Archive for michigan

Cold Ash

Posted in SIN Chronicles with tags , , , , , on October 11, 2016 by bluefall8

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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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House of Fire

Posted in SIN Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2016 by bluefall8

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I arrived at SIN last night around 8pm and shortly thereafter the house would be rocking for the next three and a half hours. There were so many instances of quality interaction that it’s hard to keep them all straight so I’ll plunge into the highlights momentarily.

But first, a few notes on the cast and crew. When I arrive, if possible, I like to go through the house and get a feel for the vibe. As with any volunteer effort there can be a fairly significant change in crew from night to night and week to week. It is typically during this walk through that I release Vermin and I will interact with everyone as that character. If I’m not familiar with someone I might introduce myself (as Vermin of course) or else I’ll take the opportunity to mess with them.

There were a few new faces throughout the haunt but each seemed excited to be there and committed to the act. I never did get a good look at the kid in the dining room, so I’m not sure if he was new or not, but he was a frenzied ball of energy when I escorted a trio of jumpy ladies though the attraction not long after my arrival. The hallway following the Gacy room featured several notable additions which included a green laser, a neon-colored sign that read “Clown Lives Matter” and of course, public enemy number one: clowns. Three or four big, intimating dudes considerably shrunk the available space and transformed a boring transitional passage into a high-water mark of SIN.

THE SHEARING OF THE SHEEP

I learned a lot of names last night, discovered where people lived and found that the vast majority of people I smelled had a pleasant scent. For some reason a lot of people ask if I’m wearing a wig and when they do so I encourage them to touch my hair. Sometimes I even offer them a smell although most decline the opportunity it doesn’t stop me from expressing my interest in smelling their hair and that is something that a lot of people are pretty uncomfortable with.

One quartet was from Monroe, a place I’ve lived at two points in my life, so I drew on my familiarity of the area and cracked tasteless jokes about the Custer Statue and the heroin epidemic that has plagued the county. Yeah, Vermin has no shame. I try to make a point to introduce myself to every guest waiting in line and due to wait times I generally have the opportunity to interact with the same group two, three or four times which requires a lot of improv and on occasion it affords me the opportunity to elaborate on Vermin’s checkered past.

Sometimes, I like to slip in facts about my own life to lend more authenticity to the performance and boy does that work like a charm. If you watch the body language of people and the position of their eyes, it will reveal a lot. I love to see a change in their demeanor when I go a little bit darker, cut a little bit closer to reality. You can almost see the gears in their head turning, wondering how much of this is purely shtick. It amuses and pleases me to no end to have so many customers seek clarification on my position within the haunted house and question whether or not I officially work there.

No doubt the highlight of the night came when Daffodil appeared and we worked haunt zero in tandem, we would later be joined by Dr. Giggles as well and then we really had the room jumping proper. Some teenager playfully insulted Daffodil and the no nonsense, Brooklyn girl brought her grievances to Vermin who promptly and angrily confronted the young man. I wouldn’t say the kid was scared but he was undoubtedly uncomfortable as I delivered my demands with force. We isolated him in one corner of the room and made him apologize which he did quickly, too quickly. He was then told to drop to his knees, it was there that the apology would be delivered.

There was a pregnant pause in the room, all eyes were on this poor bastard by now. He hesitated to comply and every second he delayed was further fuel for either Vermin or Daffodil. One of us was going to shred this kid in front of the whole room so I watched and waited while I blocked his path back to his friends and that’s when Daffodil went for the jugular. Without remorse, without even a hint of speculation she stated as fact that the young man should assume the position in which he undoubtedly had spent so much time. The room exploded with “oohs” and “aahs” like it had suddenly transformed into The Jerry Springer Show. Daffodil snapped her neck, popped her hips and watched that kid sink to a knee as he kissed her offered hand as an apology. A superbly timed scene that may have caused me to hide my smile behind my long locks.

SAY WHAT?

In my mind, Vermin has a New Orleans accent and some people have commented on how convincing it is, but others have compared it to a long list of celebrities and fictional characters which I find interesting, amusing and, at times, disappointing. Last night alone the voice was compared to Bill Clinton, Forrest Gump, Christopher Walken and Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone.

I think the Walken comparison is a stretch although I can see where someone would make the link. Clinton and Gump do sometimes come through with certain phrases and I try to limit that, but the Val Kilmer one stuck. I hadn’t thought of that myself, but I was okay with it not only because the cadence was undeniable but also because Doc Holliday was one cool son of a bitch in Tombstone.

Abbreviated

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

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I wasn’t able to get out to SIN and drop into Vermin until 11pm last night but I made the best of a short night. I arrived to find Daffodil, an adorable and spunky clown armed with a Brooklyn accent and sharp wit, entertaining guests out front. I joined in and after a lot of convincing we coaxed a pair of women out of their car and into the house. However, as per the bargain we stuck, Daffodil and Vermin were made to escort the pair through the haunted house.

It was a fun bit of interaction and those ladies really loved my hair, but another strangler wasn’t so fond of me. She refused to even entire the building with the rest of her group and professed her discomfort with me despite the fact as she put it, “…you’re not even wearing a costume.” For those interested, the primary dress for Vermin is an old pair of ripped up jeans and a flannel — that’s it. The thrust of this character comes through my body language, cadence and words. I do pride myself on the ability to mess with guests in the same clothes I arrived in.

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.

Turn the Page, It’s October!

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , on October 1, 2016 by bluefall8

The open road beckons as we commence the 2016 haunt season. If all goes according to plan and the weather is cooperative, we’ll visit three of Michigan’s scariest places for a total of six attractions.

First, we burn rubber to Mason, Michigan which is home to Shawhaven Haunted Farm. A trip here has eluded us in seasons past and I’m pleased to finally have it penciled in with priority. Shawhaven offers three haunted attractions — Dead Maze, Wagons of Fear and the headliner, Samara’s Boarding House. If time does us any favors we might just check out one of the Escape Rooms too!

Once finished there, we make the short drive to Leslie, Michigan where we will experience a tantalizing new haunted house called, Awaken. The website for Awaken is full of content and I appreciate the effort that has been made on social media to promote the attraction. The theme has remained something of a mystery to me — disparate photos on Facebook have revealed a funeral service, barbershop and the possible presence of a circus. Yeah, I’m sold. I can’t wait to see how it all blends together.

Our last stop of the night will bring us back to Jackson’s Underworld which we have visited twice previously, first in 2009 and again in 2013, each trip yielded very different results. I’ve heard nothing but great reviews since our last stop three years ago and now there’s also a second attraction entitled, Psycho Vision 3D!

I fully anticipate a highly satisfying night of haunting!

JACKSON’S UNDERWORLD: A RETROSPECTIVE

Disappointment Ravages Opening Night (2009)

Jackson’s Underworld Rising? (2013)

Opening Night Blues

Posted in SIN Chronicles with tags , , , , , on September 30, 2016 by bluefall8

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The Halloween season has already begun for those of us with haunting in our blood, but for the general public it isn’t quite here yet. As if a Thursday in September wasn’t enough of a challenge, mother nature decided to pour buckets throughout the region yesterday and effectively dampened the opening of SIN.

The doors were opened around 8:30pm, an hour and a half late. But it wasn’t as if throngs of eager guests were made to wait in the damp, again this was a week day in September. A lone couple, who I estimated to be in their early 20s, would be the only customers who turned up and while that is disappointing for all involved, it wasn’t a surprise under such conditions. I snapped into Vermin and was joined in entertaining the young couple by Timmy, an overgrown, tricycle riding simpleton.

The male was named Justin, the female (who was responsible for the visit) refused to divulge her name although she did inquire as to the authenticity of my hair. I urged her to judge for herself and offered a smell or touch of my long locks; she opted to do neither. After several minutes of Timmy’s tricycle antics and Vermin’s odd musings, the couple was ushered inside the building where they were seated for several moments as to excite the brood inside the haunted house.

The unnamed girlfriend was readily receptive to the interaction and seemed to enjoy herself, the boyfriend, Justin, was a different story. He displayed only a mild interest and seemed uncomfortable, if not a bit confused, frightened or both. It wasn’t the best interaction and I wasn’t satisfied with my accent or level of emotion but as they were the only group on a rainy, weekday the magical energy just wasn’t surging through the air. I spent the remainder of the night interacting with my fellow actors entirely in character which did provide some fun.

Eve of Madness

Posted in SIN Chronicles with tags , , , , on September 29, 2016 by bluefall8

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SIN Haunted House by the Wyandotte Jaycees will officially open its doors for the 2016 season tonight from 7-10pm. Opening night at any haunted attraction is infused with a certain nervous excitement; a herald that the Halloween season has indeed arrived once more. The stakes are high this year for the Wyandotte Jaycees, an organization that has produced a haunted attraction every year dating back to 1976.

Statewide the number of Jaycee chapters that have continued the haunted house fundraiser has dwindled to single digits. While the Wyandotte haunted house has managed to survive it hasn’t been immune to certain realities — diminished manpower and declining interest. The future of the project has been cast into doubt at various times over the last decade and was spared execution this year by a frantic 11th hour push. It is a point of pride for dedicated members and volunteers that the legacy of haunting in Wyandotte will be alive on the 40th anniversary of the group’s first haunted foray.

All of this will of course be explored in a documentary about the 2016 haunted house which is being produced for Wyandotte Cable. Thus far 17 studio interviews have been conducted with members both past and present who offered insights into all facets of the haunted attraction from the art of the scare to safety standards to the working relationship with the City of Wyandotte. The build process has also been documented with on-site discussion about prop-making, room design and the hopes and fears of those on the front lines of the project.

The interview process of the documentary is nearly complete with just a few key players left to enter the studio, but now the real fun begins as we start to capture behind-the-scenes video of the haunted attraction while in operation. This project has already been interesting and illuminating and I suspect the best is yet to come as SIN is put to the test.

Be sure to return to Horrorlust for periodic updates on SIN and the aforementioned documentary; all such entries can be found in the SIN Chronicles category, which can be accessed by utilizing the uppermost drop-down menu located on the sidebar to the right.