buzzed to severely intoxicated. One fellow seemed friendly enough but he was hammered and as Mr. Sea Legs was already bumping chests with Dr. Giggles, I thought he might prove an issue so I immediately confronted him. He slurred that his name was Chris. It was his birthday. He was from Lincoln Park. “Well, hello Ch-ch-ch-ch-chris,” I mocked. His friends howled with laughter as a couple of them propped him up. I insulted his drunken state and his hometown (which is actually my hometown for those interested).

As nicely as I could and while still in character I told Chris that his intoxicated state made his behavior suspect and that I wouldn’t tolerate any mistreatment of my brothers and sisters. He didn’t seem like a bad guy, he was just drunk as all hell. I followed the group through the entire house, lurking in the shadows. Chris popped a squat in a few rooms and did agitate a few workers but he never harmed any one or got out of control. He eventually gathered his wits and staggered to the next room until his spaghetti legs carried him out of SIN.

Lunatic Fringe

Posted in SIN Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2016 by bluefall8

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PSYCHO PROPANE COCAINE CRAZY

I rolled into SIN on Friday night like a storm. I wasn’t able to arrive until roughly 9:30pm because of work and indeed it was due to an incident at work that had me supercharged and on fire. Some of my fellow actors were in need of bathroom breaks so I spent the first half hour or so rotating between several rooms — first Bundy, then Ramirez and finally, Dahmer. I paced the floor and pulled at my hair because that energy had to go somewhere.

In Bundy I disparaged an attempt at humor from one group and punctuated the point by booting a chair across the room. Once in Ramirez I absorbed the space and crafted a few scares; I was so psyched up I begin jumping on a bed that was located in one corner of the room. I wasn’t aware of it at the time but a fellow actor from an adjacent haunt had poked her head into the room at that moment, witnessed my frenzied state and slowly backed out. We shared a laugh about it later.

When some guests did arrive in Ramirez, I commanded one of them to sit in a chair, placed a troll doll at their feet and demanded it be worshiped as a God. There was hesitation of course but at least one of them eventually complied with the absurd demands just in time for one of my co-workers, Danielle, to enter and witness the odd scene. The trio soon fled led by a visibly shaken teenage male named Fidel, oh Fidel was a great target indeed. Danny and I shared several laughs about that moment throughout the night.

In Dahmer I paced the large kitchen like a madman. I picked up a skull and argued with it forcibly; when a group would enter I purposely ignored them momentarily but made sure to block their path by manically pacing back and forth. Inevitably my disagreement with the skull led to throwing a bowl across the room, an action that elicited excitement and fright. I also climbed a top an empty steel drum and surprised one group by leaping from it as soon as they’d entered the room.

I definitely prefer to roam but the limited time I spent in each of these rooms on Friday was a great way to channel my agitation and engage in some jump scares that are harder to come by in the queue line.

CRAZY WHITE BOY

Although that initial surge of energy was burned off a flood of adrenaline continued to course through my veins for much of the night and was probably best applied with a couple of self-absorbed rich kids from Grosse Ile. One of them actually tried to buy Farley, Murray the Clown’s signature blade and when that failed went on to brag about his Maserati and the company he owned at the age of 17. All of which was handed to him by mommy and daddy, or course. Well that’s all the ammunition we really needed, although he and his resentful buddy would provide much more fodder.

Vermin, Daffodil and Dr. Giggles assailed the duo with a hail of insults and mind games that I like to think genuinely shook the pair and gave them a taste of humility. Richie Rich professed to have a generous spirit so I retorted,  “Well then, make it rain, Scrooge McDuck.” You see, in the carnival that is my mind there is no more cartoonish representation of obscene wealth than the Duck Tales patriarch.

The line drew laughs from all involved and provided a moment of levity which was good because one of our less-than-merry band was about to get heavy. Dr. Giggles issued a harsh rebuke and informed the pair of the charitable nature of the haunted house itself. Following the tongue lashing the boys claimed that they would return to their fancy car and retrieve some money for tickets, but to no one’s surprise we never saw them again. I hope their dreams were haunted by our words.

The 11 o’clock hour brought to SIN a rough looking group from Detroit who were weirded out every bit as much as their refined counterparts from Grosse Ile. A tall, skinny 20-something male squirmed and recoiled whenever I approached him. While in haunt zero he paid me an enormous compliment aided by the use of profanity as it was, “What the fuck! You’re not even wearin’ a costume. Yeah, you’re intimidatin’ as fuck! You’re like one of those crazy white boys, aren’t you?!” Guilty. In a night that featured so many memorable moments that just might have been my favorite. It’s exchanges such as this that let me know Vermin is doing his job.

FLIGHT TO THE FINISH

Once the final group of the night had entered the house I sprinted over to the H.H. Holmes haunt to execute a scare with Grace that we’ve had success with on a number of parties. Typically, Grace plays the role of the murderous hotel magnate but for this particular scare she shed that role and slipped into the skin of a victim. I crawled under the bed and waited for my cue. When the couple entered Grace began begging for their help and spoke of an awful man who was soon to return. The terrified couple had no interest in helping the poor girl and when they attempted to scamper from the room I crawled from beneath the bed and watched two adult human beings melt into a pile of quivering goo.

The male threw himself against the far wall and then darted in front of his girlfriend. She didn’t seem to notice however, because her eyes were only half open, her head jerked from side to side like a broken robot, her right hand was held aloft and shook uncontrollably. For all the world, the only way I can describe the scene is as if I’d watch an out-of-water fish flop like it were experiencing a seizure.

And it was glorious to behold.

Role Reversal

Posted in SIN Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , on October 8, 2016 by bluefall8

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It was another slow Thursday but certainly better than the previous week when a single couple crossed the threshold of SIN. I channeled a darker side of Vermin by funneling my own anger into the character and I saw the result in the faces of various customers. A few people issued stifled, nervous laughter; one woman wondered aloud whether it was an act and then questioned if I actually worked at the attraction. I was very pleased with those reactions.

Then the night took a truly interesting twist. The house was set to lose an actress at 9:30pm and I was asked to fill her role in the Elizabeth Bathory room. Yeah, I donned a nightie and embraced the drag. The girls all loved it and snapped pictures and video so I sold it for all I was worth. The guys were amused but less than the girls.

I pursued one of the more uncomfortable guys with a series of sexually suggestive proposals. He squirmed away on his back once, scrambled to get to his feet and then jabbed me in the chest with a crowbar. I couldn’t stop the act for a crowbar though so I grabbed the straight end, scraped it across my chest and told him I liked the pain. It did cause a small cut but he did drop the crowbar and flee the room.  So, you know, victory was mine.

There were only a couple of groups who came through the haunted house once I was in the Bathory room but they seemed shocked and amused by the sight of me. When they entered the room I could be found leaning over the bathtub rinsing my hair, ass stuck in the air, wagging seductively or I would stand with my back to the entrance and flip my hair. With each gag, I whirled around and revealed that I was a man and that had eyes popping out of the sockets. Then I playfully lowered one of my straps and accidentally on purpose let it fall. The howls of laughter and surprise were music to my ears.

As it was nearly closing time, the entire house followed the last two groups which produced a chaotic atmosphere; one that I’m sure seemed overwhelming for the customers. With one group, once inside the H.H. Holmes room, I crawled a top a mattress on all four and encouraged a couple of woman to lie with me. They declined the offer but several of my fellow actors remarked how much they enjoyed that particular bit of lascivious nonsense after the fact.

On a final note, there was a gentleman in a wheelchair working the dining room as a zombie who I hadn’t met before. Early in the night I did a little walk through and he was awesome in his role and gave me the legitimate creeps.

Black Moon Rising

Posted in SIN Chronicles with tags , , , , , , on October 1, 2016 by bluefall8

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The Black Moon shone brightly from space and cast down an aura upon SIN. Sure, the weather wasn’t much improved from Thursday, the calendar still said September and the house had plenty of down time throughout the night, but there was an undeniable energy that coursed through the veins of cast and crew. A rousing chant spurred the monsters into a frenzy and the plucky group was off to frighten waiting guests.

Vermin was once again to be found in haunt zero, traversing the ticket area and dutifully harassing pedestrians outside the building. As I sit here and reflect on the night, I realize just how many groups I engaged and there were so many memorable exchanges. One teenage girl professed that she was sick and refused to enter the attraction after her ticket had been purchased. I was honored and imagine my cohorts were as well.

Another, younger girl in that same group began to cry and she too nearly bowed out before being whisked into the haunted house. Although I didn’t break character I did reel it in a bit when she began to cry; Vermin may be a deranged scum bag but guy the behind the character actually has a pretty big heart.

A character like Vermin is tremendously fun to play — he can be very dark and disturbing and wax philosophical but when the time comes he can be humorous or even charming; charming in the manner of a serial killer that is. Whatever the case may be I find it absolutely infectious to adapt to each group or individual. It’s challenging, it’s the ultimate form of improv and it’s damn near euphoric.

Midway through the night a boisterous former Jaycee came through and wanted it made clear that he used to be a haunter, he even said to me, “I was doing this when you where this tall (indicates a height around his knee).” He actually looked about the same age as me, he might have even been slightly younger. The comment didn’t surprise me though because I’m routinely pegged as being an entire decade younger than I am.

I seized on the moment because this was a direct challenge. I turned his words against him and commented on his lack of growth in the time since I would’ve stood at his knee. That got his attention then I turned to the woman who was with him and began a back and forth over the nature of their relationship. They claimed to be cousins. Yep, cousins. All too easy.

“Kissing cousins,” I asked? He laughed and turned to a current Jaycee and said, “I see you guys are going for something different this year.” But I wasn’t satisfied, he’d called me out and underestimated me and that wasn’t going to stand. I leaned in and smelled his neck and then informed him that he reeked of the sin of incest. That caught he and the woman both off guard. They seemed to enjoy Vermin at this point and their was no more talk of relative height or years of experience. The duo entered the house under a hail of pure, stream-of-consciousness Vermin.

When not busy scaring guests, Vermin wandered the halls of the house delivering startles to his brothers and sisters or was else providing advice on the art of the scare to those still wet behind the ears. What you do during down time is crucial and I like to stay in character and encourage others to do the same. It’s a craft and it takes practice.

Outside the haunt, myself, Timmy and sometimes others would surround guests and follow them to their cars. One woman named Janette locked herself in her vehicle while her friends taunted her from outside. Eventually one of them managed to unlock the door for me and I climbed inside to be with Janette. Why not? I’d already licked her window. Timmy and I garnered a similar reaction from a group of high school girls who ultimately retreated to their vehicles, several of them made it known that they required a toilet.

And then there was Chris. I don’t actually know this guy but he works at a restaurant near my home and has been my waiter at this place several times over the years. He’s an odd duck and the kind of guy who goes to haunted houses because he wants to be a part of the show. He traded barbs with Vermin and although he was clearly outmatched I admired his enthusiasm so as a reward I insulted his face and general appearance in a smart-ass, back-handed compliment fashion. It felt good. Had I not been in character I would’ve been fairly uncomfortable being so close to this fellow, but at the same time I loved him for his passion and willingness to revel in the haunted theater; I wanted to bring him into the fold.

The final group of the night had to be broken into two parties and they were a jumpy, playful bunch — the perfect kind of group with which to end the night. Once my duties in haunt zero had been completed, I joined an enthusiastic, young haunter inside the H.H. Holmes room. Together we devised a series of scares that culminated in Vermin squirming from beneath a bed.

It had become evident from the noises inside the house that the last two parties had coalesced into one large group of eight. Mr. Holmes sprung his trap and then invited the guests to indulge in a surprise that he had prepared for them beneath the bed. No one in the group had the nerve to lift the skirt so when I spotted their feet shuffling past I wormed out to many shrieks and screams, bodies jumped and scrambled and a boy of seven or eight, named Little Tracie, took a dozen wild swings at Vermin’s incorrigible mug.

It was a near 180 from the previous night, the house had a good vibe. I enjoyed working with the kids as much as I relished the chance to unleash Vermin upon the customers. There’s nothing quite like a scare that goes off so well it leaves you exchanging a high-five with a fellow cast member. Seriously, if you’ve never worked a haunted attraction you are missing out on a primal energy fundamental to the human experience.