Category Costumes

Ursula: A Halloween Costume Restrospective


I knew from the start that this costume would be a challenge–less of a challenge than I knew would be inherent in my first idea, the Borg Queen, but a challenge nonetheless. Missing eight days in the middle of the month was a much larger setback than anticipated, and in the feverish last-minute final construction, I swore more than I ever have in my entire life. Here’s what happened, and what went wrong:

I constructed the costume from pretty pretty pretty thin cheap fabric, which I intended to coat in liquid latex in order to give the whole thing a shiny, wet sea-creature look, and save an asston of money in the process by not buying the shiny-wet-look-10x-the-money-per-yard fabric in the first place. Until it was coated in the latex, I couldn’t sew the complex pieces together to get any idea of what the first fitting would be like. This turned out to be one of the biggest problems–when I finally got everything together, the top bit, by nature of the strapless costume design, had to be quite tight in order to keep from falling down and exposing myself to everyone. To this very moment, I would swear to you that I made it (with a pattern, no less!) to my measurements, but when I put it on, it was a goddamned tent. You can bet *that* was a moment for some expletives.

Liquid latex is blended with ammonia to keep it from solidifying in the container, so I took the first piece out onto my back porch in order to have plenty of fresh air to breathe; unfortunately, since I could only work on the costume in the evenings, it was too cool out for the latex to cure. With my rambunctious dog, my only other option for latex was to lay dropcloths in my room and shut the door behind me, lest he track latex everywhere or shake fur into the mixture. This meant that every time I painted latex onto cloth, my lungs were burning, and it STILL took hours to cure, much, much longer than anticipated, so I could only work on small sections of the costume at a time, and everything had to be picked up and moved so I could actually use the room to sleep in, thus the window of time I could actually work on the costume was quite small.


Until it was entirely coated in latex, I couldn’t buff anything out with the silicone compound, so everything was sticking to itself in a most horrific manner. This was a HUGE problem. Because I don’t have a dedicated project studio and the costume bits needed to be moved around to accomodate actually LIVING in my home, no matter how careful I was, pieces would crease or fold in on themselves and one of two things would happen: Either the latex would mar when I pulled it apart, or I absolutely could not pull it apart, no matter how much I tried. This was extremely frustrating because I wanted the whole thing to look very smooth, and as creased and bunched as it got, particularly around the tops of the tentacles, it made the waistline look rotten.

I had wanted to arrange the tentacle skirt in such a way that my legs appeared to be the front two tentacles, instead of being awkward legs in the middle of a bunch of tentacles. This idea involved the procurement of super-shiny leggings from American Apparel. As it turns out, the fine folks at American Apparel have decided people my size are too fat to wear their shiny leggings, and that my money is not as good as money spent by people a size slimmer. So here’s a great big fuck you to American Apparel! For a moment, I thought I’d try it with black pantyhose, but the tentacles were cut very high in anticipation of full-coverage leggings, and had I worn pantyhose, there would currently be pictures of my junk on the internet. I know my friends love me, but probably not enough to have to look at my barely-covered ass. So again, at the very last minute, I had to change things up and I wore black pants underneath my skirt.

The tentacles were a nightmare. I’d sewn rebar tie wire to the backside, but sewing was not enough to keep the wire in place, so I had to glue the wire on with more liquid latex, which added multiple days of work that I could ill-afford. Once the topside was entirely coated in latex, then I sewed on the shiny purple undersides, and when I went to stuff the tentacles, I learned why I shouldn’t have skimped on fabric–a good portion of the seams popped immediately, and the purple fabric developed runs all over. !*^&#$ As an additional frustration, once I’d stuffed the tentacles tightly enough for the latex tops to be smooth, they were too heavy and full to be bendable, so all of the time I’d spent on wire-work was wasted.


Once everything was coated in latex, my sewing machine refused to work on it any more. It wouldn’t feed anything through, so the majority of everything at the end was sewn with a giant needle and cursing that would make a sailor blush.

I determined early that I would not be able to color my skin purple without an assistant and an airbrush, so that was right out. I determined much too late (after I’d already ratted and styled my hair) that the white spray does NOT make my dark hair look white, but instead makes it look old and grey. This was, of course, also after I had spent a loooooong time doing elaborate eye makeup, so I ended up having to do a really awkward wash-out hunched under the bathtub faucet. (Of course I had to do elaborate eye makeup–Ursula’s character was based on Glenn Milstead, better known as Divine, whom I ADORE.) Pictures don’t even begin to capture it, but it was a dark, dark base and crease with reflective teal glitter pressed into the center of the lid, so it looked like flashing fish-scales when I blinked.


The trident I made by melting and shaping a plastic pitchfork over a candle to give it the proper shape and then spraypainting it gold. It’s all right as far as a prop goes, but it’s nowhere near on the level of my Wonka cane, which I was particularly proud of last year.

Here’s the thing, though: For all of the problems, people REALLY responded to this costume. Everyone who saw it recognized it, even with the fundamental changes I’d had to make in terms of skin and hair color. More people recognized this costume than recognized Willy Wonka, which I felt was FAR more screen-accurate. I hesitate to call this costume a very successful one, but I would say that I learned more in constructing this one than I have in any previous costuming attempt, which is always the goal.

Other things I learned:

*Having a skirt made of giant, floor length, thick tentacles makes it awfully difficult to sit down.

*Having a skirt made of giant, floor length, thick tentacles makes it an adventure to drive, with half of them shoved back between the driver & passenger seats, and half of them stacked up and crammed into the narrow gap between the driver’s seat and the door frame; it’s like being hugged to death by tentacles.

*When making a costume in which it’s difficult to get into and out of the car, it’s really much smarter to buy gas EARLIER in the day instead of struggling with it in front of people.

*If you’re wearing a skirt made of giant, floor length, thick tentacles, expect people to treat you like you’re wearing a skirt full of penises and act accordingly.

356_34465593939_4157_n I’m not sure what this picture says about Captain Hammer.

*Four am karaoke is really the best way to end any Halloween party.


What were YOU for Halloween? I DEMAND PICTURES.

This is Valloween; Everybody Scream!

AKA: How to Half-Ass A Costume So Spectacular You Are Permanently Disqualified From Future Costume Contests.

Saturday night was Valloween, a party combining both Halloween and Valentine’s Day in a celebration of love and murder. Naturally, there was a costume contest. Since the moment I was invited, I’d been thinking about costumes and feeling discouraged, because I was sure that every idea I liked would be from sources as unrecognizable as last year’s Annie Wilkes.

Then, as I awoke one morning, inspiration struck. Who better embodies the two facets of love and murder than Two-Face? It’s got nerd cred. It’s topical, with the new Batman movie coming out this summer and a strong ‘I support Harvey Dent’ viral marketing campaign. It’d be a fun costume. That same day, I ran out and got a suit jacket from Value Village that made me look like the captain of the Love Boat, and also promptly set it aside to continue working on stuff for Mellzah’s Midnight Carnival.

This was a mistake. Had I not waited until the day before Valloween to start working on my costume, I would’ve known earlier that Captain Merrill Stubing’s jacket didn’t want to absorb any color, and I wouldn’t have had a moment of mad panic. Having swept two Halloween costume awards in a row, this particular party crowd expects big things from me. WHAT WAS I GOING TO DO?

Step one: Look at failed costume. Moan in despair. Have a (slight) hissy fit.

Step two: Take inventory of all the costume bits and bobs you have lying around, and any supplies you have to potentially make or accessorize a costume.

Step three: Talk with a spooky costume guru–mine is shadowstitch. He ran with my Two-Face idea and tossed out a bunch of other characters with multiple faces. When he landed on the Mayor of Halloweentown, I knew he had saved Christmas.

Step four: Grab the paper that you intended to use for large drink menus but ran out of time. Figure out how to roll it into an appropriately-shaped cone. Curse at it a little bit. Realize you don’t have enough hands to hold it and tape it in all of the proper places. Curse at it a lot.

Step five: Bust out the paint and touch up a rubber squeaky spider. You may want to accidentally squeak it while painting it, convincing your dog that SURELY you are holding HIS toy hostage, so he will whine and moan and attempt to snatch it out of your hands for the remainder of the time you’re working on it. While you’re at it, mix up some paint for the head and mayoral badge.

Step six: Find a button you’re willing to sacrifice. I picked one I should’ve thrown out years ago, but was afraid that someone digging through my garbage would find it and some junk mail in my name and associate it with me. Glue this pin to the back of the mayoral badge you’ve painted.

Step seven: Realize you’re never going to make the other event you scheduled for the evening, start to panic and feel like an asshole because you’re missing deqlan‘s birthday. Take a hairdryer and start blasting the head, squeaky spider, and mayoral badge. This would be a good time to burn your hand. This would also be a good time to again accidentally squeak the rubber spider, re-alerting your dog to its presence.

Step eight: In your rush, slop paint on your clothes. Curse some more. It helps.

Step nine: More hairdryer.

Step ten: Fabulousness!


When I arrived at safetymonkey’s place in my half-assed costume, people immediately started asking if the head flipped around. When I showed them it did, there were audible groans of “aww fuck, she’s won again. Right there. She just won.”

Jon greeted me at the door and exclaimed that he was wondering when I’d show up and had hypothesized that I was just tired of winning. Nosir!

At the party, the ‘STD Fairy’ decided to give me gonorrhea, which, incidentally, is the one STD I can’t seem to remember how to spell. At the very least, now I know that the wikipedia entry for ‘sexually transmitted disease’ is blocked by my workplace filters. Apparently, when they sent out that handbook instructing us how to self-treat STDs, that was meant to be the last word on the subject!

When it came time to announce the contest winners, Jon stepped up and proclaimed, “There have always been two costume contest categories at our parties; best costume, and best worst costume. The time has come where we feel that we must add a third. This new category is the ‘Melissa’ category, as we feel it is unfair to make mere mortals compete against her, and otherwise she’ll continue to sweep the best costume category. ”

So, I’ve won, but I’ve also been permanently disqualified from the regular contests. Does this mean that in the future, all I’ll have to do to win my special ‘Melissa’ prize is not change my name and just show up? Time will tell!

Good morning, starshine–the earth says HELLO!


Against Vegas odds, I actually finished my costume on time to attend the Kirkland Mafia costume party on Saturday night. I’m very happy with the way it turned out, and really feel that there are only a few details that could’ve been executed better, if I had the time or gumption to fix them (I don’t.)

For instance–I wish the gloves fit more snugly. I have damn-near child-size hands, so the overall impression of my hands in these gloves is that each one of my fingers comes with its own reservoir tip, perfect in case my hands start to ejaculate or I happen to meet a man with five tiny penises.

Also, my glasses are a bit of an issue; I’d wanted to order some contact lenses, but that would’ve required two separate eye exams, one of which is uncovered by insurance, which is a ridiculous amount of effort and expense for something I’d wear so rarely. I’d ordered a really cheap pair of glasses in my prescription and planned on affixing those lenses behind the Wonka glasses’ lenses, but as of this posting, they still have not arrived, though they were ordered a month ago. Screw you, zenni optical!

I ended up wearing my glasses underneath the sunglasses–this works fine until someone takes a picture of me with a flash, whereupon you can see the outline of my glasses through the Wonka lenses. WHICH LOOKS CRUMMY.


I’ve got a golden tiiii-cket! I’ve got a golden tiiii-cket! Many thanks to shadowstitch, who gave me a golden ticket template. I waited til the day of the party, and my printer decided that even though the black ink cartridge is full, it would only print faint outlines, so everything is colored in with a tiny sharpie. Everything that looks right about it is his doing, everything that’s vaguely screwy is my inability to color within the lines coming through.

I never realized how dim my room is until I tried to take pictures of myself in black pants, with a black vest, and black buttons, and only a silver watchfob breaking the whole mess up–it turns out that everything melds into a supermassive black hole in my midsection. Trust me–the vest turned out AMAZING. Better than I’d even dared hope!


One of the details I felt helped make the costume is the ‘W’ pin, made with gentle loving care by one of my friends so I wouldn’t cut a finger off with a jewelry saw or scalp myself on a buffing wheel.


I love how the hatband turned out. This motherhumping thing took me forever and a day to sew (read: over forty hours on it, alone) because the 3-D details are comprised of individual, tiny stitches. It takes a special sort of lunacy to attempt something like this.


I also love how the cane turned out. This thing represents no less than 5 trips to home depot, several hours worth of driving around to various stores, looking for theatre-size boxes of Nerds, a lot of cursing and a nearly hacksawed leg. The top bit is a curtain rod finial that I taped/spraypainted/sanded. The clear bit is a plastic florescent light covering, the bottom bit is a wee table leg. Running the length of the cane is a wooden doweling that takes up a good deal of the space inside the plastic tube, so it’s not filled with as many Nerds as one might expect, but it’s still nearly 3 theatre size boxes. It weighs a motherfucking TON. I could easily kill a man with it; the only problem being is that the plastic tube would surely split, filling the murder scene with candy like the victim was a man-pinata.

I’m hoping that I’ll be crowned the victor of the safetymonkey costume contest, two years running!