“Who are you and what did you do with my sister/friend?”
It was the IM sent ’round the world.
OK, I’m being dramatic. But everyone who knows me well was shocked to hear I wasn’t dressing up for Halloween this year. Even I felt weird being me.
Ever since I can remember I dressed up for Halloween. It is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year. When I was a kid, I insisted we put those stretchy cotton cobwebs on our bushes outside our house, despite my mother’s vehement opposition to them. I’ve worked at a haunted house as a witch in High School (you should’ve heard my cackle) and even participated in trying to break the Guinness World Record for most people doing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance at one time. I love candy corn and await its arrival, as I do Easter’s Cadbury cream egg and Valentine’s Day’s strawberry marshmallow puff. (Some Jew, I know. But I do love me some gold tin-covered chocolate gelt, too!) So as you’d imagine, when it comes to dressing up, I take it seriously, and by seriously I mean my costume must be homemade, must be clever and must be timely.
Since I didn’t get dressed up this year—for reasons that I can’t quite explain other than my also uncharacteristic lack of interest in pop culture (which usually inspires my costume ideas), my not being here in the States for a large part of the year and my current want-to-be-traveling mentality—I’ve decided to do a celebratory Rocky Horror Time Warp to revisit Halloween’s past.
There will obviously be some gaps, but I’ll go back as far as my mother’s badly organized photo albums will take me. (I say that with love—thanks for diggin’ deep and scannin’, Mom!)
Cue big gap.
Also, I can’t seem to find photos for 2003-2005, but they were the Years of the Pun Costumes. In 2003, I wore a floor-length, vintage sequin gold gown and strung 14 baby carrots around a piece of string to be “14-Carrot Gold.” Of that year, I mostly recall people taking bites from my décolletage.
The following year, I found a cheap and cheesy blue dress, got some devil ears, a tail and red sparkle to be “Devil in a Blue Dress.” Cute, but a tail always causes problems.
In 2005, I had a boyfriend and so badly wanted to do the “couple costume” as I had never done so before, being the eternal Single Lady (foreshadowing!) that I always was/am. But he wanted to dictate his own costume with no interference from me, and so if I wanted to pair up with him, I had to DIMY. He wanted to be Stevie Wonder (sans blackface, obviously), and so I decided to go as one of his songs. “Golden Lady” would’ve been hot, but I had recently worn that gold dress (I don’t like to dress-up and repeat), plus not many people know that very awesome song. So I stuck with the puns and went as “Superstition,” complete with an umbrella hat, a stuffed black cat pinned to my shoulder and other wearable superstitions that I’m failing to remember. Or maybe just don’t want to remember—it wasn’t my best year. (Note to self: Be like Fleetwood Mac and Go Your Own Way if you really dig Halloween. Or get a more collaborative partner.)
From there, things got decidedly…unsexy. See, I’ve always been of the I’d-Rather-Be-Clever-Than-Slutty mentality and, for whatever reason, the most clever costumes I could think of for the next few years required me to dress, well, not-so-hot. My friends repeatedly gave me slack for this. They applauded my effort and enthusiasm, of course, but year-after-year I remained sans beau (2005 and 2006 aside), and everyone knows Halloween is the time of year to strut one’s single self. They saw it as my opportunity to get me some boyfriend. But I just couldn’t get with being 28, 29 and (gasp!) 30, with my boobs hanging out. So…
Costume: Little Miss Sunshine
To be fair, I was still with boyfriend, so being sexy wasn’t a priority, let alone a necessity. And since I had completely blown it the year before, I was going to go all out by any means necessary. Little Miss Sunshine had been a hit in the theaters just two months prior, so I found myself a pair of red cowboy boots, big geeky eyeglasses, and filled in with other appropriate apparel to look like lovable Olive (albeit with boobs, covered up as they were.) As you’ll see in the photos, I had recruited my best friend Rebecca to become my Halloween bosom buddy from this year on. This didn’t always mean our costumes were coordinated, but that she just joined me for whatever spooky festivities I had found for us to partake in.
Costume: Dead Cheerleader from Heroes
The TV series had only been on a year, but it definitely had its fair share of, ahem, diehard fans. (This was before the show went into What-The-Heck-Is-Going-On territory and Zachary Quinto was still killing it—literally—as super psycho Sylar.) I had never really done the wig thing, but this costume required one as blond hair I do not have. I didn’t want to buy a cheerleader costume, so I got in touch with my old high school cheerleading coach (yup, went there!) to borrow a uniform. (I don’t think I told her it was for a Halloween costume. Oops.) That said, the colors were off, but my wig was on, helping me get a handful of “You’re the girl from Heroes!” reactions, which made it all worthwhile. Notice the unsexiness, though. Blond does not suit me. At least not with black eyebrows and fake gashes on my forehead.
Another indie movie character! This time, it was everyone’s favorite home-skillet Juno and her track-star boyfriend Paulie Bleecker, aka Michael Cera, aka Rebecca, Reebs or Bec to me. This one was fairly easy and only required my buying the orange and white striped shirt from Old Navy. I used my bike helmet for my bump. Cute, but again, not-so-sexy. In fact, a bit dowdy. Also, what was up with my hair? Again, Bec managed to dress as a dorky dude and still look cute.
Costume: Beyonce, Single Lady
By this year, I had finally gotten the message: It was time to bring sexy back. It helped that there was a perfectly timely, creative and clever way to do it: Beyonce. I went to great lengths to find that leotard with the one arm—all the way to some random dance store in Murray Hill. The rest was pretty simple. Just a tease of the hair here, a giant faux ring and shiny tights there, and voila! A Single Lady. I’ll admit it took some courage to walk around the city without pants, but believe me, I wasn’t the only one. In fact, I even found some Single Lady counterparts in the subway!
Costume: Katy Perry, California Girl
Again, the message had been delivered: Sexy. Thankfully, Katy Perry had arrived on the scene and she was ripe for the licking, er, picking, er, mimicking. This time, I knew better to find a wig that was more flattering (bangs helped), along with a form-fitting outfit to go with it. I found the white tube dress at American Apparel and bought pom-poms from Pearl Paint, which I then glued on to look like dot candy. The final touch was a pic of Snoop Dog on the giant lollipop. This was the year I appeared in the New York Post for their annual “Ripped From the Headlines” costume story, hence my looking particularly camera ready on a white background.
Costume: Black Swan
The movie had come out in December of the year prior, and won some awards, too, so unfortunately I was not the only Black Swan flying about. This was also the year of the giant wind/snowstorm on Halloween in NYC, so any attempt at going outside and coming back inside with costume still intact was pretty impossible. Still, the attempt was made. My aunt gave me the black dress, complete with tulle skirt; I found the tiara at a local accessories store, and had the gashes from my dead cheerleader costume. (Yes, despite my not liking to repeat costumes I save them all, much to the dismay of my mother whose attic is full of them.)
Notice, again, how I managed to make what could’ve been a very sexy costume…unsexy. I’m not sure what happened. I felt it necessary to be true to the character and paint my face white, which probably didn’t help. The thick black eye-makeup probably didn’t do much for my green eyes, either. (I didn’t go so far and get the red contact lenses. Perhaps that was my mistake? Probably not.) Also, wearing my hair back isn’t my best look, but, again, I wanted to stay true to the character. Bec, on the other hand, did the White Swan justice without the white face paint. ‘
Still, I will never forget running around Brooklyn in the wind and rain and sleet, our black and white feathers leaving a trail amongst the fallen leaves. We eventually found the party we were going to, and I won something later that evening: a raffle, that included really good olive oil, a cookbook from The Meatball Shop and a personal voicemail message recorded by…Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. No joke. I never cashed in, but still have the olive oil!
Costume: 50 Shades of Grey
For this one, I returned to my punerrific years because, well, 50 Shades of Grey is a book. Also, since I was going to be in California with my sister, who isn’t nearly as into Halloween as I am, I had to share my costume. That was fine, though, because actually wearing 50 shades of grey myself probably would’ve been difficult. So we split it: 25 for her, 25 for me. We each wore all grey, and then I went to the hardware store, grabbed as many of their paint samples as I could find (50, to be exact—authenticity is key!) and made us wee peplums! Of course, no 50 Shades of Grey costume would be complete without a tie, which we got from my grandfather’s collection. I wore mine around my head, cause, well, SEXY. Rach went more traditional with it around her neck. It was a hit. PS. Despite it being a book club pick that year, I never finished reading the kinky novel. Swear.
Costume: Nada (hides under table)
Had I seen Sharknado, this may have been the year to pin stuffed sharks to myself. Or maybe Miley, complete with foam finger? Instead, I spent the evening feeling both like an old fart and a young kid by trick-or-treating with my best friend Anna and her 2-year-old son Meyer, who was a robot. His costume was homemade (holla to the parentals!) and was the talk of Prospect Heights.
I did wear my TopShop orange-ish sweater with a skull on it, complete with Anna’s mink hat for fun, skeleton gloves (that she happened to have lying around) and a pair of fangs, which Meyer continually asked me to take out.
We went trick-or-treating in Brooklyn, where they give out things like Kettle Corn and rolo’s and you can walk into stores that sell—of all things—liquor, and say those three little words to get a bag of chocolatey, sugary sweets. (Unfortunately, you had to pay for the real good stuff.)
I’ll admit it felt weird to be picking through a kid’s bag of candy in bed at 10p.m., not to mention going without a costume—especially since my Scottish friend Clare is in town from London and was experiencing a New York Halloween for the first time: “I can’t believe how big Halloween is here!” she wrote in an email from the sidelines of the annual Halloween parade, just steps from my apartment. In fact, I hightailed it out of my West Village neighborhood early afternoon lest I start to get serious FOMO for not having a killer costume in time for the massive event. But what can I say? This has been the year of change for me (get a load of today’s Daily Om!), and I’m still riding that wave—dressed head to toe in myself.
Hope you all had a great one! ‘Til next year…