Thursday, October 01, 2015

Geek Memories: Halloweens Past!


When I was a kid, Halloween was probably my second-favorite holiday of the year, after Christmas. I'm sure a lot of it was collecting epic amounts of candy, but at least an equal part of it had to have been the dressing up in costume!
As a kid, my siblings and I always wanted to get the character costumes produced by Ben Cooper and others... they were the absolute tops in costumes, as far as we were concerned, even if the plastic masks made your face all sweaty, the elastic band had a habit of breaking, and sometimes the mask would even develop a crack that would scratch your face the whole time! 

Of course, the silliest thing about these costumes was that they weren't really proper costumes at all, were they? Nearly all of them had a picture of the character you were supposed to be dressed up as printed on the front of the body suit, along with the name of the character. Even the ones that were supposed to look like the person you were dressed up as tended to fail in some aspect of the design. 

But as kids, somehow we didn't care about that so much as dressing up as our favorite character from comics, cartoons, TV shows, or movies. 

I don't remember any specific costumes I had when I was little... I'm sure I wanted superhero or cartoon character costumes most of all, but I don't remember actually getting any of the ones that were real cool. Most of the time, we'd end up getting our costumes on Halloween, or perhaps the day before, when the selection started to get a bit iffy.

I think the first year I had the opportunity to really make my own costume, I decided for some reason to dress up as a "bum," with this fake beard, plastic cigar, and wearing an old suit jacket of my dad's. Nope, nothing at all geeky there... in fact, it was in rather poor taste! I honestly don't know what possessed me to do that.

frankrubbermask.JPGIt was probably in junior high or high school I had my first monster costume... I bought a rubber Frankenstein Monster mask at a local costume and magic shop, and wore that for one Halloween party, but I remember the mask was extremely hot and uncomfortable! That mask disappeared over the years, and I don't know if I ever wore it more than the one time or not.

In high school, I made my first-ever superhero costume... my mom had a bunch of red fabric left over from one project of hers, so I knew I needed to choose someone with a lot of red. A buddy of mine had been kidding me for years that whenever John Byrne drew Wonder Man, he was really just drawing me, so I figured, what the heck? I went ahead and created by hand Wondy's red safari jacket, parted my hair in the middle, and wore a blue t-shirt, blue pants, and boots. I didn't make the belt jets (didn't occur to me to do so). I only wore this once, and that was at that same friend's house, where we were giving away candy to the kids that were trick or treating.

The following year, I did something different... I had long been interested in movie making and special effects, so I figured I'd create something original (or relatively original). So, I made this puppet head out of fake fur of a felinoid-type alien, along with one hand in fur, and used my graduation gown for the rest of the costume. Sadly, I have no photos of any of these to show for it now!

Naturally, the entire time I was in the Navy, I didn't do anything for Halloween... well, with one exception! One year, since I was running the closed-circuit TV on the ship, and we had a bunch of horror movies to show, I figured I'd go ahead and be a classic horror host for one night! I slicked my hair back, used a dark blanket for a cape, and did a vampire host, complete with background music (I used the "Comet Empire Theme" from Star Blazers, played very slowly on a keyboard I borrowed, with some wolf howls thrown in every now and then) and an outrageous Bela Lugosi accent! This was the only time I did anything like that, and it was fun, although I wish I could've done a proper set for it.

After getting out of the Navy, my next costume was for the Halloween party thrown at the karaoke bar I started frequenting. Trying to come up with a good costume idea, I was checking out the mask selection at one store and spotted a rubber walrus face mask. Inspiration struck me, and I bought it, then ran to the nearest music store to get a cassette of the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, so I'd have proper reference before going to a fabric store, where I bought the fake fur to re-create John Lennon's Walrus! Nobody had any idea who I was in that costume until it was my turn to sing, and I'm sure only two people there "got" the costume at all.

The following year, I went more conventional, and dressed up as Elvis Presley, although I didn't get the right sunglasses (and the white jumpsuit I planned to make turned out to be prohibitively expensive).

The next year, I didn't do anything for Halloween other than give out comic books to kids instead of candy, something I would do when I was at home for that holiday for years to come. This was what I did when I moved to Wisconsin, although I never saw many trick or treaters there.

After returning back to Washington, I reconnected with my old friends from the karaoke bar, and discovered that they were doing an annual haunted house! Well, this was something I'd wanted to get into for a long time, so I happily volunteered to be their Frankenstein Monster! They had a costume and mask, but this time, I was not going to just wear a mask... No, I had bigger plans!

I started working away on the plan immediately. I was going to finally do the proper makeup job on the Monster that I'd long wanted to do. I started finding sources for what I needed, and worked many hours on the application for the headpiece and brow. I found one latex Frankenstein brow online, and ordered it, and then found a rubber skull mask I could cut up and use as the basis for the rest of the head. I also bought a large amount of latex rubber and some crepe hair, as well as green makeup for the rest of the job.

I don't know how long I worked on the headpiece, but I was relatively happy with the final result, although I had to get a darker green makeup than I first purchased after I wore the makeup for a test run at a party. As you can see, the head didn't end up quite in the right proportions (I wish I still had a larger photo to share).

The costume and makeup worked well... previous years they only had a stuffed dummy for the Monster, and so nobody expected a living, breathing one! I scared more than a few people (including one adult who complained he'd wet his pants!). It was great, but by the time the following Halloween had come around, I wasn't able to be a part of it a second year due to financial difficulties.

jonandjessi2My next Halloween was after I'd met Jessi, and had gotten Krypto. The Olympia area does an annual "bones and treats" event, which is trick or treating for dogs. Krypto, of course, dressed as his namesake, and I hand-made a Superman outfit for me to wear. I wore this outfit for at least two years, but then I started putting weight on, and haven't worn it since. It's currently in storage along with the Frankenstein get-up, just waiting for me to lose weight and make a few upgrades and repairs.

After we had our kids, I didn't do any more dressing up, except for one Halloween, when I wore my scrubs from my Medical Assisting classes, although I do have a Captain Hook costume in the shed from my daughter's pirate-themed party a few years back!

One of these days, I'll have to revisit the whole geek costume thing, although I haven't really felt like it since Krypto passed away. I don't know what costume I'd go with, to be honest!

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