When I got a text from my coolest friend (she has a half shaved head of red hair, guys! She doesn’t even CARE if she misses parties! She makes biscuits and gravy for potlucks!!!) telling me that she was at a free feminist haunted house called Killjoy’s Kastle, I shrieked with ghoulish delight. Was this the Halloween trend I was dreaming of?!
In recent years, Halloween activities have gone from haunted hayrides to weekend long camping trips where you pay to be chased by zombies. I had found haunted tours based on the history of Los Angeles smells, and giant Halloween parks that were completely dark. WOWSOFUN.
What is our society’s fascination with peeing our pants? I suppose that’s a whole other question, but what is our society’s fascination with being so scared?
I was stunned when I moved to LA and found myself at Knott’s Scary Farm, begging for advice on how to make the people stop bothering me. “Just pretend you don’t see them” is what friends told me. That’s right, I paid almost $100 to be reminded how to make bullies stop hitting me.
Whether I understand it or not, people are paying big bucks to bring themselves to the brink of cardiovascular arrest, and the more creative these events get, the more they sneak in to my October schedule.
This year, somehow I had foregone my need to walk through a dark maze using my friends as human shields (perhaps becoming a human lobster was enough horror for me) and was planning on bringing October to a close pee-pants free.
But how can one turn down a FREE LESBIAN FEMINIST HAUNTED HOUSE?! Especially when it’s walking distance from work. Would you like a side of convenience with your perfect fad article?! AAAYESSS PLLLLZZZZ.
I was prepared for a whole different kind of terror- the terror of intellectuals seeing through my thin veil of pseudo-feminism.
I arrived at my destination with a warm blanket of smart AF female friends who would make me appear knowledgeable and current. Fingers crossed they don’t invent x-ray glasses for intellect, lest I be found out.
Being a free event, the line stretched out pretty long, but we’re an organized bunch and managed to arrive before any of those other clowns did. WHO’S THE FEMINIST NOW?!
The gates opened to reveal a vaginal canal into the depth of lesbian hell. If the V WORD makes you uncomfy, I’d recommend getting the eff out of this article while you still can.
They split us into our small group of queermos and pit hounds and asked us to choose a name. My Lovely Assistant obviously had the perfect name at the tip of her tongue ” The Hell Word.”
We were warned of the horrors that lay within the uterine walls of Killjoy’s Kastle (and told photos were fine so get off my back world- this is my escape from you) and led us into the lobby of the Kastle, where a zombie woman in a work onesies sang folk songs in front of a sign that read “Lesbian Rule.”
Our guide quickly introduced herself and in true Carly form I swiftly forgot her chosen name and will from now on call her Marge. Marge warned us to turn back if we were at all tied to our patriarchal fever dream we called a life, peppering her warnings with “don’t laugh this isn’t funny”s.
Good ol Margey Marge let us into the first room where she requested we not take photos. This was wise, as the first room was filled with half naked women in ghost masks, preaching the horrors of being sex positive.
The was nothing compared to what lay ahead of us in the next room…the library:
FEELING THE CHILL OF MEMORIES OF INTELLECTUAL EMBARRASSMENT?! This room was filled with zombies carrying their favorite important literature, asking if you had read the books they held. If you answered (truthfully) no, THEY POINTED AND LAUGHED AT YOU. Good god, the humanity. Let me keep my dignity!!
In the next room we were forewarned of the female monsters left to rot in men’s holding cells: aggressive masculine lesbians, and trans women. These creatures were driven mad by oppression. They must’ve been mad because they didn’t pay any attention to me. MAD, I TELL YOU.
What nightmare would appear before us next?! What unspeakable visions?!! My terror was validated when we entered the next room and were introduced to The Many Faced Troll: a creature that scours the internet shaming those with different views than their own. Are they joking? Are they serious? IT’S UNCLEAR! This house had reached straight into my subconscious’ list of weaknesses.
Our next experience was quite possibly the most relatable of all: when passing through the bathroom a hand shot out from behind the door, holding a blood filled Diva Cup, begging “CAN YOU HELP ME GET THIS BACK IN?” The poor lost souls of women who cannot commit to a sustainable form of menstruation products. Go gentle into that dark night.
When we reached the other side of the bathroom, we were confronted with our self-proclaimed feminist heroes from pop culture. On the walls hung pictures of Tina Fey, Condoleezza Rice, Beyonce, Anyanka (BUT WHY) and other Straw Feminists. Is nothing sacred to you, Killjoy?!
We next entered a series of rooms that were too dark for pictures. WHEN WILL THE TORTURE STOP?! I’D RATHER DIE!! We traveled from room to room while Marge walked us through a historical timeline of activism in the LGBT community.
We reached the end of our journey and I foolish enough to believe the terror had stopped. Then we entered a stark white room filled with unspeakable torture: The Processing Room.
I was horrified. I had rushed through the haunted house in the same way I rushed through this article: sloppily with an intense need to hide how unaware I was of the knowledge behind the humor of this house.
Through each room, I had sped to the back of the group so I wouldn’t be called out by Marge (like the guy in the Teenage Jesus tee- one of two men in The Hell Word). With every new chamber, I was trying to make a mental note to look this shit up later because I understood so little.
I sat in the processing room and was asked my name, pronoun and a word that I had taken from my experience in Killjoy’s Kastle. I was sniffed out to go first; I had interpreted the question to mean “a word I saw in the Kastle” so I panicked and said OPPRESSION. After which some lady to my left said “topical” loudly enough for the lesbian folk singer to hear.
The people who followed me were a miraculous mix of “they”s, “hym“s and even a man who had the word “Maude” for every one of his answers. People threw out words like “hysterical” “journey” and “memories” to describe a word that came to mind when they were in the Kastle (stupid Carly, stupid!). Even Teenage Jesus gave a heartfelt answer about how walking through each room reminded him of a different piece of his coming-out experience.
I was freaking. Everyone had seen through me. Everyone knew I was a big phony who didn’t belong there and who didn’t know anything about being a feminist.
Suddenly the depth of this this experience was dawning on me- I was being confronted with the issue that this haunted house was all about: people who have strong opinions are scary to those who don’t understand those opinions.
Yes, I was leagues behind the group when it came to comprehension- but i was here, wasn’t I? I had walked into an experience that was uncomfortable to me and tried to be part of it, didn’t I? In the end, wasn’t this house all about understanding stereotypes, learning history, and laughing at yourself?
Suddenly the door to feminism had opened to me: Have an educated opinion- and try to educate others without taking yourself too seriously. Fuck, I can do that!! Praise Goddess!!
Still shaken up by my look in the face of my own shame, I left the Kastle feeling jazzed up on the artfulness of the experience: how well made each room was, how tight all of the jokes were, and the mirror it held up to everyone who wanted to be there.
Then suddenly, I let out a Halloweeny shout of HORRRRROORRRR! How would I be able tell my dozens of adoring readers to go to this haunted happening before it was gone?! I wasn’t planning on posting until today, so I took it upon myself to post on Carly Come Lately’s Facebook page, urging folks to check it out before it ended.
I hate to lift the veil on my desperation- but sometimes I use Facebook Ads to throw my posts onto people’s feeds who don’t know Carly IRL. When I went to pay good money (5 whole $, USD!) to boost this ad to people in the LGBT community in LA, I received the shock of my first denial!
Facebook DENIED my Ad! BECAUSE OF LANGUAGE! Do you know how much I swear? In every post, and CERTAINLY in headlines I’ve boosted before! Why was Facebook shutting down my fun when it counted most!
I was denied in the face of telling LGBTs about LGBT shit. And now I’m publicly huffy about it. Could it be that I left Killjoy’s Kastle a little more outspoken than I was when I entered? I’M PISSED AND PROUD, FOLKS!
To recommend a closed event is a hard sell. But perhaps I am trying to recommend getting out of your comfort zone every once in a while- especially when you’re scared you won’t fit in. You’re a faddist, you fit in wherever you damn well please.