The moonlight lingers through the foliage that hangs around the endless maze. Eerie, hollow sounds of guitar strings makes the visitor feel regret for entering a trap. On the floor below, a hand reaches out and in an instant, a haunting face comes out of the shadows into view. It belongs to a cursed gypsy, leading her victims to the werewolves waiting nearby.
Chelsea Joan is a 20-year-old CSUN student majoring in theater who plays a gypsy at “Cursed,” a maze with blood-thirsty werewolves and cursed gypsies at Six Flags Fright Fest.
“Working as a scare actor at Six Flags is making people’s nightmares come to life,” Joan said. “And as an actor making someone’s ideas come to life is what I strive to do.”
Acting always played a part in Joan’s life. The feeling she gets when she steps into a character is irreplaceable. Joan strives to escape reality and replace it with something new. Making the audience feel an emotion is what drives Joan’s passion for acting.
“The feeling I get is so euphoric,” Joan said. “I love getting to be someone else, wearing someone else’s skin, and I could be a terrible, terrible person and when I get home I do not have to be that person again but I got to be that person in a minute without having any repercussions in real life. I get to try on people, not just clothing.”
Scare acting is different from what Joan usually does because of the direction it takes, requiring less directing and more improvisational acting. She is told to pop out and scare in a restricted area. The rest, Joan takes into her own hands.
“It is a little less concise on directing and a lot more of high energy the entire time because you have to give everyone the same experience,” Joan said. “You can’t pamper the front of the line and ignore the back of the line. So, it is a lot more intensity of energy throughout the event.”
A normal day at Fright Fest for Joan is clocking in, receiving the five minute ghoulish makeup and spending her night scaring people with high energy while receiving several bruises over the course of the night.
The makeup Joan receives varies from night to night but the artists generally do highlights and definitions by enhancing their cheekbones, adding protruding veins, scratches and blood.
“They cover you in sticky blood that will then stay in your hair and still be there the next day,” Joan said as she laughed.
Joan brings a variety of scares each night but her favorite one to perform is the “ankle biter” approach, where she sits on the ground hiding behind camouflage netting and reaches out for people’s feet.
“When they see me they freak out because they yell, ‘Why are you on the ground? Don’t touch me! Don’t grab my feet!’” said Joan.
Joan enjoys hearing the terrified screams from guests.
“I am glad that they are getting scared and it just makes me happy to see they are getting what they came in for and getting what I came in for by getting their fright, their scare,” she said.
Abigail Murray, 17, a gypsy who works in the same section of the maze with Joan, believes that Joan’s dedication to her character is what sets her apart. Her ability to always change up her acting and creating new scare tactics keep her lively and fresh for guests.
As they wait to do the emergency evacuation drill, Joan and Murray get into character by dancing to the music in the maze while they howl to each other.
“No matter what, even if it is a big group of people, she will pop out and try and scare as many people as she can to not let her scare go to waste,” Murray said. “She is there to scare everyone, not just the girls who are like ‘ahh!’ She likes to scare the big guys who don’t expect it.”
Jean Luke, 20, is a werewolf who works near Joan in the maze. Luke noticed that she is willing to do anything to frighten the guests.
“The noises that she makes scares me sometimes, she is insane,” he said. “She is really, really, really energetic. It is hard to keep up with her sometimes.”
Even though another year of the ghoulish characters roaming the park has come to its end, nothing has turned Joan sour to working as a scare actor and will be ready to face a new character next Halloween.