The People Who Scare People For a Living

Haunted houses are bigger than ever. There are more than 1200 professional haunted attractions in the U.S., many of them running all year long. The people that work at these "haunts" are dedicated to their craft, so they come together of the annual HAuNTcon, the Haunted Attraction National Tradeshow & Convention. It's held in a different city each year, in late January or early February. There are seminars and classes on fright acting, props, makeup, and setting up a business. There are all kinds of weird things for sale. There's a costume ball, tours of nearby haunted attractions, and a chance to show off what you can do. Leonard Pickel, founder of HAuNTcon, says the people who come are a close-knit group.

“You would think they’re creepy, but haunted house people are the best people on Earth. We get all our frustrations out scaring the crap out of other people,” Pickel said.

To Leonard, the warmth that permeates HAuNTcon is consistent with the very nature of haunting, which—while antisocial on the surface—is fundamentally about forming a connection. “When you scare somebody, they get an adrenaline rush. But you get an adrenaline rush, too. It’s symbiotic.”

Read about HAuNTcon and the people who attend each year at Fusion.

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