Let's get one thing clear right away. I was not excited about visiting the Blackout Haunted House. It's not that I'd heard bad things about the place. It's more that there are only bad things to hear. The Blackout is a haunted house in the same way that Guantanamo Bay is a haunted house. You won't see a guy in a werewolf mask stabbing a rubber baby or anything like that, but you will see lots of nudity and simulated rape.
Schemes at past incarnations of the Blackout Haunted House have produced horrifying stories of patrons forced to suck on bloody tampons and, in some cases, endure a good old American waterboarding. Here's some video, to give you an idea of what kind of ride we're talking about:
Did you hear the girl yelling "Safety!" at the end? That's because they give you a safe word, and that safe word, fittingly, is "safety." It's that kind of place. Some people, after paying ticket prices of up to $50, just have to be rescued from the terror. The last haunted house I'd been to prior to this was at the Playboy Mansion. This was definitely not going to be that.
It was my girlfriend who initially floated the idea of writing a column about the Blackout Haunted House, an offer I graciously declined. Something about the idea of being waterboarded willingly just didn't sit well with me. But then something unexpected happened ... Dan O'Brien said he was going to do it. I'm fine with my girlfriend thinking I'm a pussy, just not a bigger pussy than Dan. So, with my fellow pinup model and columnist Soren Bowie at my side, I decided to check out the Blackout Haunted House.
I'm glad one of us could be bothered to look worried about the possibility of being sodomized.
If you're planning to attend the Blackout Haunted House this year, you might want to STOP READING NOW, because I'm about to tell you all about it (or at least as much as I know). That means this article is going to contain a MASSIVE AMOUNT OF SPOILERS.
Now, with that out of the way, here are seven insane things I saw at the Blackout Haunted House in Los Angeles ...
Prior to entering the Blackout Haunted House, a surly man with a goatee (facial hair may not be available at all locations) holds a flashlight in your face and quizzes you about your fears and physical shortcomings. I assured him I was a specimen of superior engineering and proved it by failing to understand that "Now turn and face that wall" meant that I should face the wall he was pointing at with his flashlight. He asked me if I was "fucking stupid," because these people aren't here to keep you from freaking out; they're here to make things worse.
Upon completion of the interrogation, I was pushed through a sheet of plastic and into a hallway, where I was asked if I could see the white line on the ground and told that I should follow it. Of course, I could not see any white line, because a flashlight had been blasting my retinas for the past 45 seconds.
"How many fingers am I holding up?"
That was the point, though. I was supposed to wander around confused for a second, because that would make the moment when someone ran up from behind, grabbed me and told me not to move that much more startling. That happened, and it definitely should have scared me more than it did. I think I'd just read too much about this place and was ready for whatever they had for me. A combination of that and my standard mental fitness regimen meant that, on this night at least, I was hard to scare. I imagine it's not like that for everyone. Especially not during the insanity that comes next.
Basically, while you stand there in the dark, still kind of disoriented from the flashlight and being bear-hugged from behind and strong-armed into position, someone you never see walks around the room, occasionally pausing to stroke your face or jab at your neck with a hand in strangle formation or the point of something sharp. You never see any of this coming. It just happens. In the dark. It goes on for so long that some people report feeling as if maybe the staff forgot they were there. Soren would later comment that this was the scariest part of the entire adventure for him. Mine was still a few rooms away.
But first, that same unseen force that was doing all the whispering and hugging and stroking grabs you one final time and tells you to run. And that's when you meet ...
Lo! There's light in the next room! That's great! And it's from the glow of a television showing what looks like an adorable reindeer having stomach surgery! That's less great!
Those were my initial thoughts upon entering the next section of the Blackout Haunted House. In addition to the television with the unfortunate programming, there was also a creepy woman with tape over her mouth standing in the corner, stirring some sort of concoction in a metal pail. She motioned for me to sit on a folding chair that was positioned in front of the television. I mean, I knew that's what I was supposed to do as soon as I walked in, but for the sake of authenticity, I made her tell me. It's not like I would have just plopped down in that chair in real life if I stumbled into that room unexpectedly, you know? I paid for this shit, my work is done, scary lady.
The scary lady's work wasn't done, though. After sitting down, she made me taste what she was whipping up in that pail. It tasted like nothing, but was still somehow completely gross. And that's when she took my shoe. And my sock. And then looked on in horror as another woman entered the room, removed my belt and led me to another room that, awesomely, featured a floor littered with condoms. I knew that because I was barefoot, you see. But just on the one foot, which is good, because it would have been super weird otherwise. What happened next could best be described as an over the clothes rape. The woman who led me into the room was shirtless and grinding on me and ... that's when my job ruined everything.
"I'd like to discuss some inconsistencies in the haunted house universe you've created here!"
See, one of my professional responsibilities is to notice those little plot holes and inconsistencies that most people don't in movies and TV shows. Sometimes that extends into my daily life as well. So, in the midst of what should have been one of the biggest mind fucks of my life, all I could think was "Man, this chick smells wonderful!" Because she did, and that seemed dumb to me. "A real zombie or whatever the hell she's supposed to be would fucking stink. This is bullshit." That's what goes through the mind of an Internet comedy professional who's just made the transition from being repeatedly punched in the dark to having boobs thrust in his face. You'd think I'd just be grateful. But still, she smelled like grape candy. It was awfully hard to be terrified of that.
I'm pretty sure my purist approach to haunted houses negated the entire point of this room, which was to add some sexual arousal to the overwhelming terror that the entry provides. But for me, the only thing scary about this particular section of the Blackout Haunted House is knowing that this room most likely serves its exact intended purpose on most people. Why is that terrifying? Because it means that I'm the weirdo for not getting a boner in a haunted house.
After the sexcapades end, you're escorted into another dark room, where your hands are immediately tied behind your back. You're then told to jog in place. Why? Because the plastic bag they place on your head seems a lot more life threatening if you were already having trouble breathing when you put it on. That's right, a plastic bag over your head, just like Mom warned you never to do. You're then forced to your knees. And then you wait, struggling to breathe.
At one point, I contemplated using the safe word, because breathing conditions inside that bag had become so treacherous. That's when I suddenly remembered that I have a tongue and plastic bags are super light and easy to move. So, using my tongue, I moved the plastic bag up just above my mouth. I used the newly free hole to take in lots of delicious air before anyone had a chance to stick a dick in it or whatever. After that, I kept my head down and waited, leaving the person in charge of this room to marvel at my superhuman lung capacity in awed silence.
They didn't do that. Instead, they made me crawl to another part of the room and sit there on all fours for a few more minutes. It was during this time that something most curious happened. From another room, I could hear the sounds of a man being told to scream. That man, in turn, was screaming. I don't know what room this was in, nor do I know what was being done to make this man scream. Apparently, there are parts of the Blackout Haunted House that I was not shown.
That's fine, though, because what I did see next was plenty disturbing in its own right.
"The Rapist" is probably a misleading name for this guy. He was actually just a dude forcing some woman to have sex with him against her will. That's what you see when you walk in. There is literally a guy having sex (possibly simulated) with a woman who is chained to the bed. He's naked. For real naked. You realize this when he comes running toward you with his penis flopping to and fro. If you're a guy who's been reading to this point and fantasizing about all of the women you'll be in physical contact with when you check in to the Blackout Haunted House for yourself, I should probably let you know that you're going to be touching some dudes, too. This particular dude grabs you and makes you sit against a wall while he heads back over to do some more raping.
Oh, and this time the floor is riddled with condoms and shoes. Could your shoe be one of them? Should you take a look around or keep your eyes on the nightmare unfolding on the bed? The rapist, unhelpfully, does not tell you. So you're left to kind of wonder about that while he pounds away at the woman chained to the bed, glancing over his shoulder occasionally to make sure you're watching (you are).
Eventually, you're forced to lie on the bed as well. A lot happens in that bed, and none of it is good. The woman, up to this point, has not made a sound. That all changes. Also, the rapist touches your foot at some point. Creepy, sure, but if you've ever seen my feet, you know that he was the one suffering at that moment.
Obviously, this room is going to be uncomfortable for the ladies. For guys, I'm guessing it's more of an inner monologue that centers around one main question: Am I the type of guy who gets excited by the thought of rape?
Fantastic news, I am not. So, this room didn't hold much for me in the way of scares. Also, once again, from the crazy rapist to the woman chained to the bed, everyone in question was super clean and smelled fresh. Maybe that's intentional. I don't know. But it definitely took something away from the experience for me.
Things were about to turn around, though, because what was coming next might have been the creepiest bit of the whole night.