Imagine, if you will, a series of humans dressed more-or-less like demonic nuns, decked out with huge black umbrellas drowning in yards of black fabric. They’re walking around with their heads popping out of the outfits, sans makeup save for pink and yellow stripes across their cheeks. Basically, picture some hunchbacked anchorites.
These are the terrifyingly bizarre people who I watched, with enthusiastic confusion, haunt ScareLA, a Halloween convention in Los Angeles that I recently attended.
I was hanging out at the convention for two days, with my Halloween wreaths, and members of this group kept popping up. So, naturally, I asked the costumed brethren what they were supposed to be. They showed no signs of amusement nor anger, simply looking away from me and shaking their heads.
I didn’t think too much of them, though, until I saw this:
Inside a shroud right beside my booth crowded a Pod Person and three terrifying clowns. I watched them for a few harrowing moments until they scurried out from under the canopy like rats fleeing a sinking ship.
Okay. What the fuck just happened? Were they doing drugs in there? I couldn't smell anything, so that disproved the ganja theory. Was there something sexual going on? Too risky: even the most rampant exhibitionists surely must gain some propriety at a well-populated convention, right?
I had to find out what the hell was going on. So, I started asking neighboring vendors if they knew what those nun-pod-clown-who-even-knows-what creatures were. And NO ONE KNEW!
But then, something clicked. Kind of like those scenes in horror flicks where the girl realizes the call is coming from inside the house.
I suddenly remembered seeing a booth that was pretty much empty except for a neon triangle.
The person helming this desk said that her stand was associated with the enigmatic pseudo-nuns. She said they were Pod People. All I had to do was sign a scary waver saying it was ok to be manhandled and then she would give me something to show to the Pod People and they would take me under their cloaks.
The Pod People are your guides into the "Alone" experience. This means that they give you clues about where the "existential haunted house" is located. I was busy running the Grim Wreather booth and didn't have the time, or the moxie, to explore such a thing. But I was, nonetheless, fascinated. I just couldn't stop thinking about it. How is a house both existential and haunted? (Maybe I should take that back; college philosophy majors can be pretty damn dreadful!)
I saw a woman who had rainbow stripes on her arms that matched the stripes on the Pod People's cheeks. This all felt so similar to the first time I saw someone with a black cross on their forehead on Ash Wednesday. Like a symbol allowing me access to a strange segment of society that, until that moment, hadn’t even registered on my radar.
It was incredible to see a performance like this without knowing what the fuck was going on. It was a fantastical rupture in what was already such an unreal experience. It lingered with me.
Here's a link to “Alone: An Existential Haunted House:” http://www.thealoneexperience.com/
Check them out. And let me know if you've ever been through one of their houses in Downtown LA. I would love to learn more about what was, without a doubt, the creepiest thing I saw at a horror convention!
Check out more pictures of the Grim Wreather's booth at the ScareLA convention here.