Saturday, Sept. 30, marked the 25th time House of Shock has opened their spooky doors to the public. This New Orleans-based haunted house has been a leading Halloween attraction throughout the ups and downs of the past two decades. This year is special on many fronts: not only will the company be celebrating their 25th anniversary, but the Halloween deities blessed them by granting them a Friday the 13th birthday.

Ross Karpelman, House of Shock founder, notes, “We’re humbled by our 25th birthday. The House of Shock has been a long-time favorite—in a city that truly does Halloween like no other. We’ll be going all-out for our anniversary—bigger and more twisted than ever, and per usual, all made possible by the passion of our House of Shock family.”

Make-up artist Emily Bufford has been a part of the House of Shock family since 2005. Make-Up Artist was lucky to discuss with Bufford her experience with House of Shock, her make-ups and what scared-alicious attendees should look forward to this year:

MA: How did you get involved with House of Shock?

Emily: I have been involved with (obsessed with?) haunted houses my whole life, and entered that world professionally in 2001. I began working with House of Shock in 2005, pre-Hurricane Katrina, and jumped up to full time in 2007, primarily as a make-up artist but also on the construction and tech teams. I’ve worked for three haunted houses the past 16 years; my longest stint has been with House of Shock.

I began doing make-up for them in 2007 when I simply showed up with my kit and offered my services to the actors. I was outside hooked up to my own compressor with one table, ready to roll. It became obvious in the first year I needed a more permanent space, so I was moved to the work area inside the house in 2008. The owners saw my potential, and moved me into a full-sized 18-wheeler trailer of my own soon enough. I am so busy that lines began to form, so I now run on a take-a-number system. I airbrush about eight people at a time in my trailer now, working in an assembly line manner.

MA: What is your favorite part about doing make-up for this event?

Emily: I love joking with and entertaining the actors who come into my make-up trailer, trying to get them pumped up and energetic for the scares! My Bluetooth radio is constantly pumping out spooky songs. House of Shock is always generous with my make-up needs; I get all the supplies I need to make normal folks into twisted characters. We are a family, and it thrills me that I get to be one of the artists that helps our cast ready themselves for the haunt.

MA: Tell us about the make-ups you will be doing.

Emily: I really love doing the clown make-up for the Laff in the Dark exhibit because the blacklight/3-D effects are fun to play with as an artist. I also have an army of stencils, from fanged teeth to skeleton bones and occult symbols. The newest exhibit in the haunted house, The House of Wax—a tribute to New Orleans’ own macabre history—is going to be particularly challenging and awesome! I plan to utilize clay facemasks and pounds of make-up to give the actors that not-really-alive look to their faces and bodies.

MA: Will you be using tried and true techniques or will you try new things/using new make-up this year?

Emily: I’m a speed make-up artist, using four airbrushes to paint up to 50 actors in two hours. Tried and true techniques are my best friend! Yet, with the House of Wax I’ll have to get creative with layers and materials to achieve the right look. A few of the other artists and I will get together to try out techniques for this new area before the haunted house goes live.

MA: What is your background in make-up?

Emily: I am completely self-taught, well before the days of YouTube and video tutorials. When I received my first eye shadow palette at about 13, I immediately began using it to make bruises and wounds. By the time I entered the world of haunted houses at 16, I knew I’d found home. I’m 32 now, and my talent is doing make-up with speed and efficiency. We have a lot of actors, and they all need to look great, so I put a fire under my butt to get ‘em done!

MA: What is your personal favorite aspect or make-up at House of Shock?

Emily: My favorite part, and the reason I really do it, is to support the family of actors and actresses inside the haunt. Seeing the satisfaction on their freshly gorified faces and knowing I’ve just gotten them into the right head space to scare is all worth it. They are my friends, my family, and I’m there to support them by transforming them into monsters.


For more information on the House of Shock visit www.houseofshock.