With a peaches-and-cream complexion and copper blond hair, Angel Frale seems like a wholesome girl next door. And she’s just that for the 11 months of the year when she works as a children’s entertainer. But come October, Frale, 36, makes her money as a creepy menace, silently hovering inches from people’s faces and transforming her soft voice into a frightening whisper during her stint as a professional haunted-house actor.
“I’ve been obsessed with Halloween since I was a little, little kid,” Frale says. Raised by her grandparents in Downers Grove, she took great pride in decorating their yard. One year, she turned a huge, empty cardboard box into a black coffin with a dripping red cross and hovering skeleton. Frale’s aunt often played horror movies, and her grandparents told ghost stories as gospel.
“My family was really superstitious,” she says. “Ghosts were real and that was just a fact. When you grow up believing that every bump in the night is real, it warps your perspective.”
The Woodridge resident likes that this time of year everyone else gets on the bandwagon, too. “Everyone lets themselves be scared. Everyone drops their guard and opens up a little bit,” she says. “I’m not creepy all year, but I do look forward to it all year.”
Outside of October, Frale works as a magician’s assistant and “box jumper”—the person who gets sliced and diced in magic boxes. She often hosts the Kidbucks Game Show at Santa’s Village (601 Dundee Ave, East Dundee; 847-426-6751) and also dresses up like Cinderella and Glinda the Good Witch for kids’ birthday parties.
But Halloween brings on a major transformation. For the past three years, Frale has worked as a ghoul at the Haunted Mansion and Asylum 13 at Ditka’s Sports Dome (730 N Bolingbrook Dr, Bolingbrook; 630-739-7600). This year she even helped build the haunt from the ground up, assembling the walls and placing the props. “I’ve been working in entertainment forever. For me, it was the logical next step. Scaring people is another form of entertainment.”
Frale created a character she calls “The Gray Lady,” a ghoul dressed in a gray Victorian gown with a ghostly white face and eerie black eye makeup and lipstick. “I’m a silent ghost. I’m going to follow you and stare at you the whole time without blinking. Or I sit perfectly still and wait till people pass me, then get up behind them and sniff them or breathe on them or whisper something in their ear. I’m not usually a screamer. I’m a whisperer.”
Frale adds that there’s something fun about being able to step into the shoes of these dark characters and act creepy and scary. “We let out a lot of aggression in the haunt,” she says.
“I think deep down everyone has wicked thoughts and tendencies they don’t admit. This is a safe way to let it all out.”
Everyone’s fair game, she says, except for young kids. “If a little kid comes in waving a glowstick (sold at the entrance), we back off. That gives them a sense that they can conquer the monsters with their magic wand.” But while a kid with a wand is off-limits, a teenager waving a wand is monster mash. “If someone 14 or 16 comes in waving a glowstick, then game on, you’re a target,” she says. “For the most part, there is no mercy.”