Patrick Konopelski wants to scare people while they’re in their most vulnerable state: in the nude.
“We created the Naked and Scared Challenge, where adults could go through a haunted house either totally nude or prude—with their underwear—and experience a very, very scary haunted house where you have no defenses and you’re really vulnerable. We had a lot of fun creating what we feel is probably one of the scariest haunted houses we’ve ever done,” Shocktoberfest founder Patrick Konopelski said.
But municipal officials and one hotel manager in southeastern Pennsylvania aren’t as fond of the idea as he is.
The annual haunted house attraction Shocktoberfest extends across two Berks County municipalities, Spring Township and Sinking Spring borough. According to Konopelski, Sinking Spring contacted him earlier this week and expressed their concern with the Naked and Scared Challenge, citing their decision to withdraw a permit for the event if the nude option was allowed.
Konopelski says he’s sure that having the attraction is legal, but he didn’t want a battle with township officials to effect Shocktoberfests’ opening night on Sept. 27.
“When we were designing this, we contacted our attorneys. They said there’s nothing illegal about it and it’s not considered adult entertainment. We’re operating a haunted house, which we have a right to do, and we’re just giving people the option to wear clothing or not,” he said.
“We want our event to go off without a hitch, we want everybody to have a good time, and we don’t want to get into a battle with township officials. So, we decided to just keep it to the prude option.”
According to Konopelski, the attraction was inspired by the hit show “Naked and Afraid” on the Discovery channel. He says he never expected to see so much opposition to the idea.
“Essentially the show is just people on a deserted island, totally nude, trying to survive. As I was watching it, I started think, man, this is genuinely scary stuff. I thought, what can I do to incorporate this level of fear into one of my haunted houses,” he said.
“I didn’t expect any of this, quite honestly. I mean Miley Cyrus is in her video and she’s nude, and any age can see that. We’re talking about a much more controlled experience where you have to be an adult. Some people agree, others disagree.”
General Manager at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Reading , Pa. had partnered with Konopelski to give Shocktoberfest attendees discounted rates on room rentals at the hotel, but he withdrew his partnership when he learned of the nude attraction.
“Two days ago I heard about this naked event, whatever they call it, and that was never part of our agreement,” Poole said. “We’re a national brand hotel and we don’t want to participate in that; we didn’t want to be attached to that situation.”
Poole says he does not plan to partner with Shocktoberfest next year.
“We probably won’t do the partnership next year just because I wasn’t informed this year. Somebody should have called me, I think. I mean, we’re gonna remain friends; it’s just the business part. I don’t want to participate in that part of the business,” Poole said.
Konopelski says he’ll find another hotel to send business to.
“I thought it was a great fit. It was a partnership where we have a lot of people—more so now than ever—coming in from out of town to see Shocktoberfest. But we’ll reach out to one of the other hotels and we’ll send them business. It’s not like we’re losing a sponsor, we’ve lost a partner, and I’m sure that decision was hard for Craig because he’s giving up a fair amount of revenue,” Konopelski said.
Shocktoberfest is an annual, month-long Halloween event that has been offering numerous haunted houses and other haunted attractions to visitors of the Reading, Pa. attraction for the last 22 years. This is the first year any of its attractions offered a nude option.
Konopelski says customers who originally intended to experience the attraction in the nude will have the option of going through the haunted house with underwear on or receiving a full refund. He’s hopeful that municipal officials will agree to allow the attraction with the nude option next year.
“I think that now that people have had a chance to digest the concept, maybe next year we unveil the nude option again, and maybe people will be a little more accepting to it,” he said. “We’re not forcing anyone to do it, and we didn’t change Shocktoberfest, we just added this. If you’re into it, fine; if not, fine, but don’t try to determine what’s right for anybody else using your moral code.”