It seems to me that Halloween is more of an actual Holiday here in the mid-west than it ever was in my home state of California. With the exception of my living in West Hollywood, in my adulthood, I have yet to experience anything like the likes of Halloween in the flamboyant Southern California community I called home for many years. Billed as one of the largest spectacles in Los Angeles, Halloween on Santa Monica Boulevard can garner over 200,000 spectators. As a resident and a flamboyant one myself, I have participated in many of those celebrations. Although many of the observers were there to merely gawk at the myriad of freaks donned in feathers and sequins, we as the “Parade of Freaks” roamed freely upon our home streets with pride. One year, when I lived on Norton Avenue with my BFF Michael, one block off of the boulevard, and we were not quite sure what we were gonna do. As a matter of fact, I believe we had originally decided to do nothing, [until the last minute,] that year. I think we were just gonna hit the boulevard for a while, have a drink or two at on of our spots, and then call it a night.
When I got home from work I walked into my house to see James and Michael in a sea of shopping bags and black tulle. For a split moment I wondered what the hell they were doing! Then, Michael walked into his bedroom and came out with this glorious long red curly wig. Giggling and giggling he said, “Isn't it great! Me and James went wig shopping on Hollywood Boulevard!” Truth of the matter was... it was beyond great! It was the most fabulous curly red wigs ever! So, there it was. We were going to become part of it! However, I had nothing because I hadn't planned on going out, [in costume!] so James and I got in the car and rushed down a few blocks to Melrose. I had worked on Melrose Avenue at the La Cienega Flower Shop on the corner of Crescent Heights as well as at Vous, a hair salon, next to Fairfax High School for years and was very familiar with all of the great shops and fantastic boutiques. There is a reason it is one of the greatest shopping meccas in all of Los Angeles. I was not sure what I wanted to do or what I was looking for See, when you live in West Hollywood, and you are doing Halloween you need to be doing Halloween. Usually you would have been working on your costume for many weeks, if not several months. This is very serious stuff in a very serious way!
James and I were walking and talking in the everyday happenings of a neighborhood we were both very familiar with. After stopping in the salon for me to grab a few supplies we headed into the bustle of the world famous Melrose Avenue. We walked into a place where strippers by themed costuming and acrylic high-heeled shoes. Nothing! Can you believe it... nothing. Hummm, I was sure I was I was gonna find something, anything! Truth of the matter was: Halloween costume goers had long since wiped the store clean of anything I was brave enough to wear. What ever! We went to the car, [ EDIT! EDIT! EDIT!] and AFTER A HEAD CHANGE, we walked into a little boutique because there was this dress in the window that I had to get a closer look at.
The garment was beautiful and extremely hand-crafted. I have always been fascinated by well made garments for men or for women. I like to study them, observe the way they are constructed, and feel the hand of the fabric - as this was the case. James mentions that time is a wasting, and as we were walking out the door, I spotted it! On a form high up on the wall – the perfect little black “Mariah Carey” dress! It was a simple black cotton tank dress with just the right amount of spandex. Aside from the white tassel fringe on the neck line it was perfect!
We rushed home to find that Michael was in the process of transforming himself into “Ginger Holiday” It was on! It was almost like you could smell the testosterone fading into a frantic sea of estrogen. Turning James into Mona D was something I had done many times over the years – I could paint his face in less than 15 minutes flat! I was gonna be a different story, because I wasn't big on tights or pantyhose I contemplated shaving my legs. In the shower I heard the guys telling me to man up and shave my legs. So, I did! Remember I had some pretty long hair back then, and no boy ever does his own hair in West Hollywood! With my hair up in a towel I found that James was in the living room already half way to becoming Mona D! I sat James down in a chair, ratted the crap out of his hair, sprayed the B-Geezus out of it, and painted his mug! Viola! James is Mona in fifteen minutes flat!
I take a seam ripper to the ridicules white tassel fringe, slip on the dress, and put on my old reliable black pumps! With the towel still on my head, I powdered my face, applied a generous layer or two of clear mascara, a lined my perfectly manicured eyebrows with my trusty charcoal gray eyeliner pencil, and glossed my lips. Quick, simple, and 10 minutes down! That was the year I used two bobby pins to create the perfect chignon anchored on the top of my head. I grabbed a black tulle petticoat I made and used as a Christmas tree skirt, threw it over my shoulders, and we were out the door.
I remember that night walking past a family that asked me what I thought of the whole thing. I replied that I thought it was great as the mother asked me why I wasn't wearing a costume. I told her I was and left it at that!
This year on Halloween whether you don yourself in an elaborate costume, go down to your local spot to gawk at all the freaks, or stay at home to pass out candy I urge you to have a safe and fun Halloween. And, to my pagan family: Happy Holiday!