Archive for wyandotte

Weird October

Posted in Preludes and Nocturnes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2016 by bluefall8

It’s been several years since I visited so few haunted attractions during the month of October. The season started normal enough on Saturday, October 1 with a trio of stops at Shawhaven Haunted Farm, Awaken and Jackson’s Underworld. A pair of weeknight outings organized by the Michigan Haunters Association then brought me to Rotten Manor on Tuesday, October 11 and then Clio Manor and Exit 13 the following night.

Due to my budding love affair with SIN, an already streamlined haunt schedule was blown to bits by the second week of October. A return to the beloved Bloodview was dashed along with would-be maiden voyages to Haunted Elementary and Bates Haunted Saw Mill. Psycho Path was shutdown by the City of Flat Rock over safety concerns and was relegated to hosting a hayride — that put a serious damper on a night that included other nearby haunts, Woods of Darkness and Hush.

But perhaps it was all written in the stars, 2016 was a season of change. I found a second family at SIN and while I’m disappointed I didn’t get to visit a bunch of new and exciting places this fall, I don’t regret my decision to commit to SIN. It was a blast and I’ll cherish the memories.

The lack of trips did leave me hankering for some post Halloween fun and lo and behold an opportunity presented itself. Tomorrow night we’ll drive to Cincinnati for an overnight trip headlined by The Dent Schoolhouse where a most intriguing and timely event is set to take place — Lights Out: Clown Edition. If time permits we’ll then make a break for Middletown, home to Nightmare Manor and Land of Illusion Haunted Scream Park.

Of Health & Havoc

Posted in SIN Chronicles with tags , , , , , , on October 28, 2016 by bluefall8

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

I was feeling under the weather when I arrived and didn’t plan to stay for the entire duration of the night. There was a gauntlet to be run over the next five nights and I had no desire to push myself to the limit on a Thursday and leave the tank empty for the homestretch of haunting that included Devil’s Night and Halloween. I hung around until quarter to nine and then bowed out for the night, but before I departed I was a part of a couple of memorable moments.

I must say that I’ve been mightily impressed with Danielle’s evolution during this haunt season. She’s been forced to wear a lot of different hats behind the scenes at SIN and that has made it difficult at times for her to go full throttle with her signature character, Dr. Giggles. But not on this night. Dr. Giggles was a mason jar of piss and vinegar. She stalked the front of the house with a renewed menace and brandished that machete like a professional hit man. The good doctor even held sinister conversations with a pumpkin of all things. I thought it was a nice, new wrinkle for the character.

Some time not long before I departed things took a wild, unexpected turn in the stomping grounds referred to only as haunt zero. Dr. Giggles cracked her machete against one of the metal poles that served as a barrier for the line, a moment later she knocked that pole to the floor. With demons of his own to exercise, Vermin turned and booted a second to the floor. Suddenly, the scene transformed into a high stakes tag team match; it was the penultimate moment. The gold was within our grasp and we knew it! We clawed down deep in search of that finishing maneuver — posts, ropes and buckets clattered to the floor as we kicked and swatted our way to a championship.

When the chaos had ended, haunt zero resembled the aftermath of a smash and grab at a jewelry store. The following morning another member of the haunted house crew shared a Creature from the Black Lagoon montage that had been edited for comic effect which summarily nailed the regard Dr. Giggles and Vermin held for haunt zero on this night.

Cinnamon & Sloth

Posted in SIN Chronicles with tags , , , , on October 25, 2016 by bluefall8

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

I entered SIN roughly a half an hour after open and changed into costume — Vermin’s trademark flannel and tattered jeans. Once at the front of the house I found that there were no customers so I worked my way through the maze and discovered that a core of regulars were absent for the evening. It bummed me out that many of my favorite people weren’t there but I believe in making the best of things so that’s what I set out to do.

It ended up being a slow, mostly uneventful night but one group comprised of local high school football players afforded Vermin an opportunity to bare his teeth. There were four of them but one refused to exit the back seat of a car and for that he was ridiculed. The other three entered the building, purchased tickets and entered haunt zero. The players attended Roosevelt which is the high school in Wyandotte for you non-locals, each sported hoodies or other paraphernalia that identified them as members of the varsity squad.

I had already heard that the football team had lost to Woodhaven on Friday night, but those boys didn’t know that — not yet anyway. I built them up for a minute, lured them in and then smacked them hard with an insult over the recent loss. I saw disappointment and, dare I say, shame in their eyes. It was a thing of beauty and it amused me greatly. If there’s one thing on this planet for which I have absolutely zero interest or need it is high school football.

The players entered the attraction but we would cross paths once more when fate intervened — in the form of a bathroom break of all things. I was needed to cover for the actor in the Bundy room so I decided to whip up something special for the student-athletes. I tapped into Vermin’s well of the anger and instructed one of the boys to sit in a chair while I delivered a haunting monologue about loss and regret. I told him to remember the moment and to recall it in a time of regret. I told him to understand it as truth and urged him to appreciate the gravity of regret. As the trio departed, the one would had sat in the chair stopped and said, “That’s actually really good advice.”

He was right, it was good advice. The kind of advice that only one who has known regret can deliver. I like to think that some day he’ll think back on that moment and be supremely weirded out.

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.

Turf Wars

Posted in SIN Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2016 by bluefall8

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Monday, October 17, 2016 marked the end of the Michigan Haunters Association Haunt Swap and it was time for SIN to play host. All in all it wasn’t a bad showing as groups from Clio Manor, Exit 13, Hush, The Realm of Darkness, Rotten Manor and The Scream Machine each paid us a visit.

It was certainly a different vibe than an ordinary night of operation, after all haunters are a different breed. A couple of visitors even opted to remain in character just as they had been presented at their respective events; some balanced that approach better than others and it was a bit tricky finding the right chord with those individuals.

The folks from The Scream Machine had the largest contingent are were my favorite group with which to interact. They went back and forth with Vermin on all matters taboo and delighted in an exchange of sexual innuendo. Three young ladies even presented Vermin with snipped lockets of hair — what a sexy treat that was!

Jaycee alum, Blue-eyed Clyde made an appearance and had his prized head tossed around.

Beasts & Bastards

Posted in SIN Chronicles with tags , , , , on October 20, 2016 by bluefall8

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So, what’s your pleasure? Be it beast or bastard? I’d like to start with the latter, so let’s discuss difficult, no-fun customers.

WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE?

It’s a fair question and maybe it has a lot of answers but as an actor at a haunted attraction I’m sometimes baffled by the attitudes of some people. I think some individuals simply take themselves too seriously or want to be combative and others still are just trashy, insecure people who create drama just so they have a story to tell. These people are boorish and ignorant and they’re not worth your time or effort.

The vast majority of my experiences at SIN this Halloween season have been positive, but a few unpleasant and odd exchanges do standout. As Vermin, I introduce myself to a lot of people and subsequently offer a handshake. Most people get a kick out of it — maybe it’s the funny name or maybe it’s the slightly ominous greeting or innuendo that accompanies the introduction. Whatever it is, it’s generally met with some form of enjoyment.

One Saturday, I was talking to a pair of young guys who probed Vermin with some curious questions — they seemed to dig the character and wanted to know more about him. There was a woman of about the same age beside them so I included her in the conversation and offered her my hand. She seemed skeptical which is fine, she’s not alone. Lots of people have refused the handshake and I have responses prepared for just such an occasion.

No big deal, it’s all in good fun. Except in this particular instance, a woman with an entirely different group turned and said, “This isn’t the 80’s. You don’t shake a woman’s hand. You shake a man’s hand.” Uhh…what? She looked genuinely affronted. Maybe she was drunk. Maybe she holds some very strict guidelines on inter-gender social interaction that applied only to the 1980’s. She then invited the girl to stand with her group as if my handshake posed some serious threat that only she and her unmatched haughtiness could neutralize. The two young guys looked at me apologetically and added that they didn’t know this school marm of 80’s etiquette. I didn’t dwell on it because I do not suffer fools.

The most frequent negative experience comes from young males that range from late teens to mid-twenties. The tough guy posturing that comes from this crowd is insufferable and I always find it amusing that the worst offenders aren’t exactly in peak physical condition. More often than not they’re either scrawny and dressed in oversized clothes or short and porky with bowl haircuts. It’s as if they possess zero knowledge of a haunted house and cannot fathom why a weird character is trying to creep them out. In some instances I’ve even overheard other members of their group tell them to calm down or chill out. I don’t understand where these people come from or why they exist.

I don’t make a point to interact with these people much because they aren’t interested in having any fun and I’m not impressed with their baggage or undeserved sense of self-worth. It’s nauseating. It all comes back to body language and verbal feedback. I’m here to have fun and entertain people just as the guest is there to have fun and be entertained. If you can’t open yourself up to that then I’ve got nothing for you.

TEN FEET TALL AND BULLETPROOF

Interestingly, but probably not surprising to anyone who took high school psychology, truly intimidating and physically imposing guests do not typically exude combative or aggressive behavior. I love to engage these people and then pick on them in front of their friends, dates and spouses. Think about it. Guys who approach or exceed six and a half feet tall are used to being deferred to and it’s probably been that way for them ever since they hit that crazy growth spurt in middle or high school. They’re big and people just assume not mess with them.

One night there was a run of giants in the house and about three of these monsters were in haunt zero simultaneously. One by one these oddities traipsed in like a freak show on HGH. Vermin dashed to confront them and immediately issued comical insults which their respective groups enjoyed. I don’t imagine they see these people approached so forcefully or spoken to so bluntly very often. I like to speculate on their abnormal size and usually label them Bigfoot, Sasquatch or otherwise refer to them as some sports figure who was freakishly tall like Manute Bol. Google it, kids.

So, there I was in haunt zero with a packed room that already featured two walking anomalies when a true mountain of a man lumbered into the room and dwarfed even them. He was 6’6″ and had to weigh 400 lbs. or more. He was, as we say in the common parlance, ginormous. He also smelled like he had just smoked a blunt but that is neither here nor there. I stared up at him and hurled some barbs his way. He said his name was Antoine and he probably could’ve crushed me with relative ease, but Vermin is not concerned with such pedestrian matters. Antoine seemed a jovial fellow and contentedly high so I poked and prodded his stunning stature and he took it all in stride.

I suppose the point of all of this is to instruct haunted house actors to be fearless in the face of odd, imposing and intimidating people. Get creative with your interaction and mess with expectations; don’t fall into the trap of always preying on the weak link of the group. I think you’ll find that it becomes more enjoyable for you as a performer as well. I know that’s been true in my experience.

Sinful Sunday

Posted in SIN Chronicles with tags , , , , , , , on October 18, 2016 by bluefall8

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It’s no secret that Sundays are much slower than Fridays and Saturdays but ticket sales were up noticeably from one week prior and a couple of noteworthy groups kept things interesting. All in all, it wasn’t a bad few hours of haunting.

Once again I was charged up upon arrival and beat a hasty path to the front of the house but discovered no guests present at the ticket booth nor inside haunt zero. However, I did note that Brother James was not at the entrance of the haunt, his usual post. Instead, we were joined for the evening by Sister Nena whose lashing tongue and no-nonsense attitude were a welcome addition to the SIN brood.

SCARE TACTICS

Devoid of playmates, Vermin forcefully exited the front of the building and dared somebody to look at him. This is one of the routines I love to employ when the house is empty. I bust out the front doors with purpose, like a man on fire and the first person to look into my eyes becomes the target. In most cases the person in question first has a look of apprehension and fear in their eyes and then they retreat a few steps before attempting to clarify my status with the haunted house.

I think it works well for three reasons, the first is the crazed state — I can draw up real anger and I think people sense that. The long, wild hair whipping about my face doesn’t hurt either. The second reason is my costume or more accurately, my lack of a traditional costume. I’m basically in street clothes so it’s reasonable to believe that I may just be another customer or some unknown guy who’s upset about who knows what. Third, and this is key, the customer cannot yet have interacted with me. I’m a total stranger looking pissed off and unkempt and I’m coming right at them. I think people know fairly quickly that I’m likely a part of the show but when combined the aforementioned elements are enough to plant that seed of doubt and that’s all it takes. It’s a rush to pull off this scare.

BEING VERMIN

Daffodil was already engaged with a group of three, two tall males and a female who all looked to be in their early to mid 20s. One was quiet and standoffish while the other two were talkative, affable and primed to be scared. Vermin was all piss and vinegar, issuing insults and commands. I specifically targeted the tall, dark-haired male who talked too much for his own good. He compared me to the character Jesus from The Walking Dead as he spoke to his friends as if I wasn’t present and after a few iterations of the comment I got in his face and said, “Call me Jesus one more time, boy.” He was nervous but I could also tell he was enjoying the whole routine and wasn’t likely to swing at me which isn’t true of all customers. After some additional interaction from Daffodil and Vermin the trio entered SIN.

When they had exited the attraction, we picked up where we had left off. Daffodil introduced a gagging bit in which she coughed up blood and then ran off frightened. Two of the three expressed genuine concerned so of course I just played along. Truth be told I was momentarily confused myself because Austin, the actress behind Daffodil, has had a sinus infection in recent days. By the time she had run away I was certain it was all an act but the knowledge of her recent ailment did give me pause if ever so briefly. Regardless, she pulled it off well and then reemerged and chalked it all up to an absurd condition called, Clownitis.

As it was slow at the moment, we continued to entertain the trio. I inquired about a necklace that Jabber-Jaw was wearing and he began to rattle off facts about something that vaguely registered as anime. I’m not a big anime fan so the reaction to come was one of genuine boredom and borderline contempt. I held my right hand near his face, cut him off mid-sentence and said, “Stop talking.” His friends laughed as if they too found his love of anime tiresome.

The tall quiet one was getting a bit antsy, he was named Malik. I dropped his name and he seemed surprised. The female in the group reassured him that I had probably heard them use it which was of course how I knew it but they didn’t know that. She turned to me and with a hint of pleading reassurance said, “That’s how you knew it right?” Whenever I can I like to use the neither-confirm-nor-deny strategy because I feel to simply imply something is much more unsettling than plainly answering a question. I issued that strangled Vermin laugh and said, “Yeah, let’s go with that. Whatever makes you comfortable.” People are supremely weirded out when you possess knowledge that they think you shouldn’t know. It’s a beautiful thing.

I proceeded to take a thoughtful, purposeful look at the license plate of their car which drew a reaction and then ripped an impressive chunk of my hair from my head and gave it to the female as a memento. It freaked her out, she asked me to stop while the act was in progress and even stepped back several paces. As I handed it to her she questioned the authenticity of it. It was real and it was more hair than I had planned to yank out of my head. I don’t believe I’ll be doing that again.

The group paid Daffodil and myself a lot of compliments and I was flattered but I wasn’t about to let it show on my face. Talking Tommy repeatedly asked about our accents and seemed determined to examine the folks behind the characters but to pull back that curtain so cavalierly would only have been a disappointment and neither of us seemed inclined to oblige. We took a picture with two of the three (mousy Malik snapped the photo) and then they departed. I liked them, they were good people.

ENTER THE TWILIGHT ZONE

The night was drawing to a close when a group of five turned up. I was just inside the door of haunt zero when I spotted them at the ticket booth; four girls and one guy. I estimated that they were all in their late 20s to early 30s. I sauntered over as only Vermin can saunter and I eyed them creepily, the way a mangy wolf might look if you substituted hunger for perversion.

Ready to savor the interaction I noticed an attractive brunette among them and as I looked closer I became slightly unnerved and then fascinated. Why, you ask? Good question. I managed to remain in character but the scene spooked me. This woman was the spitting image of a good friend of mine; it could’ve been her twin sister. Granted, her build was slightly different but the hair color was the same as was her complexion. She had the same eyes, same smile; she even possessed a few shockingly similar, minute mannerisms. It was freaky as hell. I thought I was staring at my friend and it was definitely not my friend for those of you who may be wondering.

As Vermin I informed her of the striking, spooky resemblance and even dubbed her, Doppelganger. I stalked circles around her so that I could examine her features from all angles. I was legitimately mesmerized by this woman who said her name was Lena. When her group had emerged from the house after being chased by Edward and his chainsaw that is — I examined her face further and elaborated on her unbelievable resemblance to my friend.

She and her friends prodded me for more information and I joked that I would contact them through social media. You see, they’d already let slip their names, employer and the city in which they lived. When I strung all of that together and flatly stated that it was more than enough to find them, they exchanged amused but slightly concerned looks as if it had just dawned on them that indeed, the information was likely sufficient to track someone down.

As I write, I’m not convinced that this Lena and my friend were not separated at birth. The resemblance was truly surreal and it gave me goosebumps.