By SEAN DALY
Times Pop Music Critic
Bloodstains on My Guitar!
Think a psychopathic Taylor Swift — or maybe Kelly Clarkson with a hobby of hacking off fingers — and you get the twisted gist of Busch Gardens' new Howl-O-Scream queen of mean: Sylvie, the rock star who serenades and then slices up her ex-boy toys.
In the increasingly heated Halloween biz at Florida theme parks (heck, even ZooBoo at Lowry Park is upping the fear factor), Sylvie is a pop-culture-savvy invention to lure young'uns to the Tampa funland. Swift is the hottest poppette on the planet; ghouling her up some is smart.
Sylvie's band is called MyX; it used to be YX, a boy-girl combo, but Sylvie's guy pal . . . disappeared. MyX plays live shows at the park, comes with an arsenal of downloadable songs (go to myxrocks.com) and is ripe for rumor and salesmanship on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
There's only one problem:
Sylvie isn't scary at all.
But the lil' devil is really hot.
(Yes, I have issues. So sue me.)
The new haunts at Busch Gardens this season include the "Alone" shriek-o-rama, in which you can pay extra to experience an entire house by your lonesome. The featured attraction is "MyX: Revenge Rocks," in which guests are invited backstage at one of Sylvie's "killer" shows.
Because I'm a connoisseur of (1) haunted houses, (2) rock music and (3) women who would love to see me garroted, I was the obvious choice to tour Sylvie's evil realm, the facade of which is made to look like a creepy nightclub — or, for that matter, the State Theatre in St. Pete. Eeek!
On press day, I only toured half of the attraction, but the scares were fairly pedestrian and "boo!"-ish. The best part occurred before I even got inside: Protesters picketing the wicked powers of rock berated my entrance (clever touch), then an undead bouncer led me inside the makeshift music venue. At the very least, the house sounds great.
When I finally made it into Sylvie's dressing room — with a presumably dead dude face-down on her couch — I got my first jolting glimpse of the star psycho (another nice touch, no spoilers here), but my surprise immediately turned into titillation:
Hey, baby, how you doin'?
Busch Gardens is keeping the identity of the actor playing Sylvie under wraps. But this much I know: The fit, saucer-eyed brunet is a stunner and she works the bitter poet thing well.
Still, if you want to be terrified, Sylvie doesn't do it. The thought of her chasing me through a club wasn't terrifying; it was altogether kinky. In fact, once she's done with her Halloween shift, I might just take her home for Thanksgiving.
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life column runs every Sunday in the Floridian section.