The past two weeks are definitely one for the record books. I just got back from TransWorld (also known as the Haunt Show ) in St. Louis. This is my second year attending and it is always an adventure. While it is not quite like the ones I’m undertaking for my book it certainly is full of thrills, chills, and scary material.
For a lot of attendees their favorite part of the convention is walking the show floor and seeing all the amazing new props and effects for the haunting world, and I love that too. But for me I really enjoy the seminars (h/t to Jenn Braverman, Ann Marie and Tim G. for organizing them every year) and after hours networking that happens off the show floor. Going to the seminars (and they had a ton ) gives you the chance to sit front and center and learn from those in the industry who really know what they’re doing. You can learn from people working in the TOP haunts in the country–Mike “Tattoo” Krausert, Ann Marie & Timothy Gavinsk, Ben Armstrong, Ed & Jim Terebus, Scott Simmons, and yes me too.
Attendance for these seminars was great, but I am always shocked that they are not overflowing. Thousands and thousands of people go to Transworld, who would not want to find out as much as they can from people who are doing it right? You know who is going to the seminars? All the other top haunters! We all have more to learn and you never know when something is going to inspire you, or someone will say something that takes you to that eureka moment.
Some of my favorite moments—Ed Terebus’s fresh take on old scares, he and his brother had some fun and innovative ways to turn the traditional ‘startle’ into a truly terrifying scream. Tattoo’s seminar on deep theming was also incredibly inspiring, the back story and profiling he does for his haunts matches the best fiction novels. By the end of the convention I would say I definitely spent most of my time in the classroom and now I have a stack of notes from the best in the business.
One really awesome trend I noticed this year, and in fact many commented on this–it has become so international. Coming back from Japan it was great to see a representation of haunters from all over the world. I got to sit down and talk with the folks over in Ireland who run The Nightmare Realm . Talk about doing it right—wow are these guys impressive and I think I need to add a pin to my adventure map. I also made connections with haunters from Bogota that I hope to get to know better in advance of my trip there next month. There were haunters from New Zealand, China, Japan, Mexico, and Chile. It’s really exiting to see and I can’t wait to observe how haunted attractions are going to take off and evolve in other countries, especially countries that do not have the strong tie to Halloween (Americans always assume the connection).
On a personal level it was really great to see old haunter friends, get to know them better and make new ones at all of the networking opportunities ( I say networking opportunities because that sounds a lot better than “lets just take over the hotel bar and lobby every night” (seriously huge thanks to the Renn for dealing with us every year).
Finally, the great thing about TransWorld is that everyone is a bunch of crazy fun loving folks. I’m very lucky to know a lot of the top haunters and feel even more lucky to call them friends, but even those I don’t know seem to be aware of and appreciate the fact that they get to work in such an amazing industry—they get paid to scare people who pay to be scared. That’s not a bad job.
To get an idea of the fun we all had, check out the #hauntshow twitter stream.