Brian Sittig will scare the shit out of you. He does it for a living.
And if he doesn’t scare the shit out of you, his tattoos might.
Allow me to explain: Sittig is an actor at Pittsburgh’s renowned ScareHouse, a high-end haunted house both loved and loathed for its sphincter-tightening — or loosening — properties. He’s played serial killers and a demon there. He’s also the proud owner of two terrifying ScareHouse-themed tattoos. He got the clown first, the zombie second and is currently eyeing a third — possibly a decrepit baby doll — as part of a leg sleeve that remains a work in progress.
“My wife and kids think it’s pretty cool, they’re big horror fans, too,” Sittig said. “My mom thinks I’m crazy, but oh, well…”
Sittig added, “Last year was my first season working at ScareHouse. I already had a Freddy [Kreuger] and Pinhead on the other leg and I was willing to get a new one and decided to get a horror-themed leg all from ScareHouse.”
Here’s a video of the tattoos:
Sittig said he checked with ScareHouse management before committing their images to ink. He said they were “all for it.” In an email to The Incline, a ScareHouse spokesperson said of the partially finished product, ”This is rather uncommon. […] It’s amazing to see someone so passionate about something that you care [about]. The tattoo studios did a remarkable job!”
The tattoo artist, Kevin Burfield of Wayward Tattoos on West 12th Street in Erie, said Sittig’s ScareHouse pieces took between 8 and 10 hours each to complete. Burfield’s rate is around $100 an hour. (Sittig, 44, is originally from Erie and now lives in Cranberry Township.)
“We started the clown portrait from ScareHouse sometime last year and I think that took about two sessions — on average a single session for color work like that is around five hours — and he drove up two different times,” Burfield said. “A couple of months after that he wanted to start the zombie one which we recently finished.”
“He’s probably got enough room to add at least another one, maybe two more,” Burfield said.
Sittig agrees — *apologies in advance to his mother.
By this point you may be wondering how it got to this, how and why a grown man decided to immortalize the types of frightful images most of us wish we could forget. Without delving into the psychological reasons for humans wanting to be recreationally frightened, Sittig said he’s been a horror fan for as long as he can remember.
He also has a dovetailing affinity for haunted houses, ScareHouse in particular, which he describes as the crème de la crème. He’d wanted to audition to become one of its actors before but said he chickened out. He faced those fears and last year got hired. “Last year I was a serial killer for the Sunset Lodge theme,” he said by phone, audibly brimming with pride. “I also played a demon.”
Sittig, a former drug and alcohol counselor who also runs an insurance company with his wife and whose son recently deployed with the Air Force, would drive down for his shifts with fellow ScareHouse actor Tim Majcan.
It was during these rides that Sittig’s ScareHouse tattoo plan was formulated. Majcan got in on it, too. (His tattoo is of ScareHouse’s trademark axe-wielding bunny rabbit.)
“My friends and family love it as well as people I never met,” Majcan said by phone. “I get people asking me if I work there and where I got it done. It gets a lot of looks. My daughter Amy especially loves the bunny. She was thrilled when I got it done.” Majcan got his tattoo at Boney Joe’s in Zelienople. He’s planning to get a Pittsburgh Zombies-related one next in a nod to this year’s ScareHouse tribute to the late George Romero.
“I’m working at ScareHouse again this year,” Majcan said. “We have our orientation this coming Saturday.”
He’ll be joined — and this should go without saying at this point — by Sittig, who’s as excited as anyone.
“I was a little nervous starting last year, but it was everything I thought and hoped it would be,” Sittig said. “It was so much fun scaring people and watching them fall on the floor — some said they peed themselves. People are either laughing or falling over or swearing.”
Last year, Sittig said one couple was so frightened that he had to escort them out while wearing his serial killer costume. In a few instances he’s been hit or reflexively swatted at by patrons. He takes none of it personally.
“It’s a blast. It’s so much fun,” Sittig said of the ScareHouse experience. He added, “We have our orientation this Saturday and then we have dress rehearsal on the 8th of September and it opens to the public on the 14th of September and then it runs all the way to the first weekend in November.”
Sittig is scheduled for his next tattoo session on Nov. 29.