If there’s one lesson to learn in college, it’s that nothing brings out a person’s inner asshole like a costume. Alcohol may unhinge our self-control, but eventually, it also makes us barf, putting a stop to the insanity. A costume, on the other hand, gives the dangerous impression of anonymity, a conscious break from our usual standards of behavior.
This is the danger of an adult Halloween. Without fail, meathead guys in wigs and miniskirts display their homophobic/homoerotic tendencies, and insecure girls convince themselves that dressing up as a slutty cat is somehow empowering. Can’t you see? Wearing whiskers and showing people your tits is just not a good costume. Common sense seems to fly out the window as soon as October 31 rolls around, and unfortunately, pride and imagination go with it.
At Halloween Adventure, a gigantic costume shop, the ready-to-go ensembles for adults seem to outnumber those for children. For $59.99, you can embarrass yourself as a Sexy French Maid, or for $84.99, an erotic “Trooper” (apparently a soldier wears fishnets and a crop top—gloves not included). If you want to avoid submission and dominance, there’s always “Mermaid,” “Cave Woman,” or the inexplicable half-naked British flag. And for a mere $44.99, you can take the most giant step backwards for all womankind: The “Cherry Pie” costume consists of a bra shaped like two cherries with stems for straps, a red-and-white-checkered skirt, an apron with cherries on it, and “pie panties” which remain a mystery.
Issues of decency and self-respect aside, is there anything less creative than buying a complete costume someone else thought of? Halloween is supposed to be about horror, humor, or both—and it is also meant for children. Adults who insist on participating should be held to some standard of effort and imagination. The best Halloween memories (aside from counting up the booty) are of figuring out how to get your hair to stand up straight, getting your grotesque nose squared, or finding the perfect jacket for Frankenstein at the Salvation Army.
This doesn’t mean it has to be a difficult process. An easy approach is to choose a celebrity who died in some horrible way, and then dress as them “in Heaven.” You could also choose a character from a horror movie, like Carrie, because fake blood is awesome. In fact, being a bloody version of yourself would be more acceptable than being a French Maid. And if you insist on looking sexy, you could at least also be dead. For the cheerful, there’s the pun-y costume, though they can verge on pretentious (for example, an art school student might embody Picasso’s Blue Period, with some paint and maxi pads).
Don’t forget, you can also just stay at home.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 18, 2005