I, like children and crazy people, am obsessed with Halloween. The best thing I bought this year? A big, beautiful green heirloom pumpkin. I brag about it when people come over, make people pet it like a cat. Seriously. It's that kind of obsession.
As a small child, my mom's friend, Kathy, made me the most fantastic costumes ever. She was a seamstress for Broadway productions. She created both E.T. (my initials) and Rainbow Brite costumes that children today, who don't even know who these fabulous characters are, would beat each other to wear. They were that good.
But then for about a decade, I wanted to be a cat. Boring. As I aged, the more I wanted to kick Halloween ass. Like totally overtake it. One year, a tiny leather skirt, purchased at Flamingo Mall, and a decent tan inspired me to become Tina Turner. Ever since, it's been primarily musical costumes for me. I thought I'd share my past ideas with you to inspire your musical getups and offer a few lessons I've learned over many years of screwing things up.
Tell me that E.T. costume doesn't rule.
I usually do two costumes a year because whatever I craft, no matter how awesome it is that Saturday night of parties, it falls apart on the actual Halloween day. So, the Tina year, I also was a crappy Cher using a lotta lip licking and an old witchy wig.
The following year, I got a blonde wig and dressed as Dolly Parton. Man did those big boobs make me look ridiculous. I don't know how Dolly pulls them off, she's so tiny! But the wig also doubled a few nights later as Holly Madison's hair.
Wigs are great. One year, I was "The Color Purple" and the next Leeloo from The Fifth Element thanks to a purpley-pink bob I bought for a rave once. The color wasn't perfect for either, but the cut was.
Lesson 1: Not everything has to be exact.
Lesson 2: Always have a backup plan.
Take for instance, arguably, my best costume ever: Janet Jackson. At that point, I decided to be a diva every year. I'm a pain in the butt all the time, IRL, but no diva. Instead of being a slutty anything, I could be a god-dess.
I had an hour before the party to prepare, and only a blondish wig to look like a version of Janet on the cover of the September 16, 1993 issue of Rolling Stone. That and jeans. So, I ran to something like Party City and they had none of the things I needed or planned to use. But they did have a nude bodysuit and two white gloves. Guess, what? I sewed pillow padding onto an old bra and the gloves on my chest, and I became Janet Jackson. Everyone acted as Rene Elizondo that night, though only for photos.
Lesson 3: Be flexible in your materials.
The next year, I had been planning to be a jukebox many months in advance, but only put together the costume the week of. Again, my ideas weren't cutting it, and I ended up having to awkwardly balance about 5 pounds of stuffed tights on my head all night. The idea was that I'd sing one of the songs on my list when requested, like a human juke, but once I had a few drinks in me and developed a bit of stage fright, I forgot all of the lyrics to songs I know so well.
Lesson 4: Interactive costumes that require an ounce of intellect are a challenge.
Songs you could pick were Patsy Cline's "Crazy," "Faith" by George Michael, and Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz." The request part was a load of crap.
Since we were young, my brother and I wanted to dress as members of Metallica. I was always going to be James Hetfield, since I'm the older sibling, and that's who I wanted to be. Since Some Kind of Monster came out, it was clear Jim was a genuine diva. A trip to DC, some facial hair, and my sister-in-law's awesome drawing skills made me into Mr. Hetfield, tattoos and all.
My brother was Kirk Hammett, obvs.
This leads me to last year's Bjork on the cover of Homogenic costume. I freaked on this one and my friend, artist Meatball, had to help me construct it. I felt kinda bad, because I like to be the sole creator, but he was better at it than I. And it turned out pretty funny, though hard to keep together.
Lesson 5: A talented friend always comes in handy.
Anyway, I'm not spilling the beans on my costumes this year, but I can tell ya one thing: D-I-V-A-S. There's nothing better than being fabulous at Halloween. If you need help deciding on a costume, hit me up in the comments, give me a vague idea of your interests, and I'll grant you a brilliant costume idea. Sorta guaranteed.
Liz has her master’s degree in religion from Florida State University. She has since written for publications and outlets such as Miami New Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Ocean Drive, the Huffington Post, NBC Miami, Time Out Miami, Insomniac, the Daily Dot, and the Atlantic. Liz spent three years as New Times Broward-Palm Beach’s music editor, was the weekend news editor at Inverse, and is currently the managing editor at Tom Tom Magazine.