Zombie-fied by Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream make-up artist

I woke up feeling restless yet excited about the day ahead. I had been granted permission to venture behind the scenes at Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream for a story I wrote for Daily Loaf detailing my impressions of the theme park's monsters come to life.

Travis Claytor, head of media relations, had been more than accommodating setting up my meeting with Creative Director Scott Swenson ... but I should have known then that something was wrong.

Upon arriving I was warmly greeted and lured into a conversation about the popular AMC TV show The Walking Dead. Clayton explained to me that he believed that last season was focused more on the human side of interpersonal relationships and less on the aspects of the zombies on the show. However this year Clayton believes the zombies will be making a comeback stronger than ever.

Scott Swenson came to life light once he knew I was willing to allow him to have his way with me, my face was his canvas and he was my Picasso. Swenson was kind enough to walk me thru the process of making Howl-O-Scream the horror that guest see every night. But it would be a grave injustice to share such secrets, for if I did I might never get the cure to my new found zombie like affliction.

Surprisingly while sitting in the makeup chair I wasn’t nervous at all, Swenson is very charismatic. If fact he said he loved working on people of color because there is so much that can be done. The makeup blends a bit easier and the contrast in colors shows up very well. With every progression that was taken in the artwork that was my face I grown slightly a bit more excited to see the finished product. We wanted to go for realistic and not scary.

By the time Swenson was done with me I no longer recognized who I was.

There was also this growing insensible hungry. I was released from my captive chair, the confines of Busch Gardens and set to roam the Tampa streets free. My first stop was to see my mother. She and her co-workers were horrified to see what had become of me. As I walked through the building, I noticed how people had to at least do a double-take to let the change really sink in.

“What happened to you,” she asked.

She kept her distance, but you could tell that she wanted to get a closer look. I watched her look over the new features of my face; I noticed she soon packed up her belongings and left the building. A few people were bold enough to touch my face, but they were extremely squeamish about doing it.

I egged them on: "Don’t be afraid I won’t bite …"

Clayton was right, Zombies would be back this year, but who knew I would join the ranks.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles

Newsletters

Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.