KillJoy's Kastle, A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House, Opens Tonight In WeHo
Tonight in West Hollywood, a new haunt will open that's unlike any other this season. KillJoy's Kastle is a lesbian feminist haunted house, imbued with as much tongue-in-cheek humor as horror. KillJoy's Kastle can be found in Plummer Park in West Hollywood. Guests will wind through a dimly lit maze full of somewhat 'spooky' denizens, but this isn't really a haunted house. For one, there's a lot of humor inside, and for another, it's more of an art piece, with handmade sets, and space to pause for introspection. For artists Allyson Mitchell and Deirdre Logue, this is the Kastle's second run after a go in Toronto in 2013, where the artists are from and where they run Feminist Art Gallery.
The inspiration for KillJoy, and often the more typical Halloween haunts we've come to enjoy in October, comes from Hell Houses. Hell Houses are horror shows put on by typically Christian organizations meant to scare those who dare go through them into a virtuous life. Here, abortions cause you to wildly hemorrhage to death, being gay results in immediate death or disastrous self-harm, and drinking a beer at a party will lead to you being trafficked. And, then, of course, Hell. The most famous Hell House is probably the one put on by Cedar Hill Trinity Church in Cedar Hill Texas, as it was featured in the 2001 documentary Hell House.
At the end of Hell Houses, guests pray for their immortal soul. At the end of KillJoy's Kastle, you logically discuss your thoughts and reflect on what you've seen. And instead of, well, demonizing queer culture, KillJoy explores the stereotypes with a wide grin, proving that there's really nothing to fear at all. All genders are welcome here and there aren't abrasive political messages without a side of fun. Production manager Sarah Westlake describes Killjoy as also "whimsical, scary, funny and satirical." The haunt is "meant to poke fun at the stereotypes of monstrosities of queerness as well as exorcise some of the real demons of lesbian feminist herstories," Westlake said. "The space is a transinclusive, antiracist, sex positive one and our impact on our communities is very important to us."
We stopped by KillJoy's a few weeks ago, as it was still being put together. Walking through the grounds, Mitchell explained that you begin in a courtyard where zombie folk singers will entertain you as you mill about. Eventually, your tour guide emerges—she's a women's studies professor who will lead you through the Kastle. You'll encounter the "daddy room," where the treacherous (or perhaps not-so-treacherous) butch can be found, imprisoned by moralists. You'll pass through a graveyard of queer ideas—some great, some not so great—that have gone six feet under. You'll wind through webs only to brush against the three-headed Internet Troll, some very open-minded grannies and a gaggle of Riot Ghouls. Every room is done in a crafty style, with hand-made props—crocheted, paper mache'd, rug-hooked—in favor of store-bought skeletons and cheap scares. The venue, too, is perfect in that you wind through both indoor and outdoor spaces, never too static.
Guests can mingle in the courtyard to be entertained by the zombie lesbian folk singers and chat with others after the walkthrough, as well as peruse the goods at the boutique put together by Otherwild.
There will also be a closing party at Grand Star Jazz Club in Chinatown on the 30th.
KillJoy's Kastle located in Plummer Park's Long Hall at 7377 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood. It opens tonight at 5:30 p.m. and runs until 9:30 p.m. Performances will also occur on October 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29 and 30 fro 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.. It's FREE.