Healing Halloween: Why Everybody Should Be a Vampire

At some point, perhaps before I was born, Halloween stopped being scary. All these doctors and lawyers, ball players and ballerinas, soft-bellied superheroes and skanky Strawberry Shortcakes. I did Halloween no favors when—in my younger, more naïve years—I dressed up as He-Man, Michael Jackson, and a vaguely Asian martial arts expert I called Karate Man. As He-Man, I wore one of those plastic jumpsuits (sans mask). As Michael Jackson, I wore my red leather jacket, ala "Beat It," as well as a pair of ill-fitting black pants. For Karate Man, I wore a pair a pajamas that reminded me of Bruce Lee, so, in a pinch, I figured they'd do.

While I was certainly adorable, I wasn't scary. It wasn't until about the sixth grade when it occurred to me that there was something wrong, though I couldn't put my finger on it. I'd already discovered the joy of creating my own costumes, no pre-packaged pirates or cowboys for me. A simple mask and wig will work wonders. Or some relatively simple face paint.

One Halloween, I had my brother paint a skeleton on my face; in order to insure accuracy, I brought him the "S" encyclopedia and turned to a page with a photo of a skull (as, of course, this was before the convenience of the Internet). In junior high, I took a Rastafarian hat with fake dreadlocks, pulled it over my face like a mask, and secured it by tying a bandana around my forehead; I could only just barely see through the knit cap, which made trick-or-treating a bit tricky, but, without question, mine was the spookiest costume of the night.

As I've gotten older, I continue to enjoy Halloween, but I've also become more annoyed that this fun, spooky holiday gets treated like a silly little costume party—which, of course, it is. But, it's not just a costume party. It's a scary costume party. It's why we watch horror films and walk through haunted houses, carve pumpkins and spray fake blood on perfectly good clothes. Now I know many of you reading this have sensed the same problem as me, but you don't know what to do about it. You don't know how to fix it. Well, fear not my Halloween loving friend, I've got a simple solution.

Be a vampire.

That's it. Problem solved. Whatever costume you were going to wear, no matter how un-spooky it is, doesn't have to change. Simply add vampire teeth and now, all of sudden, you're a vampire doctor or a vampire ballerina—or a vampire skanky Strawberry Shortcake. You'd almost certainly win the costume contest at your friend's Halloween party, walking away with a Starbucks giftcard worth no less then ten bucks. Picture a costume in your head—anything at all—and then add vampire teeth.

Now, for anybody who knows me, they know this is not a new idea. I've been campaigning for folks to dress up as vampires for years. And, to prove my point, I committed myself to dressing up as a vampire every year for Halloween. That was three years ago. In that first year, I was a Victorian-ish vampire, reminiscent of Francis Ford Coppola's version of Dracula, whom I called Victus. Before that day was over, I'd already decided that, the following Halloween, I wanted to be a vampire clown. And, for this year, Halloween 2012, I decided to be a vampire farmer. All of these costumes would've been terribly boring and un-Halloween-y, without the addition of vampire teeth (and, of course, some fake blood).

Were you thinking about dressing up as a celebrity for Halloween? That's fine, too, just make them vampires. You wanna be the coolest couple at the party? Show up as Vampire Kim Kardashian and Vampire Kanye West. Or maybe you were thinking about being a historical figure. Imagine how much better your costume would be with fangs. Vampire Hitler, anyone? You can thank me later.

Now, as for the actual vampire teeth, you have some options. There are, of course, the classic teeth which you wear like a clumsy, plastic retainer. You can't talk with them and you'll drool all night, but you can find them for about a dollar or so most anywhere around this time of year. There is the slightly more expensive option, which involves the frustrating and painstaking effort of of molding the vampire fangs to your own teeth. I prefer the latter, but there's nothing wrong with the former. And, of course, you'll find plenty of options in between, ranging in price and level of convenience.

So, there you have it. No more excuses. Halloween is meant to be spooky, so let's keep that it that way. And remember, when it doubt, just add vampire teeth.

A Halloween Special: PART TWO

For Halloween this year, I was a vampire clown.

It's an idea I came up with last year, while I was working on my costume for that Halloween - which you can read about in "A Halloween Special: PART ONE." While I don't begrudge anyone their costume ideas, I've long been of the mindset that, in order to properly celebrate the spirit of the day, Halloween costumes should attempt to be scary, spooky and/or creepy. If you want to be a sexy nurse or rugged cowboy, then save it for some other costume party. Halloween is not simply a day of fantasy, but a day of scary fantasy. It's why horror movies break box office records in October and why, in Southern California, Knott's Scary Farm has been a Halloween staple for as long as I can remember.

Some time ago, I developed the theory that any costume could be made Halloween-appropriate by simply adding vampire teeth. You can, for example, be a vampire nurse or a vampire cowboy, without having to compromise the rest of your costume. Last year, as I was putting together my vampire costume, it occurred to me that I should put my theory to the test on an annual basis.

So, even before last year's festivities were over, I knew that for this Halloween I would be some other sort of vampire. And when trying to think of fun juxtapositions, I came up with the creepy idea of being a vampire clown. Of course, I didn't know exactly what this vampire clown would look like or how I would pull it off, but I was confident that, when the time came, I would figure out.

As the day approached, I began perusing the various Halloween stores that open up every fall. Many of the stores I went to had entire clown sections, which was very helpful. The first items I bought were a rainbow afro wig, rainbow suspenders, and rainbow socks. I also picked up a pair of white clown gloves that ended up being way too smile, despite being advertised as suitable for most sizes; so I cut off the fingertips of the gloves in order to make them fit. Next, I picked up some grease paint. I had no real idea what I wanted my face to look like, nor did I have any significant experience in applying makeup; I was simply hoping that, when the time came, I'd figure something out.

For the main clothes, I knew I wanted an oversized pair of clown shoes and pants. So, for those items, I went to Goodwill. I found a large pair of tennis shoes and a pair of powder blue pants with a much too big waistline. I spray painted the shoes red, which turned out to be fast and easy. For the pants, I cut them to just below the knees in order to insure my rainbow socks would be properly displayed.

Finally, because I was going to be a vampire, it made sense that I should incorporate blood into my costume. I picked up a bottle of fake blood and used it to first stain a white T-shirt I'd be wearing. I wanted the stains on the shirt to look like I'd just fed on somebody. I also used the blood to stain the pants, but for these stains I wanted to simulate the handprints of my (hypothetical) victim. So, I put on a pair of rubber gloves, spread some fake blood on the flat of my hands and proceeded to smear my hand prints down the legs of the pants.

My parent's were hosting a Halloween party on Saturday night, so that would be the unveiling of my costume. I'd been able to work out everything but the makeup. I decided, for whatever reason, I wouldn't practice the makeup, but rather I would just go for it on the night of the party. I think I hoped to discover some innate ability for makeup that I never knew I had. As it turned out, I made no such discovery.

I did, however, watch a video on YouTube for applying clown makeup. While it turned out to be not so helpful, I was at least amused by the model who seemed terribly unhappy to be in the video. My inability to apply makeup ultimately worked in my favor, as the rough application of my clown face added to the creepiness of the overall character.

All and all, the costume was a success. And, while this was validated by my winning Best Costume , the real reward came from scaring the children at the party (as well as my cousin, who, it turns out, is deathly afraid of clowns). Now, I suppose, it's time to start planning for next year. What sort of vampire will I be in 2012? I'll let you know in about 12 months.

Happy Halloween!