Josh Randall, Creative Director / Co-Founder Blackout Haunted House, NYC & L.A. – A graduate of New York University, Josh has produced almost 30 theatrical productions in New York City, and has had a diverse career as an arts administrator working as the Director of Programming at One On One NYC, a Stage Manager for the NY Times Travel Show at the Jacob Javits Center, and as the Producing Artistic Director of the Vortex Theater Company. In 2009, Josh created the BLACKOUT Haunted House with his partner Kris Thor, which is now running in both New York and Los Angeles.
1. How did you come up with the idea for Blackout?
My partner and I had been working together for many years in the theater, and we both love haunted houses and scary movies. One day we had the idea to create a new kind of event that re-conceptualized the traditional haunted house experience into something that was actually scary. It was rare for us to have genuinely frightening experiences within an old-school haunted house and we thought we’d take a stab at creating something different.
2. What goes into creating Blackout?
I don’t even know where to begin. Generally the biggest factors for the production are the staff and the location. After that, everything else sort of falls into place.
3. Is Blackout in LA the same as New York?
We’re creating a new show for Los Angeles that will have some new material and may re-visit some of the characters and rooms from NYC. No matter where we are, the shows change based on the location so by default this LA show will be a brand new experience.
4. What demographic do you target?
Blackout crosses almost every demographic line. Our audiences are generally brave and adventurous people who seek something intense and new. Other than that, it’s hard to pin down the crowd.
5. What type of people go to Blackout?
6. How does Blackout differ from other R rated haunt attractions?
Are there other R-rated attractions? I can’t really speak to it, I just know from the response that we’ve had that somehow Blackout has touched a nerve with many people and given them something they can’t seem to find anywhere else. Probably the biggest thing that separates us is that we make everyone go through alone. It completely changes the game in every single way and takes everything to a whole new level. I’m sure there are other factors as well but that seems to be the big one.
7. What scene from last year did most people need to scream SAFETY?
unfortunately, we won’t reveal that. and even if we did, it’s different for every person so it’s rare to have one room cause the most harm.
8. Have their ever been any negative results from someone going through Blackout?
Do panic attacks, seizures, or post-traumatic stress disorder count?
9. Some reviews have stated that Blackout is unclean or unsanitary. What do you say to those people?
We won’t reveal how we do what we do and what happens when the lights are on, but we can easily say that it is a sanitary experience and we take every precaution that we can to create an environment that feels as dangerous and dirty as can be without actually crossing the line into something illegal or unsanitary.
10. Why do people need to sign a waiver?
Blackout isn’t a joke and there are certain things that people expose themselves to and we just need to make sure that they are aware of what’s happening before they go in.
11. Some people said that since they signed a waiver Blackout should push the limits even further. How far can you go?
I’m pretty sure that we can’t go much farther without doing something that is illegal. Every audience member is different – so many people marvel and are terrified but how far we go, and then there are others who say we don’t go far enough. Keeping within everyone’s legal rights, I think we go as far as we can.
12. How do you plan to continue to raise the bar each year?
Well, of course I can’t answer that, can I? You’ll just have to come in next year and see. I can say, however, that next year will be like nothing we’ve done or seen before and the whole Blackout team is already excited for how it turns out.
13. Some say they liked Blackout, but it was too short. Have you expanded since last year? Without giving it away, what new things can visitors expect to experience?
Again, we won’t talk about what happens inside the house, however the issue of length is always a strong point. Blackout started four years ago as a 9-minute experience. We now average between 25-30 minutes per person. In terms of haunted houses, I think that’s a pretty good length. However, if we could, we’d always like to see it go longer but there are certain difficulties in executing that. Also, I think the fact that you are alone and the personalized attention you’re getting from the actors makes up for most of that.
14. Is Blackout here to stay in LA?
We certainly hope so.