Examining the crowds and the screams at Blood Manor

The creator and owner of Blood Manor, Jim Lorenzo, sent me a text the other night when he saw the story — and the comments — about the crowds last Saturday. He asked to give me a tour and allow him to explain their setup, covid plans and queuing arrangement. Of course I agreed, and I have laid out what I learned below as straight up as I could muster. (There’s a feature in today’s Times if you want that version.)

Lorenzo warned me that Thursday nights are much quieter than weekends (he had 311 tickets sold last night and expects 700 on Saturday) but I wanted to get there before the weekend; I will swing by Saturday to see what’s going on then as well.

But first I feel I have to mention this incredibly sad fact. Lorenzo’s son died of cancer this past August, newly married and in his mid-30s, and last February, when the business applied for a liquor license, his son had just been hospitalized. I can barely imagine — and don’t really want to — what it’s like to lose a child and I offer our collective condolences to him, as a business owner in the community.

But we also have to compartmentalize and get back to the issue at hand, as he has had to do in order to run his business. So:

Lorenzo, 62, a longtime events producer who also operates Flex Events, a crossfit program in Long Beach, opened Blood Manor in Chelsea in 2003. It operated for seven years on West 27th between 10th and 11th until the building was redeveloped; it then moved up the street from City Winery on Varick and Vandam, where it ran for another seven years until that building was razed. It opened at 359 Broadway, between Leonard and Franklin, in 2017.

The business is open 19 days a year, most of those around Halloween. They have in the past done a Christmas event (Krampus) and a Bloody Valentine event. Lorenzo rents the building for the year and it is vacant the rest of the time.

In February, he applied for a liquor license, causing residents who live nearby to start a change.org petition against the move, garnering more than 500 signatures. In March, they withdrew the application.

The occupancy in non-covid times is 275, but for now they are keeping it to 90, including the 30 actors, so that means 60 patrons are in the space at any one time — 45 people per floor. (The business is allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity according to the state guidance for low risk indoor arts and entertainment, like museums, announced by the governor on Sept. 1. Why this does not allow concert venues to sell tickets for music is a mystery to me.) Customers are ticketed for a timed entry every half hour. General admission tickets are $40. There is a ticket booth in the curb in front, and you can walk up and get tickets.

On Thursday Lorenzo had nine people working on the sidewalk in Blood Manor hoodies, and several of his actors wandered through the stalls as a sort of “preshow.” On Friday and Saturday he said he will have 16 staff members on the street.

Blood Manor will be open Thursday through Sunday until Nov. 1. Hours are generally 6p till 1a, but they close earlier on Thursdays and Sundays. It is most crowded earlier in the night, according to his ticket logs.

The precautions for the coronavirus are mandated by the state and the business hired a pandemic consultant who prepared a nine-page plan (I read it and have a copy if anyone has questions). “We were hypersensitive to covid because of my son. I don’t take it lightly,” Lorenzo said. All actors are wearing N95 masks under specially designed latex costume masks, and Lorenzo installed air filters and UVC lights throughout the space; his manager, a theater director, told me she sprays down the interior surfaces once an hour, in between groups.

Patrons are grouped in “stalls” between barricades with their own party, whether that is one or eight. The stalls are marked with the time of entrance and extend south of Leonard, halfway down the block towards Worth. RIP (a riff on VIP) ticket holders, who pay $20 extra to enter any time they arrive, are in stalls north of the storefront. Lorenzo said he was told by the city that he can have the entire curbside space between Franklin and Leonard for queuing as of this weekend.

Lorenzo was applying for the liquor license last February so he could host events in the off season, or 330 days a year. The other two iterations of Blood Manor covered their costs, but this one — the biggest of the three — cost Lorenzo nearly $1 million to build out, twice the cost he had anticipated. On the night that neighbors witnessed men urinating in doorways and more, he said the space was rented out for a 25th birthday party and not operated by his staff.

Either way, he dropped the idea when his son got sick and when he realized community opposition would be fierce. “What happened in February put us in a very bad light,” Lorenzo said. (This is an understatement.) “We started off on the wrong foot.”

A tape of a ghoul explaining covid regulations plays continually outside the front door. Actors also weave through the waiting patrons, eliciting plenty of screams. The actors all have an odd stillness about them. I guess that’s a thing with the undead.

Lorenzo walked me through the space before customers were allowed in — I had to be convinced since this is in no way my bag — but the actors were already in place and ready for the fright business. Patrons wind through two floors that are of course dimly lit with lots of hidden corners and creepy nooks and crannies. The actors are crouching or skulking between animated models that are lifelike enough that I had continually question which were animatronic and which were human and would be ready to pounce at any minute.

The director was kind enough to ask them to go easy on me via walkie talkie, but I was still a sweaty mess when it was over. I did not, however, wet myself. Those who do get a free T-shirt.



  1. Thanks for the thorough review, and sorry to hear of the heartbreaking loss. Would be very curious how the environment changes as the night wears on, as opposed to preopen with an expected guest/critic.

    also the math doesnt add up

    “The occupancy in non-covid times is 275, but for now they are keeping it to 90”

    90 x 4=360, so this would be closer to 1/3 capacity.

  2. thanks for this follow-up… it is a good reminder that there is a person on the other end of every post with a story and a family (this one sad) and that most people have good intentions. I applaud Lorenzo for reaching out to have a dialogue and to share his side of the story. while I still dont “love” the idea of Blood Manor in the neighborhood, I do love the idea of someone like Lorenzo as a neighbor. my condolences to him and his family….

  3. Sorry but this is a nonessential business and it is unfair that all the restaurants in the neighborhood can’t house anywhere close to what Blood Manor is housing. So the bigger the place the more people it can house thus the more it can benefit? Unfair. How is BM having FIVE TIMES the 18 people 20+ year old Hideaway can have inside less of a COVID 19 risk than Hideaway?

    Second, 311 people one night, 700 another across several hours – is this guy/place serious??? This is a superspreader event plain and simple. It needs to be shut down. Go play your haunted house fantasies somewhere else! Also unfair that live music venues can’t have events or they’re the only ones who breathe, talk, sing, and move?

    Last since when can one business take up so much sidewalk space? It’s still not adequately social distancing cuz I see plenty of people well within six feet if each other and pens are meaningless when It’s two or more people per pen. Besides passersby have to wade through this mess thus breathe BM patron air or is the idea to completely turn off people using the sidewalk which serves BM’s purpose doesn’t it? You don’t own the sidewalk Lorenzo!

    • We can’t compare the haunted house to the Hideway (much as I love the place). People eating and drinking can’t wear masks and spend time in the same space with other groups.

      If Blood Manor is really sticking to their plan as summarized in the NY Times, it may well be substantially lower risk than any indoor dining in the neighborhood. And we know from the summer protests that waiting outside wearing masks is a low risk activity. But they better be enforcing mask wearing!

      • Blood Manor is much more of a COVID 19 risk than The Hideaway, my point which you missed entirely.

        Nah ah comparing the outdoor protests to Blood Manor’s crowds out front. First off the protest crowds were mostly masked while BM’s crowds are mostly maskless. Second the protestors kept it moving & their distance when not while BM’s crowds are standing in one place & not social distancing & no, pens aren’t good enough when two or more people are bunched together masked and/or not (two people masked, idiot friend not.) The masked, distanced, marching protesters were outdoors while BM’ s crowds are going in & out & inside for enough time to get or give COVID 19.

        So don’t try to liken BM crowds to protestors cuz there’s no comparison.

        It is utterly laughable & quite frankly an insult to my & others’ intelligence that you think having a beer or two & a sandwich inside another snall nrighbirhood bar with up to 15 other people (since indoor capacity there is 16), masks on when not drinking or eating required, tables properly distanced, is more dangerous than Blood Manor who has dozens of people inside multiple times an hour. How dare you actually.

        • Cold Creek Manor – for the record, I believe indoor dining should be allowed for adults to make their own decisions. However, your very self righteous attack of Larry Greenfield’s comment about outdoor congregating being low risk, such as the protests, was horribly incorrect. Did you march in the protests? I did. And there was NO distancing at all. Masks were worn, but people were shoulder to shoulder for hours, and they were shouting the entire time. Masks worked and there were minimal infections resulting. You don’t get to pick and choose which outdoor activities qualify as ok based on what you personally want in the neighborhood. Get off your high horse.

          • That’s very selfish. It would be fine for you to make decisions if only the adult in question took the risk of sickening and dying – but that’s not the way airborne infectious diseases work. You’re “right” to choose could harm vulnerable adults like me, health care workers, families and a host of others. So no, you don’t get to make your own decisions and your comment makes me very happy that we have strong rules.

  4. Thank you for this humanizing follow up piece. Haunted houses have terrified me since I was a child. Thanks for going through this experience to inform the community.

  5. So, does Lorenzo take out a lease for a month (or two) each Halloween to stage Blood Manor? If so, this implies that the storefront is empty and available for a long-term lease for the other 10 or 11 months. It also implies that street level space in Tribeca continues to be in large excess supply, which is not good for the NYC economy – pre and post COVID!

    • He rents for the year, and leaves it empty for all but those 19 or so days. That’s why he was applying for a liquor license — so he could run a restaurant or a party space. But he’s given that idea up, for now. The parties that went on last year, which were the source of the complaints here, came with their own caterer’s alcohol event permit.

  6. Great piece – this is what good local reporting is about. You gave us all sides of the story, and did it all in an entertaining “you are there” style that’s much appreciated.

  7. Thank you so much for this follow up! I did not like being called a liar from a commenter on your last piece. I too believe Lorenzo is doing the right thing to get through the Halloween season safely. It’s nice to see people in the area enjoying themselves even if it is only for a couple of weeks.

  8. i still would like to understand the math.. seems theyre operating at 33% capacity..

  9. I empathize with any business trying to survive right now. And it sounds like the owner is taking precautions to ensure everyone has fun in a safe environment this year. I also agree it’s important to have both sides of the story. This year has absolutely been far more tame than last years.

    However his comments suggesting that the issues with neighbors/opposition to the liquor license was largely due to a single night that was outside of his control are absolutely ridiculous

    As someone who lives within 100 yards of Blood Manor, this wasn’t one night of 25 year olds urinating on buildings. This was 4+ weeks of outdoor speakers, blasting music, performers dangling from scaffolding, crowds of people being encouraged to scream while waiting on line – much of it past midnight. There was zero regard for anyone living in the area- it was essentially an outdoor club for most of October. All of this was 100% under the owner’s control. The public urination was actually the least offensive part of the operation last year in my opinion

    I get that it’s Broadway, it’s going to be louder than other areas. But this was on another level and for him to even suggest otherwise is ridiculous