(subtitle: Hey you! Get out of my clubhouse!)
I suppose it's not unique to the world of haunting, this desire for a measuring stick to use to decide who does and does not belong to the club - but man, does it ever annoy me.
A bit of history:
In 1998, a roomful of people from varied areas of the haunted attraction industry gathered together to discuss whether or not our industry would benefit from the creation of an association. The answer was, 'Yes.'
Who should belong?
The answer was, 'Everyone.'
I helped create that association, taking on the role of the non-owner. It started a mostly-continuous tradition of the secretary of the group not owning a haunted attraction. Which meant the secretary had time to focus on the association's business while the other board members were focusing on their haunt business. It also meant that our intent to include everyone was being met in some pretty obvious ways.
And the fighting about that intent started - well, not perhaps on Day One, but certainly by Day Two. Or so it felt.
I've been involved in the haunted attraction industry for nearly 20 years. Pretty much the only thing I've not done has been to own my own show. And there are still people, to this day, that have the audacity to claim I'm not a haunter.
Honestly? That doesn't phase me in the least.
What bothers me is that people have this need to kick each other out of the clubhouse - to look around and say, 'Well, you don't count as much as I do because (fill in the ridiculous blank).'
And the people that yell that the loudest are, more often than not, folks that don't measure up against other haunters' measuring sticks.
It's all very silly.
If you touch the haunted attraction industry? You're a haunter.
If you can walk past a pile of plywood and paint and find yourself wishing it was October - if you look at a ceiling and think 'man, it just needs some camo netting..' - if you walk past a plunger in a store and think 'wow that would make a GREAT prop' - if you're watching 'Face Off' and itching to see if you can recreate those looks..or do better - if you're walking through a thrift store buying clothing you don't need for actors you don't have (yet) - - if you pass by an empty building and your first thought is, 'that would be a GREAT spot for a haunted house!' - if you're thinking, right now, about how friggin' cool it is to scare a football player in front of his girlfriend - you're a haunter.
And that spooky clubhouse is big enough for all of us.