by DESIREE MENDEZ//Staff Writer
It is a quiet night, until you hear screams coming from inside the houses.
If you listen carefully, you can hear doors slamming. You may even encounter Twisty or Patches the clown, or even Cupid, outside as you wait.
On Feb. 10 and Feb. 11, Nightmare on 19th Street presented My Bloody Valentine. They have Valentine’s Day themed decorations all around. You may see some bloody hearts inside the houses. They set up photo booths just for Valentines that couples could take their picture in. Some have hearts and giant killer spiders and the other one is a Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein photo booth.
This is the second year that they have offered My Bloody Valentine as an alternative date night. This is the second year that they have presented My Bloody Valentine. It is Nightmare with a twist.
Owners Corey Trahan and Wes Nessman decided last February to offer the My Bloody Valentine event to see how it would work. They wanted to see if the fans would come out, since it was not Halloween.
Trahan’s inspiration for Nightmare is his love for the creative dark arts.
“Blood Moon Manor is the undead beating heart of Nightmare on 19th Street, always,” Trahan said.
Nightmare is located on the spooky side of the Lone Star Amphitheater in Lubbock.
“The area underneath the amphitheater had been a “haunt” before, and we thought we would reinvent that space,” said Nessman, “but it was condemned. So we went above ground in the pavilion and the areas around there for two years, then moved to the back.”
There is an interesting background story that ties all the houses together.
“There is a tree where evil and witchery took place,” explained Nessman. “The roots of the tree started to grow underneath these various areas (where the houses are), infecting them all with the madness.”
“We say enter at your own risk, because you could turn an ankle or something from all the walking,” adds Nessmen. “But we’ve put a lot into making sure that folks can’t be seriously injured or trapped. We are also wheelchair accessible.”
They have had some people who have lost control of their bodily functions because they are too scared.
Then there are some that scream, then laugh, then scream again. It all depends on the person. Some people can handle it, and some cannot. Some are OK with the chainsaws and blood, and some are terrified of the clowns.
Nightmare has anywhere from 80 to 120 actors who volunteer, depending on the weekday or weekends. Some of the actors have school and work, so that plays a big part in how many are out there. There are about 10 of the original actors who started out in 2006.
The Nightmare team consists of make-up crew, costume crew, actor coordinators for each house and the actors and crew that help build and make sure everything is running smoothly for the My Bloody Valentine event.
Jessie, a 10-year nightmare veteran, started out acting and doing her own make up, before Pops had asked her to help in the make-up trailer. She is a self-taught make-up artist who loves to create zombies. She doesn’t have to use latex to make them look real, as she can do it all with just make up. Jessie has been doing theatrical make-up for 15 years.
“Creating monsters out of people, making them look totally different from themselves and making others second guess if they know them or not, is what I love to do,” explained Jessie.
Sara Ward, another make-up artist for Nightmare, has been with Nightmare for seven years but took a break to go to school at Tom’s Community School for Special FX, returning to Nightmare when she was finished.
Kali Thomas is an upcoming make-up artist at Nightmare who also started out as an actor. Her husband also is an actor for Nightmare, playing Toothpick, a chainsaw-wielding character in the Wastelands. Kali loves special FX make-up and got the chance to do her own make up to prove to the artists that she has what it takes to do make-up for the other actors as well.
Rene, a nine-year make-up artist veteran, said, “I love when an actor brings their own ideas of what they want their character to look like, as well as a back-story to develop the character. We all have our actor that we have worked with since the beginning. It is always awesome to collaborate and work with them.”
Bailey Palmer is the costume coordinator, with help from her assistant Bri. Palmer started acting at Nightmare in 2006 and became the coordinator in 2011. Bri started acting in 2009. Their jobs in the costume trailer are to make sure all the costumes are organized, clean, and in good condition. They also buy or make costumes that are needed.
Each of the houses has an actor coordinator who helps keep the actors together and helps prepare them for the My Bloody Valentine event.
Stephen Kelley started at Nightmare after the 2011 season and was an actor in Kellick (now the Wasteland) for two seasons. Kelley then became the coordinator for the Lost City for one season and ClownTown for one season. It wasn’t until after last year’s My Bloody Valentine event that he became the actor coordinator, all while acting and working on the build crew during the off season.
“It’s the most thrilling experience in the world, from the building to eating pizza at the end of the night and everything in between,” said Kelley. “I love hearing everyone’s stories of how bad they scared people and watching everyone grow up and mature. When we call each other family, we mean it. I am so happy and honored to be a part of a place that gives everyone a place to feel welcome and loved.”
John Vega has been with Nightmare for almost six-years. He started by building and then acting and building. Vega has also helped with make-up and has done a lot of set design and aging as well. Vega has been actor coordinator of The Wastelands for one season and is now starting to make masks. He will be doing a lot of the prosthetics for the actors and make-up artists. Next season, Vega will be the newest make-up artist for Nightmare when they start back up in October.
“I especially love the fact that nightmare has been able to bring so many different people together,” Vega added. “All of the so-called weirdos, loners, misfits and outcasts all have a very beautiful place in this wonderful world of horror that we have all created together.”
Robin Burkett started at Nightmare in 2010, during the summer, helping with some light decorating and building. Burkett helped mostly in Badger Hollow (which is now The Wastelands).
“When the season started, I did make-up on the side and some acting on the bus,” Burkett said. “It was in much better shape back then.”
In 2011, Burkett became the actor coordinator and was placed in charge of the Manor. She is now the coordinator for the Lost City.
“The main thing I love about Nightmare is the people,” Burkett said. “I love the diversity of stories of our family, and I always come back because of the kids. My hope is that I will have a positive impact on their lives, and that I can be there for them if they need me. We have had homeless teens, bullied kids, kids who didn’t feel like their family cared about them, kids who felt like they couldn’t be themselves at home (because of their sexual identity or some other reason). I just love the kids. I’ve watched them grow and become amazing young adults, and I’d like to think Nightmare has a tiny bit of something to do with that.”
Blood is a new actor who has come out to Nightmare. His first visit to Nightmare was packed with a sense of danger and real human monsters, not like any other haunted house that he had been to before.
“I’ve been to a lot of haunted houses in a lot of cities over the years,” Blood said. “But my first reaction to Nightmare on 19th was that this place had something that I’d never seen anywhere else.”
When Blood first came to Nightmare, the Nightmare family immediately embraced him.
“Nightmare feels densely packed with danger and real human monsters,” said Blood. “ It feels like it’s teaming with life. There are actors everywhere, enough to swarm you in places, which made me feel a different kind of fear than I’d encountered in more traditionally-staffed haunted attractions. The people, and the “realness” of the danger in Nightmare, has always stood out as something unique and very special, even nationally.”
The actor coordinators gather their actors and do their special house chant as a pep talk before they head out to scare. Things like this is what makes Nightmare a big family.
Newcomer Jessica Wagner joined the Bloody Valentine actors that weekend of Feb.11. It was her first time acting.
“I love haunted houses and dislike Valentines, so I figured I would come out here and have some fun,” said Wagner.
The Nightmare actors are always in character. Some of the actors like to sneak up on the fans who are waiting in lines. You can see the clowns running around and giving roses to fans who were waiting for the attractions.
One actor seen on the Nightmare tees is Patches the Clown. Patches is always in character, no matter what. Patches has been a member of the Nightmare family for more than 10 years.
Patches expressed in his creepy clown voice, “I love scaring the pee and poop out of people. It is one of my favorite things,” adding manic laughter.
Sally Boudreaux, another long-time member of the Nightmare family, said “Clowntown is not only awesome, but it has a mass variety of characters. In Nightmare tradition, you have to earn your clown name. I love that mine is Grooves, aka “Mama Sally” and Uncle Nasty. But we don’t just scare. We have fun just trying to show our patrons a good time and downright awesome entertainment and experience, to make them want to come back again and again. Plus, I love the part you can let your imagination set free a place where misfits, loners and weirdoes are home, and nobody is judged!”
The actors in Clowntown are one big family and are always there for each other and willing to help each other out.
Zoë Huntsman, an actor from Blood Moon explained, “Blood Moon Manor is my home. It’s what has built my self-confidence, my character, and simply me. I’ve made lifelong friends at Nightmare, and specifically in Manor. Becoming Bloody Mary each night builds my confidence, in costume and out.
“I began Nightmare at a tough time in my life,” Huntsman added. “Yet it has helped me grow and understand that diversity at its best. Blood Moon Manor has become my home, and will forever be held in a special place in my heart.”
If it is Halloween or a mini scare session for Valentine’s Day, Nightmare on 19th Street is the place to be.
Check out Nightmare on 19th Street at www.nightmareon19thstreet.com and on Facebook. Keep an eye out for a special event on May 27 called “Mayhem.”
Trahan hopes that Nightmare will become an entertainment spectacle for people to come from all over to see.
“Valentine, Valentine, it’s time for a bloody valentine. Cut off their heads, slice their throats, it’s time for a bloody valentine” -Blood Moon Valentine chant.
[Photos by DESIREE MENDEZ/ PLAINSMAN PRESS]