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Costume Redemption

In 2009, my cousins invited me to spend Halloween with them.

A few days before Halloween I got a really bad case of the flu. It was so bad, I was bedridden. I hadn’t had flu that bad since about 2004. Luckily I was well enough to put together a haphazard Shirley Manson costume in about two days.

If I had not gotten sick I would have put together like a sandwich board costume. Something like the twitter bird, a strawberry with glitter accents, or a YouTube video. I had some foam core board I wanted to use, and it would have taken a few days paint and construct the costume if I was feeling well.

The most effort I put into my Shirley Manson costume was dying my hair red. (I’m a natural brunette) I was going to dye it red eventually after Halloween anyway. When I came over everybody was surprised by the red hair. Some of them thought it was fake. The dye I used was just Revlon Color silk #42. It wasn’t colored hair spray or Manic Panic dye.

I was trying to emulate how she dressed during the "Version 2.0" era.

Some of my cousins invited me to trick-or-treat with them, but I declined because I thought people were going to discriminate against me for my age - I was twenty five at the time - and because my Shirley Manson costume just looked like an outfit. That was a costume not a lot of people would “get”.

My cousins had a haunted yard. My Shirley Manson costume was not scary, so my cousins used me as a plant to help scare people, and I was willing to do it too. I just liked that I was in on it. I didn’t need a scary costume or monster makeup. I just sat there handing out candy, complementing people’s costumes, eating candy, and tweeting on my phone. They really liked when I would tweet on my phone because it made me look disinterested. One of my cousins hid behind me and the other hid in the bushes. We scared a lot of people, and it was a lot of fun.

In 2010, when they invited me again, I decided that I needed a better costume than the one I put together at the last minute.

I wanted to save money. I’m a very frugal person. I looked to see what I already had to work with. I already had a black graduation gown I was saving to do something with it, but I wasn’t sure what. I did some research before I committed to a costume idea. I had bought some skeleton finger gloves a few years earlier because they were on sale and I thought I could do something with them. I like to go around during the Halloween season and after, and buy inexpensive costume pieces. The problem is I buy random things that don’t exactly add up to make a costume.

A Spirit store opened up at one of the local malls. Picking out the right mask was hard. I needed something that was full face coverage; no half masks for me! I wanted something inexpensive, but not cheap looking. I knew I wanted something with a hood or that covered the back of my head. I did have a budget. I saw some prosthetics for sale, but I’m so over full face prosthetics; after what happened with the witch mask. I ended up buying a skull mask with an attached hooded shroud with mesh eyes. The mask was great! It covered all of my hair. It’s not that hard to hide my hair since I’ve been sporting a bob. I just pinned it up and it was not too lumpy. It was just hard to breathe in because there were no mouth or nose holes. Even with the shroud in the back and the mesh covered eye holes it was quite stuffy.

This is the mask I wore

A few days before Halloween I was trying to get into character. My voice is really little and is not all that deep or scary sounding. I really had to work on being and sounding scary. I practiced posing in the mirror and everything. My scary voice sounded a lot more like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog than anything.

I was very concerned about exposed skin. I didn’t want my skin to show. I feel exposed skin ruins a costume like this. You got this really great scary costume then you see a person’s exposed skin, and it just ruins the illusion. I’ve even seen it with professional scare actors. This is what I wore under my costume; black shirt, black Capri pants, black arm warmers I made out of old black pantyhose, and my black Doc Marten boots. I even wore some black pantyhose over my eyes under the mask. I heard that if you do that your eyes don't show up as well under the mesh. I didn't want to paint black around my eyes in case the make up smeared and melted under the mask. Wearing the pantyhose made it even harder to see.

I was invited to go trick-or-treating with my younger cousins, and I really considered it because I was all covered up anyway. I hadn't gone trick-or-treating since I was seventeen. I could have passed myself off as a teenager especially with my naturally little voice. I declined to go because I wanted to stay in the yard and scare people.

I felt confident and happy I was something recognizable. The costume made me take on a whole new personality. I was outgoing, sociable, and holding conversations with people I didn’t know. I guess the anonymity made me feel brave or something. Usually I’m very timid, and afraid to talk to people. It was really great people wanted to take my picture. At first I thought “A picture of lil’ ol’ me?” I was flattered! The bad part about the costume was that it made me very vain, and I kept wanting to get my picture taken in the costume.

I didn't really do much scaring. I was too busy being social. I didn't wear the mask for a lot of the time. I was just resting it on my head. It was stuffy, sweaty and hard to see out of.

I think I would like to wear a better put together Shirley Manson costume. Especially one that looked like the nurse outfit she wore in the "Bleed Like Me" video. Which is one of my favorite Garbage videos.

The grim reaper costume made up for the last minute Shirley Manson costume I had hastily put together the year before. I was proud of that grim reaper costume. It was one of my best efforts yet.


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SegaFanatic Posted on Nov 29, 2014 at 04:28 PM

It's always about whether or not you've got a good costume; fun article! I went as Ghostface/Scream Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber, that was one of my more "interesting" costumes.

jkatz Posted on Oct 18, 2014 at 06:07 AM

pl, I don't know about anybody else, but I love costumes you throw together from whatever you have lying around the house. It's fun and you can get really creative and elaborate with it. I remember how one year I was pressed for time I so threw on a beret, tied a scarf around my neck, smeared my face with some makeup and went as "the snooty frenchman". Maybe that's a bad example but you get the idea.

pikachulover Posted on Oct 17, 2014 at 05:40 AM

I've made other "hodge podge" costumes, but they were all girly things. I mostly wore them in high school.

And the box with all my "random costume pieces" has mostly girly stuff in there like plush animal ear headbands and fairy wings. I have other things in there like old bed sheets and some creepy cloth.

One year that I passed out candy I put together this really nice goth style outfit with a lacy skirt and some striped socks.

My original idea in 2010 was to dress as a cartoon character from an obscure Italian cartoon. Then I realized it wasn't very popular and nobody would recognize who I was dressed as.

Vaporman87 Posted on Oct 17, 2014 at 12:08 AM

I've one the "hodge podge" costume a time or two. It works especially well when you base it around a really great mask. I had an expensive troll/zombie like mask with eyes that lit up (red) that was fantastic to look AT.

Looking THROUGH... that was another thing entirely. But I made through the night by slipping my mask up over my face when I was walking between houses.

@Hoju: You MUST upload that entire movie (in .flv or .mp4 (ipad codec... h.264 I think) to this site for the "Home Movies" section of the videos. It's awesomely cheesy! Love it.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Oct 16, 2014 at 09:21 PM

Sometimes those "hodge podge" costumes can turn out to be the most special. My best friend created a character called "Rakeman" over several years of participating in haunted yards/garages. I loved the idea so much, I eventually made a very no-budget (and it shows) horror-comedy about the character, fleshing out the Rakeman's back story and adding my own flare to it. If you're looking for something spooky to watch for Halloween, you can check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaT_B7FXw78

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