opening night

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I have been performing for fifteen years. Cabarets and madrigal choirs and bucktoothed middle-school plays. I love it all. I’ve got comedy/tragedy masks tattooed on my shoulder blades, for crying out loud. And haunted houses are still my favorite medium of all.

Every show looks the same behind the scenes. No matter how niche or cutting edge or avant-fucking-garde the performance, the crew is having the exact same squabbles over making the lights work and where to put the giant spider. (Maybe that last one’s just me.) After ten-hour workdays, after shoveling sawdust and spattering blood on everything in sight, it’s easy to stop caring. The magic goes out and the mundane rises to take its place.

Opening night announces itself. You pull all the levers and deliver all the costumes and hope for the best. And then you hear your first screams of the night. You toss a little blood in just the right places and hear breath drawing sharply in. Someone faints. Twice. True story. When the last stragglers run away screaming, you find your graying, zombified lover. And you scream together, because the screaming – the screaming is what makes all this worth it.

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One night down, five to go. This is what I am actually wearing today. I pitted ghoulish against cozy, and cozy won.

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officially halloween’s bitch

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This was seriously one of the best weekends I’ve had in a while. On Saturday I did makeup for a local zombie-themed fun run; on Sunday (Josh’s 26th birthday) I tabled for Nightmare at a pumpkin festival up in the mountains. Silly costumes, foliage, a huge-ass birthday cake that we’re still working on – oh, and getting to pop someone’s eye out, as seen above. This post is not for the squeamish, but if you’re squeamish, then why are you even here.

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My beloved steamfreak – and Nightmare’s monster mascot, Janey, whom Josh helped build.

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Cake cred to my mom, who I’ve mentioned before is a professional baker. Nutella outside, pumpkin/carrot inside.

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Holly asked for “zombie rock star”.

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Nightmare went to lunch in full makeup.

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to haunt and to hold

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It seems I can’t even wear my favorite sweater without being told to “go home” because apparently “it’s not even October yet”. Love you too, everyone. I just came out to have a good time and I’m honestly feeling so attacked right now. At least my sweater cares.

Even though it’s nigh October, haunt season started months ago. “Halloween is six weeks away, for Chrisssakes!” outsiders cry. Yeah, exactly – Halloween is six weeks away. I’d like to see you design, build, outfit, and rehearse an entire show in six weeks. My haunt, Nightmare Vermont, is the only one in the state that performs a complete coherent story rather than a series of skits. We write and produce a play from scratch, essentially.

…so yeah. You’d be freaking out too.

I’m so ready for fall, though. One last blaze of crunchy-leaved glory before seasonal depression settles in. Is anyone else champing at the bit for season 4 of American Horror Story?

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two devils went a-haunting

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I’m almost sorry for the dearth of outfit pictures in this post. Almost. I think the absence is more than compensated for by the garish, ghoulish delights awaiting you after the jump.

If you’re not into Halloween, feel free to skip this one. But if you’re not into Halloween, why are you even here.

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I’m a haunter. Not only am I madly in love with a fellow haunter, but we both maintain fairly important positions at competing haunts. I’m the costume director for the Haunted Forest, an outdoor haunt held at a local bike trail; Josh is the art director for Nightmare Vermont, a bloodier event that specializes in stage combat. The Forest is the campier counterpart to Nightmare’s gore porn, and we both throw in the occasional mindfuck. Needless to say, ’tis our season for near-constant shop talk, copious notetaking, and lurking obscenely around every Halloween store in the county.

These photos are a visual record of the hours we’ve spent over the past few weeks soaking up every plastic skull and bloodstained corset this county has to offer.

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Yes, you can do this with makeup. We often do.

On the 28th of this month (which happens to be Josh’s 25th birthday), we’re dragging ourselves out of bed at seven to help with makeup for Vermont’s annual Zombie Run. Zombie Run is a 5k fun run in which the entrants are divided into zombies and victims. The whole run is framed as a chase, and we do some pretty damn intricate makeup.

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Spirit Halloween is practically a museum. I could spend hours there, and Josh and I often do, tinkering with the animatronics and exclaiming over the displays.

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I’m totally coming here on November 1st and buying every one they have left.

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When it comes to seasonal decor, I like glittery kitsch. Josh likes muted steampunk. We both like bloody and gothic.

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I was really pleased with the variety of costumes in the little girls’ section. There’s not a damn thing wrong with a girl (or a boy!) who’d rather go as a princess than a vampire, but it can be hard to find a truly creepy costume for the spook-conscious little witch. I wish I’d been able to get my hands on blood-spattered tights as a kid! Hell, I’m disappointed that Spirit doesn’t carry them in adult sizes. Josh promised to help me make some, though.

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Sometimes people just really like tiny coffins. No judging.

halloween the reboot: and you thought you could escape

If there’s one thing I know in this world, it’s that you – whoever you are – do not love ghoulies and ghosties and all manner of creepy-crawlies as much as my boyfriend and I do. We are hard. core. We do work at competing haunted houses, after all.

Yesterday was National Paranormal Day. In honor of the auspicious occasion, we attended a special-edition Queen City Ghostwalk. (I am such a goddamn Thea Lewis fangirl.) And, of course, I dressed the hell up. Less than six months until Halloween, you know. Time to start celebrating!

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I couldn’t find my bloody-skeleton hair clips, and I hated everything for a few minutes.

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“Vermont Spirits Detective Agency: Private Eye for Those Who’ve Died”

A couple Octobers ago, I attended a demonstration by VT Spirits, at which they went over some of their techniques and played footage from houses they’ve successfully exorcised. Now, I’ll say straight up that I’m not sure what I believe. As a religion major, I’ve found it most useful to keep my mouth shut and maintain agnosticism about spiritual matters. I’ve also found that my personal opinions on paranormal matters have absolutely no bearing on my ability to enjoy them. I appreciate the ability of a good ghost story to drag me out of my world and into its own. Does it matter if it really happened? That seems incidental to me.

Anyway, the point of this story is that I won a t-shirt and a book about haunted Burlington hotspots in the nightly raffle, and that incited my fangirl obsession with Thea Lewis. I wore that very shirt last night in hopes that she would remember me. She did. I squeed. Boyfriend and I lingered after the tour to talk to her, and I was doing my very best to stay collected.

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T-shirt: Raffle Skirt & Necklaces: Old Gold Skull Pendant: Battery Street Jeans Shoes: Gaiam Gloves: Gifted