Happy All-Hallows, people! The holiday most sacred to pagans and people who need to unbutton a little: at no other time is so much room given to our personae, from horrific to juicy. I wrote about it in Exhibitionism for the Shy, recommending that folks who are too nervous to get wild the other 364 days a year look for a frisky Hallowe’en venue and try on a bolder self than usual.
|Photo courtesy of Sadie Lune (the lovely trick-or-treater shown here) and Larry Utley, photographer. For more of his work visit www.larryutley.com.|
According to this year’s press, my advice is being followed, maybe too well. I spoke to a fellow at the SF Chronicle late last week (that’s still a big part of my job at Good Vibrations, talking to the press about GV and other sex-related topics). He was writing an article about the proliferation of sexy Hallowe’en costumes for women and girls; we had a nice chat, though my quotes didn’t make it into the piece. Stephen Colbert talked about it tonight too, though, and apparently a bunch of papers around the country covered the so-called issue. The gist: when you go into a Hallowe’en Superstore, you can barely find a woman’s costume with a skirt that reaches below the asscheeks.
First response: And this is a *problem*?
All right, I admit: Plenty of women might not wish to wear a revealing costume or dress in an overtly sexy way. And even women who DO want to do this might wish their pubertal daughter would wear a nice ghost outfit, something about as revealing as a burka. I’m not going to even get into the issue of young people wearing sexy Hallowe’en outfits (well, til later in the column), but let’s face up to this burgeoning social problem with a couple of suggestions. I know they’re too late for this year, but ladies, you can start planning for H’ween ’07 right away. First: Why the hell must you buy a costume from the women’s section? Go right across the aisle and dress like a sailor or a Frankenstein monster or maybe Karl Rove. (This holiday is traditionally about facing our fears, after all. Eeeeek!) And second: What is a Hallowe’en Superstore, anyway? Why don’t you go to a nice St. Vinnie’s and use some, um, creativity?
This just in: Any woman who doesn’t want to dress like a slutty nurse *doesn’t have to*! If there are no costumes of your preferred gender representation that don’t freeze your cheeks like a ‘ho in an HBO “documentary,” wear your work clothes and a freakin’ mask.
I think there are two reasons why this extra-sexy holiday is getting even sexier (if, indeed, it IS getting any sexier; it’s always been a better time for a church lady to dress like a saloon girl than most other days). First, it’s more acceptable to don those feisty outfits. If they’re being mass-produced and covering the walls of the costume store, each lady gets the message that all the other ladies are doing it so it must be okay. Sexy images aren’t hard to find, and the barrier between nice girls and naughty girls is never more permeable than on Hallowe’en.
Here’s the other reason. This holiday wasn’t made by Hallmark or even the people who make that nasty candy corn. It’s far older and more deeply wired into us than that, at least those of us whose people come from the western traditions influenced by paganism. It’s a time for people to flirt and fight with fear and the unacceptable, and ever since John Ashcroft covered up the sculpted breasts of Justice at taxpayer’s expense, our society has been in full grapple mode with erotic images and sexual differences. It should come as no surprise that some of us are wearing Bush masks tonight and some are dressing like sexpots. In San Francisco we’re so used to this, it’s practically not worth going outside for. (In fact, how do you think I know what Stephen Colbert was up to on his show?)
But I want to call out the idea that this is somehow new. There exists a picture of me (and I hope I can find it to post here tomorrow) at the age of about five, wearing a long black wig and riding a broom — standard witch drag. But I’ve got false eyelashes on, too. Yup, in 1962 false eyelashes had already been invented, which is all by itself a factoid worth knowing. My mom’s only sexy friend (I wrote about her in Madonnarama, years ago) showed up that Hallowe’en wearing this drag and looking very alluring… I got put into her outfit because I hounded her and Mom to dress me up like that. I wasn’t even in first grade yet, but it was clear to me that witchy womanliness held allure. That’s why I have nothing but pity for the poor moms and dads worried about their little darlings’ choices of costume tonight.
Come on, it was ten years after the Kinsey Report and five years before the Summer of Love. Like we’re living in a completely different world now? One of the most interesting parts of being a sex archivist is seeing how much sexual discourse there was in peoples’ lives forty, fifty, sixty years ago. And if that seems too recent for meaningful comparison, look up the Pompeiian brothel they’ve just restored. There’s *always* a lot of sex and sexuality around us, plenty of people who’ll get playful with it if they have permission — even one day a year’s worth — and maybe the biggest difference right now is the number of loud-voiced souls who want to make it a big deal.
Well, it’s almost the witching hour now, so good night. May the spirits kiss you through the veil between the worlds.