An actress working in a Halloween attraction in Singapore has spoken out against the mistreatment of her fellow actors and actresses by guests.
This morning, Today released an article talking about the appalling treatment of scare actors and actresses in the annual Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. Several of the actors spoke up about how they’ve been roughly treated by guests, to the extent of being pushed around and groped by guests, leaving them feeling “violated”.
“I was standing at my position and different people poked my clown nose, touched my hair, my face, my chest, my shoulder … They tossed the props around, slamming it into me. And then they came nearer and brushed past me again,” a scare actress wrote in a viral Facebook post on Sunday. “We put in so much effort for a good performance, only to be molested by people, touching scare actors everywhere.”
That Facebook post was taken down on Wednesday afternoon, but another actress has now spoken up, in response to the same Today article that was reposted by AWARE Singapore. Actress Vanessa Victoria wrote on her Facebook page:
“Now that i am no longer contracted it should be safe to talk about this.
The incident from last year mentioned in the article happened to my co-actor and i, and it was not the worst behaviour from guests we had to endure. We have had our eyes poked through the eye-holes of our masks, our costumes grabbed in an effort to remove them, we have been shoved backwards, slapped, we have had guests deliberately stop in front of us for long periods just to taunt, shout at and physically intimidate us, we have been hit with souvenirs guests had bought from the park including wands, light sticks and canes, and the icing on the cake was when a guest pulled out a LIGHTER on my set which was ENTIRELY MADE OF NEWSPAPER.
The ‘incident’ mentioned in her post was one recounted in the article by Min, a 20-year-old crew member who was interviewed by TODAY, where a female performer was kicked in the crotch and punched by a male guest.
“The experiences I wrote about happened at last year’s Halloween Horror Nights,” said Vanessa to Vulcan Post, when asked about the incident. “It was not the first time i have worked at USS but it was the first time I was casted inside a haunted house as opposed to being casted as a roving character.”
Her Facebook post went on to talk about the measures taken after she had spoken to management about the incident, and what she believed was the reasons for these incidences happening.
Despite constant reassurance that copious amounts of fire-retardant had been applied to our set (and costumes), i decided not to go back on set until something was done. Needless to say we raised hell internally, filing AT LEAST two incident reports per shift and speaking to our director, SM and crew at every opportunity. We did manage to come to an agreement towards the end of the night when, after sitting out many sets, a crew member was finally placed in our room close to us to ensure our safety. It really was that simple and that was all we wanted.
I am a performer by profession and I know that the company I am contracted under is obliged to provide for my safety and protection while I am at work. The issue (amongst many) is that many of the scare actors hired by USS are not professional performers and are unclear on their rights as actors, therefore do not see it as their perogative to be as enraged. I found myself having to tell many other actors that being hit or taunted is NOT part of the job of a performer, haunted house or not. You did not ‘ask for it’ neither is it ‘expected’ just because you work as a scare actor. It is the responsibility of the guests to understand that scare actors, are PEOPLE working to provide a service as entertainers, and it is the responsibility of the company to ensure that unfortunate incidents are prevented to the best of their ability. It was defintely not their best last year.
Above all that, i would also like to identify the following issues as the main reasons why the abuse of scare actors occur:
- Dehumanisation (when actors are dressed in costumes that are entirely covered, or play non-humanoid characters, people choose to ignore the fact that beneath the costumes are actual people),
- Abuse of power (guests know that actors are, by contract, not allowed to retaliate)
- ‘Inconsequential’ actions (guests are in a dark room where perceivably no one can see them, real world punishment for abuse does not exist etc)
With this, i would like to remind haunted house guests of their responsibility to be aware of their actions and to understand that beneath all the costume and makeup, actors are people with feelings too.
You attended the event in the name of fun, and these people are there working to ensure you have a good time. Stop being such a*******.”
According to the Today article, a Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) spokesperson had said that “The safety of our guests and performers is of utmost importance to us. There is a no-contact rule and we have measures in place to ensure the safety and well-being of both our guests and performers. Our performers receive dedicated training on this as well.”
However, as we can see in Vanessa’s post, there is still a need for guests to have basic consideration for the actors and actresses who make popular Halloween attractions like this possible. No matter how much makeup or how elaborate the costumes are, these actors and actresses are at the end of the day still human. If we can remember that despite our enjoyment and fear, there shouldn’t be a need to station crew around to protect actors – because doesn’t that bring down the scare factor a notch?
So when you and your friends are enjoying your fright nights and haunted houses, remember that even though its Halloween, it is not and will never be an excuse for lacking basic human decency.
Editor’s Note: Screenshot of the mentioned Facebook post has been removed upon the owner’s request.