YES! Weekly’s ten best/ worst staff Halloween costumes

by Brian Clarey

The Last-Minute Robot

Halloween 1978 (Charles Womack)

Publisher Charles Womack thought he was too cool for a Halloween costume in the fall of ’78. He was in the eighth grade, after all. But at the last minute he balked. He went into his mother’s kitchen and wrapped aluminum foil over his clothes. It didn’t work out so well. “It had all fallen off after a few minutes,” he remembers.

Never forget

Halloween 1987 (Lauren Cartwright)

My family is like all Republicans, and also in West Virginia it’s either snowing or like 80 degrees on Halloween. And so they made me wear an elephant costume that was really hot. I was very sweaty. I was 7.

Johnny Rotten

Halloween 1993 (Jordan Green)

Fresh out of high school I’d stayed for more than a month with three gay men in San Francisco, one of whom was Sean, a friend of my father’s. By Halloween time I had a place of my own, and I took Sean up on an offer to borrow his black leather pants to help complete my guises as Johnny Rotten. Sean said: “I always thought of Johnny Rotten as being strung out on drugs; you look way too healthy.” He had some credibility to pass the judgment. Sean’s lover – by then dead of HIV/AIDS – had been a poet, and Sean recalled Sam ditching his own reception to attend a Dead Kennedys concert.

Traditional Scottish garb

Halloween 1996 (Brian Clarey)

I was behind the bar in New Orleans that night, a few thin braids in my hair, heavy boots, a knee-length kilt and very little else. Oh, and I had one of those little leather belt pouches with tassels on it. Trust me when I say that wearing a skirt is a wonderful experience, especially behind the bar where I enjoyed the freedom of movement (and also they way it twirled when I spun). The people seemed to like it, too – I made rent that night.

18th Century prostitute

Halloween 1997 (Brad McCauley)

She was in a public parade, that’s what made it so weird. And she was a freshman English teacher at Keene State College. In Keene, NH, where I’m from, we have the world record for the most amount of jack-o-lanterns lit at the same time. She was in the parade with the Boy Scouts and all that, and I guess she was kind of a very liberal, worldly woman. She wore like a burlap outfit, like a peasant prostitute, but it was very revealing. I still think about it to this day.


Halloween 1998 (Amy Kingsley)

For Halloween my senior year of college, I whipped up a batch of homemade fake blood (Karo syrup and food coloring), donned a pink dress, straight blond wig and tiara and went as Stephen King’s Carrie. I grossed out a passel of skater boys at Blondie’s, the Austin skate shop where my band played, then spent hours the next day cleaning food product off my cherished bass guitar. How would I describe the night? Sticky.


Halloween 2004 (Michelle Lanteri)

Blue. You can go as one color head to toe. Royal blue to be precise. Royal blue two-inch eyelashes, hair, floor-length tutu, platform sandals, sparkly fingernails, Spandex pants. All blue. Really fun for a Barristers Ball, except during the Sunday walk of shame home the next day. Lots of church-goers giving dirty looks to the hobbling, royal blue, hungover woman that was me.

Horror Movie

Halloween 2005 (Amy Kingsley)

Last year my boyfriend assembled his costume at the last minute. He attached TV antennae to a black cardboard box, then stuffed the inside with plastic monsters against a city skyline. He put it on his head, installed a red light and doused his shirtfront with fake blood. The costume severely limited his peripheral vision, but turned heads all night.


Halloween 2005 (Jordan Green)

I was assigned to write up a punk-rock house party on Cedar Street. Being that it was Halloween I felt obligated to dress up, although I wasn’t really sure how. I thought it would be kind of counter-intuitive to put on my only suit. Then I swabbed massive amounts of gel in my hair and painted some subtle sideburns and a soul patch on my face with eyeliner. I thought of the Warren Zevon line “I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vics; his hair was perfect” and figured I might be able to pull it off. Unfortunately, when I showed up at the party I encountered a bitter-looking scenester fishing a beer out of the fridge who challenged me with, “What are you supposed to be, a stockbroker?”

Bob Ross

Last-minute solution (Brian Clarey)

Remember that show “The Joy of Painting”? It was a series of minimalist productions of an artist at work, the dulcet-toned Bob Ross who would complete a detailed landscape inside of an hour using generous amounts of Van Dyke brown and yellow ochre, often with nothing more than a putty knife. It’s an easy costume: Pair bluejeans and a denim shirt, the more faded and paint-splattered the better, put on a big afro wig and make a palette from cardboard and you’re ready to go.