Thursday, October 16, 2008


Halloween is almost upon us, kids. What will you be this year? I'm still planning to be Joan Holloway, continuing my 'famous redheads' costume theme of the last few years. Assuming that I have a party to go to, I've got a 1960s style 'wiggle dress' on call. I'll make any excuse to wear the clothing from back then!

A lot of people refer to All Hallows' Eve as "Slut-O-Ween," but I prefer to call it "Freak-O-Ween." What time of year could be more appropriate to proudly fly your freak flag? When I lived back in Boston, I used to go to Salem to celebrate. Weirdos crawl out of the woodwork; everybody is off their meds and nothing is too bizarre. If you're into the darker parts of New England history, the Witch Museum is open that night, along with the Dungeon Museum, where actors recreate witch trials based on surviving transcripts. Spells, stones and potions can be purchased on famous Essex Street, where you can have your fortune told, or your aura read, by one of the many practicing witches in the area. My favorite shop was Angelica of the Angels; my girl JoAnne and I went there for readings with Rev. Barbara or one of the other mediums a couple of times a year. Silly, I know; but really fun. We'd make a day of it - have our readings, purchase a bauble or two, then have lunch at some cute spot in town.

On our most memorable trip to Angelica's, we made a quick stop at a Mailboxes, etc. so that I could send a birthday package to my sister. There was a man in his forties in line ahead of us, who overheard JoAnne and I chatting about our upcoming readings. He turned around.

"You know," he said, very gravely, "they do the work of the devil."

"Oh, sure," I smiled. "That's why we go." He glared and walked out. JoAnne and I waited for the door to shut, then erupted in laughter.

Wicked activities aside, the one tourist attraction that I would absolutely recommend is the House of Seven Gables, otherwise known as the "Hawthorne house." On Halloween night, the house stays open into the early morning, offering candelit tours. For a sentimental literature buff like myself, touring the house that the author of The Scarlet Letter lived in was heaven, but it's a cool place to check out even if you couldn't care less about Hester Prynne.

I'm sure it goes without saying that the Witches' New Year (that's Samhain for you history nerds) is far more imaginative in Salem than it is in Los Angeles. Out here, the Slut-O-Ween label is very apropos. Go anywhere in Hollywood that night and you'll be surrounded by angels and devils - both in nothing more substantial than underwear, horns and wings. They look very good in their non-costumes, mind you; most of them are actresses and models. My personal objection comes from a lack of originality. Then there's the fact that, when you go shopping for adult costumes, there isn't much choice besides "Slutty Fillintheblank." Slutty firefighter, slutty schoolgirl, slutty French maid...the slutty astronaut costume exists too - Jesus wept! I have seen it with my own eyes. I have to 'fess up that I myself was a slutty cop a few years back. I hadn't planned to go out for Halloween at all, but got a last minute plea from a good friend, who took me to Trashy Lingerie to shop. I know. I was open to something new - a little too open. Officer Naughty was by far the most demure costume I could find - a shirtdress that buttoned up the front, had full sleeves, and came down to mid-thigh. Still, she was less than shy; I'm pretty sure that stilettos and fishnets aren't standard issue for the LAPD. Even so, I felt like a Mormon compared to most of the women I passed on the street. Strangely, I feel safest on Halloween, the one night when even I think anything goes. I can drop my conservative wardrobe with no fear. In a sea of exposed flesh, no way do I stand out the most, no matter what I have or haven't got on. The year that I was a cop, one of my tiny, very fit friends decided to be Pocahontas, who must have been incredibly cold back in the day, wearing not much more than a suede bathing suit with beaded fringe on the Virginia coast in wintertime. No wonder John Smith fell for her so hard! We jokingly called her "Poke-a-hot-ass" all night that year.

I much prefer making use of my own clothes to create my costumes. The year before I was Officer Naughty, I decided to be Jessica Rabbit - she of the icon that I use in my profile.

Yes, dear readers, c'est moi, in character. I took a previously worn Ann Taylor gown and dressed it up with a pair of $15 purple opera gloves from Hollywood Costume. It's easily the cheapest and most elegant costume I've ever worn - I was a poor imitation of the real thing, I know, but it was fun to be Jessica for one night. Unfortunately, I had to explain who I was to some members of the under-25 set. Apparently, I've gotten to the age when recent college graduates haven't seen any of the movies from my childhood! These kids today. I spent a good part of my evening advising my fellow partygoers to add to their Netflix qeue.

Jessica is the least revealing costume I've ever worn, but she backfired on me, big time. Earlier I mentioned the freedom of going unnoticed in a sea of uncovered limbs, but Jessica got a reaction, whether the guys knew who she was or not. Was it because I was covered up? You know, the lure of the unseen? I can never get this right. To wit:

Catwoman (unitard, mask) - no problem
Wonder Woman (sparkly bathing suit, boots) - no problem
Officer Naughty (shirtdress, stilettos) - no problem
Ginger of Gilligan's Island (long gown) - harrassed incessantly
Jessica Rabbit (black tie ready) - randomly groped, booty call

You know what? It's not me at all. It's a tossup whose outcome depends on the quality of men I'm surrounded by.

As Jessica, I had such a lovely conversation with a man dressed as the Phantom of the Opera that I gave him my number. He called. Not a few days later, to ask me on a date, but at 3:30 that morning, to booty call me. Jessica might not have hung up on him, but Ginger did.

He called back at 4am. "You're just scared," he slurred drunkenly.

"No," I countered. "I'm smart."

Even Officer Naughty didn't get that kind of treatment, and she had handcuffs! Wonder Woman didn't have to deal with that, either. Then again, she had the Lasso of Truth. Maybe that's what kept them at bay. Would Joan Holloway carry handcuffs and rope in her purse? Probably not. Hopefully, there's some magic in the special gold pen she wears around her neck. I'll let you know.

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Blogger Linnaeus said...

Maybe this isn't too original, but since I'm, like you, given to the Mad Men love, I'm thinking of going as a Sterling Cooper executive. I already have a fedora, and I found online images of Sterling Cooper business cards that I think I'll have made into real ones. Now all I need is a form-fitting gray suit.

9:23 PM  
Blogger Ginger said...

Ah, but which one will you be? Don? Roger? Ken? Paul? Pete? Definitely not Sal ; )

9:57 PM  
Blogger Linnaeus said...

My friend Betsy says I shouldn't try to be any one of those, but just be me and invent myself as a Sterling Cooper exec.

I'd love to be Don, but I could never pull him off due the lack of physical resemblance alone. I'm too young for Roger (who has the best lines on the show). Refuse to be Pete (a well-done character, but not the kind I want to do)

That leaves Ken or Paul. I look closer to Ken, but in terms of attitude, I can probably mimic Paul better (that's what lots of years in academia will do for you!). So we'll see.

I can't do Sal, clearly, but I like his suits. I hear some of early '60s fashion is coming back, and I think that's kinda cool.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Ginger said...

I like the idea of having Sterling Cooper business cards. I'm sure that Joan wouldn't have had any, but I can modernize her a little. Why not?

10:22 AM  
Blogger SonjaB said...

Funniest thing I heard on Halloween one time. I was in the costume shop picking up my costume (a vampire, but not a slutty vampire), and I hear one of the clerks say "Can somebody help the flying monkeys please"

Sure enough, there stood two 6-foot tall flying monkeys waiting to pay.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Linnaeus said...

I like the idea of having Sterling Cooper business cards. I'm sure that Joan wouldn't have had any, but I can modernize her a little. Why not?

Indeed, why not? Go to the Mad Men pages on AMC's web site. There's a downloads section where you can get photos, desktop wallpapers, etc. There's a scanned image of a Sterling Cooper business card, which I'm sure you can get a print shop to print on business card stock.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Ginger said...

Thanks, Linn. I think I have enough experience in graphic design to typeset and print them myself.

I hope I see some flying monkeys next weekend!

2:17 PM  
Blogger Snark Scribe said...

The difficulty of finding fun, cute (but not slutty) costumes means making my own costumes every year. One year I was a nurse with a high collar, respectable skirt, not-too-fitted dress, opaque stockings and low heels. I still had one man saying, "You are fulfilling, like 5 of my fantasies right now."

9:03 AM  
Blogger Ginger said...

Get on with your bad self, Naughty Nurse Ratchet.

2:00 PM  
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7:45 PM  

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