It's that spooky time of the season again, and frankly I'm surprised that, after having written these Lists of 9 for nearly ten years(!) now, I haven't taken advantage of the late October period to list some of the Halloween costumes I have worn in the past. Sadly, the memories are fading, but I still recall the following outfits:
- Han Solo, 1977. I was probably one of thousands of seven-year-old boys to don this getup that Halloween, with Star Wars still packing in the crowds at the local cinemas. (Hard to imagine such theatrical longevity now, with DVD and VOD and all that, but the film played on the same big screen - Century 22 - in San Jose for well over a year).
- Jawa, 1978. This was an even cooler Star Wars costume than Han Solo. My mom sewed me an amazing brown Jawa robe - with the same material as used in the movie - and even made me a black felt mask with gold sequins around the eye holes to approximate the glowing eyes of the Jawa. I was about the same height, too. (I got a lot of use out of that robe - seven or eight years later, my mother cut it down to an Elizabethan cape for me to wear as Benvolio in my English class's mini-production of Romeo and Juliet.)
- Robot, 1979. Oh, how I wish I had easy access to photos of these costumes, dear reader! This one was truly dorky: my mom and I constructed a boxy robot outfit (literally, it was a box), spray-painted it gold, and included a helmet made out of one of those plain cardboard "ice cream containers" with a TV antenna on top. It was very square and retro. I was definitely not going for a C3PO look, though like Anthony Daniels I could only move stiffly in this outfit and could not sit down while wearing it.
- Wolf, 1975. When I was even weer, Mom - the '70s were a big "sewing" period for her - bought some fake fur and made a little cowl, with pointy ears, which I wore over my head and shoulders. It wasn't really a mask, and I eschewed face paint. But with that, and a big tail made out of the same material safety-pinned to my pants, I was a "wolf" (or maybe "wolf man") when I was in kindergarten.
- Pirate, 1976(?). This may have been later in my life - there were, after all, only so many Halloweens in the '70s - but I shudder to think about being ten or eleven in this get-up. For it was a very frilly pirate costume indeed, using my mother's flouncy white ruffled shirt, a bold red sash, and a floppy girly hat. (I don't think I even had an eyepatch.) To look more tough, I added a plastic knife and a "hook" for a hand, which was basically just a bent-up wire hanger that I stuck out of one knotted-up sleeve end while hiding my hand inside. Pitiful.
- Marillion dude, 1986. My adolescence was not about costumes. But when I was 16, and I tagged along with a couple of friends to San Francisco for Halloween, my "look" was inspired by the pretentious 80's prog rock band Marillion (don't feel bad if you've never heard of them), and their creepy, airbrushed surrealist album covers by Mark Wilkinson - in particular, his art for their single "Assassing". (You'll have to Google the album cover, as links keep dying. For the record, I wore the face paint of the guy on the left of the cover, but not his costume. Sleeveless camouflage jackets were not for me, and I wore a trendy '80s Mao cap in lieu of the character's Rambo-like headband. In the end, I came off looking like a Communist ghoul.)
- Kurt Cobain, 1994. The Nirvana frontman had ended his life just six months earlier, so what more topical - or more tasteless - costume could I choose for my attendance at CalArts' Halloween party that year? I greased up a blonde wig and even grew out a sparse goatee. Unfortunately, once I added my round black-framed glasses to the wig and flannel, I looked like Garth from Wayne's World. So I added a little ghoul makeup and kept my glasses in my pocket most of the night - thus my evening truly was a blur.
- Agent Smith, 2001. I haven't dressed up for many Halloweens as an adult. The above "Kurt or Garth?" conundrum made it clear that many great costume ideas don't work well on a bespectacled young man. But I did have a pair of prescription sunglasses, and when a friend invited me to his Halloween soiree a few years back, I slicked my hair back, put on a black suit with a skinny tie, donned the shades, and voila - a pretty believable Matrix villain. And I could see for once, too.
- Harry Potter, 2002. Hooray for J.K. Rowling and her four-eyed hero! My then-girlfriend dragged me to the West Hollywood Halloween "carnaval" (the biggest in the world, with over 250,000 attendants each year) and this was a simple enough costume, as I already looked the part. Strangers even shouted "Harry Potter!" to me all night. As for my wife Miki, she wouldn't dress up if her life depended on it, though we've thought up some very clever costume duos - and we live just two blocks from the annual WeHo revelry.