Category Costumes

It’s alive! IT’S ALIIIIIIVE!

As a person who is constantly seeking validation and small forms of immortality, I couldn’t help but enter the Frankendie contest, which had people compete to have their likeness in their game, either as a mad scientist or as a monster. They already had a few solid mad scientist entries, so I felt like monsterdom was where I could shine. Not to mention, if you’ve ever had to deal with me early in the morning, I’m really more monster than human anyway. I could have assembled a new costume, but since they didn’t prohibit using an old one, I decided that my swamp witch costume with a new name would do nicely. And since it wasn’t based on merit, but was instead a giant popularity contest, I proceeded to bug the shit out of my friends and asked them to annoy their friends and so on and so forth. One day I’d take a commanding lead, the next I’d be behind, and it came down to the wire with me asking for votes something like every hour the final day of the contest. I’m surprised that I wasn’t unfriended in droves. The important thing is, I won.

What did I win? My costumed likeness is in the game, along with my copy (Can I put that on my resume?), two copies of the game, an illustration of myself, and an enormous t-shirt declaring me the property of the Mad Scientist’s Guild.

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My only quibble is that I’m still about 30 years out from orthopedic shoes, but other than that I’m stoked!

 

Swamp Witch: A Halloween Costume Retrospective

 

This was not my first costume choice; when I had started thinking about costumes back in September, I had originally settled on Medusa. I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go with the costume, because the story has been told so many different ways–that she was created a monster, that she was beautiful and was turned into a monster as punishment, that she is both beautiful and terrible to gaze upon–there were a few different ways I could take it. I also considered going in all white like a crumbling statue of Medusa.

I discussed it with a friend who said she didn’t know if I should go as the Quasimodo of the Greeks, we had a good laugh, and I ordered a wig and some bendable rubber snakes from ebay. I don’t know if you’re aware, but rubber snakes are one of those items you see EVERYWHERE until the day that you need some, in which case you will discover that no store you can think of sells them. No toy stores, no general goods stores with toy aisles, no dollar stores. I searched high and low and nary a rubber snake could be found, which is why I resorted to ebay. I figured if I couldn’t pick and choose the snakes in person, my best bet was to get something wired and bendable so I could make a proper headdress, as I don’t have the materials/talent to sculpt the sort of thing I was envisioning.

When the snakes arrived, disappointment didn’t even begin to describe how I felt. They may have been 24″ long (MAYBE) but they were very skinny and molded into a tightly-coiled shape. They weren’t wired or bendable in any fashion, and if they were pulled out of their coil shape, they looked ‘off’ and snapped back into place. I didn’t want to risk ordering something else and have it not live up to my expectations with time ticking away on the clock, and I knew that there was no way I could put these coiled snakes on my head without looking foolish, cheap, and like a half-assed, snakey Princess Leia. So, Medusa was scrapped. But what to do? I had already bought a non-returnable wig and didn’t much relish the idea of it going to waste, but none of my other ideas would work with it. Part of my problem was that I wanted something recognizable–it sucks going to a lot of work and having no one be able to guess what you’re supposed to be, which is why I have focused heavily on movie recreations/interpretations in the past–but I have also found that to be incredibly frustrating because there aren’t bodies like mine in films and if there are, schlubby comic relief characters NEVER get good costumes because they’re fat. So I stomped around, frustrated, for a week. My friend Kevin apologized to me no less than three times over the course of that week because he had encouraged me to go with Medusa over the other options I’d been considering and he felt like it was his fault that I was in costume fail territory already. I didn’t personally feel like there was blame or fault to be issued, except in the case of the lying liepants liarton ebay snakeoil sellers. I huffed out to have dinner one night, and on my drive, I continued to ponder my options. All at once, it hit me. I didn’t HAVE to do something that’s been done, I could create something of my own and run with it–see how well I could execute something that lived only in my head.

I decided on a swamp witch, something disgusting and foul and looked as if it might stink. The way I expanded on the idea was that the more this witch used her powers, the more she lost aspects of herself to the creatures around her, so I wanted to do patches of alligator skin, one alligator claw hand, and, in an ideal world where I could afford black sclera contacts, part of the face, at least around one eye, with a built-up brow and cheek. I don’t live in that world, so I skipped the face, and this is what I ended up with:

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As far as the makeup goes, I like how well the bags turned out under the eyes. To my eye, they are pretty convincing. I used a couple of cream shadows and a couple of different liner pencils and blended and layered–I feel like I nailed the highlight to make it look swollen. The dot bits I could take or leave. I didn’t have a point of reference for voodoo makeup and as a result, it’s just kind of meh, but I felt like the face would be too plain without it. I really, really should have made a cast of my hand. It would have made the whole thing look better, because there wouldn’t be missing patches on the fingers, visible edge lines along the knuckles, and the claws could have had a more natural starting place from the finger instead of sitting on top of the nail. However, with a cast, I was caught up on the idea of making the prosthetic appliance with GM foam as it’s light and breathable, and that wasn’t going to happen, as it turns out that GM foam gives off sulfurous fumes while it’s curing that leech into the oven and destroy it for food preparation, and while my almond-colored oven from the 70s probably does need to die in a stinky fashion, it wouldn’t be wise to kill something on which I rely so heavily for sustenance–if I had to switch to a raw diet, I might kill someone. Incidentally, this is also why I haven’t been able to do Dick Smith’s study-at-home makeup course, because I don’t have access to a ruinable oven.

Instead, I made the prosthetic appliances with thin layers of liquid latex brushed onto a mold made with apoxie sculpt.

The first mold I made, on the lower right, was a positive mold that churned out that piece of crap on the lower left. I hadn’t given the mold-making process as much thought as was warranted, and realized AS I was coating it in latex that the latex would fill the crevices and with enough layers, it would result in a flat appliance, not the bumpy one I was looking for. Crap in a handbasket. Once I peeled off Latex Disaster #1, I started on a new, negative mold (upper right) that would give me something closer to the results I wanted (upper left). I was still able to use Latex Disaster #1 to give the side of my hand/bottom of my wrist some texture, so it wasn’t a total waste. Once the latex was applied, I colored it with Ben Nye cream makeup and brushed some darker powder across the top to pick up the details and texture. Were I to do it again, I think I would go for a darker green than ‘Frankenstein’, but as it is, my makeup supply is low on greens and this worked well enough. The claws were made out of apoxie sculpt, painted with nail polish, and glued to fake nails which were glued on top of my natural nails. I had thought about doing claws that capped my fingers, and while I still think those would ultimately look better, my concern was that if they were tightly capped and bonded with my nails, that I would not be able to get them OFF and an alligator hand is inconvenient enough for ONE day, much less days and weeks until they eventually grow off. I didn’t realize how much I use my non-dominant hand until it becomes impossible to do things like type or text or open car doors or turn a steering wheel without getting a claw caught in the opposite sleeve, pulling at the natural nail which is SO painful…they did make a pretty awesome clicking sound when tapped, though.

As for the costume itself, I really winged it. I didn’t want to use a pattern, and I think that both helped and hindered me–I was able to make something that was really mine, but at the same time, I would move to a new portion of the costume and be daunted all over again about how I was going to accomplish it, which would cause me to procrastinate which makes creative problems WORSE, not better. I wandered around the fabric store until I found some materials that seemed right–some medium weight black burlap, some scale-print vinyl, some novelty halloween ‘rotted’ material, some gauze, and some muslin with an assload of dye. I wanted something that would be very textured, because in my opinion, the thing most lacking in purchased costumes is texture (and I get WHY it’s that way–expense would go up and people are cheap). I dyed the crap out of that muslin, with browns, blacks, greens, and grays, each not enough to coat the entire amount of fabric solidly, so I ended up with variations in color and tone that were really pleasing and gave it the gross, aged look I was going for. It is REALLY hard to capture on camera, but I promise that in person, it had depth.

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I started with the corset-y top–I did a layer of the snake vinyl under the rotted material–the holes in the rotted material alone would have otherwise rendered me indecent. Once that was done, I laced it onto my duct tape doppelganger and began work on the burlap underskirt. I wasn’t sure at first how I’d feel about burlap. It’s kind of scratchy and it smells funny. But once I got a skirt shape pinned on and began to pull threads and cut out sections and weather it, it felt almost more like sculpting with fabric than it did like sewing. Pull a thread here, and it ruches the skirt. Pull twenty threads here and it makes part of it look worn and threadbare without compromising structural integrity because burlap is so damn strong. It was at this time that I also decided to cover a pair of flats in burlap, because it would make the costume look complete to have shoes that match instead of assuming that no one would see the shoes anyway. Once the shoes were complete, I began work on the second layer of the skirt. After ripping and tearing at the hem, I felt like it didn’t look old/gross enough, AND it obscured a lot of the awesome things about the underskirt, so I began ripping at the whole thing in earnest. I discovered that staple removers are awesome for tearing holes and making runs in fabric, and after a while, the skirt looked a bit more like I had pictured it in my head. I planned the skirts to be high-waisted and hit about mid-calf, and it’s a damn good thing I did, but more on that later.

I was at this point the day before the Halloween party, with a shrug left to construct with two purposes–to cover bra straps, and to make the transition into the alligator hand seamless by hiding everything to the wrist. I was so exhausted after the last night at the haunt that I couldn’t focus to work on it, so I sent myself to bed and set my alarm for early in the morning so if, god forbid, there were problems with the costume, I’d have time to fix them before the party AND affix/makeup the appliances.

It was a damn good thing I got up at 3am to work on it. I’d mentioned earlier that my dress form was now bigger than my actual body, but I figured with the lacing I’d done up the sides that I wouldn’t have a problem, because the top was too small for the form, so it should be just right on me….right? No. Of course not. I wiggled the dress off my imitation duct tape Butt of Doom, slipped it on, tied up the sides…and the dress fell straight off, faster than a prom dress in June. Fuuuuuuuuuuudge, it was much, much too big. The way I fixed it was by bringing in the corset part, dropping it to be the waist portion, and making a whole new top with straps so I wouldn’t have to worry about popping out of it. Had I made the skirts longer than midcalf, this would have been a HUGE problem as they now barely grazed the floor and if I’d done them floor-length before, I would have had to chop off the bottoms of both skirts and re-weather them which would would have taken me a long time. Still, between fixing the top, making the shrug, and applying the makeup, I worked straight through from 3am up until it was time to go to the party…which means I burned out at the party fairly early on. By 10pm, I was dragging. By 10:30, I had made myself a deal that as soon as the costume contest was over, I would go straight home. By 11, I was thinking I should just leave because there was no way I was going to be a finalist ANYWAY, much less win anything, but I dragged so much at actually leaving that it got to be 11:45 and I figured if I didn’t wait the extra fifteen minutes and found out later I was a finalist, I’d be pissed at myself.

As it turns out, I was one of the three finalists in the ‘scariest’ category, and while I didn’t win it, I’m glad to have at least gotten some recognition for my work. Of course, now that it’s been worn once, I don’t know WTF to do with it. I don’t want to throw it away, but it’s doubtful that I’ll ever wear it again.

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Ever make it with a fat guy with a whip and a giant sack?

Here comes a Santa Claus There goes a Santa Claus Right down Denny Way! Many are weaving Some are heaving That one’s missing teeth! Amidst the red-suited whirlwind One flashed my girlfriend That just doesn’t seem right. But as they say It’ll be OK ‘Cause Santa Claus came tonight!

On Saturday, I suited-up to join the red menace in Seattle. Other than shortening the sleeves, I didn’t make any significant alterations to my santa suit–there were a couple of things I would have liked to have done, but I was busy mutilating a reindeer.

Yes. Mutilating a reindeer.

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Meet Stanley, the emo-deer. If you press his left front hoof, he sways and moans ‘Blue Christmas’. I hate Stanley. Napoleon had strong feelings about him as well, namely concerning Stanley’s throat and Napoleon’s birthright to put his teeth there. While I’m certain Napodog could have done a fine job ripping him a new asshole, I had more diabolical plans for Stanley.

…*I* ripped him a new asshole.

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Stanley’s singing was on a whole new level of annoying; it was a true pleasure to cut him open at the bottom and rip his guts out, and slitting his throat was really the final insult. After he was good and dead, I crammed a flask up his ass filled with an uber-delicious gingerbread martini, for the greater good.

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Now, in getting ready for this whole Santarchy thing, I made an important discovery: Santa lives at the North Pole for a reason, and that reason is because his choice of outfit is hotter than frigging hell. I reckon that the North Pole is one of the few places you can get around wearing velvet from head to toe, with big fur boots and being hairier than a Cap Hill bear, besides, without sweating to death. I made this discovery because I waited to put on my beard until I was fully-suited, and as it turns out, elastic bands made for the heads of adult males are slightly too big for my head and need to be bobby-pinned in place with no less than thirty pins, and that is antsy, fussy work when one is already sweating.

When my beard was finally pinned into place, I put on my wig and hat, grabbed my sack stuffed with candy canes, booze-filled chocolate, beads with visions of ‘Show Santa your tits’ dancing through my head, and, of course, the Stanley Flask.

As it turns out, being suited up as Santa walking down the street to the bus stop draws a LOT of attention. In the few minutes I was outside, a good twenty people honked and waved happily. Two teenage girls at the bus stop approached and asked if they could have their picture taken with me.

Santa ON the bus was a different story. Almost as soon as I boarded, a kid asked loudly “MOM, what is SANTA doing on the BUS?” Reply: “That’s a lady Santa, you just don’t worry about it.” I drew a lot of strange looks and sideways glances–what is it about riding the bus in a Santa suit that makes me presumed more likely to be a nutbag than walking down the street in a Santa suit? Is it a proximity issue? As soon as I got off the bus, a different little girl was delighted to see me, waving, with her eyes as big as saucers. Especially during moments like those, I was very careful to just smile and wave and not say anything, because I would never want to mess with a magical experience for a kid and the moment would be ruined the second she heard my ‘tampax-y commerial voice’, and aside from my girlish voice and feminine facial features, I think I made a pretty awesome damn Santa. Given that Santa is a fat man, I bet he has a hot rack, too, so I wasn’t too far out of character there.

So, to recap:

On the bus–Look at that crazy fucker in the santa suit, I hope the he-she doesn’t have a gun. Off the bus–Look, it’s Santa! I AM SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW I NEED TO SQUEAL IN DELIGHT.

 

From Westlake, I hopped another bus up to Capitol Hill, and that’s where I ran into my first two Santa allies. Once Santas are allied, the pressure to be Perfect Santa is off–one lone Santa could be real Santa, but three Santas together and kids know you’re not The One so you don’t need to worry about ruining them for life.

The first stop on the Santarchy tour was the Eylsian Brewery, which I completely missed while doing the antsypants dance at home and pinning my beard in place. The second stop was at the Comet Tavern, and things were already in full swing, music being blasted through bullhorns and pot smoke heavy in the air.

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There I am in the lower right, the super-fuzzy santa and the santa with the shoulder bag in front of me are the two I met on the bus.

 

 

I gave this Santa some beads with a jingle bell attached, and Santa gave me a nip of tequila. IT HAD BEGUN. Soon, I was openly drinking from Stanley, jumping invisible double-dutch rope, and spanking elves. All too soon, it was time for the Santalympics; when it was time to move location, people started up the chant “Hey hey! Ho ho! Santa’s gotta go!” and it was fairly effective in rounding everyone up. The next location was Cal Anderson park–while we were walking past the basketball court, the tall Santa next to me ran over, grabbed the basketball, and asked “Who wants to see Santa slam-dunk?” We all agreed that would be spectacular, so he ran and completely missed the lay-up. This was immediately followed by heckling: “Santa needs to work on his vertical!” “I told you! Santa can’t jump!”

 

When we reached the fountain, we found that it had frozen over, and because none of us are particularly wise, we all climbed into the fountain and started ice-skating. Luckily, the ice did not crack under the weight of 100+ Santas AND I managed not to fall on my ass OR break my face. The Santa with the ‘Free Hugs’ sign moved out in to the middle of the fountain and shouted “FREE HUGS…NOW ON ICE!” and I decided to get in on that–we both ran toward one another, slid into the hug, and spun around.

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Then Santa Jesus ran out onto the frozen surface and screamed “I’M WALKING ON WATER, EVERYBODY” and I very nearly wept with laughter.

One of the first Santalympics events was racing down the hill, seated on a block of ice. This is trickier than it sounds, getting the ice block in motion without sliding off yourself.

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I got my block of ice going pretty quickly down the hill, and then popped off the front and slid for another couple of yards on my ass. It’s a wonder that my pants didn’t get grass stains.

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It takes a certain level of trust to allow another deviant-minded Santa to spray a message on your back–everyone who did this was concerned that instead of a holiday message, they were going to end up with a great big cock on their backside.

While watching people get sprayed, I missed the Tug-of-War, but trotted over and was handed four giant candy canes and was told to organize some sort of Santa race. I decided that the most proper event would be a Santa Wheelbarrow Race, with the Santas acting as wheelbarrows holding the giant candy canes in their mouths.

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I made them race pretty far, and rewarded the winners with booze-filled chocolate. The Santa on the left below was the winning wheelbarrow.

 

After the Santalympics Wheelbarrow Race, it was time for the traditional elf tossing. Here’s Santa setting up caution tape so ‘innocent’ Santa bystanders didn’t get cracked in the face with an elf or a reindeer.

 

I was one of the first to go, and, already a little shit-housed, I chose the unwise method of spinning around with the elf like I was participating in a shot-put event. As I let go of the elf’s hands, I stumbled and fell, the elf flew into the crowd and cracked someone in the face, and I still got an award for distance.

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Granted, it wasn’t an EXTRAORDINARY distance, but I did make an effort. And I hurt someone.

I also broke my belt.

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I would think that the belt would’ve lasted for more than one use, but I suppose it wasn’t intended for the sort of activities I was putting it through, either. Once a cheap vinyl belt like this has started ripping, there’s really no way to stem the tide. I kept notching it back, and eventually it would rip again, and again, until it got to the point where I could no longer fit it around my body, and then it was abandoned inside a bar.

 

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During the elf-tossing event, I was handing out beads and more liquor-chocolates. I finished off Stanley, drank cider from some guy’s camelbak, some dude grabbed me and kissed me, and this guy showed me his ‘tits’.

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I could’ve watched elf-tossing for a while longer, but hey hey, ho ho, Santa had to go.

…To put a great big bag of Dicks in his mouth.

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I didn’t know ANY of these people at the start of the day, by the next bar stop, we were all chums. The guy to my right (photo right, in the beard) asked me to text him this photo, and on Sunday morning, he messaged me to make sure I’d gotten home all right. I suppose camaraderie isn’t all that unusual–it takes a certain sort of person to show up to these kinds of events, and having a baseline ‘Oh, hey, you like to dress up in costumes and dance in public and probably REALLY like attention’ isn’t a bad way to start getting to know people.

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I think we can all be in agreement that this is the best Santa of them all.

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Oh, and hey, here is a giant cock Santa going down on Santa’s giant cock.

At the Hurricane, I ran into strand, who dyed his hair green for the occasion and it looked FABULOUS. Of course, I didn’t get a picture because I fail on every conceivable level.

After we finished up at the Hurricane, it was time for the march across Denny, where we stopped on the overpass, waved at the vehicles on the freeway below, *cough* made out with stranger Santas, and probably committed at least six felonies.

By the time we got to the REI, it was almost time for me to leave–I bumped into Sam, who introduced me to her fiancé. It was nice to see her, but I had to do a ‘hi! bye!’ because I didn’t want to miss my bus. I found the intersection where I was supposed to catch the bus, but there was no actual stop there. I found the bus itself, stopped on the side of the road. There was no one aboard, not even a driver–I knocked on the door with no answer. I walked down the street a little bit to try to find the actual stop, my mouth full of the taste of Santa and booze, when I realized I really, really, really had to pee. Really badly. Oh, hello, random port-a-potty! Oh, hello, lock on port-a-potty door! FUUUUUDGE. I looked at the bus. I looked at the otherwise empty street. I looked at the brush under the overpass. I did the potty dance. I looked at the bus again. I made my decision, and precisely when I pulled my pants down, the bus started up and drove past me. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDGE. NOW how was I supposed to get to Bothell for Shannon’s Ugly Sweater and Elf party? I attempted to high-tail it to the transfer location, figuring that missing one bus wouldn’t necessarily mean I’d miss the other if I moved quickly enough, and then I realized that of all the things I am skilled at, moving quickly is not one of them, and no matter how quickly I shuffled, I wasn’t going to make it. I resolved to meet back up with the Santas and figure out another game plan. I don’t think I have Shannon’s phone number, so I sent a text message to Emily letting her know I’d missed the bus and would be unable to make it to Bothell.

Outside the something something bar (here is where things start to get a little fuzzy), I met xaotica for the first time, who is cute as a button. We decided to leave a little early to get the jump on the Santas for the next bar, so we could get a seat inside, and grab a hot dog and a beer. This was a wise decision–the amount of Santas in the group grew exponentially, and no one had bothered to let the bars on the route know they were on the route, so we were greeted by a solitary frazzled bartender. We each got a dog and a beer and as we ate, Santas flooded into the doors like a red tide. It was around this time that I noticed I’d missed a call from Emily, who said she’d come get me; when I called her back, I got Julia on the phone and we completely miscommunicated, because I would’ve been happy to accept a ride, and she thought I was blowing them off to continue partying, so I figured I would stay with the Santas and see if I couldn’t crash at Kim’s place for the night. For some reason, the bartender bought Kimberley and I our second round, and after we finished that (I had to cut myself off at a few sips because I knew I was rapidly approaching the Danger Zone, so I passed the drink along to another thirsty Santa), we went across the street to get some coffee, away from the drunken craziness for a bit.

It was around then that Jim called and offered to come get me; he was almost at Shannon’s, but was willing to drop in there for a minute to say hi and then turn around to come and pick me up. Twenty-odd minutes later, I said goodbye to Kim, hopped in Jim’s car, and rode across the water to Shannon’s place, not alltogether too much later than the bus would have gotten me there anyway. Emily got me some food, I told people a bit about my night, Shannon started the movie, and I promptly fell asleep on her couch. Apparently, (and while I don’t doubt that it’s true, I wish that it wasn’t) I started snoringsnoozing (cuter word) loudly enough that Shannon’s dog, Sophie, thought I was challenging her, and she started growling at me intently while I slept on the couch.

Without a doubt, I am the best party guest ever.

You’d better watch out Get out if you can! A red-suited menace is sweeping the land Cause Santa Clauses are coming to town.

Get out of the way of our fake black boots We’re flooding the city with our cheap red suits Santa Clauses are coming to town!

We know what you’ve been up to, you’ve made the naughty list. So cut us in for our fair share, you don’t want these Santas pissed

 

SOOOOO get out of the way of our red-suited wave Is this any way For St. Nick to behave? Santa Clauses have come to town!