“Man, I was terrified! So scared I thought I was going to shit myself! In the event, I was lucky enough only to piss myself,” proudly boasts Hollywood star Robert Downey Jr, as he describes his recent ordeal of being grabbed off of the street in LA by what appeared to be a gang of drug dealers, and tortured for three days. “I really thought they were some of the guys I ripped off on a big score back in my drug-taking days! They kept demanding their money and threatening to cut off my extremities if I didn’t pay up! They beat the crap out of me, tied me up and burned me with cigarettes, wired my balls up to a car battery and tweaked my nipples with pliers! Jesus, it was really great! The best rush I’ve ever had – far better than heroin or cocaine! It was worth every penny!” Incredibly, Downey Jr had paid big money to a shadowy group known as the Fright Club, in order to be scared witless in a realistically staged – but ultimately fake – traumatic incident. “It’s great, once you’ve paid, you never know when, where or how these guys will strike! It is all just so real,” says Ben Affleck, another satisfied customer, who is proud to admit that he actually did shit himself when he awoke one morning to find himself sharing his bed with a horribly mutilated corpse. “I’d been on a bender the night before and just didn’t know who it was! It was totally gross – there I was screaming and shitting myself, surrounded by blood, entrails and bodyparts! The only thing I can think of is that I have to get rid of it before Jennifer sees it! So I’m slicing it up and flushing bits down the toilet, burning the bed, scrubbing blood off the floor! Just when I thought I’d got rid of it all, the cops come hammering on my door!”

Affleck found himself arrested and subjected to three days of brutal interrogation – during which he confessed to the slayings of three prostitutes, seven incidents of indecent exposure and sexual intercourse with an unconsenting baboon – before it was revealed that he had been a victim of the Fright Club. The adrenaline rush which comes with extreme fear is apparently the main motivation for the stars participating in these bizarre activities. “Most of them have tried everything else, including drugs, booze, kinky sex and violence, to try and bring some excitement into their lives! The adrenaline rush is just about the only thing left which can do it for them,” comments showbiz journalist Rick Wedge. “Also, the unexpected nature of the incidents brings some semblance of spontaneity into their dull and predictable lives, whilst all that raw fear creates an intense sense that they are actually experiencing something real for once. Of course, the irony is that, like everything else in their lives, it is faked!”

However, police in Los Angeles fear that this latest craze to grip Hollywood’s thrill-seeking celebrities could be getting out of hand. “Only last week we were called out when O J Simpson crawled into a church pleading for sanctuary and gibbering that the vengeful spirit of his murdered wife was stalking him,” explains Police Sergeant Ralph Moffley. “Apparently Mr Simpson was awoken by what he thought was an intruder in his house, only to find himself confronted by a shrouded knife-wielding figure, which proceeded to chase him around his house screeching ‘murderer’ at him. Although he avoided being stabbed, Mr Simpson did break his left leg when he fell down the stairs, and was forced to crawl three blocks to the nearest church to seek protection.” For several days prior to the incident – which the police are convinced was the work of the Fright Club – Simpson had been receiving anonymous phone calls from a woman threatening to ‘come and get him’ and had found the word ‘killer’ daubed in blood above his bed.

In a similar incident, rap mogul Suge Knight’s limousine was pursued and run off of the road by a bullet riddled car driven by what appeared to be two gun-toting corpses sporting obvious gunshot wounds, as he was being driven back to his LA home following his release from an Oregon jail in August. “I truly thought the vengeful spirits of Biggie and Tupac had come to drag my ass to hell! I swear I thought I was going to die,” Knight, who suffered severe contusions and concussion when his car was forced off of the road and hit a tree, later commented. “But man, It was the most exhilarating experience of my life! Just what I needed after that hell hole of a penitentiary!” Police believe that Knight had been ‘set-up’ with the Fright Club by friends, as some kind of twisted ‘welcome home’ present, and strongly suspect that O J Simpson may also have been set-up, but not necessarily by his friends. “We feel this whole business has gone just a little bit too far – these recent incidents have been downright malicious, sadistic even,” declares Moffley. “People are getting hurt, not just physically, but mentally. Catherine Zeta Jones is still severely traumatised and receiving psychiatric treatment as a result of believing her young son had been kidnapped – we’d still like know where the ‘kidnappers’ obtained that child’s ear they sent her through the post.”

The Fright Club itself remains undeterred, claiming it still has a long waiting list for its services. “We see what we do as a form of performance art,” explains a spokesman, known only as Mr X. “The celebrity victim may have paid for it, but the actual happening is a public event, bringing the gift of fear and excitement into the lives of passers-by. It is their chance to be a participant in a work of art! Whilst many try to intervene or phone the police when they see a famous celebrity being snatched on the street, it is amazing how many just turn the other way when they see Joe Piscopolo being kidnapped. In fact, we had one case where a member of the public actually helped us, by hitting Pauly Shore over the head to subdue him!” Nevertheless, the police believe that it is only a matter of time before someone dies. “The Fright Club is a homicide waiting to happen – all it needs is for some old guy like Eli Wallach, or some fat slob like John Goodman, or worse still, some old grossly overweight bastard like Marlon Brando, to be so shocked by one of these stunts that they die of a coronary seizure, and we could be looking at Murder One,” says Sgt Moffley.