A Disaster of Temperance

Hello, valued patron.

That is how I greeted folks entering my part of the haunted house this year. I have just completed my seventh season at Sloss Fright Furnace. I wrote an article about my work as an actor there that covers the first five years. {The Chapped Cheeks of Temperance} This article is to catch up the last two years.

Last year, I built a huge, elaborate pallet maze. It had a central room with eight passages and a catwalk above so that I could stroll about and serenade the patrons with my scary cowboy songs. People would come in and search every passage for a way out but I would not let folks out until they asked for help. At that time, I would get them to sing me a song, and then I would have my assistant open a hidden door for release. It was a difficult thing to run. Groups would over-run each other and I would have too many at one time. If that happened, I would get them all to the central room and get them to sing for me collectively. One of my favorite things to do at that time would be to get all the girls in the middle, and then say, ‘I like big butts’. All the girls would take their cue and burst into the Sir Mixalot pop tune. Unlike most haunt actors, I am not a gore-hound. I do not even like being scary. I wear rodeo clown cowboy make-up and run a funny gimmick. Some of the patrons and I do not get along, but 99% of the folks coming through have a great time. Singing, joking, and having fun interactions with the fans, especially for a lengthy amount of time is unheard of in this industry. Most scenes at a haunted house only last a few seconds. An actor rarely gets more than a passing moment with the patrons. That maze last year had people trapped for ten or fifteen minutes sometimes. Every group that came in was a challenge. Every time, as a group was coming in, I would be thinking, how am I going to get them out. I had a great time doing it, but it was hard work. Singing in a loud voice for hours on end ain’t easy. Making that crazy pallet maze dynamic work was difficult. I loved the gimmick, but after two years in a row, I decided it was time to move on. I took many of the pallets home and built furniture out of them.

Not to mention how difficult it was to build a pallet maze in the unrelenting August sun. Uhg.

Our theme for this next season was post-apocalyptic. I knew what I wanted to do. We have a small strip of woods running alongside Sloss furnace where we have a second trail. I dug out a bunch of dirt bike trails, alongside the patrons trail. I bought a dirt-bike and mounted a functional plasma blaster cannon on the front. With these, I could terrorize my patrons all the way up and down the trail. I came up with a great costume. A sleeveless Luftwaffe jacket emblazoned with colours of my own design, ‘Sloss Inglorious Blastards’, {Sloss is a blast furnace} Gynormous dirt-bike boots, red pants with painted stripes up the sides, and some mondo knee-pads, constructed of knobby motocross tyres. One drawback in the plan was that I only had a small window of opportunity to purchase the motorcycle before we opened, where I would be in a position to throw a little cheddar towards the scooter. Unfortunately, the selection in my price range was severely limited. I was up against it and had to buy what I could. I picked up a 2002 Kawasaki klx 110. A kids dirt-bike. I’m not a big guy, and I know that many adults ride these little ‘pit’ bikes. That little sucker is sketchy! Note: I have not been on a motorcycle in thirty-five years, and never on a dirt-bike. Opening night got here the last weekend of September. This was my first time wearing the boots and knee-pads while trying to operate that little bike. It did not work. I could operate it relatively well without the gear, but with it, I was getting my knees stuck under the handle bars. I was engaging the shifter and brake foot pedal unintentionally. The woods were too dark too see. When I hit the field, I was blinded by the low-slung lights. I went down one time, and a couple of monster actors had to come over and pick me and the bike up. My over-sized boots and knee-pads caused me to tear the shifter pedal loose. I still had my plasma blaster mounted on the front, so I pushed the bike to a spot at the head of the trail and blasted people for the rest of the night.

I went to my supervisor the next day and told him about the disaster that was my scary house dirt-bike assault, and if he wanted to do something else, it would not hurt my feelings. As it turned out, though, the owner of the promotion had already talked with him and said that he wanted to bring back the pallet maze. That made me feel good. When people came through that opening night, they were disappointed that the naked cowboy and his infernal pallet maze was not there. My gimmick was back by popular demand; literally.

Opening night was a Friday, my conversation with my supervisor was Saturday afternoon. The plan was to build the pallet maze next week. I went into that Saturday night knowing I would have the most easy and fun nights of my career. I parked the bike at the front of the trail, and right up on the trail, but hidden in shadows. As patrons would enter the woods I would interrupt my singing and welcome them saying ‘Hello valued patrons, come on in, I’m not going to shoot you.’ That would get about half of the groups attention. Then I would call out again, in a more stern voice, ‘I’m not going to shoot you’. Now I had the entire groups attention. I then fired a tremendous plasma blast, super loud and just over their heads and then yell, ‘The Hell I ain’t!’ I usually got a good reaction. If there were any Blood Passes, I would run out behind them and say ‘I’m not going to tickle you, either’ as I tickled them. It was hilarious.

I get away with stuff that most folks can’t. People can tell I am harmless and just having fun.

I designed a much smaller, and easier maze this year. It was just a loop, that led back to the entrance. The exit door is hidden and guarded. Folks do not get out until I give the go-ahead. Patrons exiting the woods would see the maze from about a hundred feet away. I would just be a silhouette on top, playing an upbeat cowboy riff. Patrons did not know what to think. When they got close enough, I would start in with ‘Hello valued patrons, come on in, don’t be skay-yerd, it’s all right, ,,, THERE ain’t no scary monsters in hee-yer. ‘There’ would almost drop them to their knees.

The amount of time I kept them would depend on how busy we were, Usually, I would get them through pretty quick. My goal this year was to minimize people getting mad at me and try to make sure everyone had fun. I would play a funny song for them until they got to the back of the maze. I would stop them and say ‘This maze is actually a trap, but if you say the magic word, I will release you. The cow says:’ and hopefully, they would respond with ‘moo’! If not, then I would walk away, and start singing again, and they would realize that they had just made an error. When I was happy with them, I would signal my monster assistant to open the gate and then sing a victory song for them as they exited the maze.

Many patrons regretted getting smart with me. Often, a group might have to wander through the maze several times if they kept misbehaving. I was not always hard on them. Many times if the group would say ‘moo’, but some smarty-pants would say ‘oink’, or ‘cows can’t talk’, I would say something along the lines of, ‘ Awww, y’all some sweet little moo-moo’s, I’ll let you out of here if you take that dumb-ass with you’. Everyone would get a laugh at their expense and since I then go into my parting victory song, which is of an overwhelming volume, I have the last word. One time instead of dumb-ass, it was ‘mouthy mee-maw’. She didn’t mind being called mouthy, but she did not like ‘mee-maw’. I have called many women mouthy. They never get mad. Their husbands do not get mad. It is a left-handed compliment. Often they will reply with ‘Damn right I’m a mouthy woman’.

One time early in the season, some teenagers came through with one calling out, ‘Play Freebird’. I replied ‘Will you sing along?’ They said yes. I played it and we all sang it together. The timing was perfect. As we came around the second time, we were going into the big finish and I opened the gate to let them out. It was epic. Someone asked for it again the next night. I said okay if you sing along. They said okay, but they did not know the words. Someone else asked again the next night and I replied, ‘Sing the first verse’. He sang ‘I’m as free, as a bird now’. I said ‘You a dumb-ass!’ {The first verse is ‘If I stay here with you, girl} It never failed. Every night, some smart-ass would come in and call for ‘Freebird’. I’d reply ‘Sing the first verse’. They could not do it. It was pitiful. I shamed those would-be smarty-pants.

I had a group get smart with me, so I walked away from them. I went and worked the next group coming in. I stopped them on the opposite side of the wall as the first group. I warned them that they did not want to get stuck like those dumb-asses over there. Everyone laughed but what do you know, they did not want to say ‘moo’. I walked away and sang ‘Clementine’ { I know all ten verses}. They began to realize that the pallet maze is my domain, and they needed to cooperate. I came back and changed the exit requirement a bit. ‘If you’re a cow and you know it say…’ ‘Moo’. ‘If you’re a cow and you know it say…’ ‘Moo’. ‘If you’;re a cow and you know it, and you really want to show it, if you’re a cow and you know it say,…’ ‘Moo’. Those little moo-moo’s were in full compliance by that time. I played a victory song for them and they loved it. It was an absolutely masterful moment. I had hundreds of such moments. For most of the season, it was one hilarious group after another.

I like to put people over when I can. If there were small children in the group, I would get the kids to sing ‘Baby Shark’.

A couple ran ahead of their group and were standing in the entrance to the maze. They did not see me nor know that someone was up above them. I said ‘Hello valued patrons’; their knees buckled and they hit, or they nearly hit the ground. I said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.’ It was hilarious.

I think young girls like haunted houses more than young boys. Every year there are groups of early teen girls coming through. They sure do like the naked cowboy. I reckon it’s the fringe on my chaps, sort of like Bobby Sherman. Anywho, one group of twelve year old girls came through accompanied by their Dads. Sweater Vest Dads. I think there were two or three S.V. Dads in front, two or three S.V. Dads in the rear, and about ten girls between them. I tried to stop them to work my ‘moo’ gimmick, but lead S.V. Dad did not want to stop. He led the group around and back out the front. I was trying to tell them to try again, but four Dads and three girls went out the front entrance. The remaining members of the group wanted to listen to me. I asked them, ‘Y’all want to listen to me and try again don’t you?’ they indicated yes, so we went through, did the little ‘moo’ gimmick and they were on their way. The Sweater Vest Dads were still just standing in the entrance. They wanted to see a manager or something. I don’t know. Other groups were coming so I worked them. I went back to the front, and they were still there. I laughed and laughed. I have never laughed at a patron so hard. Those poor little girls that were stuck with the stick in the mud S.V.D.’s were pleading with them to go in. I asked, ‘Are y’all waiting for an adult to come hold your hand?’ They did not know what to say or do. I said, ‘You know, the rest of your group got through with no problem.’ They reluctantly acknowledged this and I got them through.

There is no fighting it. The Naked Cowboy of Sloss Fright Furnace is a hit. I reckon I’ll be working that gimmick again next year. Sigh. Learn a lesson from this, y’all; be careful what you get good at.

Happy Trails!

~Icky πŸ™‚

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18 Responses to A Disaster of Temperance

  1. Deborah Jay says:

    Lol, what a way to earn a living!
    (Funny, I heard that line somewhere today… oh yes, Dolly Parton singing 9 to 5)
    Don’t run out of voice, my friend, sounds like you need it πŸ˜€

    • admin says:

      Yay! Thanks for stopping by, Deborah!
      Yeah, it is definitely pirate work, sister.
      My voice was completely shot by the end of the run. I sing a version of ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’, and really go all out on the yippee-kai-oh’s and yippee-kai-ayes, bringing a yodel aspect to the howl. By the end of the run, literally nothing would come out. It really had a lonesome, dying coyote aspect about it.

  2. admin says:

    That is just a toy pistol in the photo, not a functional plasma blaster. Blaster cannon are big.

  3. I love your passion for what you do, Icky. It’s nice to hear the good and the bad about your adventures for the past two years. It’s also nice to hear how you handle the bad and remain so sane and respectful. I’m glad that people are showing their appreciation and that most enjoy their runs. Keep on doing what you love and never forget why you do it in the first place, Icky! πŸ˜€

  4. Bookstooge says:

    Wow. I am impressed! I mean, only a genius could get a functioning plasma blaster on one of those little kawasaki’s! πŸ˜‰

    It sounds like you really enjoy what you do. I hope you keep enjoying it. Too much of life is filled with things we don’t enjoy, so I am always glad to hear someone who does enjoy something.

    • admin says:

      Thanks, Bookstooge. The plasma blasters are a Sloss Furnace exclusive. One of my haunt buddies is a former Special Forces Ranger. He developed the blasters. They are MAPP gas soldering torches. We add a short tube that runs to a baffle chamber. Release about six seconds worth of gas before igniting. When the gas in the baffle ignites, it is a massive explosion. Truly wonderful. I was concerned about having so much flame and explosiveness around the gas tank of the bike, but fortunately, it did not blow up.

  5. It sounds like great fun (I like the picture but the motorbike wasn’t right). And hard work as well. Yes, indeed, you are a victim of your own success! πŸ˜‰ Keep having fun and making others have fun!

  6. pennyblake says:

    lol, I always love your updates Icky, it sounds like you have so much fun at that place! Take care of your voice though matey!

  7. nickimags says:

    Sounds like you had a lot of fun Icky!

  8. Bookstooge says:

    Dude, you’re like a “liking” machine this morning! Did you have some extra coffee or something? πŸ˜€

    • Ichabod Temperance says:

      I know you are just posting old reviews, but they are worth reading and I am liking them.

      • Bookstooge says:

        Please don’t get me wrong, I LIKE getting “likes” πŸ˜€ I just haven’t done a batch of old reviews in a while and forgot how you like to go through them.

        If takes an extra cup of coffee, drink some more, please!!

  9. Sounds like you’re a victim of your own success with your maze! I love that the patrons were requesting its return πŸ™‚
    BTW, my Mum was a music teacher and she’d recommend gargling with warmed port and honey to help protect your voice

    • Ichabod Temperance says:

      Hi Stephanie Jane!
      Thank you so much for visiting. Yeah, considering how mad the patrons got at me for keeping them locked up for so long the previous year, I was a bit surprised, also. Never underestimate the power of fringe!
      Thanks for the tip from your Mum. Those are always the best!

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