This article originally appeared on VICE Spain.
Sergio Moral has been in the business of scaring people for 16 years. He spends his days terrorising visitors in haunted houses, escape rooms and, really, any event where people need to have the shit scared out of them.
He also gives back to the horror community, acting as a "scare consultant" for people who want to learn how to make kids cry. I asked Moral what it's like to be on the other side of the scream.
VICE: How did you start your career as a scarer?
Sergio Moral: One day I went to the haunted house inside the Parque de Atracciones de Madrid (Amusement Park of Madrid). That place has always fascinated me – I’d always wait to see how people looked when they came out. As a horror aficionado, my dream was to play one of the characters of the show, so I asked the staff what they were looking for in a scare actor. The manager said he needed to fill a position and interviewed me right there and then. I started working there the following week, thinking that it would be temporary, and can you believe it? It’s been 16 years.
What are your favourite characters you’ve played?
I’ve impersonated many characters – madmen, doctors, zombies, hunchbacks, monks, killer clowns, housekeepers – but I have to say: nothing frightens people more than a classic Freddy Krueger or a possessed girl.
Have you ever lost your voice from screaming?
On my first day, I lost my voice only ten minutes in – no joke. You have to look after your voice and your energy levels.
What’s your secret for scaring people?
Don’t underestimate the power of suggestion. It’s what people can’t see, what they can only imagine, that scares them the most. With the right decor, unsettling noises and immersive storytelling, you can’t go wrong.
Is there a type of person who gets scared more than others?
Fear and paranoia don’t discriminate. Some people act cocky but don’t fool anyone. Sometimes teenagers come in already in a panic, but there are also huge guys who get easily paranoid and have quite a bad time.
What’s the most extreme reaction you’ve seen?
I’ve witnessed more than one person faint, many panic attacks and violent reactions, but the most shocking is when someone wets themselves. That’s a victory for me. Making someone faint or wet themselves means I have done my job well.
What are the best and worst things about your job?
The best things are that you’re doing something that you’re passionate about, you play a different person every day, you have an audience who come to see you and sometimes you get compliments or an applause. It’s very gratifying.
The worst are, well, you spend a lot of time in the dark and sometimes it gets really hot. Depending on the character you’re playing, things can get dull after a while. You also need to work bank holidays.
Does it pay well?
It depends. At a private event in Madrid, you can make between €150 and €200 for a couple of hours’ work. But at amusement parks, you only get between €4 and €9 an hour.
Do you believe in ghosts?
I try to be objective, but I do believe that there could be something out there. I’m sure that if a medium came to one of our haunted houses they’d go mad. I think haunted houses are a great place to contact the other side.