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.
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…
…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.
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.