Thursday, November 06, 2008

Ribbons & Bangles & Bells

Not surprisingly, having done a lot of Halloween activities lately, I've been thinking about costumes. As a teenager I made a few fun costumes. As a kid I honestly can't remember many of my Halloween costumes and the only photo I know of has me in a generic princess mask for which I remember being pretty grateful. My favorite costume experience, however, was not Halloween-related.

When I moved to New York the Rocky Horror Picture Show was still showing on 8th Street at midnight every Friday and Saturday. Before coming to the city I had never heard of such a thing and when my friends suggested we go I said yes with no clue, really, what I was getting into. Someone handed me a few pieces of clothing, suggested an appropriate direction for my outfit and off we went. I wore some sort of heels, surely, though I don't remember; a pencil skirt; a black demi-cup merry widow, yet another thing I'd had no experience of before moving to New York; and a boxy blue satin blazer. With the blazer buttoned over the lingerie it was the flashiest thing the late 80s had to offer and I felt like a million bucks and was the perfect photographic negative image to my African American roommate.

I don't know if you've ever been to Rocky Horror but it's participatory and it's rowdy and there are props and the venue was smack dab in the middle of NYU's "campus" and it doesn't start until midnight because the lower one's inhibitions the easier it is to participate properly. My group was not, I think, especially well lubricated but we were 18 and we were drama students so really we were all the uninhibited we needed to be most of our waking hours. All these factors combine to make the bouncers an integral part of the operation. These beefy, jaded, overworked gentlemen frisked everyone who walked through the door.

I don't think I need to tell you this was also a fresh experience for me. I was thrilled, fascinated and petrified all at once. Being who I am I watched the people ahead of me very carefully to get the lay of the land. The bouncers seemed surly and I didn't have fake ID and I didn't know if we needed such a thing and I had no idea how scary this experience was going to be because I didn't know what the movie was about. Concentrating on one fear at a time I had to get through the frisking. I didn't want to piss the guy off. Even being frisked I wanted to be the best person at it, the most well liked. OK plus, just a little bit, I wanted to be brazen and beautiful and stop some traffic.

As the girl in front of me stood for inspection I let my hand drop to the blazer's button and I slid it through the button hole. Then I put my hands in the deep pockets characteristic of the fashion of the era. When the girl stepped away I took one long stride forward and flipped my hands back to hold the blazer wide open. I can still see the dude's face. He was embarrassed, which I hadn't thought possible, and he tried to be exasperated with me but kept chuckling through it so it wasn't convincing. "Oh go. Just go!" he waved me away from him with all due speed.

I don't think I've ever felt so confident or had so much concentrated fun in one costume. The memory makes me wish I'd done it more than once.


  1. BRAVO!!!! Don't you wish we could bottle that confidence and dab a lil behind the ears when needed?

  2. Oh Z I totally do.

    Gypsy, for a long time I tried to turn my small breastedness around by exposing them at any opportunity. "They're tiny! No one cares. It hardly matters, there's nothing to even see."

  3. I remember those days - in the late '70s!

    My son, who's now 20, went twice now to the Rocky Horror here in LA at the Nuart on Wilshire. I had to smile, seeing him and his friends so thrilled!

    Kizz, I've added you to my blogroll!

  4. g, thanks for the add! If I'd known it would take stories of exposing myself in public I would have done it sooner, I've got a million of 'em. Once I changed my pants on a moving subway train!

  5. Anonymous7:00 PM

    You never have as much as when you feel really confident about yourself. I would have loved to have seen you that night!

  6. Oh Jules, it was the late 80s. The hair alone was reason to be glad there are no photographs. :)

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