Every haunted attraction has their own unique sense of who they are, and what they represent. For many of the attractions all across the country, their central figure is a demented clown who, for one reason or another, has twisted his fun-loving existence into one of torture, fear, and ultimately death.
Enigma Haunt in Boca Raton is no exception. Deep within the Realms of Terror, you will come face to face with a man named Otto Ringwald, whose life of entertaining the masses has been transformed into something a bit more terrifying.
Recently, he took a few moments out of his busy October schedule to talk about his life in the public eye, as well as a little about his job at Enigma Haunt.
How did you get started in the entertainment business? Where did it all go wrong? Got me start in showbiz way back in ’29. Still lived in East London at th’ time. Started small like me ol’ man did, an’ ‘is ol’ man b’fore ‘im. Jus’ a clown like any other. Damn good at it too, if I say so meself. ‘Course, takin’ a knife t’ the knee in a pub fight put a bit o’ a damper on things, but I s’pose that was a blessin’ in disguise.
Couldn’t perform like I did b’fore, so I changed it up. Became a barker, then the ringleader, an’ then th’ next thing I knew I owned the whole bloody circus. Did well enough, but London’s a stuffy place… ev’ryone’s too bloody pompous fer their own good. So I packed up and set sail fer th’ good ol’ US-of-A. Florida was different, then… hell o’ a lot nicer than it is now. An’ since we was smack-dab in th’ middle o’ th’ great depression, I got me ‘ands on a nice plot o’ land fer right cheap.
An’ so Otto’s Fun Fair was born! Ev’ryone loved it. Nothin’ else like it on th’ east coast… hell, we put Coney Island to shame. ‘Course, this was b’fore good ol’ Walt came along with that damn rat o’ his, but I like t’ think we’d ‘ave stomped ‘im too. We was makin’ a killin’… well, till the killin’s started.
Kids started goin’ missin’ round those parts. Folks started suspectin’ th’ Fair… well, suspectin’ me, at any rate. But I ‘ad nothin’ t’ do wit’ it, I tells ya! Even th’ courts said so. O’ course, that wasn’t good ‘nough fer them. Bunch o’ pissed-off parents torched th’ place… barely made it out with me life. An’ as I watched ev’rythin’ I worked for burn t’ th’ ground, all I could do was laugh. Then I sees ‘er… this weird dame, all wrapped up in white. Ah, lemme tell ya, th’ things I’d do t’ that broad…
Er, right, I digress. I followed ‘er, ‘cause at that point why not? An’ th’ next thing I knew, I found meself in a circus. A circus of blood and death and fear, with a ringleader as evil as th’ devil ‘imself. An’ I knew then it wasn’t jus’ any circus. It was my circus. My… Freak Fair. An’ as I bashed that ringleader’s face in with me cane, all I could do was laugh.
Ain’t stopped laughin’ since.
Do you like scary movies? Ain’t scary if it ain’t real, mate. Be’sides, I have more refined tastes than that.
How long have you been a clown? Since ’29. Pay attention.
What inspired you to become a clown? We Ringwalds always been a family o’ clowns. Hell, go back far enough an’ a bunch o’ us was court jesters back in medieval times. ‘Course, most o’ them got beheaded, but what’re ya gonna do.
With all the maniacal clowns out there, how does Otto stand out? Well, clearly I’m th’ sexy one.
Do you enjoy haunted attractions? If so, which is your favorite? ‘Course I love ‘em! As fer me favorite, c’mon now… obviously it’s Eddie Wallace’s dumb little garage haunt from a few years back. It was pretty boring ‘til I helped ‘im ‘decorate’… though ev’ryone thought his body was jus’ a prop. ‘Course, he started stinkin’ up th’ place b’fore long, but hey, these things is seasonal fer a reason.
You have become the de facto face of Enigma Haunt, appearing at various events throughout the year to promote the haunt. What is your favorite part about having your image represent the entire staff of the attraction? Gotta say, these Enigma blokes ‘ave good taste. Usually when me face is in th’ paper it’s fer… other reasons. But th’ best part of it all is th’ events, gettin’ t’ pick out th’ faces I want t’ keep in advance. You wouldn’t believe how much o’ a hassle it is sortin’ all that out after th’ fact. Me clowns ain’t th’ brightest in th’ biz.
There are several school of scaring, if you will. What technique works best for you? Look, I’m a showman at heart. All I want is t’ send ‘em out laughin’. Granted, they go out screamin’ in th’ end anyways, but it’s th’ thought that counts, innit?
What advice would you give someone interested in working in a haunted attraction? Buckle up. Ain’t as easy as it looks mate….there’s a lot more to it than jus’ poppin out an’ screamin’ “boo” You gotta be committed, bold an’ willin’ to give yer all in th’ name o’fear…..a little sadism never hurts either.
If you ‘ave a taste fer the weird, the strange, an’ the unnatural… step right up to Enigma Haunt in Boca Raton. We will thrill you. We will shock you. We will… change you. Best see you lot there… ‘cause either way, we will find you.
Enigma Haunt, 1751 N. Military Trail, was just ranked #1 in Top Haunts in Florida and voted as #2 nationally in The Scare Factor’s 31 Must See Haunt List, the only other Florida haunt making that national list came in at #17.
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!
Also, be sure to check out some of our other Faces Behind the Fear interviews!
(Otto, aka Will Kroner)