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[whitespace] DIY Halloween costumes Fingers Do The Walking: Two party-goers plastered in telephone books epitomize the DIY Halloween spirit.

DIY Dress-Up

There's no excuse for failing to come up with an original Halloween costume

By Heidi Pollock

HALLOWEEN IN AMERICA is about two things: sugar and costumes. The form of Halloween sugar is largely a matter of age and preference--candy and alcohol being the two most common sources. The forms and sources for costumes are unlimited. There are no norms or leading standards. No rules or restrictions. Particularly not in Santa Cruz.

So why is it that so many people refuse to wear costumes? There is no excuse for this behavior. None. I can almost guarantee that you are partway into a costume right now because at any given moment at least half of this town looks ready for a Halloween photo shoot.

My point is that with a few meager props, whatever you're already wearing is likely to make a fine Halloween costume. Face it, given a pizza box and a baseball hat we would all look like delivery boys.

Case in point: Last year the well-known multinational corporation for which I was temping encouraged the staff to come to work in costumes on Halloween. So on Oct. 31 I went to work in my usual dull corporate drag with the simple addition of a long, cheap blond wig. I was Career Barbie.

My supervisor, having a surprisingly fine-tuned sense of irony, fixed me with a level look and politely asked that I not say this to people. One blond wig and my "normal" look had become a potentially volatile cultural critique.

Along these lines, one of the best costumes I ever encountered involved little more than an apron, an egg and an attitude. A few Halloweens back, my brother Tom donned his bartending apron and fired up the stove. Five minutes later he was on his way to my costume party carrying a skillet containing one sunny-side-up egg stabbed with a cigarette butt, having miraculously transformed himself into the Short-Order Cook from Hell.

I recognize that not everyone is creatively inclined. Santa Cruz costume shops are a veritable mecca of prêt-à-porter costumery, so you can forget using the "I didn't have anything to wear" excuse.

While I believe that the quintessential costumes are subtle and vaguely humanoid, many people delight in slaving away for hours, transforming a dull brown box into a small-scale model of a Le Corbu building or some similar abstract project. You people know who you are and you have no need of my advice, but for those of you just beginning to branch out into the DIY costume world, might I suggest being something spherical instead of boxy? With a bunch of giant round rice-paper lanterns and the right paints, you and your closest 14 friends could be a full rack of pool balls, for instance.

And if all this strikes you as too, too much, then just wrap yourself in a few rolls of foil and say you're the Liberty Bell, because if you don't run into hundreds of patriotic personalities this Halloween, you won't be in America.

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From the October 24-31, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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