It should go without saying that Hell In the Armory, the new haunted house attraction in the basement of the infamous Kink.com headquarters, is not for pearl-clutchers. It is raunchy, it is gory, and it is borderline tasteless, and you should expect all of that given that a fetish porn company is putting it on.
It is also very elaborate, legitimately scary in parts, extraordinarily goofy in other parts, and overall highly entertaining. But there's quite a bit you should know before going in during the final week, assuming you can still get tickets at an hour that is not your bedtime. I will try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, and if you're a tough cookie who knows you will not be bothered by anything that happens in a kinky Halloween hellscape, then by all means stop reading now.
1. The First Rule of Hell In the Armory Is That You Do Not Instagram Hell In the Armory
It is going to be very, very hard for many of you not to document what is happening around you, but the aggressive (and aggressively costumed) guides are very strict on this point: no cell phones. At all. No pictures. No video. And they are definitely fucking watching you, and you will definitely be made a fool of, and possibly flogged, if you pull out your phone. I don't even want to know what happens if you forget to put it on silent. This is actually one of the best parts of this haunted house experience: It forces everyone to be together and present in the moment, at least for 40 minutes or so, without touching their phones, and in today's world these moments are precious.
2. You Will Be Doused With Water And Possibly Spattered With Fake Blood That Will Require a Stain Stick
This is a big one. For all those of you who click "Agree" on every internet Terms & Conditions document without reading it, this would be the big disclaimer no one should miss. There is one point when you will get a little wet, right when you least expect it, and there are multiple other points when characters dripping in stage blood might touch you, or otherwise get blood on you. I'm happy to inform you that the shirt I was wearing that got some spatter on it came out just fine in the wash with a touch of Oxy-Clean.
3. Women Who Do Not Enjoy Seeing Other Women Abused, Even If It's Pretend Abuse, Might Not Find This Fun
This speaks to the pearl-clutching set as well as the PC police and everyone who thinks kinky pornography is problematic. This is a no-holds-barred kink experience as much as it's a Halloween experience, and in the world of kink there are plenty of very willing, submissive women who enjoy getting a little whipped and tortured. You will see some of this, as well as some play-acting suggesting mutilation and death. Brace yourselves, and/or just do not go if that sounds weird.
4. Gay Men Who Really Don't Like Seeing Naked Women Should Take Heed Too
The good news for gay men is you will get to see a couple of hot naked guys in the course of this experience, but you will pay for that by exposure to a few vaginas and breasts. SPOILER: One of the naked men might be a masturbating clown.
5. You Might Be Touched
They make pretty clear before sending you downstairs "to hell" that you have consented to being touched. Just like in a strip club, you're not allowed to touch the performers, but they are allowed to touch you. And they probably will. At one point, one of my friends was actually kind of attacked by this feral man-beast thing, and he wasn't sure even how to fend it off.
6. This Is Not A Sexy Experience, For the Most Part, So Calm Down
There is nudity, and some light bondage, and you will get to see some of the sets used by Kink.com's various internet brands in their vast basement complex. But you are not going to see anyone having actual intercourse, and no one is going to pull your clothes off or make you join a blood orgy or anything. It's just a somewhat kinkier, at times more sinister but overall medium-scary version of a haunted house. With boobs.
7. Remember That You Are In Pagan San Francisco, So Don't Bring Your Christian Cousins
There's a naked Jesus involved, and a weird BDSM nun. I'll say no more.
8. The Last Part Is the Best
Not only will you get up close and personal with Mission Creek, but the traditional haunted maze thing they do at the end is pretty cool.
9. There Is A Bar Across The Street For Calming Your Nerves Before or After
It will be crowded at The Armory Club, especially this weekend and on Halloween, but I recommend heading over there for a tipple after you've had your nerves rattled and your sensibilities offended. But I'm not sure the free shots you get with admission (available at the bar afterwards) need any recommendation. They're kind of gross.