View Full Version : IAHA Banned post

RJ Productions
02-02-2008, 05:32 PM
Here's the post I tried to put on the IAHA message Board. Since my access was denied several hours prior to the "grace" period, I have to post it here.

The thread does have merit to the rest of the industry since an actual court case brought libel for false advertising against a vendor. It could be used against Haunted Houses just as easily. here's the post:

We are unable to deliver the message from <rjprod@cox.net>
to <iaha-members@yahoogroups.com>.

Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2008 20:38:22 -0800
To: IAHA-Members@yahoogroups.com
From: Rich Strelak <rjprod@cox.net>
Subject: "Portraitgate" corrected

Sorry Ed,... everyone ignore my first post (happy fingers), here's the correct info:

First of all I do not wish to get into a lengthy discussion on how the Board is or is not handling this whole “Portraitgate”. I find it ludicrous that the Board would ignore the issue using “no formal complaint was filed” as an argument. Is it not the purpose of this message Board to foster communications? Issues were present, actions are deemed necessary. True the Board should gather the facts and make an intelligent decision. However merely posting “this is closed do not discuss it” is NOT the answer. This issue brings up some very valid points that impact not only THIS situation, but how the Board, the Association and the members conduct business in the future. Here’s a few thoughts:

Whether or not it is true, a situation like this immediately reeks of improper procedure and conflict of interest. First the Board should have had an attitude of actually caring, instead of an immediate reaction of “it’s a personal matter and doesn't involve us” Subsequent posts of our very own Code of Conduct PROVES it is a Board issue.

Since the issue involves a Board member he should have at once excused himself of Board related issues until it was resolved. Example, we hear it in the news all the time. An official is on “administrative leave pending an investigation.” He is neither guilty nor not guilty, just removed from the situation until a decision is made. Likewise the Board members receiving the awards should have immediately excused themselves to avoid any conflict real or imagined. Neither was done.

As Ben stated earlier, perhaps this does necessitate a rewriting of these Codes. As written them may never be fully enforceable so they “have no teeth”. Create something that is more defined and enforceable, and then DO so.

Most importantly I believe this issue has brought up a point that affects ALL the members. Unlike most, I actually took the time to READ the entire transcript. This was a Court Action! It now becomes a point of law that can be referred to in subsequent cases. I suggest everyone read it carefully.

There were points of “he said, she said” that the court dismissed. The main issue the court DID rule on was that fact that Mr. Turner misrepresented himself. He claimed he was in business since 1995 a point the court disagreed with and he was found libel for his actions! Let that sink in a moment…..

He misrepresented himself and was found libel! Face it, how many of us tend to “pad” our credentials?? We figure it won't hurt and besides the other guys does so what’s the big deal?? Well Mr. Turner was found libel because of it! Here’s the most obvious example:

Most of us start in the “business” in a nonprofessional manner. We either decorated our houses or volunteered for a charity or someone else’s attraction. Let’s say it’s 1977 and I start decorating my yard. Now it's 2007. I decide to open a pro haunt. Up against experienced competition I count all my “experience” and claim I'm in the business 30 years! Misleading? Now according to this recent court action…YES. AND I could be held liable!

This is a very valid point of this whole “Portraitgate” that was merely ignored by the Board in the haste to merely sweep it under the rug as a “personal attack”.

How can this association stand up and represent the INDUSTRY when it can't even stand up and represent the MEMBERS???

Quelling any discussion on a topic or using a standard "we're looking into it and will make a decision" attitude just doesn't cut it.
The Board is and should be very busy.
Should they deal with every petty difference on the message boards? Absolutely NOT.
But they really need to know the difference between a petty difference and something that affects the association and the industry.

Again not to merely "slam" the Board, but to bring up valid points.

Ed had a very valid point. He brought it up on the message board hoping to get answers, communicating!
He is not contacted or answered, merely admonished for bring up a "personal attack"!

The real issue is totally overlooked.

THIS affects the industry.
The Board missed that effect entirely.

Do we learn from this or perpetuate it???

Do yourself AND the Industry a favorite, only claim what really IS yours from ideas to experience.
Trust me it adds up TOO quickly! This will now be my TENTH season....45 years of experience!!!!!

Jim Warfield
02-02-2008, 06:42 PM
This is the first I have heard about this. I always wondered how really big companys like Ford and Chevy could both be running ads saying they each sell the most trucks AND that more of their trucks sold are still licensed and up and running? They used to show these commercials mere minutes apart on network TV!?
"Truth" in advertising? Will courts now be so involved as to settle all such exaggerations ever made? Sounds like a group of lied to women must be behind this. "How much money do you make a year? How big?" Just feebly joking.
I get tired of seeing some house posters each October with all sorts of bogus claims too:"Voted Number ONE!" I never got a ballot! Who "Voted"? The guy that printed their poster for them? Let's clear THAT up right away, look for the small print in the corner "voted number one by lenny the poster -guy"
I am 58 yrs. old, I did have a haunted house in my parent's basement when I was 7 so I have been doing this for 51 years! (But then Timmy McVeigh did the same thing too when he was a kid!)-Chicago Sun Times article, I have a copy on the wall.

Greg Chrise
02-02-2008, 10:13 PM
If you don't think we are #1 then you are #2.

02-04-2008, 12:18 AM
I personally have decided to never again join IAHA. I served as President for two years on on the board an additional terms. I found nothing but problems because the boards don't think like minded, over half of the board do not own haunts, or even a supplier to the industry. That was a problem. If you're an association for an industry, then you have to have some standards when it comes to your board, the board that will help guide the whole industry.

I found it more like a CLUB, a social group, with certain people more interested in giving themselves awards, or making themselves popular or important. You fight against the dumbest things like when the board wanted to give a sponsorship to a dance at TW and pay $8000.00 for some announcements and a banner. I was like you're freakin nuts... that wont' help you gain new membership. You have to actually do impactfull things with the members money, not waste it on a sponsorship of a dance.

Or worse doing thigns an association has no business doing, which can complete against its own membership or the crazy census they paid another fellow board member $2500.00 to write that almost NO ONE filled out, because it asked personal questions no business owner would answer. Its clear they know nothing about the industry when they release this HORRIBLE press releases claiming haunted houses are NOT about getting scared but rather romantic dates, and compared our industry to the tunnel of love.

It was clear to me that this group refuses to accept leadership, advice, opinions or listen to their members. They just do whatever they want. I'm done with it.

It only has around or less than 200 members and most of those are duplicates from the same outfit or don't own haunts. If they're lucky they have 6o to 80 unique haunt owners as members, in an industry with nearly 3,000 including amusement parks.

This group DOES NOT represent our industry, and if we support them they will continue to try and claim this. We have a website up www.hauntedhouseassociation.org (http://www.hauntedhouseassociation.org) which sits on the top of all search engines which helps cut them off from the media in October. The last thing we need them doing is telling the media haunted houses aren't about scaring people!!!!



02-05-2008, 01:20 PM
I just checked out the HHA site, nice and you get HW magazine too. The PR you guys pushed was cool it was nice to see haunts on the news, it gets you worked up to go see some haunted houses.

02-05-2008, 07:44 PM
First of all. Jim, your question about Ford and GM both claiming they sell more trucks. Ford sells one series, the F150. GM sells the Chevy and GMC, both made in the same assembly plants, one of which is my day job as a employee development trainer. When you add the Siverado and Sierra numbers together they are more than the Ford. But, since GM does it is under two subsidiary nameplates, it is technically not number one.
Also, you are sworn to secrecy regarding the info of the Chevy's and GMC's being built on the same line, because the GMC owners of America think that GMC has it's own assembly plants. I have personally heard GMC fans surprised comments after they have completed 70% of the tour I gave and they finally see the GMC and Chevy grills on teh line. It is great marketing on GM's part as the base price if the GMC is about $ 1500.00 more than the Chevy. They say the interior quality levels are better in the GMC. Marketing dept says that buyers would not shift from GMC to Chevy if the GMC nameplate was discontinued.

Kind of the same marketing the top 13 or 10 haunts in America listings on a couple of the national media as most people, even in those in the industry, do not know that many thousands of dollars have been paid by those haunts to be in the press release. Now, not all are like this but a couple of these ranks are bought. And many of these would get into the rankings either way as well. The IAHA even contributed to one ranking marketing promotion last year and even some of the critics of the IAHA were a part of it. As Paul Harvey says, now you know ( part of ) the rest of the story. Take a deep breath, all of you that are foaming at the mouth to dispute this.

The IAHA has a board of volunteers of many interests and needs to change to a variety of membership levels, increase dues for some of those levels, and hire a person to do many more things that the volunteer board is presently able to do. And when Larry was President, he was very active, proactive, and REACTIVE !!! (haha, lol) And there were critics of his administration, too. Not trying to get you going here Larry, just that every year seems to have critics.

And I will probably join the HauntedHouseAssociation.org myself because I believe multiple networking and involvement is good. But, presently HHA is merely a good website, great selling points, smaller member of members than IAHA, very limited in number in charge but very experienced, and good concept. But, it needs many more members and a lot of development, with all members involvement, to grow from the base that has been set up to present in order to become what inspired it.

Now, about the two vendors involved in the lawsuit. It is obviously a very complicated matter. One that I feel the IAHA needs to address not on the Yahoo group email system, but through their baord meetings. Yes, people should declare conflicts of interests, and abstain where necessary. The matter should be addressed with the thought that the IAHA involvement needs to be limited, but not as a referee. Ths oucrt has already done that job as it should.

And one last thought. From my perspective, if ANY organization's members act unprofessionally by slamming, prejudicing, and backstabbing each other, or each others organizations, then it detracts from and brings DOWN the whole industry.

Remember, this isn't politics, its our business.

Brett Molitor - JamBam/Huntington Jaycees Haunted Hotel-13th Floor

02-05-2008, 09:09 PM

I think your comments are very fair! I don't disagree with you. I agree that the board should have taken Eddie's claim serious and not brush it under the rug. I doubt very seriously that anything will happen. Tim Turner is those guys friends and they will not ask him to leave.

As for my issues with Tim Givinski and how he STOLE my Darkness name, and logos, and lied to Brainstorm Studios to get them NOT once but TWICE, was VERY WRONG and NOT ethical but he's a President of an association. I don't know anyone who read my story, who is a professional would ever agree that he is ethical or should be a President of an industry, our industry. I'm not making these things up they're facts.

As for what HHA offers this industry, or what we can do or won't do... I'm already doing what I wanted to do and that is HELP YOUR HAUNTED HOUSE make more money, to have people in your market take your industry your profession serious. I want you to be respected and radio stations to not come out you with outright disrespect by saying "ALL HAUNTS DONT PAY THEIR BILLS SO YOU MUST PAY IN ADVANCE".

These are my objectives and we've already scored 7 Touchdowns, to IAHA nothing... the score is 49-0 and we've only been at this for 18 months. It just goes to show you can put business approach first, and social position, rank or whatever LAST where it belongs.


02-05-2008, 11:10 PM
We are pretty much on the same page. Your issue with Tim was something that I didn't know. And my point here is that it may or may not have been publicized much before recently, but I did not see anything about it and you kept it between you two and explainsto me your issue with him.

I know most of you guys personally through several ways including the shows, websites, and organizations. The fact is that there are many leaders because of who and what we are.

I have been involved in Jaycees for many years. Their purpose is supposed to be "Leadership Training through Community Service". Not fundraising or community service as their are many animal clubs to fill that need. With Leaders, there will be conflict. What I learned a long time ago though was that we all have Jaycees best interest in mind, we just need to do it in a decent manner or the members run away in droves.

Unfortunately, that is what is part of the problem with the IAHA. What ever group comes through will be the one that successfully meets the needs of the industry.


02-06-2008, 03:43 PM
I tried to keep it between myself and Tim, because all he kept saying to me was how he's a 'nothing haunted house in the middle of nowhere'. I had even called him after I found out he went on a Bloody Mary cruise and bad mouthed me senseless. I was told by several people who went on this Bloody Mary cruise that Tim was telling everyone, and this is why I was president that I was trying to destroy IAHA from the industry.

He was trying to get more people to join the board then I had supporters so they could get rid of me...which is EXACTLY what happened. To go on a boat cruise and on purpose try to sabatoge all the good things I was trying to do, just because you have a grudge is crazy.

I mean I was trying to do things for the industry, and here comes Tim with a grudge and he rounds up a bunch of people who can't think for themsevles and gets them on the board and they turn the whole thing upside down.

I called Tim out on this and he denied EVERYTHING. But little did he know that Eddie who Tim tried to make part of the plan told me everything, and so did another friend of mine who was on the trip.

Tim did other things to me as well... I tried to tell him countless time even though you tried to STEAL from me I'm trying to do what is best fot the industry. Put your personal opinions to the side. He could not do that.

I informed the board what he had done. He NEVER denied doing it.

In fact I have emails from TIM about how 'now' thinks I dont' own the name The Darkness. I still have those. I have the letters he got from my law firm outlining every law he's broken and what the damages would be.

Its one thing for him to say the first time he made a mistake but not the second time in a second year. Tim is a liar! Flat out!

This is your President, a guy who tried to get into the business and build his haunt on the back of someone elses success!

You know I would have kept this quite he kept coming after me... and then when he told people 'MY HAUNT COULD GIVE NETHERWORLD' I run for its money. These are things people told me he said and I just shake me head in disbelief.

Here is a guy who tells me his haunt is a nothing haunt in the middle of no where so I should continue to let him use my artwork, my name, and pose as my haunt nationally as one of the best in the nation, but he tells people his haunt would give Netherworld a run for its money. LOL

I doubt that. He sets up his whole haunt in a few weeks, and its as good as Netherworld... I doubt that.

For reasons like this and more I've decided NOT to support IAHA, because it just seems like a trend that its always being run for a popularity contest not for the right reasons. I'm done with it.

It can't be saved, its not professional, and has horrible leadership!

IAHA shouldn't be for a popularity contest it should be for making this industry STRONG! I fought that mentality over and over again. One of the last straws for me was that census, which they paid a FELLOW board member to do yeah $2500.00 paid to a fellow board member.

Is that right?

I was like wow...so everything that the rest of us did for free, maybe we should have sent you a bill.

I'm done with it.


02-06-2008, 06:41 PM
Ok Not sure how im going to tie this into this thread, But Im sure somehow it will fit in. As a newer vendor in the industry, I find myself on the fence daily, this person says this about this persom, that person says this about that person, and so on and so on. One of the first things I told myself when I decided to get in the Industry was that I would not take part in the politics and he said she said, I believe that a man is judged by his actions not by what others claim they heard that someone saw them do. Little did I know just how much of this crap takes place in this little industry. There are quite a few people in the industry that I do not care for, not because of what I have heard, but due to their own actions, I do not broadcast these feelings to the masses, because everyone must make their own decisions based on ones merit. I have learned of late that if it smells like a fart it most likely is a fart and you can usually tell who did it.
Which Brings us to IAHA, I can honestly say that I am not impressed with the association as a whole. I think that there are some great people on board there but as a whole, forget about it. There have been a few things lately that have totally soured my mouth about IAHA, and Im currently awaiting a email that if the answer to my question is what i think it is, I will be breaking my number one rule about not getting involved in the BS.
Larry I looked at your HHA, looks good, but when I see that you have something of the like of IAHA, it makes me look at your posts pertaining to IAHA a lil sideways. Dont take that the wrong way its just when Two organizations are competing for the same common goal, and One is very vocal about all the things that are wrong, sometimes you have to wonder if its just trying to build their own organization. this goes for everything in life.... Not just the Haunted attraction associations. As great as people are in this Industry all of the politics make it hard for me to put any trust in anyone. always looking at everyone with the what are they up to look now a days.............

02-06-2008, 09:23 PM
Let me tell you that I understand what you're saying, however in this situation its not the case. I didn't start www.hauntedhouseassociation.org (http://www.hauntedhouseassociation.org) to complete with IAHA. Actually it was started to keep the momentum going that our industry has.

The media is always looking for an association to give quotes and stats about our industry. When some goofs at IAHA tell the media going to a haunted house isn't about getting scared, or our attraction is the sister of a Tunnel Love, or that if you bring a date you can guarentee yourself to be grabbed by the girl, ahhh... well.

Who would promote their haunted house that way? Don't we always say we're the scariest, or we're better than a horror movie, or something along those lines. Where does the 'Tunnel of Love' come into the picture I don't know but this is the press release IAHA issued this past October hoping to drum up PR for our industry.

A few years ago I got sick and tired of reading haunts be connected to sex offenders or crimes or whatever. In the past it was devil worship, or acting out violence, or during 911 it was don't you think haunts should close this year, or people with home haunts should stop putting out tombstones or zombies.


www.HauntedHouseAssociation.org (http://www.HauntedHouseAssociation.org) is a FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE its something that promotes your industry, and promotes in a positive light. You need something that pushes to the media going to haunts is a great thing.

What we've seen over the past two years with stories in USA Today, National Geographic or countless AP stories or Good Mourning AMerica or any of these things...they are NOT THE DOING OF IAHA!

IAHA could have done this 10 years ago, 5 years ago at any point in time. I was the one who MADE IT HAPPEN... I went out there and made the case to Netherworld, Headless Horseman, Bates Motel, Eastern State Penn, Erebus, blah, blah, blah... all of these haunts and soooooo many more have seen their attendance skyrocket. I'm being told by every haunter I know their attendance has gone through the roof the past two years.

Its like this I'm not looking for an award, I'm not looking for anything, I did this not only for the industry but for myself. I wanted more business, I wanted more exposure to new groups of people to help my own haunts attendance as well.

If the WHOLE industry gets more exposure that is good for me as well. I just knew it was something that needed to be done for a WHOLE industry, that WOULD benefit myself as well as everyone else.

See that is the difference here... the difference is a group of people who make a living haunting, or people who are trying to make a living haunting can think alike as to what is best for everyone or what is good for one haunt could be good for all haunts or my haunt.

See what I'm saying?

With IAHA you get all these different people who don't own haunts, will never own haunts, or people who just want to be a popular industry person and you mix all this together and you get NOTHING but problems.

IAHA has NEVER accomplished NOTHING but tours through Disney Haunted Mansion, or giving its members book bags, or whatever. When I got in there I was okay the buck stops here brother...

NO MORE SOCIAL EVENTS, NO more WASTING YOUR MONEY on book bags, if we don't have a good reason to spend our money, and that reason has to be for the benefit for haunted house OWNERS then we won't spend money. To this day IAHA has more money than they have ever had thanks to me not allowing them to give money away to their friends, board members, or spending on silly parties.

But they have gone back to all of that... they gave Randy Young $2,500.00 to write up a census that failed, they're holding a party at Transworld and giving out free food, which i'm sure will cost them thousands of dollars. Who does that help?

Does that help me put money in my pocket? Does that help my business grow? Does that help the industry? NO it doesn't...

I'm not starting this other association to do anything but give the industry a PROFESSIONAL voice to the national media, and any support you offer HHA will be support for those types of efforts, not to give each other awards, not to give me $2500 to write a census, or for me to buy you a chicken sandwich.

I OWN a haunted house, and I want the same thing you want. If you're a vendor you benefit when haunts benefit, because the more money they make, the more money they will spend with you. Its a circle its Reagonomics.

The goal of any association should be to promote, protect and create benefits for their industry. Not hand out book bags, not wasting members money on sponsorships of dances, or being on the board to make yourself seem popular.

We've got a job to do here and until every AMERICAN knowns that haunted houses are better than horror movies or as good as the Opera our job won't be complete.


02-06-2008, 09:31 PM
You have repeatedly stated that you are through with IAHA, that IAHA is dead, etc... Why do you keep putting so much effort into this thread???

02-06-2008, 09:32 PM

In case you didn't notice an issue was brought up to my statements since I am offering a different association. I wanted to assure people that my view of IAHA has nothing to do with HHA and its intentions.


Jim Warfield
02-06-2008, 11:02 PM
I'm not sure advertising a haunted house as being "The Scariest", is the best thing to do.
If your customer base are all 14 yr. olds this might fly but older customers who have been to a few haunted houses over the years are just forewarned .
I would rather assume no one will be scared and then provide experiences that may scare some of them (even though it was not advertised as such) and might entertain a great many of them and guess what else? Another percentage of those people respond with genuine terror!
Their unforgetable experience was not a jump and a jerk from someone screaming in their face, which is quickly anaylized as "Someone(a real person) just screamed in my face trying to scare me", but rests within the realm of the trully unknown.......
This sort of thing actually penetrates their memory-brain-library of compelling experiences and burrows into the memory perminently.
What I am referring to is the fear of the supernatural.....whether you belive such a thing exists or not ," the fear of it" does exist in a great number of people who happen to not be just 14 yrs. old but all ages.
It does take a certain amount of time and commited energys to convey this fear.
My disclaimer is :"I am not trying to sell any kind of a belief system, I am just telling you what I know that has happened in this house, to me, my Ex, my wife, my employees and people coming through for the tour , such as yourselves."
...and then the recanting of the haunted history of this old Inn begins.....
This is my definition of the term "Haunted House", the old, original definition.