In this installment of Faces Behind the Fear, we had the unique opportunity to speak with someone whose influence can be found both in your face and behind the scenes. Alex Rodriguez, who works for most of the year at the South Florida Fair, has spent the past 13 years perfecting the art of the scare. This year, he shares some of his secrets with you!
What inspired you to become a scareactor?
I have always been into Halloween, in fact I went through my first haunt when I was 7 in Miami and I was instantly hooked. I thought “I could do that!” So naturally, when I heard about the Fright Nights casting call in 2003 I was first in line. Brad and Jeremy – haunt designers at Fright Nights to this very day – gave me my first part in the Arkum Asylum.
Who is your favorite Hollywood creature creator/make-up artist, and why?
To say I am a huge Tim Burton fan is an understatement – even my wedding last year was Time Burton themed. For that reason, I would have to Ve Neil is one of my favorite make up artists and designers. She developed what we know to be the Time Burton style black and white with red all over. I love the playfulness and versatility of her makeups.
Do you like scary movies?
Hell yes – I like the adrenaline rush of a good horror movie. It’s the closest you can get to riding a roller coaster or jumping out of an airplane without leaving the ground.
Do you like haunted attractions? If so, which is your favorite?
I love haunted attractions, and I visit them every chance I get – which is difficult seeing as we are very busy during the haunt season. These are my top ten favorites:
10-13th floor Chicago
9-Haunted Hoochie – Pataskala, Ohio
8- 13th Floor – San Antonio, Texas
7- Scare Fair – Cridersville, Ohio
6- House of Torment – Austin, Texas
5-The 13th Gate – Baton Rouge, Louisiana
4-House of Shock – New Orleans, Louisiana
3-Fear Itself – Mishawaka, Indiana
2- Statesville Haunted Prison
1-Haunted Overload – Lee, New Hampshire
What is your favorite maze you’ve ever worked on at Fright Nights?
I would have to say “Malpractice.” It was a hospital themed-haunt that featured a twisted doctor, who experimented on and tortured his patients. It was a pretty gory haunt.
What is your favorite character you’ve portrayed?
My signature character, Dr. Harry Gooch, he was the head of the Malpractice Haunt and pretty terrifying.
There are many different scare techniques used at haunted attractions. How do you do it?
My personal style is to be viscous and relentless. In your face. I try to bring energy to all the actors in the house and teach by example.
What can fans expect from your house at Fright Nights?
I am co-designing a house again this year with my wife Kelly. She has a great eye for detail – and I bring the gore: lots of blood and guts and terror. We make a great team. Fans can expect to have nightmares after they visit our haunt.
What advice would you give someone interested in working in a haunted attraction?
If you have an opportunity to create your own character – do it and own it. That is not something you can do in everyday life. It’s a great experience and it’s the most awesome job you’ll ever have.
For the creative team behind Fright Nights at the South Florida Fairgrounds, every day is Halloween. They begin thinking of new ways to scare people out of their wits as soon as the previous year’s event is underway, and only slow down enough to perfect the art of the scare.
This year, they are going all out with four new haunted houses (Sunnyville Schoolhouse, Doll Factory, The Void and Pestilence.) In addition to the haunts, this year they will have 2 Escape Rooms: The Smiths Freak Show and Outbreak, as well as the crazy midway scarezones that will keep you on your toes all night long!
For more information, including ticket offers and special packages, visit http://myfrightnights.com. Also, be sure to check out some of our other Faces Behind the Fear interviews!
Remember that Halloween is a time for fun and frivolity. It is a time to come out of your shell, and to acknowledge the mischievous spirit that resides within all of us. Be sure to keep following Palm Beach Happening for news on other spooky events in the Palm Beaches. If you know of another local event that would appreciate the undead light shone upon it, please let us know!