The NETHERWORLD Interviews

Mrs. Georgia is a Gargoyle at NETHERWORLD Haunted House!

by on Aug.01, 2012, under Haunted Houses, NETHERWORLD Haunted House, The NETHERWORLD Interviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every Halloween, the shadows come alive at NETHERWORLD  Haunted House with legions of Netherspawn, intent upon scaring you out of your wits. From all walks of life come these die-hard fans of the fright scene, seeking the opportunity to adorn themselves in ghoulish garb and immerse themselves in the spirit of the season.
And while most of these characters wear more than one hat – both at and away from Netherworld – 25 year old actress/make-up artist Meghan Hodges wears one additional. Well, a crown, actually. Meghan recently won the title of Mrs. Georgia-America 2012, and will soon compete among 52 contestants for the title of Mrs. America.
Meghan recently took a few moments out of her hectic schedule to answer a few questions about her life at Netherworld and what it’s like to be both a glamour queen AND a gargoyle…

NETHERWORLD: Meghan, how did you get involved with Netherworld Haunted House?

Meghan:  A few years ago I emailed Netherworld on a whim to ask if they were hiring makeup artists. At that time it wasn’t standard practice to hire someone to only do makeup and not stay to scare, and I didn’t want to be an actor. Luckily for me, Roy Wooley, our fearless makeup director, took a chance on me. He brought me onto his team and cultivated my precise stage makeup skills into over-the-top, monster creation magic. He’s taught me everything I know and it’s been such a fun learning experience!

NETHERWORLD:  What is your role at Netherworld – what is an average evening at the haunt like for you?

Meghan: My role over the three years I’ve been at Netherworld has changed significantly. In my first year I did makeup every night, and I acted in a boo hole on Halloween. In my second year I did makeup every night and expanded my repertoire to stunts and even dabbled in some character acting in the position just outside the front door, explaining the rules. By last year, year three, I graduated to the parking lot as a Gar-girl. Being in the parking lot has proven slightly trickier than being inside the haunt. Since there’s nowhere to hide, it’s important to keep up the energy and stay in character. It’s challenging, but very rewarding.

NETHERWORLD:  Can you share with us some of your favorite Netherworld moments?

Meghan:  Once I got comfortable with my Gar-girl position last year, I got brave. Rather than relying on teenage girls for my reactions, I started going after bigger prey. The first time I made a full grown man fall on the ground was a memorable moment, but there’s something about his wife’s uncontrollable laughter at his folly that made it truly priceless.

NETHERWORLD: In addition to your involvement with Netherworld Haunted House you have a pretty demanding career – can you tell us a little about what you do?
Meghan:  Anyone who knows me well is aware that I spend most of my waking hours working. October is my favorite month because Netherworld is a refreshing break from 60-70 hour work weeks. Yeah, I suppose I technically work more than that in October between both jobs, but Netherworld is great stress relief! I spend all day in front of a computer as a senior project manager at McKesson, a Fortune 15 Healthcare IT company, and then all night scaring poor innocent patrons.
So how then did you become active in the Mrs. America pageant? It seems like a rather stark contrast to ghouling it up and scaring the general public!
The number one reason I entered the Mrs. Georgia pageant was to challenge myself to grow in a new and different direction. It was an effort to diversify my interests and do something no one would have guessed of me.

NETHERWORLD:  What was the reaction from your Netherworld family to the announcement of your title?

Meghan: I kept the entire pageant experience a secret for a long time… if I myself was skeptical that pageants were like Toddlers & Tiaras or Miss Congeniality, surely my tough scary monster friends would be skeptical as well. Luckily when I posted my win on my Facebook page, I received a ton of support and compliments! It was kind of weird to replace my Gar-girl Facebook profile picture with one of me wearing a crown!

NETHERWORLD:  Will your role at Netherworld be affected by your current title as Mrs. Georgia-America?

Meghan:  No way – I’m a proud Netherspawn! I have every intention of returning this year. Maybe one night I’ll surprise my fellow Spawn and show up as a pageant queen. The amount of hairspray might scare some of them…

NETHERWORLD:  Please tell us how people can learn more about your causes and upcoming appearances.

Meghan:  I’ll be supporting many worthy causes this year. To learn more, you can visit my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MrsGeorgiaAmerica2012.

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The NETHERWORLD Interviews: Pamela Smith

by on May.04, 2011, under Haunted Houses, NETHERWORLD Haunted House, The NETHERWORLD Interviews

Stepping into the spotlight as we focus on members of the Atlanta haunt
community is the ever-friendly and always-energetic Pamela Smith of Netherworld
Haunted House. Pamela keeps a busy schedule entertaining folks through her many
horroresque endeavors…
 
What are your responsibilities at Netherworld Haunted House, and how did you get
your start at the haunt?

I started working with Netherworld four years ago. I had heard that they were
taking applications after working with an actor at another haunted house (The
Asylum) the year prior. I had visited Netherworld years prior so to have the
opportunity to actually work as a actress with the Netherworld family was very
exciting to me. I decided that I would bring along my laptop to use as a part of
my presentation for my interview. Ben and Nancy introduced themselves and
interviewed me for the position. I remember telling them that I have always
loved horror movies and haunted houses and when I was a little girl my Daddy
used to sneak up on me and scare me all the time…I have always gotten a thrill
out of being scared.

My primary responsibilty at Netherworld is to give an outstanding performance
every night and in any position that I am scheduled to work at the haunt. Of
course there are other responsibilities that come along with the territory as an
actress. I feel that as a seasoned actress at Netherworld it is also my
responsibility to set a good example and help the newbies feel welcome as well
as assist as needed.  

What do you do outside of Netherworld Haunted House?

When I am not scaring the mess out of folks at Netherworld. I am usually working
as an actress on various other productions throughout Atlanta – such as “The
Walking Dead”- working at home taking calls for customers ordering products from
shopping shows, and talking to my grandbabies on the phone.

Do you have a memorable Netherworld moment or moments you can share with us?

Yes… I have many memorable moments. Two of the many memorable moments were
when Ben Armstrong approached me after having worked late one night at the haunt
and invited me to be apart of the group that appeared for the Netherworld promo
segment that was aired on Fox 5 Atlanta last year (2010)…I was so excited
about that I don’t even remember if I slept before getting back to the haunt at
6am. Stacey Elgin was the perfect victim for Netherworld. She seemed to be very
nervous as she was constantly surrounded by the monstrous beings that she faced
within the dark bowels of our world….Netherworld…HaHaHaaaaaa!!! Ooops – I
forgot where I was for a moment…

Like I said, there were many memorable and exciting moments. The other was when
I won an award at our annual Wrap Party. I was not expecting to win because
there was so much great talent last year 2010. I was truly humbled to have had
so many that voted for me to win…

Can you tell us your fondest Halloween memory?

Wow. I really have to think about this one because I just love every moment that
I am there…but I do remember one year I wasn’t feeling well and when I came to
work I expressed my problem to Nancy. She was so concerned and kind to me…I
told her that I really wanted to be there so instead of my usually “shock”
position that I would work she allowed me to work puppet position sitting down
in a chair – an old hag in black with a black veil. I only had to operate the
Chuckie-like doll…I was very grateful that she was able to accommodate me that
day.

More fun – bloodletting or drinking blood?

Drinking Blood. As I was a primary actress at the haunt, my character as a
Vampire Bride was constantly stalking victims to drink their blood and quite a
few patrons had close calls – some lost their footing once I appeared and
approached them, and some ran down the “hallway to hell” to escape my grasp. But
all that encountered me were frightened and fearful that they may not be able to
escape.  

Where can fans find you on the internet?

Fans can find me at

facebook.com/psmith790

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The NETHERWORLD Interviews: Tony Maccia

by on Apr.23, 2011, under NETHERWORLD Haunted House, The NETHERWORLD Interviews

Without any further ado, Netherworld Haunted House’s Tony Macchia!

What are your responsibilities at Netherworld Haunted House, and how did you get your start at the haunt?

My responsibilities include pre show cleanup and setup, which varies depending on whether it is a weekday or a weekend. I would say my main job at Netherworld would be to act as a lead checking on other actors and making sure they are hydrated, healthy and doing their jobs correctly and safely. I got started because I was going to school 15 minutes later and at the time it sounded fun.

What do you do outside of Netherworld Haunted House?

Outside of the haunt I am a chef by trade, working at many different restraunts in the atlanta and athens area, and also around the US (including Alaska).

Do you have a memorable Netherworld moment or moments you can share with us?
Many memorable moments really. One that stands out Iguess is coming out from a corner and scaring one patron till they fell down, then they took their entire party down with them – creating a dogpile.

Can you tell us your fondest Halloween memory?

My fondest memory. Hmm…the night when i was a ghost – i was i think 12 and i had a homemade costume – and my mask kept covering my eyes.

Poltergiests or Banshees?

Poltergeists.

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The NETHERWORLD Interviews – Ruby Dystroy

by on Apr.11, 2011, under Haunted Houses, NETHERWORLD Haunted House, The NETHERWORLD Interviews

Again, we take a moment to get to know another vital member of the Atlanta haunt and horror scene, 29 year old Ruby “Dystroy”. Like many of the talented denizens of Netherworld Haunted House, Ruby is a real jane-of-all-trades, picking up the challenge wherever she may be needed in order to make NWHH a destination haunt for all fans of dark entertainment.

What are your responsibilities at Netherworld Haunted House, and how did you get your start at the haunt?

I have worked at Netherworld for approximately 6 years, 7 this coming season. I have been in just about every position possible from the makeup room to shock actor to lot monster, a lead, part of the marketing staff – even did lot security one night.
I got referred to the haunt by a friend who I worked at the Ren-Fair with. I applied and auditioned and the first night I worked I had one of the best times ever.

What do you do outside of Netherworld Haunted House?

I’m actually a makeup artist for Chanel and I also attend nursing school.

Do you have a memorable Netherworld moment or moments you can share with us?

I have to say the best times are the late night/early morning dinner/breakfasts we go to after the haunt closes (usually anywhere between midnight and 2am) to swap stories of the night. It’s nice to hang out and relax.

Can you tell us your fondest Halloween memory?

Back in 2006, i think it was, I worked all night at the haunt and got some amazing scares, then left the haunt still in full costume at about 2am to head to Underground Atlanta for a friends club night there and getting more scares and gasps from everyone as I ran through Underground Atlanta. (That year I think I was working the downstairs haunt as a cynobyte-type creature so I had hooks hanging from my flesh and the sort)

The Exorcist or The Omen??

The Omen – it’s creepier.

Where can fans or followers keep up with your doings?

http://www.facebook.com/#!/dystroy

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The NETHERWORLD Interviews – Lindsey Monroe

by on Mar.31, 2011, under Haunted Houses, NETHERWORLD Haunted House, The NETHERWORLD Interviews

Up next on our continuing series of haunterviews is 32 year old Lindsey Monroe, who has been with Netherworld Haunted House for the better part of a decade! Lindsey has an infectious personality and displays an obvious love of her craft when lurking about the haunt!

What are your responsibilities at Netherworld Haunted House, and how did you get your start at the haunt?

I have had quite a few different roles at Netherworld. For the past
few years, I’ve had the honor of working as the Casting Assistant,
helping our Casting Director place actors in the show each night. That
means that I know everyone that works at the haunt, which is a pretty
long list! It takes more than 100 actors to open the show each night
so I try to get there early to help take care of anything that needs
doing. I make it my personal mission to learn everyone’s names each
year but it can be tough, so I end up calling people “sugar,” “honey,”
and “baby” a lot. I love my responsibility in Casting because I love
getting to know all of our actors. I also love it because I get to
hear ALL the gossip – I know who’s dating who, who had a fight, who
did what in a boohole, and anything else that goes on in the haunt.
During the show I am usually a lead, taking care of a specific set of
actors, or a Sectional, roaming the entire house looking for issues
and checking on actors. I absolutely enjoy doing both of these things
because I know it’s really important for our actors to be happy and
healthy during the show.

This will be my tenth season as a haunter. I got my start at
Netherworld a long, long, long time ago when I had this ‘carpe diem’
year and I decided to do all these things I’d always wanted to do but
just never had. Working in a haunted house was one of them. I had no
idea how much I would absolutely love it. I spent most of that season
in a little padded cell, popping out up above people’s heads. I was
black and blue for six weeks but scaring the crap out of people turned
those bruises into badges of honor. To this day I am so proud of any
bruises I get while haunting! I worked almost every night that first
season even though I was also working a full time day job. I was
tired, beaten up, worn down, and a hot mess but I knew that I had
found the place where I belonged. Over the years I think I’ve worked
in just about every boohole in the house; I spent quite a few seasons
in the parking lot as a monster out there but have really enjoyed
being back inside the house taking care of our actors. I can’t imagine
not haunting in October – I look forward to it all year!

What do you do outside of Netherworld Haunted House?

I have a full time job as the Special Events and Public Relations
Coordinator for Camp Sunshine, a nonprofit organization that does year
round programs for children with cancer and their families. Our
largest program is summer camp but we also do programs for the entire
family because cancer really and truly affects every family member. My
job is to work with the media to promote our organization and to
manage our website and social media sites. I also coordinate our
fundraising events which allow us to continue our programs; I’m
responsible for around 35 events each year. Additionally, I also
support our program staff when they need help with events for our
campers and families so I get to know a lot of our kids – definitely
my favorite part of the job. You can check out my work at
www.mycampsunshine.com!

Do you have a memorable Netherworld moment or moments you can share with us?

It’s hard to choose just one. A lot of haunt actors will just give you
their best scare story – you know, that time when they made someone
wet their pants or dropped a group like bowling pins – but I like the
more personal stories. I think my most memorable night at Netherworld
was one night when I was acting as a demon in the parking lot and I
was wearing these enormous, fabulous red leather wings that were
making people crazy. This group of probably a dozen nine year old
little girls came up to me and were asking me questions about myself.
I was answering their questions with my usual silly demon answers and
trying to scare them when I realized that these poor little girls were
completely terrified of everything that was going on around them. A
dad that was with their group came over and asked me if I would stay
with the little girls while the parents went through the haunt because
the girls were too scared to go in. I told him of course I would but
it blows my mind that parents would leave their children with a weirdo
dressed as a red demon in a haunted house parking lot! To each their
own, I guess. The parents stuffed a twenty dollar bill down my vinyl
vest when they came out of the haunt and that group of little girls
still comes back every year to find me and say hello!

Can you tell us your fondest Halloween memory?

I think my favorite memories are of making my own costumes. I have
always enjoyed that, even when I was a little kid. I definitely put
together a Wonder Woman outfit when I was about 5 that involved Wonder
Woman Under-roos and a bunch of things I stole from my mom’s closet.
The best one I made from scratch was an onion; I don’t know why in the
world I wanted to be an onion but I had this idea and just had to do
it. I made a round onion belly from a garbage bag that I stuffed and
cut leg holes in the bottom. I was kind of distraught because the
garbage bag wasn’t quite the right shade of yellow for a vidalia. Also
it was lemon-scented and that was disturbing. I even painted my face
and hair green to be the stalk!

Fangs or claws?

Definitely fangs – until I lose one in the vortex! (which has happened
to me about…. five times.)

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THE NETHERWORLD Interviews – Sam Ronick

by on Mar.28, 2011, under NETHERWORLD Haunted House, The NETHERWORLD Interviews

Contrary to popular belief, haunted attractions and horror entertainment do not just (black)magically appear. It takes a small army of creative personalities and talented folks to pull off a successful production. Atlanta, Georgia is rich with such people – actors, designers, illustrators, costumers, makeup artists, prop makers, film fan groups, conventioneers and many, many more.

We invite you to enjoy our ongoing series of chats with the uniquely talented and enthusiastic people who make the Atlanta scare scene one of the most thriving and lively (in an undead sort of way) in the world! Please take a few moments to familiarize yourself with a variety of individuals from every walk of life who share one very distinct trait – each plays a pivotal part in delivering top-notch chills and thrills to an audience hungry for horror!

First up is Netherworld Haunted House’s Sam Ronick, who claims his age to be 32 human years (clearly he thrives on the blood of virgins, or is the long-lost son of the Stray Cats’ Slim Jim Phantom, because you’d never know it to look at him!) Sam would need a small entourage to keep up with the many hats he wears at Netherworld, and on any given evening you can catch a glimpse of him darting back and forth with superhuman speed wherever his many talents are needed…

What are your responsibilites at Netherworld Haunted House?

I guess it is best stated that I wear a lot of different hats at Netherworld – as do many of us. During the off-season I work on the physical construction of the haunt from Ben Armstrong’s concept to completion which entails fabricating rooms and décor in compliance with all of the aspects that have been designed. I also work with Jayne Rogers and Roy Wooley in the art department on everything from fabricating and repairing props and effects to painting and sculpting details on sets. Every detail of the construction phase of the haunt is inherently a joint effort and honestly it is by far the most awesome in terms of creative collaborations I have personally been involved in.

During the season I assist with opening the show which includes repairing any issues from the previous night and making sure that all systems are go for the current night. When time allows I jump into the makeup room to assist with makeup application. During the show I am a “sectional” or floor manager which consists of repairing technical difficulties when they arise and checking on actors and patrons while walking the haunt until the show shuts down for the night. Fortunately I get to experience the entire show and how different groups react to different sections of the haunt as well there is a lot of entertaining interaction between myself and the patrons. Unfortunately there are times that I miss working a room and focusing on being a shock actor for the night although there are of course moments where things are running smoothly and I have a moment to work a room and scare a few groups as they pass through.

What do you do other than Netherworld Haunted House?

I am fortunate enough to say that Netherworld Haunted House keeps me primarily occupied for not only the haunt season – but the entire year as well. I also work for special effects artist Bill Johnson and his company Lone Wolf Effects. Beyond working on films, Bill does a lot of work for Netherworld in terms of the characters created each season, so a lot of the outside work I do still delves into the collective realm of Netherworld. There is also odd jobs that come up here and there when time allows as well which is usually due to the affiliation with Netherworld. I recently was the lead actor in a film that will be released in June of 2011 entitled Nerd of The Living Dead.

Do you have a favorite Netherworld moment or memory?

Ask any haunt actor this question and you will receive a minimum of at least five favorite moments which can range from shocking a patron to the extent that they soil themselves to the quite charming marriage proposals and occasional gropes one may receive while in costume. Most likely because it is fresh in my mind from last season and a favorite amongst peers – I would have to say my favorite memory was a certain encounter with a rather inebriated yet charming patron. I was repairing an animation that consisted of a large stuffed cockroach when I heard a loud and somewhat obnoxious yelling coming right around the corner from me. I placed the giant cockroach under my arm after pulling it from the animation and went to investigate the source of the noise. Just as I turned the corner the patron responsible for this disturbance stumbled directly into me. He was startled but fairly calm and first looked at me then his eyes wandered down to the stuffed cockroach under my arm. The patron’s eyes widened and he suddenly flung his arms up and screamed “SHARK!!!!”. Confused, I looked down at the cockroach and then back at the patron who had walked towards the entrance of the next area. The patron stopped and motioned for me to come with him while grinning widely as he said: “Come on Lobster Boy…we’ll get through this together”. Go with him I did and let’s just say It was the most fun I ever had walking through the house.

Beyond that single moment – I would have to say that whenever I am asked about working at Netherworld usually the assumption is that I must love “scaring the hell out of people” which is actually a total misconception. There is an endless amount of effort that goes into every detail in every area of the haunt that literally takes a year to come to fruition and even then it may not be entirely what was envisioned. When a customer comes through the haunt you want them to definitely react to what is around them – rather the reaction consists of a scream, or a jump, or grabbing the person next to them or even falling down. What is important is that they smile or laugh after they react and that they are enjoying what they are experiencing. The last thing you want from a patron is for them to be terrified and to have a horrible experience or walk through with their hand over their eyes. When you work on something as hard as we do it is imperative that people enjoy the world that we create for them and feel that they received their money’s worth out of the experience. You want people to want to go through again and again and again and come back season after season.

Can you share any outstanding Halloween memories?

One of the earliest memories I have of any Halloween is from when I was about 5 or 6 years old. My parents stuck me in front of the TV set which was most likely an attempt to distract me from chasing the dog and also in the hopes that I would not draw on the TV screen with chap-stick and blame it on the dog. During the Halloween season the stations usually play marathons of horror movies and I just so happened to fall into the beginning of Halloween which would be followed by Halloween 2 (yes the originals…otherwise I would be about 4 years old as I write this). For the entirety of these films I did not move and was absolutely mesmerized by what I was seeing before me. I assume that is why Michael Myers and the Halloween films always hold a special place in my heart. If only my parents could have put that in some sort of pill form – it would have done wonders for my ADHD.

That was simply the beginning of my fascination with horror films, the holiday of Halloween and an overall interest in the macabre. Our house was always the most elaborate in terms of decoration when the month of October hit. I would carve tombstones and skeletons from foam, make corpses from old clothes and wire hangers and also destroy the garage and any car in the surrounding area with the overspray from my painting all of these props. When Halloween would occur there would usually be a party at my house and the day and night was spent with horror movie marathons running while greeting all of the people that would come to the door. I would always get the most satisfaction out of hearing kids and parents alike say that they had been waiting all month to come to the house and that I had the best house in the neighborhood. A lot of that same sensibility has of course adhered to the way I approach things with Netherworld and what we do.

Boris Karloff or Bela Lugosi?

Bela Lugosi without hesitation. Classic monster movies are the cream of the crop in terms of my viewing pleasure in the horror genre and Bela Lugosi is by far a personal favorite. To me there was a certain sexiness to the early vampire films and an overall romanticism to the story of Dracula which I think Bela Lugosi did a brilliant job of portraying. While I would much prefer to view Kate Beckinsale in her black leather gear from Underworld – Bela Lugosi and his films always hold a special place with me.

Where can fans or followers find you lurking? You can join me on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/samchronic

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