LET'S GET RID OF OKLAHOMA!

There is indeed cause to rejoice, as gay marriage is finally legal throughout all of the United States. However, the fight for equality is far from over. There are plenty of arenas besides the marital in which people have been lobbying for the right to discriminate against gays. (Bear with me; I promise this goes to a happy place.)

Over the last year or two, the U.S. has seen an influx of “religious freedom” laws, which are really just anti-gay laws with innocent, pro-rights labels slapped on them (‘cause the “Fuck the Queers Act” would be offensive). This new legal fad grants the right to both private businesses and government institutions to deny service to anyone based on the proprietor’s religious beliefs or convictions. So, if you, a business owner, find homosexuality to be an affront to your religion, good news! You don’t have to sell your wares to those wicked gays, who will probably just use them to do gay things anyway. Evil gay things.

Far more people than should be necessary have already pointed out the similarity between these laws and early twentieth century segregation laws (but I’m gonna do it anyway: they’re just like early twentieth century segregation laws). As of December of last year, there were 19 states that had already implemented laws of this nature.

Among the many states debating the virtues of such legislation is Oklahoma, which has seen a slew of proposals for anti-gay laws in the last half year. Among the more colorful/infuriating are one bill that states that parents “may obtain [gay conversion] counseling or therapy for their children under eighteen…years of age without interference by the state,” and another that declares “[n]o employee of this state…shall officially recognize, grant or enforce a same-sex marriage license and continue to receive a salary, pension or other employee benefit at the expense of taxpayers of this state.”

Now, granted: none of these proposed bills (to the best of my knowledge) has hit the books yet, and there are many citizens of Oklahoma--both politician and Average Joe/Jane--who are fighting each of these proposals tooth-and-nail. But, with your indulgence, I’m gonna pick on Oklahoma for a moment, because I think that it’s time that a statement be made. I would like to, in a manner of speaking, burn these anti-gay, pro-discrimination assholes in effigy. And to do so, I have a proposal of my own: I propose we get rid of “Oklahoma!,” the musical.

Hear me out on this.

Cliché though it may be, the world of the theatre--and musical theatre most stereotypically--has been a haven for the LGBT community as well as all liberally-minded individuals. And one of the staples of musical theatre is Rogers and Hammerstein’s quaint little tail of rural idiocy, “Oklahoma!” Not only is the show named for (and set in) a state that as of late has been turning its back on gays and those who love them (me!), but it is, when analyzed, a celebration of antiquated values, questionable morals, and frightening stupidity.

For those who have never seen "Oklahoma!" or who only have vague memories of it, let me familiarize you with the loose string of events the show calls a plot.

Firstly, there are two morons, Curly and Laurey, who have the hots for each other but won’t admit it, which pretty much does away with any mystery as to whether or not they’re going to get together. There’s a big dance/auction/thing coming up that all the yokels in town are going to attend. Curly says something stupid that makes Laurey upset, and so, to get back at him, she promises to go to the shindig with the rapey-looking farm hand. Honestly, from the moment he walks on stage, this guy has the words Sex Offender not written, not tattooed, but emblazoned on his forehead. The letters shine like white gold. And if he were to unbutton his shirt, we’d see “They’ll never find your body” glimmering on his chest.

And Rapey McGee is burning for Laurey. This guy clearly creeps around after her and collects fallen strands of her hair, which he then smuggles back to his little shack by the barn wherein he has a built shrine dedicated to her, the center of which is a life-size Laurey doll made from hair and semen. And Laurey decides, “I’ll make Curly jealous by going with him to the dance. Tee-hee.”

Later on, when Laurey can’t decide between the handsome guy and the dude who’s going to be fucking her loooong after he’s killed her, she decides to solve her dilemma by taking opium and going on a vision quest (you only think I’m making that up.)  The climax to Act 1 is Laurey hallucinating that she’s a ballerina and that Rapey McGee kills Curly right in front of her. And she STILL goes to the dance with him. Stupid twat.

While all this is going on, there’s a subplot involving another young lady named Ado Annie. Ado Annie is a slut. I don’t mean that as a bad thing, I’m just calling it how it is. She has a whole song called “I Cain’t Say No,” (no, not Can’t; Cain’t) in which she proclaims that any man who offers her a kind word immediately wins a free parking spot for his dick in her mouth. Now, were she just a young lady living it up with a few different guys, I’d have no qualms with her. But she thinks that everyone man with an eye for her naughty parts wants to marry her. We first see her with a traveling salesman (and, we later learn, drug dealer) named Ali Hakim, who obviously hits up every naïve bimbo in every town with the same tired pickup lines. But Ado Annie is convinced that this worldly gentleman has wedding bells in his ears. This place has the most sexually-uneducated women on the planet. As a result, Ado Annie’s father forces Hakim into a shotgun wedding engagement with his daughter.

Then there’s Will, who genuinely does want to marry Ado Annie. Will’s just returned from Kansas city, where his tiny rural brain has been all but liquefied by all the modern advancements they have, including cars, telephones, burlesque theatres, and indoor plumbing. While over yonder, he managed to procure fifty dollars (it’s never explained how; I like to believe he robbed a bank while disguised as an old lady), of which he’s particularly proud. Why? Because Ado Annie’s father said Will could marry his daughter if he ever managed to get himself fifty dollars--meaning, if Will ever proved that he could be financially responsible enough to care for his daughter. Which Will clearly isn’t. Because while he did at one time have the coveted fifty dollars, he then went and spent it all on gifts for his not-bride-to-be. While Ado Annie’s father lives in the Middle Ages, I can’t blame him for not letting this pig-fucker marry his little girl.

Finally, we get to the big barn dance, or whatever the fuck it is. They have an auction which is tantamount to sex trafficking. All the women have prepared picnic baskets that the men are bidding on to raise money for this newfangled thing called a schoolhouse (no one knows what it is, but they’ve heard it rocks). Let’s not kid ourselves here. The men aren’t bidding on a picnic basket. They’re bidding on a picnic with the lady who made the basket. And they’re not really bidding on a picnic with the lady--they’re bidding on a night of the sweet tender warmth they typically only get from the local farm animals.

In a desperate attempt to get out of his shotgun wedding, Ali Hakim buys all of Will’s useless junk from him for fifty dollars. Hurray! So, when the time comes to bid on Ado Annie’s basket (pussy), Will, the crack baby that he is, announces his newfound wealth by bidding it on the basket. Seriously, if these two ever get married (and spoiler alert: they do), she’s gonna be turning tricks just to make ends meet because hubbie is constantly blowing every dime they have on shiny rocks from the streetwise kids up the road. But, Mr. Hakim races in and saves the day (and his own bachelordom) by outbidding Will, winning the basket and ridding himself of the doe-eyed leech.

At long last, it’s time to bid on Laurey’s basket (asshole). This is the climax of the show, as Curly and Jud (that’s Rapey McGee’s real name, by the way: Jud. That man’s mother named him Jud. After hours of agonizing childbirth, she was clearly so furious with him for not being stillborn that she said, “Fuck you, kid. Your name is Jud,”) go toe-to-toe trying to outbid each other with such ferocity that it can only prove my sex trafficking theory. No one in their right mind would be blowing so much money on a basket of mystery food. There could be nothing in that thing but a half-eaten tuna sandwich. On white bread. The black sheep of all breads.

Jud has been saving up every dime he has to make sure he can win this auction, forcing Will to sell all his worldly possessions in order to raise the money to beat him. Either Curly is a true hero, sacrificing everything he has in order to save his lady love from the proto-Jeffery Dahmer, or he is an idiot with a capital I-D-I-O-T for driving himself to poverty over a half-eaten tuna sandwich.

So, Curly wins the auction, as you may have guessed two hours ago, and he and Laurey finally make the realization that they are meant for each other, which, if they’d just done at the beginning of the play when they fucking should have, could have spared everyone the hallucinogenic drug trips and Curly’s newfound status as a homeless man.

In short order, Curly and Laurey are married. Then Jud, proving that he can be just as stupid as everyone else, simply walks up and tries to stab Curly. In front of everyone. Like he was ever going to get away with that. It’s slightly better in the film version, where he tries to set both Curly and Laurey on fire. That makes him insane, which I can totally dig in a villain. In the play, however, he’s just retarded.

A scuffle ensues, and Jud ends up being slain by his own dagger. Poetic justice at its most uninteresting.

A side-note to anyone who may perform this play in the future: please, for the sake of those of us who’ve suffered through the last two hours, Grand-Guignol the fuck out of this scene. Let Curly stab Jud in the gullet, then try to pull the blade out, but instead of pulling it straight back, he tries to pull it up and ends up accidentally gutting Jud like a fish. Jud’s ribcage snaps open like a kitchen cabinet and all his vital organs spill out onto the stage floor. Then as the others rush to lend medical aid, they just end up slipping and sliding on his viscera in a scene of madcap slapstick that would do the Marx Brothers proud. Seriously, we need it at this point.

So, now a murder has taken place. Now, it’s barely possible to prove that the stabbing was even intentional; and even if it was, it was clearly in self-defense. This is an open-and-shut case, I admit. Nevertheless, some kind of legal action must be taken. Fortunately, one of the yokels on hand happens to be a judge, and they throw together a trial for Curly--with no arraignment, no lawyers, and not an unbiased witness or juror within a ten mile radius--and settle the whole affair in ten minutes. That’s how the show ends, folks! We can’t let something as arbitrary as the law get in the way when these two people are in love. (Ooh! Irony!)

So, the legal system is shoved aside in order to rush the newlyweds off on their honeymoon. Seriously, what kind of honeymoon are these two going to have? The groom just killed a man on their wedding night. Does anyone expect them to actually have sex tonight? They should spend the evening in bed together holding each other and crying. Curly has seen into the abyss of a dying man’s eyes, and he comes out the other end smiling. The future does not look good for these two. I can imagine them at the bridal bed, Curly still clutching Jud’s blade in his fingers, quietly asking, “Can I take this into bed with us?” Years of heavy S&M are bound to follow, each depraved encounter less and less satisfying as Curly yearns for that mad rush he felt as he plunged a knife into another man’s innards, until one night he’s found dead in a closet, having accidentally hung himself while trying to perform autoerotic asphyxiation.

Anyone should be able to see that this show is a glorification of thoughts and values that are not only long out of date, but, taken to their extremes, very dangerous. People view these characters and their neanderthalic hijinks as quaint, the way one laughs at a toddler who tries to walk through a sliding glass door (don’t even pretend that you don’t). After all these years of societal progress, there’s no one in this show left to relate to. It doesn’t speak to us. All it has to offer is a reminder of a past that we should be happy to be getting further and further away from.

So, what? Do we get rid of this classic of the American theatre altogether? Of course not. We adapt it into something new. I suggest that a team of writers and lyricists put their heads together and rewrite this show to reflect more contemporary values, and set it in a state more worthy of its own musical: Massachusetts!

Why Massachusetts? First of all, it was the first state to legally sanction gay marriage. But much more than that, it’s a sparkling gem of industry, education and American progress. It’s where the passengers of the Mayflower established the first American colony; before the Civil War, it was staunchly anti-slavery; it’s home to Harvard University, the country’s oldest institution of higher education; it was the site of Shay’s Rebellion, which ultimately helped lead to the creation of the American Frickin’ Constitution; in short, it’s in dire need of its own fucking musical!

As this is, in essence, an adaptation, “Oklahoma!” will serve as the basis of the new show’s plot, but there will be some radical changes. First of all, we're renaming our male lead. Curly isn't a name, it's a hair style. He will be renamed Thaddeus. Secondly, we're resexing our female lead. The name Laurie can stay, but it's a nickname for Laurel.

Thaddeus and Laurie are two young, bright individuals who have known each other since childhood. They have only recently shared a night of passion, and while Thaddeus is totally down for a serious relationship, Laurie, being of a Catholic upbringing (of which his Aunt Eleanor is a constant reminder), fears that their romance is sinful.

Laurie turns to a family friend for advice. This is the Jud character, only we’re not calling him Jud. He will be Judge Virgil--the title of Judge being a nod to his former name, and Virgil for the ancient Roman poet who, in the Divine Comedy, resides in the first level of Hell, the circle of the unbaptized and people not of the “correct” faith. The French critics will get it.

Judge Virgil advises Laurie to deny these impure impulses. However, the Judge is, himself, a closeted homosexual, and secretly lusts for Laurie. Unwilling to reveal his true nature to the world, however, the Judge rallies several of his rightwing buddies to support a proposed Religious Freedom Act that will do all the stupid shit that religious freedom acts do. Feeling that this is what God would want, Laurie joins the movement, to Thaddeus's heartbreak and dismay.

Meanwhile, Annie (we're cutting the Ado) works part-time in an abortion clinic, while working to earn her master’s degree in business finance. Her long-term boyfriend William is eager to get married and settle down, but Annie wants to wait until she’s out of school and has started the path to her career. William, however, is an old-school, patriarchal, missionary position type of guy, and he’s not so interested in having a wife with a career. He sees himself as the breadwinner and Annie as the baby maker. While Annie is dead set on pursuing her dreams, she’s nervous that she’ll lose William if she waits too much longer.

On the other end of the spectrum from William is Annie’s lesbian friend, Ally. Ally’s the kinda girl who’s never had her tongue in the same vagina twice. She enjoys getting high, picking up ladies, and not thinking past tomorrow. Annie comes to Ally for advice after a fight with William. As Ally expounds on her life philosophy of non-commitment, the two ladies, spurred on by marijuana, draw closer to each other, and suddenly--oops!--hot lesbian sex!

Don't think we're cutting the drug-induced Act 1 finale. Oh, no. After seeing so many of his LGBT friends in an uproar over the proposed religious bullshit act, Laurie begins to have second thoughts. He meets Judge Virgil at the judge's luxuriant abode, where Virgil offers him a drink. As Laurie expresses his reservations, he becomes lethargic, and falls into a deep sleep. The dance sequence that ensues will be a beautiful nightmare of such brain-liquefying surrealism that it will make Tim Burton cum. Seraphim and cherubim hover above the audience, lamenting as a Red Demon Judge condemns Thaddeus to be burned alive at the stake (a reference to the state’s darker, less educated history), while Laurie can only look on and weep (and dance) in despair. As the Red Demon Judge’s minions set Thaddeus ablaze, the villain turns on Laurie, and the two engage in a vicious but tasteful dance interpretation of a rape. Laurie then awakens on the bed in the Judge's boudoir, the Judge sitting in a chair off to one side, icily silent, smoking a cigarette. Curtains on Act 1.

Act 2 focuses on the impending local court ruling on the proposed Religious Freedom Act. Replacing the sex slave auction of the original musical, the court ruling sees all the main characters turning out to speak their piece on the matter. William is frustrated by Annie’s desire to attend the event, feeling that it’s of no relevance to them because they are not gay. Annie finally decides to leave William, fearful about pursuing her future alone, but knowing that she cannot be tethered down. As it turns out, however, she doesn’t need to go it alone after all. Ally, inspired by Annie’s passion and dedication, has fallen in love with her, and makes her first long-term commitment to another woman. Neither of them know if their relationship will last forever, but they know two things for certain--they love each other for the moment, and more hot lesbian sex!

The court ruling is nigh. The LGBT members and their supporters make a passionate plea for the Religious Freedom Act to be rejected, however the law-savvy Judge Virgil trounces them in the eyes of the legislators with his legal rhetoric. The law is about to be put into effect when Laurie arrives and pronounces her love for Thaddeus (in song, of course). The judge is enraged by the betrayal, and in his ensuing tirade against homosexuals and their sinful nature, it accidentally comes to light that he is gay himself.

Instead of showing him hatred, Thaddeus and the others try to welcome Virgil into their community, and show him that there’s nothing wrong with following one’s own heart. Refusing to listen, the self-loathing Judge Virgil takes his own life, symbolizing the inevitable self-annihilation this country faces if it continues to try to suppress the deepest-rooted emotions of its citizens. And don't think for a second that this suicide is going to happen offstage. Oh, no. This moment will be the show's major set piece; its helicopter, its barricade, its falling chandelier. The Judge will douse himself in kerosene and set himself ablaze, a literal representation of the inferno to which he has condemned himself. And as the ensemble looks on in horror, Judge Virgil proceeds to sing a heart-wrenching eleven o'clock number WHILE ON FIRE, rushing about the stage and spreading the flames to every inch of the set in a glorious display of purgatorial destruction that only Julie Taymor could realize.

Then a chorus line of beefy firemen arrive and put out the blaze.

In light of these events, the court rejects the proposed legislation. Everyone rejoices as love triumphs, as it only can in…

M-A-S-S-A-C-H-U-S-E-T-T-S, MASSACHUSEEEEEETTS!

Copyright Micah Delhauer, 2015

DINNER THEATRE MEMORIES (Part 3)

Riverside_DarlingCast01.jpg

As the year draws to a close, I thought I'd write my (probably) final entry on my mystery theatre escapades, as these shows are where I rang in many a New Year. My first two blogs on the subject can be viewed here and here. For anyone new to the party, I once belonged to a dinner theatre company wherein we performed immersive mystery shows, involving the audience in the plot and doubling as the restaurant staff. As is the case with all theatre—especially theatre that involves improv, close proximity to the patrons, and booze—the unexpected was always lurking right around the corner like a salivating troll. Here are some of my fonder memories.

 

The Show Must Go On

Performers at the company needed to be prepared to jump into any role at any time. I can think of no better example than the night that Mike Jensen had to fill the high heels of one of the supporting female characters. We’d just hired a new actress who was scheduled to make her debut that night, and low and behold she didn’t show. We couldn’t even get her on the phone. We tried calling other actresses, but none were available. We did, however, have a surplus of male actors. So, at the eleventh hour, Mike put on the dress. Hell, if it was good enough for Shakespeare, it was good enough for us.

The character was an over-the-top prima donna to begin with, and the audience enjoyed Mike’s performance in drag. But for me, the best moment was when Mike and I both happened to be offstage, waiting for our next entrance, Mike flipping through the script and scanning the dialogue.  Suddenly, he got really excited.  He’d come to the line, “I’ve done a hell of a lot more than change my name to get to where I am.” 

“I know exactly how I’m going to say that!” he giddily exclaimed.

When the moment finally came, he dropped out of his falsetto voice, going down into a deep bass, and the line suddenly took on a whole other meaning.  The audience’s response was a gradual but ultimately very strong laugh as they slowly put two and two together. I will always be grateful that I was witness to the moment that Mike had that spark of inspiration.

As for the dumb-ass actress who baled on us, she wrote us a lengthy e-mail blaming her absence on her alcoholism and making the AA-mandated apology for having wronged us.  We laughed at her letter and then never used her again. 

 

What a Pretty Young Lad

Another example of last minute, gender-defying replacements would be Meredith Young’s turn as the show’s young male love interest.

Artist's conception.

I don’t recall what fiasco caused her to don the pants, though I seem to remember she was given a day or so to learn the part.  Dressed in men’s clothes and a wig, the diminutive actress looked like a twelve year old boy. Performing opposite the curvy Briona Daugherty, their relationship carried a strong undercurrent of either lesbianism or pedophilia (or both).

Their kiss at the end of the song “Tipsy Gypsy” was a sight to see. Munchkin Meredith leapt up into Briona’s arms, legs wrapped around her waist, and cried “Big kiss!” before planting one on Briona. It fell somewhere between adorable and disturbing. Whatever the end result, Meredith proved her worth by learning and performing the male role, unwaveringly and without complaint. I miss ya, girl.

  

A Classy Gentleman

Briona Daugherty and I were chatting with a male patron during the pre-show one night. Briona, playing an up-and-coming 1940s Broadway starlet, asked the gentleman if there was anything she could get for him. “How about a lap dance, honey?” was his charming response, as he pat his lap invitingly. There was only a short pause before she answered, “Hmm, I’m not sure what that is,” and, turning to me, she continued, “but Mr. March is our choreographer. Maybe he could do it and I could watch.” 

“Well, I’m not entirely sure what it is, myself,” I said as I positioned myself just astride the patron's knees.  “But if you would be kind enough to instruct me, I’d be happy to oblige.” The patron seemed less amused with himself at this point. “Naw, that’s alright,” he backpedalled.

“No, really,” I maintained, “it’s no trouble. I want to learn.”

“Naw, naw, nevermind” the man refused emphatically, waving his hand. 

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, yeah forget about it.”

I resigned with a shrug. “Alright.”

So, my hat off to Briona for turning that around so elegantly.

  

Micah Queens Out Over Tea

The dinner break at one particular venue was always a hassle. All the food had to be sent up by elevator to the second floor in metal cabinets, then remain in a closet-sized hallway to be distributed to the performers to bring out to the guests. Orders at this location were consistently wrong or missing, and this interval in the show often went agonizingly long. 

One particular evening, while trying to get everyone their food in a timely fashion, I was asked by a woman to bring her some hot tea. While I was happy to oblige, she apparently had little faith that I would remember her request, because she proceeded to let every performer who passed by her table know she wanted hot tea, which meant my fellow actors/servers kept harassing me with the redundant information, “There’s a woman at table one who wants a hot tea.”

These reminders became increasingly irksome as I searched high and low for the goddamn tea bags and little teapots. The kitchen staff had no idea where they were (why would they?). My fellow performers didn’t know where they were. I searched everywhere they ought to have been, and everywhere they ought NOT to have been. Frickin’ Indiana Jones found the Ark of the Covenant faster than I found the damned tea.

But find it I did! I arranged the pot, teabag, spoon, slice of lemon and little packets of honey on a saucer, and carried them out into the dining area to fill with hot water and then bring to the woman for whom they were meant. En route to the water, I ran into my buddy Lisa Enochs. “I got the tea for that lady!” I announced proudly.

“Oh,” said Lisa, “I just brought her some,” at which point I hurled the saucer and all tea-related paraphernalia into the air, exclaiming, “Oh, for fuck’s sake!” then turned on my heels and stormed back out of the dining room.

WTF?

Later, I felt really bad to have had such a bizarre, shocking, and childish reaction in front of someone who A) was a friend of mine, and B) had done nothing wrong. I went to Lisa to apologize, at which point she told me that my little queen-out moment was the funniest fucking thing she’d ever seen. 

So, at least I made somebody laugh.

  

Do You Speak Romanian?

Unfailingly, if you do a foreign accent in one of these shows, you will have patrons try to speak to you in the corresponding language. Playing a Romanian gypsy in one production, I thought I was fairly safe.  How many people in this country actually speak Romanian? I thought.

The answer is a lot. 

During my first months with the company, I’d yet to learn the popular go-to answer of “I’m sorry, I’m trying to only speak English while I’m here,” and so went to unnecessary extremes to get out of such predicaments.  I remember one guy—American, no trace of an accent, and yet fluent in Romanian for some reason—trying for the length of the show to converse with me in my character’s native tongue.  I kept pretending I was busy, or couldn’t hear him over the sound of the live piano. “Let me go ask the piano player if he can play more softly, and I’ll be right back,” I told him. En route to the piano, I passed another actor, and discreetly begged her, “Engage me, engage me, engage me!” “Oh, Mr. March, I had a question for you. Please walk with me.”   

But the guy wouldn’t let up.  He kept speaking to me in Romanian every time I passed the table.  Even after the show, once we’d taken pictures and started cleaning up the restaurant, he was still after me. “I knew it! You don’t speak Romanian!” he taunted. Yes, ladies and gentleman, this super sleuth had proven that I was not actually the person who I pretended to be in the show.

I think what he really wanted was to ask me out, but was too shy.

Another time, I had the misfortune of speaking with a humorless woman who actually was Romanian.  By now, the first act was over, and it had been well established what my character’s nationality was. Nevertheless, as I spoke to her table during the dinner break, she inquired, “Where are you supposed to be from?”

“Romania,” I answered.  

“No,” she said, flatly, “you’re not,” and then just stared at my evilly.

I think my jaw hung open for about twenty minutes. I don’t even remember what I eventually said to her. All I know is I hope she got mauled by a bear.

It’s called suspension of disbelief, bitch!

Ironically, I did learn to say, “I only speak English in front of my customers,” in German when I assumed a different role in the same show, and guess what? Not one person tried to speak to me in German. God, why do you hate me so? Is it because my hair is prettier than your son’s?

 

Too Soon?

This story isn’t so much about the show as it is about something truly horrific that happened sort of peripherally to the company (and my own complete lack of sensitivity). There was an actor who worked with the company for a while who was generally considered by everyone to be a friendly, soft-spoken fellow. His name was Dan Wozniak. Go ahead and Google his name. You’ll find that he horribly murdered two people; the first was a friend of his, whom he shot in the back of the head in order to steal his bank card (the “friend” had recently come into some money). The second was the first victim’s girlfriend, whom Dan lured to her dead boyfriend’s apartment with a message from her boyfriend’s cell phone. He then proceeded to hack the bodies into pieces and leave a series of human geocaches all over Long Beach. THEN, so I’m told, he went to the wrap party for another show he’d just finished (“Nine,” I’ve been informed), and casually chatted with his fellow cast members while the dismembered body parts of his victims fed the conqueror worm. Seriously, Hannibal Lecter would be proud. 

I’m also Equity!

Now, I never actually met this guy. He left the company just as I was joining, and if we did happen to catch a fleeting glimpse of one another at one of my early rehearsals, we certainly took no note of each other. However, as I was driving to rehearsal for a new show one morning, I got a call from my sister informing me that this guy that most of the cast knew had been arrested for a double homicide. “I just wanted you to know what you’re walking into,” she warned me. Sure enough, the tone of that rehearsal was very surreal, awkward, and surprisingly quiet for a group of actors.

When we broke for lunch, the lot of us sat around a table, chewing our food in solemn silence. I decided that this period of respectful melancholy had gone on long enough, and so I commented, “Man. For a murder mystery company, we suck at detecting.”

The tension broke immediately with peals of incredulous but much needed laughter. And from there the floodgate of horrible jokes was opened amongst the cast.

I also do weddings.

 

Fear the Audience

During photos after the show one night, a couple asked us if we would meet them after strike for drinks. They kept telling us how special we had made their anniversary, and the wife insisted on buying a round for everybody. “Sure thing,” we all said. However, as we all prepared to leave after striking the set, it seemed that no one in the cast was serious about meeting up with the two. 

Not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings, I decided to go, and managed to talk my sister Laura into accompanying me.  We met up with the couple and wound up in a bar together at the Mission Inn (where the two had a room waiting for them upstairs). We were then bombarded with personal information of an explicit nature by the wife, while the husband waited with ever decreasing patience to go upstairs. Eventually, Laura and I called it a night, whereupon the now inebriated wife invited us to come upstairs with them, and forced us to look at pictures of her husband’s genitalia on her phone, as though this would entice us to accept.  Impressive though his features were, we kindly passed on the invitation and, with a sudden need to scrub our eyeballs, started for the parking lot.   

Suddenly, the wife became frighteningly protective of my younger sister, whom she’d adopted as her new best friend, and wouldn’t allow her to walk back to her car alone with me. “I don’t know you,” she told me. “I don’t know that you’re really her brother.  I love this girl.  If I ever thought you were going to do anything bad to her, I’d fucking kill you!” Fortunately for us, another woman in the bar that Psycho Wife had become beholden to had gone staggering off with a group of men, and our crazy admirer was suddenly torn between which woman to lend her protection to. Her husband was useless at this point, as he just wanted to go upstairs and get laid.  So, she was forced to go after her other new best friend, reluctantly taking my word for it that I was indeed Laura’s brother and had no intentions of raping her. The second she was gone, we ran for our cars. 

And that’s the night I learned never to go out with members of the audience.


Here’s to all the memories, good and bad!

DINNER THEATRE MEMORIES (Part 2)

This is my second post about the time I spent working at a murder mystery dinner theatre, and some of the amusing hijinks that made my time there memorable and the sometimes less-than-stellar working conditions worthwhile (the first one can be seen here). Prepare yourself for silliness!

 

A Family Company

Here’s what I’ll probably remember most about my stint with this company: at no other job have I had to work so hard to avoid making out with my sister. Laura, who is five years my junior, joined the company a year before I did, and it was she who invited me to come and audition. But instead of bringing us closer together, this company forced us to keep as far away from each other as possible. There wasn't a play we did where Laura and I weren't cast in roles that were romantically linked to each other, and while there were typically multiple actors assigned to each role, a fun little prank for the higher-ups was to schedule us for the same performances, and then watch as our eyes exploded and our brains tried to escape out our ears (true story). 

I can’t speak for Laura, but my biggest concern wasn’t so much that it would be gross to snog my own sister. What really concerned me was the possibility that I might kiss her and then find out that I liked it. Seriously, what do I do then?  I have a hard enough time picking up women without discovering that my mother’s daughter is the only one who does it for me.

Pictured: incest.

Ultimately, we always managed to switch roles with other actors or otherwise avoid any performances that might make Christmas a little more awkward, though the powers that be seemed hellbent on seeing us swap saliva.  Normally, I get really, really angry with actors who make demands about who they will and will not perform with—in fact, I think it’s one of the hackiest things an actor can do. And yet, I still refused to play in a romantic role opposite my own flesh and blood. I guess I’m the biggest hack of all.

  

Maintaining Verisimilitude

In one of our productions, after my final exit (in which I would, after confessing to all the murders, guzzle down poison and retreat offstage to a noisy but unseen demise), I’d usually sit in the bar and wait for the show to end.  During a private party one night, as I sat there, the party organizer came into the bar to close out his tab.  Immediately, I threw myself to the floor and laid there until he finally left. Where’s my Tony Award?

 

Old People Are Hilarious

Really, this is more Steve Biggs’s story than anyone else’s.

Steve Biggs. American hero.

But here it is from my point of view:

We had a large party of elderly patrons from a retirement home one evening. After they’d been seated for a bit, one of the gentlemen came to us and asked if he could have a table separate from the rest, as he found his group to be “too depressing.” We obliged him, and sat him at a small table that was unoccupied. Before the show began, the young woman chaperoning the group asked if we’d be sure to keep an eye on the loner, as he had a tendency to wander off. “If he leaves the restaurant,” she informed us, “he may not be able to find his way back.” Oh joy, we thought. 

Instead of wander way, the old man dozed off for most of the show, waking up just in time for Mr. Biggs’s dramatic speech at the climax of the show. Orienting himself to his surroundings, the gentlemen glanced over and noticed a whole table full of his fellow retirees. Hey, I know those people, he thought, and as Mr. Biggs monologued, the man shuffled over to the table of his peers and began to converse with one of them as though they hadn’t seen each other in ages.

“I haven’t seen you since the time we went to that dinner show!”

Finally, near the end of Biggs’s speech, the elderly gentleman wished his friend well and began to waddle back to his seat. Despite a few sideways glances at the octogenarian, Biggs plowed forward with his monologue. “How can I forgive that which is unforgivable?” he recited. “Unbridled ego, flagrant mediocrity…..people walking around during my speech!” Everyone laughed except the senile audience member, who remained oblivious to the performance going on around him—even when Mr. Biggs rushed past him to commit (fake) suicide offstage.  He may not have realized it, but for about a minute, that old geezer was the star of the show.

 

The Worst Scene Stealer Ever

I’ve worked with some pretty bad scene-stealers in my day, but possibly none as bad as a two foot tall blow-up sex doll that was given out as a prize amongst the patrons of a particularly lively private corporate party (seriously, when co-workers get together anyplace outside the office, especially when there's booze, they go fucking insane).

The “prize” was awarded during the dinner break, and when the show resumed, half the room’s attention was still on the provocative plastic midget, folks taking pictures with her and generally ignoring the live show taking place mere inches from them. I tried to assure the patrons that she would still be available for photos after the performance, but to no avail. I just couldn’t compete with the allure of a plastic doll that you can put your penis into.

Thanks, acting classes, for nothing.

Oh, Why Not?

We were often hired out to do “away shows,” private performances (usually for corporate groups) at locations outside our normal venues. As often as not, these shows were an exercise in futility, as they were often in gigantic rooms loaded with people who wanted to eat, drink, talk, and pay no attention to us. So we often had to make our own fun. 

I did one such show at the Dana Point Marriott, playing the role of fifth-rate crook Cairo. As I listened from offstage, Lisa Enochs (as femme fatale Sheila Wonderly) finished singing “Why Don’t You Do Right” and fellow performer Bob May announced, “I always liked the way you sing that song, Ms. Wonderly.” This was a minor mistake.  The line wasn’t meant to be said until after Sheila’s next song, and would cue the entrance of another actor, Chuck Abernathy, with a knife in his back.

I mentioned this to my fellow offstage actors, and we discussed possible solutions. It wasn’t a particularly difficult problem: Bob could just say the line again at the end of the correct song; another character could say it; or we could just skip the line and Chuck could enter right after the song. While this last suggestion was by far the easiest and probably the most sound, I requested that I be allowed to say the line. No one objected.

So, as Lisa sang her second number, I entered the large ballroom and perched myself on the end of a buffet table. When the song concluded, I crossed one leg over the other, leaned back like a pinup girl, and said, as seductively as I could in my squeaky Hungarian accent, “I always liked the way you sing that song, Ms. Wonderly,” and batted my eyes coquettishly. At this, Chuck came stumbling in and collapsed onto me, causing me to scream, “Get him off me! Get him off me!” 

Was any of this necessary? Absolutely not. But it’s these little deviations that help a person stay sane.

Lisa and I.

 Guns and Bread Rolls

It was realized part way through a performance of one show that the prop gun integral to the show's climax had not been set in the wine bucket for Beth Lindsey, the actress playing my wife, to pull on me. So, during dessert service, the stage manager tried “inconspicuously” to set it.  Right beside the wine bucket was a particularly obnoxious group. Earlier in the evening, they decided it would be hysterical to start playing dodge ball with the bread rolls, and even slam dunked one into my water pitcher as I was refilling their glasses. 

Well, somehow, the stage manager’s ninja-like skills were no match for the perceptive powers of these fun-loving patrons, and once she’d left, they peeked into the bucket and discovered our gun. Apparently, they thought that they were supposed to find it, and decided to continue their gut-busting bread roll running gag by replacing the gun for one. So, at the show’s climax, my panicked wife pulled a bread roll on me.  There was nothing false about the surprise on my face. 

She was supposed to shoot at me, missing but causing me to have a heart attack. Not entirely sure what to do, Beth merely threw the roll at me. This, somehow, still caused me to have a heart attack. 

After the show, the practical jokesters took pictures with us and laughed about the whole thing, thinking we’d found the gag as hilarious as they had. Needless to say, I hope they were all run over by a prison bus.

 

One more to come! (Probably)

THE GREAT HORROR CAMPOUT -- FINAL WEEKENDS (PORTLAND & SAN DIEGO)

I've had trouble getting started on these last two cities of the tour. First of all, after the controversy of Sacramento and the episode with our rogue chupacabra in Seattle, I've struggled to come up with a big tent pole to build this blog entry around. Secondly, our last two cities--Portland and San Diego--were bittersweet experiences, leaving me in a less gung-ho frame of mind for blog writing. After Portland came a week off that was rather depressing--gone was the now familiar routine of driving to the location, dealing with problems at the hotel, complaining, setting up tents, complaining, playing cards, going out and handing out flyers on the streets, complaining, doing the campout, getting way too little sleep, complaining, doing the campout again, getting slightly more sleep, then packing up our shit and heading to the next city while also complaining. And then, of course, San Diego was our denouement for the 2014 tour, filled with hugs and tears and goodbyes (and complaining), and I'm somewhat anxious to get past my post-campout depression and move on.

With the help of lots and lots of porn.

But fuck all that sad noise. Let's talk about some awesome stuff!

I'll start off by saying that, after the psychopath's wonderland that was the Seattle forest, our last two locations just couldn't compete. They did their job fine, but Seattle was definitely our Zenith, aesthetically speaking (at least in my non-college-educated opinion). Portland had a nice spooky woods, but by necessity the attractions were spaced out somewhat oddly. This is no one's fault, excepting perhaps Mother Nature for not building a more attraction-friendly forest.

Bitch.

I just felt that the camp zones didn't flow as nicely from one to the other as they had in other venues. Whatever. The campers were none the wiser, and a sasquatch lunging at you from the darkness is shit-inducing wherever you are.

An added little jolt the Portland campers (and employees) got free of charge was the random explosions of a cannon that our neighbors would fire off randomly during the night. Why were they doing it? Why did they have a working cannon?

Ta keep the queers away!

We'd all, guests and performers alike, give a little jump in unison every time that damn thing sounded. In retrospect, I'm ashamed to say I didn't have a particularly creative explanation for the noise to give confused looking campers. Something like, "Uh-oh. Sounds like somebody was caught littering again." Yeah, let's pretend I said that.

Then there was the camper who--for some reason--was carrying around little plastic kazoos, one of which she gave my fellow counselor, Frances…

a.k.a. Sister-Lover

…in exchange for some scavenger hunt hints. Frances spent the next several hours wandering through the woods, delighting in her little kazoo, blasting it right behind unsuspecting campers who would then jump out of their skins… until the cheap little novelty item inevitably gave up the ghost. I'll always remember the sight of my semi-retarded mutant sister/lover as she tried to fix the tiny instrument, screaming, "No, kazooooo!  NOOO!!"

Another amusing tale of camp counselor hijinks came from Mr. Job Barnett (this is actually from back in Seattle, but I forgot to write about it then. So let's all pretend it happened in Portland, shall we?) Job had wandered over to the witches' birthing ritual--something he'd never seen before. A "chosen one" was selected from the crowd of campers to bear witness to the birth of the devil's spawn. As the witch lay screaming on the altar, legs spread for the oncoming delivery, Job took the chosen one by the head and guided her right up close. "Get right up in there," he told her. "You're gonna wanna see this." A moment later, they were blasted by a crimson wave of vaginal discharge the likes of which even Job was not prepared for. When next I saw him, he looked like a Jackson Pollock painting.

"I have witnessed the miracle of childbirth."

After Portland, we took the scenic route back to the L.A. area, stopping to take pictures in the California Redwoods. Man, I'd give anything to hold one of the campouts there.

It's where the frickin' Ewoks live!

Then came our week off, where I staved off suicidal depression by finally starting the first season of "Game of Thrones." Seriously, everybody in that show is a dick and naked and dead. (They poured molten gold on that one dude's head!) Oh, but I love it so.

And then, just as I was getting over how much I missed everybody, we were back at it again. The nut farm where we staked our tents had its own special eccentricities. Mainly fire ants, tarantulas, and dust. Dust that kicked up into air in thick waves that smelt of excrement.

It goes without saying that this final week was filled with a lot of lasts for the 2014 GHC tour. Not the least of which was the last time the counselors (with some much appreciated help from the makeup team) pitched up those goddamn tents.

Those goddamn tents.

Once I'd driven the very last stake into the dirt, I threw down my hammer, turned and marched off into the distance, casting aside my sunglasses, throwing away my wallet, gently setting down my cell phone, and then proceeding to shred my clothes while from behind me peals of laughter rung out from my fellow GHC-ers. I must confess, somewhat to my shame, I stopped short of doing the full Monty, as I feared it would make things awkward between me and my companions. In hindsight, I wish I'd just gone ahead and done it. It would have made for a better story. Oh, well. Just picture my naked body in your minds. That's right, picture it, baby.

The final two nights of the campout weren't the craziest or most jam-packed with hijinks from our end, but the campers certainly seemed to be having a ball, and that's the most important thing. And that's not at all to say that we didn't have fun.

There was a trio of campers early in the night, all of whom I got a solid scare out of individually. The last one I got as he was knelt in the open door of his tent, the other two already inside. After giving him a good jump, I realized who it was, and threw my hands up in triumph: "Did I get all three of you individually? I fucking rule!" Then I crawled into their tent for a little quality time. "Looks like we have a fourth bunkmate," one of them mentioned. Taking this as an invitation, I curled up atop one of their sleeping bags with a "Don't mind if I do," and promptly went to "sleep," thumb in mouth. Their laughter only increased as the minutes ticked away and I didn't get up. I listened to their conversation, learning the woman's name (I forget what it was now; let's call her Samantha.) When the time seemed right, I jolted awake with a scream, causing the three campers to scream in response. "Oh, my god!" I groaned. "I just had the most horrible nightmare! There was this woman named Samantha, and she'd been cut up into tiny little pieces all over the place. Oh, well. See you later." And there I left them.

A fun episode I was sadly absent for involved an epically drunken woman who had to be evicted from the event. Tanner, one of our counselors, tried to help this woman stumble to the portable restroom, where she utterly failed to get her pants off before relieving herself. When security arrived to escort her out, she defiantly tour open her shirt, revealing all that God gave her underneath, then fell onto her back and simply waved her middle fingers at everybody, all while her mortified family looked on and wondered just how badly they really wanted to take her home. Security had to carry her to the exit, breasts exposed, legs dangling freely above the ground as each guard held her up by one arm. I'll admit, I was a little disappointed that we were not radioed over to bear witness to this.

An added bit of fun we had during the last two cities on the tour revolved around a monster that wasn't even there. I mentioned in a previous post that the campers' dossier contained reference to a creature known as The Stickman, the only advice given as to how one deals with him being "Hide!" Erroneously, I reported that the character had been cut in development. In truth, the Stickman was seen by campers who attended the Los Angeles leg of the GHC tour--and frankly found him unremarkable. The costume didn't work as well as hoped, and the character was dropped from the rest of the tour.

Nevertheless, his name remained in the dossier, and I had high hopes that he would become a mini urban myth within the campout--the elusive Stickman, whom no one could ever find. It was Job who suggested that we perpetuate the myth by talking him up to campers, an idea I freakin' ran with. I'd go around telling everyone to watch out for this stealthy abomination, sometimes sneaking up behind unwitting groups in the dark and then lunging out at them, screaming at the top of my lungs, "JESUS CHRIST! DID YOU SEE HIM?!" After crawling back into their skins, they'd ask, "Who? Who?" I'd get up right in their faces and whisper, "The Stickman! He was right behind me! There's only one creature in this whole camp who gives me the heebie-jeebies, and it's the Stickman." I'd circle round the quaking campers, rasping in their ears, "If you see him, you hide right quick. And if he sees you…I'm so sorry." Then off I'd slink into the night.

If you can see him, it's already too late.

One guest called after me as I scampered away, "Well, what does he look like?" "Like a fucking stickman!" I called back over my shoulder as I vanished into the shadows. Another group decided, as they backed fearfully away from the patch of blackness to which I was pointing, that the best way to "hide" was to turn off their headlamps and flashlights, continuing their journey in total darkness, having no clue that there was absolutely nobody out there to hide from.

Sure enough, by the end of the night, word would get back to me that stories of the Stickman were circulating through the camp.

Satisfaction, baby.

The campout, for those not yet aware, is mainly built around an all-night scavenger hunt, wherein campers try to track down SCAG (Shit Campers All Get--gross and ghoulish items including teeth, severed fingers, severed heads, vomit, and all sorts of other unmentionables). One final bit of silliness came on the last night when I convinced a group of campers, who had not collected enough SCAG to qualify for Hellmaster, to turn me in at the SCAG booth. So, down they plopped me onto the table, pointing at my various body parts...

"See, we found an ear, we found a nose, we found a head, we found a finger…" Everyone was in tears, though sadly this did not buy the campers any additional SCAG points. Oh, well.

One thing I'll miss is coming up with new horror trivia questions in the wee hours for the morning ceremony. I'd helped to put together the initial list at the very start of the campout, but after a couple cities we realized people were A) following us from city to city, and B) putting up the questions and other spoilers on the internet (side tangent: STOP RUINING THE EXPERIENCE FOR EVERYBODY ELSE, FUCKERS!) This necessitated the composing of new questions on pretty much a nightly basis. Most were written by myself and Josh, our illustrious Headmaster.

He will also accept "Mr. Headmaster."

It became apparent pretty readily that, as much as our campers enjoyed a good scare, most of them weren't really horror movie experts, meaning the harder questions never got asked. (Two favorite questions of mine that never saw the light of day were "What horror film featured a reluctant Humphrey Bogart in the title role?" and "What horror movie featured Vincent Price singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" during the end credits?") So, we had to keep most questions simple.

And by simple, I mean fucking retarded simple. Never did I feel more shame in the youth of America than the penultimate morning of the campout. The first question (which I was almost embarrassed to write, it was so easy) was: "Finish this line from the movie Ghostbusters: "Back off, man. I'm a _______." The multiple choice answers were A) Professional; B) Ghostbuster, C) Scientist; D) Maniac.

Almost everybody got it wrong.

Our Headmaster, seeing that we were on the verge of illuminating all our competitors right out of the gate, quickly changed the game from a two to three strike elimination.

Then came the next question: "In which remake of a Vincent Price movie did we have the singular pleasure of witnessing Paris Hilton's gruesome, horrible death?"

Guess what. Almost everyone got that one right.

So, people today know the shitty remake of House of Wax better than they do Ghostbusters. What is the world coming to?

All that said, this was truly one of the best experiences of my life, and easily the best summer I've had in many, many years. The friends I've made, the moments of hilarity I've shared, the collaboration of amazingly creative minds, the many games of cards (I learned to play Canasta!), the patrons who made a special point to find us at the end of the night and thank us personally for a wonderful experience… these and so many more things went into making this a true highlight of my life. I'm looking forward to working with many of these same people again at the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride (which you should totally go to, unless you're a loser), and I hope beyond hope that the campout returns next year (which I'm pretty damn sure it will).

Here's to the children of the night, the people who bring them to life, and the sick, sick people who pay to be terrorized by them.


THE GREAT HORROR CAMPOUT 2014 -- WEEKEND 4 (SEATTLE)

Our Seattle trip began with the unexpected joy of finding that we were all given separate rooms at the hotel. This meant that my daily pants-wearing plummeted by about 60 percent. We even had our own little kitchens. There have been nicer hotels on our stay (we still didn’t get our morning waffles -- grrrr), but there’s a lot to be said for the wonders of privacy.

And no pants!

Regarding the weekly setup, my limited involvement was probably the most miserable thus far on the tour. It was raining Biblically as I, two other camp counselors and our headmaster struggled to put up the tents (which, due to regular abuse, are dwindling in number with each new city) and fight off hypothermia, sloshing through tall, wet grass, mud, and (it can now be said) poo.

Fuck this noise.

And while our experience was cold and wet and icky and unpleasant, there were those who spent waaay more time on site setting up than us, so any complaining comes with full knowledge that we by no means had it the worst.

I will say that of all the locations thus far, our Seattle site was far and away the coolest, most atmospheric, and most conducive to the horror atmosphere. It was as though God had created a little patch of heaven for Washington’s serial killers. Narrow paths led into deep woods resplendent with toppled logs, hanging vines, dreary and sagging trees with gnarled, twisted limbs, and a roof of foliage that nullified any moonlight that there might have been.

Oh, yeah. You're getting raped.

I also made a minor discovery about the campout that probably no one else will find as amusing as I do, but which tickled the geek in me ever so. All campers at the event receive a GHC dossier, which contains information about the rules, the scavenger hunt, and the monsters they may encounter. Beneath each listed monster is an enigmatic clue as to how to escape from them. I hadn’t gotten a copy of the dossier before the tour began, and had occasionally heard campers make reference to someone called The Stick Man. “Who is this Stick Man?” I would ask myself. “I’ve never seen him.”

I later discovered that the Stick Man was a character cut from the attraction late in development, but left (presumably by accident) in the dossier. The only clue given as to dealing with the evasive figure is simply: Hide!

So, in the minds of the campers, there was some mysterious creature wandering around the campsite -- a being so menacing that one's only hope of escaping him would be to avoid his notice entirely. I like to believe that he remained in the back of people’s minds as they shuffled trepidatiously down the thickly overgrown forest path, desperately trying to catch sight of the dreaded Stick Man before he could spot them and steal their souls.

But much more amusing to me (and probably few others) is that there is a literary term for a character like this who has been omitted from a piece of work (usually a play), but to which an unintentional reference still remains in the text, random and inexplicable to the reader. Can you guess what that term is?

A GHOST CHARACTER!

So, the Great Horror Campout has its own ghost character; one that I hope becomes an urban myth in and of itself. Like Sulik’s non-existent sister in Fallout 2, stories of him will spread across the internet: “My cousin’s boyfriend’s roommate’s boss totally saw the Stick Man, and it killed her husband!”

Rain and my geeky little discovery notwithstanding, things seemed to be working pretty much like clockwork most of the week, and after the controversy of Sacramento I was worried that I would have nothing of interest to include in my blog.

Then, oh boy -- ooohhhh boy -- something happened on Saturday night that itself may become the stuff of legends.

Usually, in any kind of interactive horror themed event, from your local neighborhood haunted house to any of the major theme park Halloween attractions, the most dangerous people are the guests -- those who don’t see the line between fantasy and reality, or who show up drunk and try to pick a fight with an evil clown, or the dudes who think they can impress their girlfriends by shoving around a little person in a gremlin mask.

Aw, Christ. Here come the frat boys.

Despite the number of times we warn people at the GHC not to touch the creatures (it’s about five thousand), there are always people who break the rule and get their asses thrown out. More often than not, the LAST people you have to actually be afraid of, despite their ghoulish appearance, are the characters.

However, there are exceptions.

IMG_1028.JPG

Oh, no!

In spite of every precaution, including background checks on EVERY actor who auditions for the GHC, a bad egg did slip through the cracks. Now, bear in mind that 90 percent of this tale is based on hearsay from various sources, and thus there is the possibility for misinformation and/or embellishment.

This actor had been cast as a chupacabra in our labyrinth. Back in Sacramento, he had accidentally struck his head and passed out during the Friday performance, and was taken in by the onsite EMT. Later, he insisted he was fine and returned to work.

But was he really fine?

OH, NO!

This past Saturday, I was deep in the woods with some campers when I heard someone screaming at the top of their lungs for security. I dashed back out into the open, where I could hear the voice still screaming from inside the labyrinth. I reached the entrance just in time to see a staff member extract two campers -- a middle age husband and wife. As they reported to us, our thick-skulled chup had tried to take the wife’s flashlight, which was A) expensive, and B) strapped to her wrist. When she didn’t relinquish it, the monster became more aggressive. The husband had tried to intervene, at which point the chupacabra struck him and put the wife in a fucking headlock. And, ironically, it was the performer who had been screaming for security.

I manned the entrance to the labyrinth until the issue was resolved. Remaining in character, I told those wanting to enter, “Sorry, some of the chups have gotten a bit rowdy, so we sent someone in with the ol’ cattle prod to calm ‘em down. We’ll be back up and running in a little while.” The campers didn’t know how close to the truth that was.

Security arrived and removed the actor from the labyrinth. The middle age couple was taken care of and eventually rejoined the scavenger hunt. It was a messy little moment, but at least it was over, right?

Wrong.

OH FUCKING NO!

Later, as the campers scampered off to bed, word spread amongst the staff that the wayward chupacabra, who had been predictably fired, had been spotted wondering in the woods. Two members of the production team caught sight of him standing by himself among the foliage and initially mistook him for one of our manikins. When they saw that he was indeed a flesh and blood man, they asked if he was alright. He just turned and stared silently at them…

Like this.

They fled back to the “backstage” area and informed security. As the hours passed, we all wondered if he would ever be found, or if he had indeed vanished into the woods to become a legend in his own right: the Chupacabra Man of the Washington Backwoods, who preys on hapless wonderers and naughty teenagers. Many, many years from now, people would dismiss him as a myth, ignoring me as I sat in my rocking chair, crippled with arthritis, insisting in a hoarse voice, “He’s real, I tells ya! I was there. I saw him with my own two eyes.” But the youngsters would simply laugh at the poor old man who stank of cat urine and failed dreams, and promptly head out into the woods for a night of unprotected fornication beneath the Seattle stars -- so deep in the forest that no one would hear their screams.

Eventually, the story would become so engrained in the American pop culture that the inevitable film franchise would manifest. Entries would include Chupacabra Man 3D, Chupacabra Man Part VIII: The Final Campout, and Chupacabra Man Part X: In Space.

"This Halloween, bet on red."

But then they found him. Boo.

Allegedly, when asked what he’d been doing in the woods, his answer was “Talking to Big Foot.” This either could have been an attempt to lie (we do have a Big Foot as part of the campout, though he had long since gone home by this point), a smart-ass remark, or further signs of insanity.

Guess what my money's on.

He then somehow ended up stealing the keys to one of our electric golf carts and hiding in a portable bathroom, apparently with the intention of nicking a cart and driving back to L.A. with it. This plan was short lived, however. The keys were recovered and his was driven off the property once and for all.

Or was he?

So, yeah. That happened.

Otherwise, Seattle was wicked cool. We spent a few hours on Monday sightseeing before hitting the road south for Portland. What horrors might the country's capital of weirdness have in store for us? Tune in next week to find out!

GHC Cast and Crew, on the Seattle Troll Bridge

THE GREAT HORROR CAMPOUT 2014 -- WEEKEND 3 (SACRAMENTO)

Man, did San Francisco spoil us. A warm hotel staff, pleasant neighborhood, and, despite the delayed start, a fairly smooth setup and execution of the campout.

Enter Sacramento. If San Fran was the awesome teenage babysitter who’d play board games with you and let you watch movies that you really weren’t supposed to, and whom you secretly dreamed would someday realize that, despite your age difference, you were the only one who could truly make her happy, then Sacramento was that creepy nanny from The Omen who killed your family and kept demon dogs in your bedroom (and, for added kicks, let's say she molested you).

mrs-whitelock.jpg

I’m sure there are plenty of wonderful parts of Sacramento. In fact, I know there are, because I’ve been there before. We just didn’t see any of them on this trip.

We started off at a hotel that was quickly dubbed the Crackwhore Inn. To start off, the amenities and service weren’t close to what we had just left behind. Certain things we could get past -- the breakfast was lousy; there was no common room; no gym; the pool looked like it had Bubonic plague in it -- these are things you come across whenever hopping hotels. Less easy to ignore were that the doors to all the rooms were scratched and dented as though werewolves made nightly attempts to break inside, or that the area was patrolled by the resident sex workers. The doors to the lobby were locked at 10:00, presumably because the last four night managers were found in a ditch somewhere with rising numbers carved in their foreheads.

andrei-chikatilo-crime-scene-naked-victim.jpg

Now hiring at Quality Inn.

At one point, two of our female campout staffers decided to risk amoebic dysentery and take a dip in the pool. Seeing them, two men who’d gotten food at the neighboring Carl’s Jr. hurriedly climbed to the third floor walkway so they could watch the ladies swim while they ate their hamburgers.

Rudely, no one wanted to watch me swim.

Come the evening, everyone in their respective rooms heard what sounded like clog dancers practicing for the state championships in the rooms above them. The two major theories as to the source of this noise were poltergeist activity or the prostitutes earning their trade.

Or possibly both.

While the whore theory seemed to hold the most water, I was perturbed by the lack of vocal noise that accompanied these sounds, if rented sex was indeed what we were listening to. I imagine that either the ladies were so strung out on heroine that they were barely conscious for the activity (creepy), or they were so afraid of invoking the wrath of the nighttime manager (who did not like noise, effort, or people) that they were obliged to remain silent during intercourse (also creepy, but kind of considerate as well).

As if we couldn’t figure out on our own that we were in a bad neighborhood, friendly locals, including the police, encouraged us to find a new hotel as soon as possible. So, two days after our arrival, we stuffed our belongings into the travel vans (leaving little room for any actual people) and headed off to new lodgings.

We ended up sharing two neighboring hotels. Make no mistake, the increased sense of personal safety put both establishments several levels above the hole from which we had just fled. That said, there was a bit of an imbalance in the quality between the two hotels. The hotel beside mine had the full hot breakfast; the fully stocked store of snacks and microwavable dinners; the warmed pool and salt water spa; the giant, fully furnished common room complete with flat screen TV; and the cucumber water in the lobby (because just plain water is a peasant’s beverage). The hotel I was assigned to had a small table of muffins in the morning and one broken luggage cart. Needless to say, I spent much of my free time next door.

The Duchess needs her waffles.

Okay, so enough whining about the accommodations. Our bosses had gotten us out of STD Central, and that’s all that matters. Much more noteworthy was the adversity we faced when trying to set up the campsite. I’m not talking about the blistering heat or the crazy winds that had us chasing our erected tents as they rolled away like tumble weeds. I’m referring to the locals who decided they didn’t want our satanic attraction in their happy little town.

It began with a gentleman (and I use the term loosely) who lived across the street from the field in which we were to host our event. He decided to come across the street and start making threats that we had better not wake him up at night with whatever it was that we were doing, and that he would single-handedly get our permit revoked.

Next thing I heard, our bosses had to attend a city hall meeting where nearby residents -- who had done an impressively minimal amount of research into what our event actually entailed -- appealed to the town elders to have us ridden out on a rail. Among the activities they accused us of hosting were devil worship and the simulated amputation of babies’ penises. (We DO perform a witch’s birth during the camp, which is followed by the removal of the umbilical cord, which campers can collect as part of our scavenger hunt. I submit that cutting the umbilical cord -- as any good delivering doctor would do -- is in a far different league than infant sexual mutilation. But that’s just me.)

Following this meeting, the GHC powers-that-be spent the rest of the week dealing with police and local interest groups, making sure we were in violation of absolute no ordinances that could have us shut down, with the resident Bible thumpers breathing down our necks the whole time.

Fun makes Jesus angry!

We even made the local news. I particular enjoyed the gentleman in the interview who said, “There’s a difference between fun-scary and satanic-horrific.” I imagine his concept of fun-scary is Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. And of course, there was some good old “think of the children” rhetoric thrown in for good measure. Like comic books, rap music, and D&D before us, our little horror attraction was accused of being a potential assault on impressionable minds; a gateway drug to rape and mass murder, if you will. One person was quoted in a local article as stating that we didn’t “understand the negative mental impact these events can have” on children. Wow, it’s good thing you have to be 18 years old to attend the GHC. If only there was some way that information could be conveyed to the general public.

And the defenders of morality assured everyone that they would be out in full protest the nights of the events, handing out Bibles to the campers and making sure we knew that we were not welcome:

Well, the “full protest” ended up being a half dozen people seated at a fold out table across the street from us (with balloons, for some reason), who stared at us until about 11:00 PM, at which time they got tired and went home. What little effect this may have had was nullified by a line of trucks we parked along the road on our side of the street, blocking them from view (score). The rest of the protesters were down the road at the campers’ parking lot to distribute the promised Bibles, which our campers declined.

All in all, the actual event was just fine. The turnout was intimate but enthusiastic. In the end, the self-righteous objectors to our presence were a very loud minority. Attendees dug being slathered with gore and locked in cages as much as those who had come before them, and, despite the bitter chill in the air, stayed up late to reach into gooey cadavers and wade through our “infested” pool to collect every morbid and disgusting scavenger hunt item they could get their blood-soaked fingers on.

Sans baby penises.

So, in the end, victory was ours. Nevertheless, we’re happy to put this troublesome little burg behind us. Time to see what Seattle has in store.

THE GREAT HORROR CAMPOUT 2014 -- WEEKEND 2 (SAN FRANCISCO)

I ought to have written this right after we wrapped San Francisco. As it stands, I’m only now jotting this down after having finished the epic Sacramento leg of the tour, hoping that the preceding week isn’t too much of a blur for me. I will make an effort to put these out more quickly for the rest of the tour, for all the none of you who are reading.

Production in San Francisco got a late start, as the trucks with all our props and set pieces were delayed by about a day. Apparently, the rented trucks were less than stellar. One -- I kid you not -- crashed on the freeway when the drivers discovered the breaks didn’t work and had to jump out.

Truck01.jpg

Not actual photo.

That notwithstanding, from my end, the week was pretty relaxed. There was much playing of card games in the hotel lobby/breakfast room and general merriment when not on the site setting up tents and otherwise preparing for the weekend to come. One silly moment that will remain with me was when we were out shopping one night and Taylor, our costume designer, leapt screaming from the idling van at the sight of a winged insect that had flown in the open door. Once outside and a safe distance from the vehicle, she yelled back to us, “Kill it with fiiire!!” I rolled down my window and let it flutter off. I was her hero.

"Kill it with fire!"

The weekend itself was crazy fun. Regarding the local performers, 99% of the San Francisco folk were as nice, as professional, and as enthusiastic as anyone could ask for. Their dedication and sense of fun was infectious, and many of them were eager to sign on to later cities on the tour (meaning they’ve elected to arrange their own accommodations, get in their own cars, and follow us).

But as the light gets brighter, the darkness gets darker. That remaining 1% sucked like a black hole in space. I’m only talking about four or five people out of 80 or so, but man, did they make a bad impression. The grand prize goes to the two assholes who decided to quit in the middle of the first night and just up and take off, leaving their very expensive costumes (including body suits and full head masks) in the parking lot.

Fuck this, bro. I'm going home to play Call of Duty.

But they were only a blip on the radar. Most of the people rocked, and our two event nights were as awesome as they were tiring.

Our crowds were equally enthusiastic. They absolutely loved us. Yeah, there were a few weirdoes and dumbasses -- that’s to be expected (one belligerent guy who kept trying to steal shit ended up on the ground crying when he made the mistake of getting in a security guard’s face). But for the most part, they had an absolute blast.

One thing I noticed about the SF crowd: you know those fun loving, sexually overcharged side characters in all the 80s slasher flicks who are always the first and most horrifically to be murdered? That was our audience. Horny, randy, hot and bothered. Jason Voorhees wouldn't have known where to start.

Please don't kill us.

We camp counselors were getting regular solicitations for late night tent visits, and the campers were very forthcoming (with no provocation whatsoever) about their most intimate peccadilloes. Honestly, I think I’m going to start wearing my prosthetic face everywhere I go.

Ladies.

Most of the highlights from the weekend that I can now recall revolve around abducting campers and locking them in uncomfortable places. One young lady couldn’t help but comment when I stumbled over a bump in the terrain. “I saw that!” she taunted from a short distance away. A brief pursuit later, she was being stuffed with a bag over her head into the back of our kidnapper van, to be driven off to who knows where.

Another young lady thought she’d be a smartass and try to scare one of our werewolves as he was talking to me. He merely turned and stared at her for a moment, then grabbed her and threw her into a nearby cage, which I promptly slammed and locked.

I’d also chase people down for trying to avoid me. I went after one couple who altered the course of their path upon seeing my approach. “Why’d you walk away?” I asked as I increased my gait, catching up with the two. “I was just coming over to say hi to you. Why do you just assume that I’m a bad guy?” I caught the boyfriend and led him to our derelict car, where I locked him in the trunk. “Now,” I said to him as I sat on the lid, “what have we learned about making assumptions about people we don’t know?”

Probably my favorite victim was a petite young lady, as cute and sweet and innocent looking as you could ask for -- until her two friends left her behind to be captured by me. She screamed out to her fled companions as I closed in on her, “Get your asses back here, you whores!” Once I’d locked her in a cage and she was on her knees trying to retrieve the key with a makeshift hook and line, her friends returned to giggle at her misfortune. “Fuck you, bitches!” she cursed them. She was still having fun, mind you, but her ire was probably the high point of my evening.

And just like a gang bang with a group of homicidal monsters, the weekend left us exhausted and satisfied.

Next up, Sacramento!

DINNER THEATRE MEMORIES (Part 1)

DarlingCast_NYE08.JPG

I worked for several years at a murder mystery dinner theater, with multiple locations in Irvine, Orange County and Riverside. We put on numerous plays over the years and I played a large variety of characters, even within the same show (casts tended to revolve, and it behooved an actor to know all the parts in a given production).

Guests arrived at a restaurant and were immediately greeted by the characters, who would improvise with them while doubling as service staff. There was a scripted show, usually three acts, and between the acts we would serve dinner and dessert, always in character, always interacting with each other and the patrons, always keeping the story going and immersing the audience in the world of the show. It was fun. 

 
 

Like Shakespeare in the Park, but without the dignity.

I ended up leaving the company under a dark cloud, but recently I rediscovered a list of anecdotes that I'd submitted as part of a proposed (and later aborted, owing to poor planning and general apathy) anniversary party for the company. It tickled me to recollect some of these merrier moments, and I thought I'd share them, for theater lovers everywhere. (More to come later).


There’s Just Something About Me

 
 

In preparation for my first performance, I came to one of the shows to take down blocking notes. I was alone at a table in the far corner near the kitchen, my script out in front of me, dressed in a dark red shirt, my long hair tied back in its typical ponytail.

Near the end of the dessert break, just before act three, I was summoned by one of the actors to step out of the dining area into the adjacent bar, where Tom Royer (playing the detective) had the guests’ sleuth sheets, on which they'd written their theories as to who the killer might be. It is at this time during a performance that the correct answers are separated from the incorrect, and two or three highly amusing wrong answers are selected to be read out loud after the show.

“Do you want to join the company tonight?” Tom asked, and then handed me one of the sleuth sheets. Under Who Dunnit, in lieu of any of the characters from the play, the guest had written, “Man in back corner in red shirt and ponytail,” and under Why Dunnit, had stated, “Because he’s a murderer.” Apparently, even sitting in a corner and not saying a word, I have a commanding presence. 

So, during the post show, Tom handed me the corresponding sleuth sheet.  Pretending to be surprised, I read the guest’s name.  No one answered to it.  I read the guest’s answer.  It got a huge laugh.

Afterwards, as guests posed for pictures with the actors on their way out, the woman who had written me in as a suspect approached the cast and asked who I was. Apparently, she honestly felt there was something sinister about me, sitting in that corner and writing down notes like some sort of note-writing Nazi. (I'd hate to imagine her in an English class. She’d probably have an epileptic seizure every time they had a spelling test.) They assured her that I was a new cast member and that I was simply recording my blocking. 

Anyway, the thing I took away from this experience is that no matter how inconspicuous or innocuous I behave, and even if there’s a live show going on in the room, people can’t keep their eyes off me. 

 

I rule!

 

This Show is Not For You

Our shows created an immersive experience where the audience was included in the unfolding mystery, and the characters directly engaged the patrons on an individual level. While this form of theatre appeals to a large number of people, there are some who would fail to appreciate it. Agoraphobics would probably be at the top of that list.

"The actors are coming for me."

And yet, there was a man who thought that our humble little production would be just the thing to help bring his agoraphobic wife out of her shell.

In fairness to the gentleman, I don’t imagine he really understood what our show entailed; I doubt he was trying to perform some sort of sadistic shock therapy on his wife. This does not change the fact that his choice of venue was really, really poor. The unfortunate couple wouldn’t even accept a bowl of bread from me, let alone allow any of the actors to sit down and chat with them. To their credit, they were very polite.  The woman didn’t run screaming for the exit (though that would have been hilarious). The husband wasn’t belligerent, though he did ask us not to engage them, and we honored that request.

Sadly, our proximity to them was apparently still too much to bear, and they left during the dinner service, taking their boxed meals with them. I feel a little sad to think that, whatever progress the woman had made toward recovery over the past several years, we managed to destroy in less than an hour; that now she probably won’t even leave her bedroom and has to take meals through a slot near the bottom of the door. 

On the other hand, it was her idiot husband’s bright idea.

 

A Place Where Everything Is For Sale

Once, while playing petty black-market-dealer Cairo, I offered to find a pregnant woman a buyer for her unborn child. I did it with a half sense of apprehension, as some people get touchy regarding such issues (but thought the idea was too amusing not go for it anyway). Fortunately, this young woman was very game, and said she’d be happy to sell at the right price. I kept returning to her periodically throughout the evening, informing her that there were several interested parties competing for her baby, which seemed to please her immensely.  These are the audience members that made doing these shows worthwhile.

 

The Gag That Would Not Die

 
 

Another, slightly less successful Cairo transaction came when I was serving a table during the pre-show. As Cairo, I liked to wear an eye-patch, which often prompted people to ask what happened to my eye.  “I was desperate for money and someone offered me ten bucks,” was my go-to response. This led one of the patrons to offer me ten dollars for my ear. When I showed some reluctance, the customer handed me her butter knife and waited for me to start cutting. After some haggling, we agreed that I would go in the back and cut half of it off, then return and collect the money before I hacked off the rest. So off I went to the kitchen, where I grabbed a handy ketchup bottle and slathered the red stuff on my hand and the knife.  I returned, clutching my ear, and begging for the money. The customer informed me that she didn’t have any on hand.  “NOW was not the time to tell me that!” I wailed as I retreated from the table, followed by the sound of howling laughter. 

Before the show proper began, I hurriedly formed a makeshift bandage for my ear out of some paper towel and tape. During my first scene in the show, I made my way to the center of the room and slowly turned the damaged side of my head to the table where the botched transaction had taken place, which caused my little party of sadists to erupt with giggles. 

This table continued to be a blessing and a curse come the dinner service, asking me for other body parts which I refused to give them. Finally, the original buyer handed me a ten dollar bill for my troubles, but insisted that I do a dance for her in return. What the hell, I thought.  She did just give me ten dollars.  So I started improvising a little jig. But the lady was very particular, and under her unsettlingly specific direction I began doing a strip tease. Once my coat and tie were off, I began desperately thinking of a way out of the situation, and started to act woozy.  “Still a little…weak…from loss of…blood,” I groaned, and slowly sank to the floor.  Even once I was on my back, the young lady continued to direct me. “Thrust the pelvis!” she demanded.  “I’m thrusting,” I moaned, gyrating my midsection feebly as I lay on the floor. 

Eventually, the table decided that I had earned my money and released me with a round of applause. I thanked them, and then crawled my way pathetically out of the dining room, passing other tables as I went and asking them from the floor, “Does anyone need anything here? No? Alright, then.”

And people tell me I have trouble committing.

Stay tuned for more.

THE GREAT HORROR CAMPOUT 2014 -- WEEKEND 1 (LOS ANGELES)

            This past weekend marked my second year working as a freakishly deformed camp counselor at The Great Horror Campout--which this year has become a three-month-long tour. From dusk ‘til dawn, my fellow creatures and I scampered about Griffith Park, tormenting innocent people who pay money for this sort of thing for some reason. The response was wonderful, and I had the pleasure of working with some truly fine and talented individuals (both performers and behind-the-scenes folk).

            Some highlights from this past weekend include:

Being the first creep to get all up in Andy Dick’s face. As he passed through the main gate, I got right up in there and started growling at him, at which point he recoiled and cried out, “Oh, no, no, no -- get it away!”

Andy+Dick2.jpg

Sadly, I wasn't even in makeup yet.

Telling Elijah Wood to put out his cigarette. Griffith Park is crazy strict about not smoking on the property (I’m told the fine is $10,000. They don’t fuck around.) I didn’t even recognize who he was at first--I just didn’t want him to get fined (although, he probably could have paid it with whatever was in his pocket). Anyway, he politely obliged and put out his cigarette. Then, later, my good friend and fellow camp counselor Brett Hunt dumped a bucket of blood on top of Mr. Wood, and then flipped him off. He got a hug. I saved him from a fine AND cancer and I got squat. If he and Macaulay Culkin were hanging off a cliff, I know which one I’D let die. (Just kidding -- I love you, Frodo.)

Revenge.

Being able to see for the second evening. While my makeup was arguably cooler looking the first night…

…once the sun went down, there were numerous areas of the park where I was completely blind due to my limited vision. I got lost easily, my mood was lousy, and I know my performance suffered because of it. At one point, I led a guest with a bag over her head into a dark, uneven, wooded area and thought, "Huh. Neither of us can see. I do believe we're going to die." When I reported this to the production team the following morning, half expecting that there really wouldn’t be a solution, they were quick to respond, “Oh, then we’ll change your makeup. You gotta be able to see, dude. Obviously.” (I’m so grateful for how well these people take care of their performers. I’ve worked with people who don’t.) And thus, Camp Counselor 2.0 was born. The second night was infinitely more enjoyable for me.

“Locking” people in the cages of the old Griffith Park Zoo. These cages no longer serve any purpose other than to look creepy, and guests would wander in to see if there were any items from the Hell Hunt (our all-night scavenger hunt). I’d pull the door shut behind them with a clang and then taunt them to find a way out. You’d be surprised how many people didn’t think to try just opening the door (as I had no way of locking it).

Morons.

Hearing my trivia questions at the morning ceremony. I had asked our illustrious director Justin Meyer before the campout if he would accept suggestions for our horror movie trivia, and then went a little crazy and sent him something like twenty hardcore questions (examples including “What was the name of the 1980s TV series hosted by Freddy Krueger?” and “In what horror film does Vincent Price sing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ over the end credits?”) Justin ended up accepting most of my questions, which comprised about three quarters of the overall list. Every so often, being an anti-social, friendless, and sexually frustrated horror movie fan pays off.

Please love me.

            Despite being a bit sore in the throat from two consecutive nights of rasping at people in a sorta faux-Freddy Krueger voice, I am very glad to be back working with these groovy people, and look forward to the upcoming few months with them. Anyone interested in this all-night celebration of the macabre, we’d love to see you at one of the cities on our tour. Details at www.greathorrorcampout.com.

            Peace out, creeps.

WHY PROSTITUTION MUST BE LEGALIZED (BEFORE THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE)

For any U.S. resident living outside the state of Nevada, visiting a brothel without fear of prosecution requires a bit of travel, which—let’s face it—is expensive. If only bordellos were free to open up in every strip mall in America, we’d save a ton on gasoline. Unfortunately, there’s a stalwart regime of hyper-moralists who refuse to take our expenses into consideration. These judgmental non-capitalists are always ready with a sermon and a plea to “think of the children” anytime the subject is raised. Thus it has remained throughout the centuries.

Until now.

I am here to provide the proverbial last word in the argument for the legalization of the world’s oldest profession. Brace yourself, dear reader. You’re about to be thrown head-first into the next chapter of human history.

.A properly legalized brothel—such as those seen in Nevada—is the perfect place to seek refuge in the event of a zombie apocalypse

Now who’s thinking of the children, bitches?

 
Bunny Ranch4.jpg

Pictured: hope.

 

Take any well-maintained, upper-class brothel. You don’t need to have ever been to one (or admit to it). They show up periodically in news stories about their surprising cleanliness and how no one who visits them ever, ever, ever walks away with AIDS or unwanted progeny. But such piddly arguments for their legalization are for lesser men. Let's talk about how they make the perfect sanctuary from the zombie horde.

Many of these are gated facilities, to keep out the riff-raff (i.e. the undead), and your fancier establishments even have video surveillance to make sure no one is on the grounds without an appointment (i.e. walking corpses). So, just looking at the outside of the building, the re-animated flesh-eaters of post-apocalyptic tomorrow would have to bypass security lookouts and a metal gate before they could take a single bite out of anybody.

Gate1.jpg
Mustang Ranch2.png

Alright, this is all well and good, but lots of facilities could boast these characteristics. It’s what’s inside that makes the house of ill repute such a sweet find when our ancestors wake up all grouchy and peckish. Keep in mind, you don’t know how long you’re going to be holed up once the dead start rising. While we hope the military will show up and resolve the problem in short order, we need to be prepared to find ourselves in a George Romero wasteland of meandering corpses and tiny groups of squabbling survivors. Expect that the first place you run to when the zombie apocalypse starts is going to become your new home. While keeping the legions of carnivorous corpses at bay is certainly priority one, a healthy living environment is a close second. What good is staying alive if you’re miserable for the rest of your existence? How long before you turn on your fellow survivor or decide to decorate the wall behind you with your brains?

So before you put that gun in your mouth, let’s take a peek inside one of these houses of carnal pleasure.

Mustang Ranch1.png
Mustang Ranch7.png

It’s warm and welcoming. Bright colors. Polished wood. Friendly animal heads mounted on the walls. Themes vary from brothel to brothel, but one aspect remains the same: these places are designed to create a calm and relaxing atmosphere. No matter how scared or angry you may have been outside, once through that door all thoughts of gloom and doom will be lost in a miasma of pink bear rugs and heart-shaped loveseats. While the guardians of social morality spend their remaining years playing Monopoly in an old bomb shelter, you can ride out the undead uprising with style in a facility that sports hot tubs and a fully stocked bar.

 
Dovetail Ranch.jpg

Note the friendly red pole.

 

Thinking more practically, these pleasure palaces have live-in employees, which means they're equipped with showers, gyms, and other amenities. Your upscale whorehouse also features a small restaurant or grill. Granted, these probably don’t include magically restocking freezers or pantries, so organized food runs will be a necessity. But that hard-scavenged grub will keep a lot better in a place meant to serve food than in that abandoned church your neighbors ran to hoping for divine intervention.

And, of course, what are a group of humans going to do once they’re shut up in one place for an indeterminate amount of time?

 
hhh.jpg
 

They’re going to fuck! And fuck! And when they’re done fucking, they’re going to fuck again, just to get themselves ready for the midnight fuck-a-thon. After all, there’s a world to repopulate (and people get bored easily). Forget about all the fun toys and sexy costumes that you’ll have to play with; there isn’t a safer place in the world to have Fuckfest 2020. The place is loaded with contraceptives, designed for preventing STDs and unwanted pregnancy. STDs equal more zombies. Unwanted pregnancy slows a person down during break-ins or beer runs, and creates more mouths to feed (which, in the long run, equals more zombies). Hell, with a little luck, any venereal diseases that might possibly be carried into the refuge during the initial days of the zombie invasion will die out by the next generation without being passed on. Might we have just discovered the cure for every STD? We might have, brothers and sisters.

And after all that, I still haven’t mentioned what may possibly be the simplest reason why the upscale brothel is the perfect place for a group of strangers to live when the flesh-eating dead come to life...

 
Dovetail Ranch2.jpg
 

Beds. Lots and lots of beds. Human beings can boink anywhere (I have an entire hard drive of videos to attest to this), but at the end of the day, what’s more important than having a warm, cozy bed to curl up? A luxury often taken for granted, it will be sorely missed when, after hours on zombie watch, you’ve got nothing but a cold floor waiting for you. At that point, is there anything in life to look forward to ever again? Well, you can keep your abandoned mansion, 28 Days Later, ‘cause we’ve got more beds than we know what to do with! Two for everyone: one for summer, one for winter. Monthly raffles are held to see who gets the Under the Sea Room and who gets the Medieval Times Suite. Everyone rises each morning well-rested and ready for another day of living in perfect harmony, while the purgatory just beyond the front gate becomes a half-forgotten memory.

So that, dear friends, is my ironclad argument for the legalization of prostitution. I am confident that any further discussion on the subject will be limited to zoning restrictions and union fees. You’re welcome.