Secret voodoo makeup magic 13th gate
Secret voodoo makeup magic 13th gate
Explore the Secret Voodoo Makeup Magic at The 13th Gate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
This article has been shared from Louisville Halloween’s Phantom Gazette.
We interview The 13th Gate’s Makeup Witch Doctor, Blain Quam, to get a behind-the-screams look at the sinister southern culture that haunts both The 13th Gate and Necropolis 13
Lording over the makeup room at The 13th Gate like some ancient Voodoo King, Blain Quam is celebrating 19 years working with Midnight Productions, one of the largest and most successful haunted attraction companies in the country, located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Quam sits upon a literal throne, an over-sized electric chair, in The 13th Gate’s makeup room where his crew of approximately eleven makeup artists and four hair stylists conjure elaborate character designs for up to 150 actors per night for both the centerpiece attraction and the latest above ground cemetery attraction, Necropolis 13.
Quam doesn’t scamper about applying makeup to his actors. They come to his electric throne and sit before the Voodoo King of Haunt Makeup.
As a military brat with a father in the Air Force, Quam credits his dad with instilling a love for Halloween and horror into his life. “Dad could have been an artist if he wanted to,” admits Quam as he describes the elaborate detail his father would put into creating his childhood Halloween costumes.
“Around 1971 or 72, they had an all-night horror movie thing at the drive-in,” relates Quam. “My mom and sister were going on a Girl Scout campout thing, and dad and I had the house to ourselves. He asked me what I wanted to do, and I said, ‘I want to go to the scary movies!’.”
It was the original “Tales from the Crypt” (1972) that scared Quam so badly that he doesn’t even remember any of the movies that played before it during the all-night marathon. “I told my dad I was pretty tired and ready to go home because I didn’t have the balls to tell him I was scared shitless!”
Quam credits his first experiments with makeup to a product called Scar Stuff made by a company called Imagineering, the creators of the legendary Vampire Blood and Evil Teeth. “Mom freaked out and wanted to take me to the doctor’s to get stitches, and that was it. I was hooked.”
After spending years mastering the airbrush and experimenting with other mediums, Quam had a chance encounter with young haunter and 13th Gate founder, Dwayne Sanburn, who he describes as “looking like he was 12 years old.”
“I was doing airbrush t-shirts at the mall for Christmas when Dwayne found me,” says Quam. “He threw a bunch of numbers at me about how he had 18,000 square feet he was using for a haunted house and how he was getting twenty to twenty five thousand people coming through his house. I was thinking, ‘Do you think I just fell off the turnip truck or something? Do you know how big 18,000 square foot is,’?”
“Now we have two 40,000 square foot haunted houses and attendance numbers I could have never dreamed of,” admits Quam, who now works at the attraction full time year round.
The 13th Gate takes guests through thirteen levels of horrific hell-scapes including a putrid swamp, a Prehistoric ice cave with a full size Woolly Mammoth (“He farts,” promises Quam), a tour through Jack the Ripper’s city of White Chapel and a treacherous trip across a rickety bridge over two to three hundred live snakes.
There are live rats too. When I ask Quam where they put the rats, he responds, “On a girl.”
Just across the street looms The 13th Gate’s latest attraction, Necropolis 13, a New Orleans style above ground cemetery composed of four hundred crypts made of real mortar & stone that takes up an entire city block. The journey begins with a descent down 13 steps into a dark underground labyrinth of catacombs that you must explore before you attempt to escape the crumbling crypts above.
The full 13th Gate experience also includes nightly Voodoo shows and six different, one hour Escape Rooms.
Of the approximately 200 actors that occupy both attractions each night, about fifty use high quality silicon or latex masks, and the rest are destined to spend time in the makeup chairs of Blain Quam and his staff. Quam says he uses about 90% airbrush to get the detail he’s looking for in the time frame required to pull off the haunt every night, but he has staff members who specialize in prosthetic makeups and traditional off the shelf makeup kits.
“I don’t recommend any brands because I don’t want anybody to think that’s what they’ve got to use,” says Quam. “I tell all my makeup people that I get my stuff from Walmart, Ulta or some guy on the sidewalk. I don’t care. If I see a different color I like and it works, I’ll get it.”
“I use black lipstick for filling in wounds and stuff like that,” he continues. “A lot of people go to a lot of trouble for stuff that isn’t that crucial to a haunt. You don’t have 600.000 watts of light and a camera two feet away from your actors like you do for a film.”
The 13th Gate is consistently rated one of the best haunted attractions in the country and over the last five years has been ranked in the Top Five haunts by just about every media outlet that keeps score. If you find yourself in the Baton Rouge area during the haunt season, this is one attraction you shouldn’t dare miss!
About the Author
The Phantom of the Ville haunts the alleyways and backroads of Louisville, KY, seeking urban legends, unusal landmarks, haunted mansions, spooky movies, haunted attractions and general Halloween-esque fun to point out to his readers.
Have you visited The 13th Gate, Necropolis 13 or have a cool makeup story of your own? Tell us about it in the comments below!