Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Being a victim at Petrified Forest

Sylvia Katherine Viles the show director at Petrified Forest let me stop in for a walk through. I arrived early along with the cast who had to get into costumes and make up. In order for me to blend in on the trail as I sketched, Sylvia suggested I get into costume and makeup myself to become a victim on the trail as I sketched. A victim is just as important as a scare actor in that they distract the unsuspecting so that the scare isn't anticipated.

I realized that I had enough time to sketch as all the actors lined up to get their make up done. This was face painting triage style with each painting job taking 10 minutes to do at most. Like a barber, some face painters liked to chat with the actors as they worked. The lead makeup artist might shout out "That is enough, on to the next!" To all an actor to the makeup chair the artist would shout out, "Next victim?" One actor was leaning back in the makeup chair and he lost his balance toppling backwards. Another actor asked for my help because he couldn't find his glasses. I scoured the ground and was just about to give up when I spotted the glasses under the makeup table.

I was the last person to get make up applied. I asked what type of paint was being used but didn't get an answer. The actor next to me explained that baby oil was best for taking off thick stage makeup. I froze as the first cool blast of paint darkened my eye sockets. The spray paint smelled toxic to me or at least that is what ran through my paranoid thoughts. I tried not to breath but couldn't hold my breath long enough. I breathed through my mouth each time I needed another breath of air. I was told I only needed to look dirty and weathered. I was being spared from being bloodied. Apparently blood is rather sticky and they didn't want it to get all over my drawing. At first glance, I looked a bit like a reptile.

Actress Tara Rewis walked me back through the maze of pallets and fencing to where she was staged. I decided that the haunted school bus was the perfect spot to sketch. My costume consisted of a simple jacket that seemed as if it was from the Civil war era. It had on big brass button. The rest of my clothing was all black that night which was perfect camouflage for the evening.

Sylvia shouted, 10 minutes to house open!" The professional actors in the group shouted back, "Thank you 10!" Before the actors all took their places there was a pep rally in the front staging area. Standing on a picnic table, Kimmy Clark shouted out, "Boo Rah!"  Everyone shouted back, "Boo Rah!" This was repeated until the woods were filled with the shouting. Actress Carol Jacqueline Palumbo walked me back to the school bus where she was working along with 2 young girls, Madison in a white dress and Jordyn in a red dress, Ken was inside the bus and he gave the guests the biggest scare. He was hidden behind one of the seats and he would shout out, "What are you doing on my bus!" Strobe lights blinded people and he had a creepy photographers studio set up with an umbrella to deflect the light. any model that volunteered might not survive the photo shoot.

Carol lay on top of a shopping card looking dead as her scarf draped down to the ground. One couple stopped to look at her for several minuted waiting for her to blink. Amazingly Carol kept her cool until the guest were distracted and they went into the bus. Madison kept stopping over to see how the sketch was progressing. She seemed quite amazed and entertained. Jordyn is the daughter of Nichole Scott. I met Madison when I sketched the auditions for the Forest. Everyone in the bus staging area were made to look like burn victims. Creepy dolls were strewn about. The girls often implored trail gusts to play with them. "You would make a good dolly." they might say. A camp fire emitted a warm glow and there was a toilet which was often used as a thrown. We knew that any time we heard a band saw that the guests were about to enter our area. Madison and Jordon would scramble back to their staging areas to be ready. Once Madison tripped on a root in her haste. Jordan had an allergic reaction of some sort from the bug spray or make up. Imaginary horrors became real. I was terrified that mosquitoes might eat me alive, but I survived.

Tara told me that even as I sat still, some guests would be frightened by my presence. She was right. I laughed each time someone turned with a start. I must have a creepy laugh. I was hidden behind the door that leads into the bus area. I stared opening the door towards me which I imagined might create a ghostly feel as people entered. When the sketch was done, I had t walk the trail to find my way out. I caught up to two ladies being walked through the trail along with Elaine, one of the face painters. Suddenly Elaine was lifted up by a cast member and she screamed as he dragged her away like a cave man. The women shouted in terror as Sam screamed. I laughed out loud. It was definitely the bast scare of the night. Later the women ware reunited with their friend. They chastised her. She has an ongoing agreement with certain members of the cast that they can carry her away if she walks the trail.

When I got home, Terry looked puzzled by my appearance. I then walked towards my pet cockatoo and he let off a blood curdling scream and he fluttered away from me in terror. I would have to wash off the paint since he was so upset. We don't have any baby oil and Terry experimented with her body lotions and then some Vaseline. Nothing worked to get the make up off. Ultimately I took a very long shower and using soap and a harsh luffa, I managed to remove the make up along with a top layer of skin as well.

Mark Your Calendar! You don't want to miss this attraction. It is located on S.R. 436, just 1/4 mile West of 17-92. Just look for the huge inflated black cat. 1360 E Altamonte Dr, Altamonte Springs, FL. You can get tickets online or at the Forest. Check their calendar to see which dates work for you.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at analogartistdigitalworld@gmail.com

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