Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Scary Clowns

People like to be scared.  Look at how well (most) horror movies do at the box office.  Books about ghosts - fiction and nonfiction - sell very well.  There are websites devoted to the paranormal.  And now there is this little gem: Dominic Deville's evil birthday clown.  (Disturbing, yet also brilliant.)     

For thirteen seasons I worked at several different professional haunted houses.  The Haunted Hotel.  The Nightmare on Fifth Street.  The Nightmare Factory.  And oh, I have stories.  Dominic the evil clown reminded me of one of my favorites.  

I was the "monster manager" so it was my job to make sure that the actors were taken care of and the scenes ran smoothly.  This meant that I was not tied to any one area of the building, but could roam.  It was great!  If there was a scene that was particularly scary, I could hang out there and watch the people fall over each other.  If there was a group that promised to be really animated, I could follow them throughout the house and see them lose it over and over.  Or I could run ahead of a group and give the actor a name and a description so that he/she could single someone out.  Heh.   

Early in the season there were nights when it was really slow.  We would congregate outside and just hang out.  When a car would pull up, the monsters would go back to their "scenes" and it would be business as usual.  One night there were about four or five of us sitting around the entrance talking.  The owner, Steve, didn't like for actors with costumes and make-up to be outside while we were open, so our little group consisted of a couple of security guards, Steve, and an actor or two whose costumes were nondescript black outfits and masks (sans mask, of course).

A car pulled into the parking lot and four teenagers got out.  One girl was especially hesitant.  Her friends dragged her over to our group.

"Hey y'all, is it scary?" asked the first teen.  That was the most frequently asked question.  Sigh.

"Yeah, it's pretty scary."  The standard response.

"Y'all, I'm not going.  I'm not going!"  It was the hesitant girl.  Much convincing took place.  Her friends tried to convince her that it wasn't THAT scary.  We tried to convince her that it was scary, but very fun.  Finally, it came to this:

"Y'all gotta tell me, are there any clowns in there?  Because y'all, I'm like, really scared of clowns.  They freak me out."

We all looked at each other incredulously.  A couple of us laughed.

"No!  There aren't any clowns in there!  Why would there be clowns in there?  It's a haunted house, not a circus!"

"Okay, y'all, I'll go."  And they went and bought their tickets.

As soon as they disappeared into the doorway, we all ran for the back entrance.  Yes, we had very deftly and blatantly lied to the poor girl.  That year we had a scene based on Stephen King's "It" - complete with a maniac clown with an axe.  Steve got on the headsets and told everyone to meet in the "It" room.  It was about halfway through the house so we had a little bit of time.

We got to the scene and Steve briefed the actor on who he was looking for and why.  I could almost see the actor salivate!  He hid.  The small group came around the corner to find the scene populated with about five security people (and one or two stray actors).  The show was memorable.  I hate to admit that I got so much enjoyment out of watching a teenager scream as a clown towered over her.  I'm just not right.

Her friends helped her up and out of the scene.  The clown high-fived everyone.  Then we all told him to follow her.  It was classic.  He came at her from every dark corner.  We had that poor girl almost scared to take another step. 

When she finally made it to the exit, she lit into us!  However, she didn't get very far into her tirade when the clown emerged from the back door.  She screamed and took off running for the car.  He chased her around the car at least once before the driver hit the remote and unlocked the doors.  She immediately dove in and cowered.  The clown jumped on the hood and just stared at her.  Her friends took a little while to get to the car because they couldn't walk, they were laughing so hard.  They did manage to find half a breath and thanked us.

Just doing our jobs!
Disclaimer:  Lest a reader become upset with me thinking that we were being unduly cruel to this patron, let me clarify a few things.  When she approached us, she was very specific about asking about the clown, almost to the "briar patch" point.  She obviously didn't have a real clown phobia, she just wanted to make it known that if there was a clown, she would freak out. And she did not disappoint.  She did freak out, but it was a teen-aged performance of a freak out.  Yes, she was scared and yes, she screamed like a banshee.  But I have seen enough people become completely incapacitated and refuse to move to know that this girl was having fun.  No, she wasn't laughing, but she was enjoying all of the attention, even through her screams.

No word on whether she ever came back. Based on what I observed, I would bet that she put up a huge show to her friends about how the clown chased her and that she would never go back, but I also bet that she let herself be dragged back at least one more time that season.  

2 comments:

Ado said...

Oh my gawd does that evil clown get around! Loved this post.

Cabin77 said...

Thanks!