My Freakling Brothers “Victim Experience” Experience
As I’m writing this, the other half of My Haunt Life is getting mentally prepared to go through The Victim Experience. Unfortunately, due to our schedules, we couldn’t be there for one another. I went on Friday night and am proud to say that I survived AND was the first survivor of this year. As of right now, the My Haunt Life crew (Russell and myself) have been the ONLY people who have successfully made it through The Victim Experience twice. He’s going for number 3 tonight. Fingers crossed! We believe in you!
Also, we’re going to skip the usual review format (where we both comment in the same review) for this. This is such a personal experience, that I feel that they should be separate reviews. If Russell is up to it, he can share his experience once it’s over.
How can you possibly put into words what an experience like this is? Sure it would be easy to give a play by play of my experience, but that would ruin the mystery/urban legends of the show and, on top of that, would be incredibly disrespectful to the Freakling Brothers crew and what they’ve created. So that is not going to happen.
I first did The Victim Experience last year. I had been getting more and more into extreme haunts and after hearing JT speak about it on the Extreme Haunts Panel at the 2013 Scare LA, I knew I had to at least try it. How could I not when these are the rules on the website?
- Must be 18 or over with valid ID. No exceptions.
- Must be in good physical shape.
- Must be prepared to experience various forms of psychological, emotional, and sensory torture with ZERO retaliation.
- Must be prepared for separation from your group.
- Must be prepared for simulated criminal sexual behavior and harassment.
- No hats, glasses, or pacemakers.
- Must be prepared for clothing to be damaged and/or removed.
- Must be prepared to experience verbal abuse, humiliation, and extreme language.
- No weapons.
- No Refunds.
- Must arrive on time.
- The safe word is “PURGATORY,” this is your only escape from the experience.
I really wanted to do it the that first year, but due to vacation travel plans, I just couldn’t make any dates work. I had to wait until March for the off season. Unfortunately, that got cancelled and I had to wait another 7 months to get my chance. Finally October 2014 came and I was pumped and nervous and scared and about a million other emotions.
Walking up to the Freakling Brothers haunts, I felt like a wide eyed kid at a toy store. The haunts reminded me of the old school haunted houses that happened at the state fairs I was used to as a kid. I loved them all instantly….and I never even went inside yet! I went over to Gates of Hell and met the other Victims for the night. We all had great conversations and really hit it off. Actually, one of them is now a really good and close friend (more on that later).
The time came for orientation. JT took us back to a trailer and spoke to all of us. There was small chit chat about who we were and where we were from and then he gave us the waiver. He gave us a pep talk and then led us out. Then he let us all know that The Victim Experience has begun. From the moment those words were said, to the time you are done (from either calling Purgatory or surviving), it is a non stop mental and physical journey.
What happens inside is only known to the staff/actors and the people who go through. Even though I went through last year. I was still surprised this year by new things. They are always changing and tweaking things to make it more of an experience and to make weirdos like me have a reason to come back. I will say, that what happens inside has been the toughest thing I have ever done, but finishing it, is one of the best feelings in the world. Obviously I’m not a woman and can’t give birth, but I would compare The Victim Experience to giving birth. What I mean is, you go through the toughest mental and physical pain, but the payoff is so worth it. Granted, finishing The Victim Experience doesn’t give you offspring (maybe in a future one it will though haha), but the feeling it gives you is incredible. Right now, I’m still on my high of finishing for the second time and feel like I can do anything in the world right now. My head is held higher and there’s a certain way about me now that I can’t really describe.
Going through this the second time was SO MUCH WORSE for me than last year. Part of the reason is, in the first year, you have no idea what to expect, so that makes it easier. When you know what’s coming, you have so much dread and fear and anxiety about what’s coming….and it WILL mess with you. On top of that, the little changes they made to the scenes that stayed in made those scenes even worse for me. They amped their game up even more and that’s saying a lot.
On Friday night, I was one of 4 survivors. There were 6 people total going through and none of them were Vegas natives, which I found really interesting. There was a girl who lives in Kuwait, a girl from Germany, a guy from DC, another from Salt Lake City, and then a girl who just moved to Vegas from Portland. It just goes to show you that when you build something like this, people WILL travel for it. Things like this are so few and far between, and you will attract the enthusiasts from all over.
I went back on Saturday night for support for one of my good friends that went through. I saw a couple familiar faces from last year! Two of the people that went through The Victim Experience with me last year and survived were there (which by the way, if you’re reading this, message me! I forgot to exchange info with you) When you go through situations like this, you’ll have a lifetime instant friendship because they “get it” and no one else really will. On Saturday night, zero people made it through. No survivors. It was surreal being on the audience side of this. It was my first time being there to watch.
I was extremely lucky to have a support system in place. Last year Debbie was there for me, waiting for me to finish and this year she returned as well as my friend Jason (whom I met last year doing Victim). Having familiar faces waiting for you when you get out helps so much. I have to give a shout out to Jason and Debbie for waiting for me. It started pouring out and they still hung out and waited and knowing they stayed made everything that much better for me. When I finished, coming out of The Victim Experience and seeing their smiling faces and seeing them clap and cheer is the cherry on top. Knowing I made my friends proud is the icing on the cake.
I also want to give HUGE kudos to everyone at Freakling Brothers, especially those who work in and with The Victim Experience. This is something people need to understand….this is not something that is easy for the actors either. There are scenes in there that show really crappy people, but being acted by really good people…and it’s tough for them. I’ve had a couple conversations where they have told me that it messes with them sometimes because of what they have to do. They will mess with you, say things to you, but deep down it’s to pump you up and motivate you to prove them wrong (which worked REALLY well for me, right Pope?) They are all trained to make you feel like you’re in danger and going to die, but you ARE safe. It goes to show that they know what they are doing. Because of this, I 100% trust them with my life in their, literal, hands.
Another part that is awesome about this experience is that most of the actors and staff will hang out and watch. If you call Purgatory, they are there for support and make you feel so welcome. Same thing if you make it. A huge round of applause. They know what happens in there and just by signing up, you have so much respect from the crew. Every single person involved in this wants you to make it through. They won’t make it easy for you, but they all want you to succeed. Keep that in mind when you’re thinking about doing this.
It’s also not easy for your friends that go. When you have someone you care about going through, knowing they will be in very unpleasant situations, it messes with you. I know Debbie got very emotional and when I went back to support my friend going through Saturday night, I got emotional when he was going in. If you decide to go through, definitely have someone there for you and make sure you let them know that you will be ok, even if it doesn’t sound like it. Easier said than done though.
The Victim Experience is not for everyone. It’s a personal journey to test and push your limits…and boy, will they be pushed. If you are interested in trying this, here are a few tips I think will help:
1) Know what you’re getting into. You have to really understand what this is and what it’s about. This is not just a haunted house, but more of a role playing scenario where you are a victim.
2) Really role play the victim. When you’re inside, it will make things easier if you play along. Once you’re in the mindset, I feel it’s easier to “go with the flow”.
3) Have a support system/group – whether you make it or not, having friends there will mean everything once you’re out. You’ll need that shoulder to cry on or person to just hug without saying any words.
4) Know your limits and what you can handle. If you go through Gates of Hell and freak out, then this isn’t for you. Don’t do this to act tough for your friends. Do this for yourself.
5) Have complete trust in the staff. You have to trust the staff due to what happens inside. If you don’t trust the staff, you will mentally be broken and you can’t be broken to survive.
6) Realize it’s not fun. This is not fun. It’s not. Not. At. All.
7) Listen to JT and read the waiver. JT is the co-owner of Freakling Brothers and the brainchild behind this and he will give you advice. Listen to every word he says. Read the waiver. Everything that happens inside is listed in the waiver. You won’t know how they happen, but you can at least start to mentally prepare for it.
8) Remember they want you to make it. They do. They will make it really tough on you, but deep down, they all want you to make it.
These are the tips that have really helped me. If you do attempt this, I wish you the best of luck!
For more information on Freakling Brothers and The Victim Experience, please check out the links below.