What do you truly desire? What are you willing to do to obtain that which you desire? These questions are at the forefront of the latest ARG (alternate reality game) immersive event The Lust Experience, from the creators of The Tension Experience. For their latest project, which is their mid-season event titled The Lust Experience: Anointment, the creators have continued to follow the narrative of the O.S.D.M., a mysterious organization that first appeared in The Tension Experience and now Lust, which may have sinister motives that could result in deadly consequences for all those involved in the game.
I’ve been trying to decide the best way to explain The Lust Experience, but it’s difficult due to the fact that I came in with very little knowledge of this particular ARG except that it was 21+ and over and that a signed waiver was required. Even with my limited knowledge of the overall storyline that didn’t deter me from attending as the creators promised newcomers that even if you hadn’t been following the story for the past year you would still be able to understand what was unfolding. What I was able to uncover was that the enigmatic group, the O.S.D.M., had decided to open the doors to their organization in order to throw a massive party in hopes that their reputation could being to rebuild itself. However, as most of these things go, nothing is as it seems, and an evening professed to be about love and acceptance quickly turned to one with more deceitful implications….and a sacrifice or two.
I think it’s important to note that going into an experience like this it’s paramount that one keeps an open mind. Regardless of what happened with Tension and I prior to my attendance, I knew it was best to go in with no grudges or anger, and I’m glad I did because I had a wonderful, and surprisingly emotional, experience. Upon arriving at the party, it was quickly revealed that this engagement was not going to be your run-of-the-mill party. The stage had been set with sensual music playing and nude actors walking throughout the main floor. Having been familiar with being up-close and personal with nudity these past two years, most notably through attending shows put on by Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre, this did not shock me or make me uncomfortable. However, for those not used to being around so much nudity, I could understand why this might take them out of their comfort zone.
Throughout the beginning of my experience, I was spoken to by a few key characters, some of which innocently flirted with me, while some pushed their bodies against mine and whispered overtly sexual acts that they wished to perform on my body. There was an air of aggressiveness in their urge to satisfy me and whatever sexual appetite they had, and I applaud their dedication to the roles they were given. One familiar face that I did encounter was that of Addison / Sabrina Kern, the main figurehead of The Tension Experience, who came and sat with me early on. It was a brief meeting in which she looked at me and said, “Hello, old friend” with a sly smile before disappearing into the throng of people.
As my group and I continued into one beautifully designed room after another, different vignettes played out with a focus on intimacy, desire, deception and female empowerment. The most powerful moment for me was when we were all made to sit at a dining room table and if we felt inclined, we could divulge a secret we have been keeping in our lives. I took this opportunity and decided to lend my voice to the discussion and talk about the facade of happiness I’ve been putting on for the past two years. At first I was nervous, but as I continued to speak, I felt like a weight had been taken off my shoulders. To actually hear myself say the things I was saying, in a room full of strangers, in an experience I never thought I would do, was really empowering for me. There was a level of intimacy in that moment that was unexpected but much needed and I felt like I grew closer to the group of strangers I was with (so much so that I’ve actually become friends with one of them).
I could go on and on and talk about each room, and the accompanying experience, as they were presented but what I really want to talk about is the ending. When I went through The Tension Experience, one of my biggest issues with it, aside from my outspoken issues with the bullying, was that I felt it was trying to hard to be like every other extreme haunt / immersive experience out there. I felt like Tension didn’t stand on its own as a unique entity when it had the resources to do so. With that said, I really feel like The Lust Experience: Anointment finally did that and I applaud Darren Lynn Bousman for crafting an experience that gave guests a chance to experience the highs and lows of passion, desire, and deception with an ending that drilled home the notion of hope and everlasting true love. For me, that was completely unexpected, considering moments before this reveal, we were situated in a room in which two unsuspected guests, practically naked on a bed, were told they must fuck in hopes of bringing about the ultimate prodigy, so to speak. To then flip the narrative and have Noah Sinclair, a character within The Lust Experience ARG, who most people did not like, end this consummation and declare how fucked up the O.S.D.M. truly was was a surprise I didn’t see coming.
Now with that said, I have heard, unfortunately, that a select few people got to experience a different version of the finale of Lust in which the above did not happen and instead something much more predictable and less intriguing unfolded. That bummed me out because I thought what I had experienced at that moment was truly beautiful and emotional and to then change the ending so that it focused on Addison / Sabrina being impregnated by the leader of the “cult” was just blase. I’m not sure what that means for the overall story, but I do hope that the creators continue down the path of the original ending because I truly believe they have something special with that.
Overall, I absolutely loved my experience, which is just as surprising to me as it probably is for all of you who know my history. If I did have to make some critiques I would definitely say that the show could have been pushed more in terms of extreme elements. Nudity is not something new to a lot of us in the immersive / haunt community, and I was a bit let down that I didn’t experience more extreme situations, especially since it was hammered into us that this would be really intense. I also think dialing back on all the characters might be a bit more helpful. I know Darren and his team are creating their own world with Tension and Lust (and whatever else is to come), and applaud the amount of work that must go into that, but I think having too many characters lends itself to the experience being a bit more confusing than it has to be. Though The Lust Experience: Anointment was marketed to both those who have been involved from the beginning and those who are new to the experience. I think it caters more towards those who have been a part of the forums and mini-experiences leading up to this. Also, I can’t stress this enough, especially due to the stories I have heard, but I urge the creators and fans to be more accepting of newcomers who really want to learn more about this ARG. With all that said, I’m not sure where the story will go from here, except that there will be a huge finale, but I do hope to see everything come full circle. There is a lot of passion and hardwork that is put into this experience and I hope the finale is executed with just as much emotion, darkness, depravity and beauty. For more information on The Lust Experience, you can visit them on Facebook, Instagram, and their website www.TheLustExperience.com.
Editor’s Note: I know many of you reading this are wondering why, after what I went through with Tension, would I go to Lust. Sometimes, bridging a gap of hurt and pain is just what needs to happen in order to move on. I’m still dealing with a lot of hardship after what happened in May with The Tension Experience but I think having been invited to The Lust Experience it has helped in me closing that chapter of my life. Bullying is something that is an issue and needs to be addressed within the community and I think bringing awareness to that is paramount. That is why for the months of January, February, and March I will be donating $50 each month to STOMP Out Bullying, a non-profit charity dedicated in reducing and preventing bullying, cyberbullying and much more. For more information, or to donate, please visit www.stompoutbullying.org.