It’s a sweltering hot night in June, and it’s time to go camping with the sweetie for an affordable stay-cation. The fire has burned low, the s’mores are gone, it’s time to zip up the tent and go to bed.
A weird noise comes from outside the tent, like someone is starting a lawn mower. A chainsaw rips open the tent. Legs kick, fists fly but heavy ropes cinch together and hold you still. Someone wearing a fencing mask throws you into the bed of a truck and drives away as your boyfriend’s screams grew fainter.
People (soundness of mind has yet to be determined) are paying to experience exactly this on the Fright Nights Campout tour. Fright Nights visits 14 cities from Florida to Chicago to New York spanning May to October 2016.
The stay is overnight in a remote location, the address to which will be given no more than 48 hours ahead of the camping (to build anxiety). Patrons will choose which tent best suits their scare experience: chicken leg, blood or guts, said tour coordinator Michelle Puckett.
Everyone gets a little scared, which is why there is a Pansy Zone. This area is where the “monsters” cannot harass the campers. The Pansy Zone has a campfire, some food and some scary movies projected along the trees.
Chicken Leg Tents are on one side of the camp, near The Pansy Zone. The Blood Tents are further out, the Pansy Zone is out of sight, but certainly not out of mind. The Guts tentsare marked by their blue canvas, and are so far out into the campsite, no one could hear them scream.
Speaking of screaming, Pyro the Clown has been freaking people out for years. His favorite type of scare is “the distraction scare”, a two-person endeavor. Another monster will hold the attention of a group of people while Pyro comes up behind the group. All is well until they realize he’s there.
“This is the hardest job; physically, emotionally, mentally,” Pyro said, “But it’s the hardest job you’ll ever love.” Pyro has never been injured by a camper but he did twist his ankle in Florida this May.
The most memorable scare Pyro has was a pretty interesting story. Pyro said he was standing near the entrance gate of a haunt as a group of teenagers walked in, and a girl was so disturbed by the sight of him, she went back to her car. Later on that evening, the group asked Pyro to “pay her a visit,” Pyro said. He obliged.
The girl was camped out in the last row of seats in a Suburban, laying on her back.
“She was hiding,” he said, “Her friends let me in the hatch of the truck, and I looked over the seat to say hello.” She was a little upset, Pyro said.
“I still have no idea how she did this, but in one motion she was over the next row of seats, on all fours and throwing anything she could grab at me,” The girl never came around to Pyro, she asked him to leave the truck. Pyro laughed.
Don’t get too upset about Pyro, the girl, and the sound of your tent shredding around you. Tyler, the tour director, said there is a “safe word” if things ever get a little too Texas Chainsaw for you. All you have to say is, “I’m a little pansy.”
Pyro says he gets two or three campers who pansy out every night.
Fright nights campout range in price from $65 (Chicken tent) to $85 (Guts tent) per person for 13 hours of an interactive horror experience. So the question is, are you a pansy?