My mom recently told me a story about our first Halloween in America. It turns out we didn’t know about Halloween (though in Russia there is a similar holiday, except instead of costumes and candy, people hide in their apartments, afraid to make a noise.) Still, we didn’t know that you had to be home and went somewhere. When we got back, someone had written “fuck” on our house with shaving cream or something. We were confused, until a neighbor explained it—in America there is a holiday where children dress as monsters and go door to door to get candy. If you’re not there, they destroy something of yours. Oh! Of course! It’s like a child version of The Secret Police, but instead of searching for people who question the actions of the State, they want candy. No prob. We’ll be around next year.
This year, I had a fun Halloween. I often don’t have a costume (I’m not counting the mask I wear to hide my feelings.) It seemed like this Halloween there were less girls dressed like magical hookers. So that’s good. (A recent statistic I wrote says that boys will try to have sex with girls 97 percent as much regardless of whether they wear a pretty blouse or dress as a witch in thongs who got surprised by a fire alarm. And the three perecent that won’t would make terrible dad’s, even for an hour.)
Last year I dressed as a mish-mash of super hero-esque things (I had a utility-belt filled with airplane size liquor bottles I’d hand out) and a mask I bought in Chinatown with strawberries or something on it. I also wore a speaker attached to my iPod and played sweet music plus recordings of me (in a pitched, deep voice) saying, “Don’t ask me what I’m dressed as,” or “Hey, Mr. Downtown, I think you overdosed on cool pills.” If I had to give this hero a name I would call him Captain Fun, or more accurately, Dr. Captain Weird and Confusing.
This year I was made a beautiful Robin (like Batman and Robin) outfit by someone (who was very cute, so if you know her, please have her e-mail me, unless she’s married, then just a fax, and maybe we’ll go on an awkward date; example—we go to fill out the paperwork to adopt a highway.) The Robin outfit was for a bit (Treat! You just learned a comedy term! You can throw out the word “skit”) for an 826-NYC benefit—a non-profit org (that’s short for “organization,” though now longer, sorry) that tutors kids in writing and also sells superhero gear. (If you’d like to help a child write a novel or memoir visit 826nyc.org.)
After the benefit I got to keep my beautiful, hand made costume. I wore it to several parties, and at each party, people asked me different things. “Where’s Batman?” I got a lot. (I now know not go as one half of a team; a lesson anyone who dressed up as Rumsfeld or Charlie Watts could tell you, too.) My favorite thing someone said to me was on my way to Bowery Bar, two guys, somewhat drunk and tough, yelled, “Nobody cares about Robin.”
“Nobody cares about Robin.”
Really? Who do they care about? Batman? Yes. People are heartbroken over the death of his imaginary parents in a made-up city. Or Superman. He is the only survivor from his planet. He’s alone. And when you wear a superman costume people get that depth of pain.
I guess what I’m really saying is, the next time you see someone in a Robin outfit, just yell, “Fag” or “You suck!” Don’t go into the pseudo-psychology of it. It’ll be flawed.
Above is a picture of me and Leo Allen (who was Captain Guess Your Weight) at the 826-nyc benefit, with somewhat surprised onlookers. I was his crappy side kick (Robyn with a y.)
I’d like to end this by recounting a Halloween story that William Shatner once told on Conan. It’s the reason he may be a brilliant man. For Halloween one year, William Shatner went out in two William Shatner masks. He would get to a house, take off a mask, and underneath, would be another William Shanter mask. Then he would take the second mask off, to reveal the real William Shatner. I have always loved that story. Thank you, Mr. Shatner.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 11, 2005