I have some shame to admit. It is October 27th and I have JUST TODAY put up Halloween Decorations…. I know…. I should feel so embarrassed admitting that. Oddly enough the plastic bins that store the Halloween decorations have been sitting idly by in the living room and on the back porch… but as I had said before: idly by. So this past Saturday, I thought I would finally take the initiative as the Autumn Bonfire was finally lit under my Proverbial Keester. I took all of the Halloween decorations out the box and set them ALL in my way, as if making them difficult to live around would mean they would be put up in a faster manner than the previous strategy (which was to let them sit in boxes till October came and went.) It made the wait only 24 hours longer till the house was FINALLY decorated.
I'm not very certain how many of you out there do this very same thing. You say to yourself, there are these things I need to do, but I never do them, so I will take something physical that represents this task and put it in my way, therefore forcing me to see it and accomplish the task and there is now this physical barrier standing in my normally cleared path.
In any case, this time at least, the strategy worked and the decorations are up around the house. Booray! My favorite addition to the Halloween decor, was a "flying ghost." The spooky specter glides back and forth on a suspended wire that you attach to 2 points inside your home or outside. It lights ups and makes a spooky sound as it's spinning and moving around. Once it reaches the end of the line, it turns and goes back the other way… It's so much fun. The best part is that it was only 3 bucks. Thank you Walgreens after Halloween 85% OFF Sale (which is the 95% bulk of where all of our Halloween decor comes from) BooYa!
So as many of you already know, every October, for some Freudian reason, I try to celebrate Halloween at full Octane Capacity. I want to eat barrels and barrels of candy corn, watch scary movies until my eyes pop out of my head, and I'll kinda go overboard with a DIY Halloween Costume. Then I try to find a couple of Really fun activities to go wear the costume at. This is my somewhat replacement for a Trick-Or-Treat-less Childhood.
This year's costume is really no different.
Around August I tend to really start thinking about who I want to be. I honestly had no idea what I was going to do. As I am planning on moving to NYC next Summer, I honestly considered not making a new costume this year at all, but just wearing one I had made a few years ago, that was never entered into a competition and only worn for a single hour to a party (Max, Where the Wild Things Are.) SO I really was on the fence about a new costume this year until, August 11th.
Like something very unreal, the whole world receives a huge shock to their system. Acclaimed and beloved Actor, Robin Williams, commits suicide in his home. I really couldn't believe it. I have been a Robin Williams fan since I saw Mrs. Doubtfire as a young teenager. That was the first film I had seen of his, oddly enough. Since then I made my best effort to see anything he is in. Some of my most favorite films star Mr. Williams. I've seen every animated film he did voice acting for and I've even seen his stand-up work. He was a VERY AMAZINGLY TALENTED Man. I always thought that he could play ANY role. He was known for his comedy but he was also such an Excellent Dramatic Actor as well. I was very saddened by his passing and lament that the world will not get to see any more of his talent. It is very hard to say goodbye to him. What's strange about it it is that so very few people in the world actually knew the man personally, but the rest of us all felt like old friends. It was like saying goodbye to a friend you will never see or hear from again… very sad. I don't think the world will ever be the same in his absence.
Artist is Tyler Boyco
At this point, in August, I still haven't decided what I was going to do for Halloween. It wasn't until very very late September that I was even TOYing with the idea of making a Robin Williams Character Tribute Costume. Since there were SO very Many REALLY great Characters to choose from, this really confused the process even more. Though however long or hard I thought about it and however many different roles I thought about him playing that I could turn into a costume for this year, I kept coming back to one character that has stuck in my mind and been on my thoughts ever since that 11th day this past August: Mrs. Doubtfire.
I couldn't stop thinking about making her my Halloween costume this year… I just couldn't. On the flip side of this, I kept saying to myself,"That's crazy! How in the world would I pull this off?!?! It's just the Nuttiest Idea, Ever!" SO I would put the idea out of my mind thinking that it wasn't really going to be possible to do because, seriously, I am NOT a special effects makeup guy so would have NO IDEA how to do the make up. Then, special effects makeup aside, where am I going to get the clothes for her signature look. SO… I toiled longer on deciding a costume and was still erring on the side of not doing one at all, or a new one at least.
It wasn't until the first weekend in October that B and I had traveled up the road some to Perry, so we could go to the Haunted Barn (which is SUPER fun by the way!) On a side note, it was probably the most fun haunted house that I had ever been to. I've been to many and they are usually SO SUPER cheesy and boring,
with people who scream at your face and bang on poorly painted plywood that is supposed to resemble some sort of spooking setting for that room's particular scene (which personally takes me out of it and kills the fun.) Even though the Haunted Barn is a Scene based attraction, the way they do it there really did "get me," so to speak. I really did jump and get spooked and kinda freaked out a little when I went through it with some good friends.
Anyway…. I had decided to go into a thrift shop earlier that day while we were in town, just to see what I could find. I made a very snapshot decision that if I could find some of the clothes for the costume, then I would go as Mrs. Doubtfire. As as you might have guessed, considering I am gong as her this year, I did find just that. I found that lovely floral sweater that just SCREAMED Mrs. Doubtfire. I also found a grey wool skirt that, when worn at the top of my hips, was the perfect length. I knew that I could dye it blue and it would be the perfect shade and texture for the part. I knew that I would be presented with a lot of challenges with this costume and I welcomed the idea of them ( I would later be cursing and swearing at myself.) At that moment of finding those 2 items, I felt like it was the most perfect choice and most "fitting" way I could pay homage to one of my most favorite actors and tribute to his most regrettable passing. I thought to myself,"I have NO IDEA how I'm going to pull this off, but this is the year to do it if I am going to do this."
Speaking of fitting, true-Funny story, when I was at that particular thrift shop, I was trying on the skirt and sweater and a couple of blouses in the fitting room. I had forgotten to lock the door and this woman had walked in on me trying on the skirt with an obviously too tight blouse. She uttered some indiscernible noise and had left more quickly than she had arrived. when I was checking out at the cash register with my skirt and very granny floral sweater, who should get in line behind me, but that very same woman. She gave me a VERY STRANGE look as she glanced down at the women's clothes and then back up to me. It was at this time that I felt the need to explain what I was doing. Her response after I had explained the tribute to Robin Williams and that I normally despise a drag costume for men, etc. was,"You're Bold." I'm certain she probably did not mean this as a compliment as her facial expression did not really change, even after the explanation. I took it as a compliment though. I'd really like to think that "BOLD" could be an adjective accosted with some of my nicer defining qualities. Besides, it was October. I really was flabbergasted as to why she didn't come to the,"Oh it's October…. Halloween time… must be for a costume." But NO, really this woman jumped to the weird transvestite conclusion before Halloween Costume EVER entered her mind. This trend continued over the course of me shopping for Mrs. Doubtfire clothes. I can't even count how many strange looks I received from strangers on 2 hands and 2 feet. I even, after explaining the Halloween thing to another woman in the skirt aisle of the same thrift shop, had the same reaction. She moved immediately down to the opposite end of the skirt aisle. I eventually just tuned it all out and stopped trying to explain myself. I just must look like the weird type. Oh well.
Now, I normally despise the "drag" solution for guys at Halloween. This is ONLY because when it's done, it's usually done very lazy very last minute and very badly. I just absolutely detest a lazy costume. It's not creative, it's not clever and it's not thoughtful or thought provoking. You might as well not have dressed up at all. I know that's a rather harsh criticism, but I just can't help it. You either really do it or just don't do it at all. I know it's a bit harsh a criticism but I just feel deep down that if you don't care then don't care, but if you do care, show it and most of the time, the guys going in a sloppy dress with sloppy makeup just falls into this category for me.
So after making the decision, I began thinking about solutions to some of the challenges that this costume would present. Every year I try to select a costume based on the new challenge that putting it together will bring. It's part of the thrill and the excitement for me. I feel that I have accomplished a tricky puzzle by the time Halloween rolls around and I am wearing my successfully completed puzzle. It really puts me in a good mood and I seem to have a lot more fun at the Halloween festivities. The Mrs. Doubtfire costume presented several challenges over the course of it's creation. If I'm being completely honest, I'm not quite sure I would have chosen that character. I might have chosen Leslie Zevo from TOYS or maybe John Keating from Dead Poets Society or even Alan Parrish from Jumanji instead, had I known. That's all part of the fun of it though. They wouldn't call it a challenge if it were easy, huh.
This was my very first adventure into wigs. In previous years, I just used my natural hair whether it be long or short and that factored into the costume choice. When I was Gene Wilder Brand Willy Wonka, I had very long hair and my hair was naturally curly so I didn't' need a wig or any special hair dressings. But lets face it, look at this mug (pic of me), I do not quite have the hair of Mrs. Doubtfire.
So I ordered, for the first time in my life ever, my first wig. I did a bit of research and found that through forums and product reviews that Lacey Costume Wigs of New York had a "Mrs. Doubtfire/Old Woman" Wig that worked best for this costume. Since this was a professional wig company that produces wigs for stage productions, The wig was pretty much the most costly item of the entire costume. Most women are already Endowed with such knowledge, but I was not… First Wig Rookie here.
There were 2 types of this style wig, there was an all white version which was usually used with colonial costumes and the grey one, which is normally recommended for a Mrs. Doubtfire costume. I ordered the grey, however, I received the all white. As you might have already guessed, by the time the wig actually arrived, there was NO TIME to send it back to get there grey wig to replace it in time for the Halloween Party. So I had a Tim Gunn (Project Runway) "Make it work" moment with this costume. I decided that Mrs. Doubtfire could sport the all white wig and Rock It!… But not before I sported it first, right? Because, hey, First Wig is a Hallmark in Any Man's Life,right? LOL (pic of me in wig) There was one more thing, since the wig was sent in a small bag, it was a little deformed in shape and some of the curls and bun began to come loose in the back. Thank God that Wendy and Mane Street Salon (where I get my hair cut) was available the day of the party to style my wig for me…
Now I know what you're thinking,"The whole point of a DIY Costume is to actually DIY, right?" Well, I may be a man of several talents, but even I can admit when I am out of my league, and women's hairstyles is currently out of my league of talents. Also there were SO many other challenges for me to DIY Attack/Figure Out that I figured I could cheat on this one thing.
The next challenge I had to figure out was how to do prosthetic makeup enough to pass as Mrs. Doubtfire. I didn't want to just paint my regular face up, because, you know what? That's boring. Anyone can do drag for Halloween. I had to figure out how to make the prosthetics as they were key in identifying this particular movie character. I then came up with a crazy idea that I really wasn't certain would work. I had just finished watching some of the behind the scenes of how they did Robin Williams Makeup for the movie. I knew if this didn't work, then everything else, all the other details I planed wouldn't mean anything because everyone would just think I was doing Old Lady Drag for Halloween and… Ewe, how boring, right?
My plan was to find a general old woman/man rubber Halloween mask from a department store and as luck would have it I did find an old man mask at the local Walmart. I then removed the fake hair and eye brows off the mask. I remember in the video how the makeup prosthetics were divided into pieces in key areas.
I next had to find the other parts to my wardrobe. I had the sweater and the skirt, which I died Blue. The other stuff, well… I just assumed back when I was at that thrift shop all excited about the decision to be Mrs. Doubtfire, that I would most certainly be able to thrift ALL my costume components for this costume. Of course, why not? There's Mrs Doubtfire costume elements at every thrift shop, right?
I still had more elements to find for this costume. Like I said previously, Mrs. Doubtfire was kinda the gift that kept on giving this Halloween, but not in a good way. Women have SO Many accessories to each and every outfit that guys really don't think about. I think I have a new found understanding as to why women take a long time to shop for an outfit. It's because of the Gazillion things you have to get and put together with it to make it all work… No one it takes eons int he bathroom for you all to get ready. j/k ;0) But women do have to think about A LOT more things than men do when it comes to getting ready.
As far as the other accessories go, I was able to find stockings and clip on diamond earrings at the Halloween section of Party City. I also needed to find a circular old lady broach. I had found a circular pirate's earring there also that I later used to fashion into the broach i wore.
I then, after putting it off for long enough, had to go get some women's makeup to blend the mask pieces to my face and make Mrs. Doubtfire as pretty as I myself, in my very limited make-up capabilities, could make her. I kind of had a little adventure on my way to the store. The good officers of Americus all seemed to be congregating near the edge of the store I was headed to. There were so many flashing blue lights that I just slowed down. i wasn't quite sure what I was driving into. I had noticed a wet area in the road where it looked like a vehicle might have been scraped off of the road and a all of the police cars were on either side of the cleared road. So I was thinking, logically, I had just pulled up on a freshly cleaned accident scene. A police officer started walking out in front of my car in the middle of the road and, to me, he appeared to be waving me through the scene. He was waving his hand that was holding a flashlight in a circular motion as if to say,"keep coming through, hurry up, nothing to see here. Just keep it moving." So I just begin to just keep driving before the officer then begins to freak out and motions for me to stop…. So I stop and roll down the window with a VERY Confused look on my face. He then asked to see my license. It wasn't until this point that I realized that I had almost drove through a road block without stopping, which not only looks super suspicious but would have gotten me a major ticket or worse.
Thankfully, they waved me through. So I continue on my odyssey, as it were, to find and purchase some ladies makeup. If you thought trying to figure out women's clothing was confusing, just wait till you try to figure out women's makeup. I was absolutely lost in the beauty aisle. I was just standing there looking at the shelves full of god knows what in god knows how many colors. I thought I was going to be so good at this after watching a little YouTube tutorial on how an older woman would put makeup on. I even had a little list of different types of makeup that I thought I needed to get. But I was SO NOT prepared for the real deal. I was a rat in a maze. Luckily I had my chopped off rubber mask ear handy to compare skin tones. I can't even imagine what people might have been thinking seeing me hold that ear in a bag and hold it up to all the pretty colors with my mouth hanging 5 feet to the floor and bewildered out of my mind as to what to choose and what to do next. I did my best to select my makeup and I went through the self check out to buy it ( I know… a bit cowardly, but I was so exhausted. I couldn't stand to have to explain myself to another individual that evening.)
Just a quick thing about the shoes. I said the hell with trying to get some women's shoes and wear them. Firstly, I couldn't find any that would fit my huge clod-hoppers that also looked like shoes that she wore in the movie (because I looked). Secondly, i had a pair of black dress shoes that look like pilgrim shoes and kind of have some low-heel action going on in them, I suppose. I call them my Sunday School Shoes and I thought they would do just fine. Thirdly, i had enough venturing into unfamiliar territory. lol.
One of the last details I needed to finish was to complete the broach. The pirate's eating was a great shape but the center was empty. I needed to find something that would go in the center. I had considered using aluminum foil and some sequins and glitter, but B actually told me that he thought he might have something I could use from his stash of his mother's old costume jewelry. B's mom was an avid collector of many things. Costume jewelry was "One of her favorites." B shared. We could this absolutely beautiful pendant charm that actually was meant to go on a necklace, but I thought with the right finagling I could use a safety pin to pull the pirate earring and the necklace charm together to make the broach.
This costume, though largely paying homage to Robin Williams, paid a small bit of tribute to B's mother as well. She was such a vibrant and lively woman who was always up for a new adventure. I only got to know her for a few short years before she passed. I lament that I did not get to know her longer than that. She was such a very cool woman and I know she would have loved the idea of this costume. She also would have thought the idea of using her necklace pendant as Mrs. Doubtfire's broach would have been a cool creative idea. I know she would have enjoyed being part of that. I thought about her as I was wearing it that night and was proud that I could have paid her a small tribute as well. I know she was laughing about how silly I looked from wherever she may be now.
THE DAY OF THE HALLOWEEN PARTY:
The day of seemed like a frantic mixture of activities. I had to rise and shine pretty early. Earlier than I normally do on a weekend, but I had a very important appointment with Wendy, my stylist. She was doing me a solid and fit me into her schedule. I was very grateful because I'm certain a wig styling is usually kind of low on a priority rung for stylists. She did tell me that on the contrary, many clients go in just to have their wigs styled. It was kind of humorous because normally I am sitting in the hair-chair (I'm fairly certain there is a name for them, but it is a word I do not know, alas). That particular morning I was sitting across the way while Wendy sat in the hair-chair with a Styrofoam head of white wig hair and styled Mrs. Doubtfire's hair for me. Again let me reiterate how important it is to know your limitations and know when you just got to let the professionals handle it for you. Wendy did such a fantastic job on the wig. Thank you so much, Wendy! Euphagenia says,"You're a GEM, Darling." We had also had a discussion about nails vs. no nails. I had failed to observe that in the film, Robin Williams is never wearing nail polish. This is probably because he must change back and forth form Daniel Hilliard to Mrs. Doubtfire at a moments notice and nail polish would give a man away. So we decided… No Nails.
If you are local, stop into the Mane Street Salon and say hey to Wendy. She's AMAZING and will make you look AWESOME!
I must confess after my wig styling appointment, I kind of chilled a bit and did nothing except sip coffee and watch some mindless television. HOORAY for Breaks! After my break, I did begin to actually unpack all of our Halloween decorations and put them strategically in our way.
I then began to put on the cut rubber mask pieces. It was again, trial and error, but it seemed to be working out pretty well, considering I had NEVER done ANYTHING remotely like it before.
The first problem I did run into, however, was that the chin piece kept falling off. Part of it had to adhere to my face, the other part to the mid section pieces of the mask.
After EVERYTHING had dried and I as certain the pieces were secure. Mind you, this is hours form when I had put them on… hours. I began to apply the women's makeup. This is where I ran into a real fiasco. The foundation I had selected was not creamy and paste like, as I had imagined it to be. It was really liquidy and runny and therefore didn't provide the blending I was anticipating it would. But I couldn't give up, SO I just had to keep on trucking and just Cake it on as best I could and just Roll With It! Since I didn't know anything about make-up, I also ended up picking things that were all a similar shade. Nothing showed any contrast when I applied powder and eyeshadow, it looked as if I hadn't applied anything at all… I was a logistical nightmare. The only thing that showed any variation of color, was the lipstick. So I just took a makeup applicator and rubbed it on the lipstick and began to use it to tone different areas of my face and give it a little more diminution. I was SO afraid of it being all one flat color… ruining the effect of the costume. I also had to use the lipstick as rouge because I forgot to get any. All in all it wasn't as bad as I thought it was. Though B kept on insisting that my ammeter makeup made me look more like a zombie Mrs. Doubtfire. It was then time for me to get dressed.
I didn't really need a fat suit as I kind of came by it naturally at the moment. I then put on the bra which didn't really fit well, and stuffed the boobies with some headline news (a bad joke I kept using for most of the night… thanks alcohol.) Then I put on the stockings which didn't fit because I couldn't even get them over my butt. I had no idea who in the world would realistically fit into them except maybe a Barbie Doll.
Hit the lights and cue Uncle Frank and Aunt Jack to start Dancing… With a lot of luck and hard work and help from some very good friends, I was transformed into Mrs. Doubtfire. B and I took some photos to document this year's costumes and we hit the town on our way to a very fun Halloween Bash. Wendy was there as Connie Conehead. She looked SO COOL. I LOVED her costume. We even took a picture together.
Connie Conehead (Wendy) & Mrs. Doubtfire (Me)
Well this pretty much sums it up. I hope you enjoyed the journey and the final result. These costumes end up being one of my creative and fun projects in October and I enjoy sharing them with You All out there.
I hope it was a "Fitting" Tribute to One of my favorite actors of all time. It certainly was enough to win me the Costume Competition at the Halloween Bash. First Place! Whoot! Whoot! I would like to conclude by sharing an illustration by artist, Joe Petruccio. I love the quote from the film, Hook. I admit, it gives me misty eyes when I read it. It's a wonderful tribute to Mr. Williams. He will be very missed. RIP Mr. Williams.
Mr. Petruccio is a very talented artist and I really enjoy his work. You can link to his website if you click on his name.
I Hope You All have a Very Safe and Very Fun and Very Happy Halloween!
until next time,
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art.
P.S. A good friend did say to me that in one of the photos I seemed to resemble Henry Kissinger. I looked up what he looked like and I have to say, it's kinda funny because, as Mrs. Doubtfire, I kinda do. LOL!