When I was a kid, Halloween was simple. All we had to do was be scary, be scared, and get candy.
But then about 20 years ago, society was hit with a tidal wave of global information technology. Although the full impact of Internet on society is yet unknown, the “Sexy Pizza Rat Costume” is clear evidence that Halloween isn’t all about jack-o-lanterns, trick or treating, and horror movies anymore.
A few weeks ago, someone in New York City took a 14 second video of a rat dragging a slice of pizza down some dirty subway stairs, and uploaded it. With 7.7 million views on YouTube, the otherwise unremarkable rat has become a viral sensation. Yandy.com, a costume and lingerie company, capitalized on the trend, and have sold out their “Sexy Pizza Rat” Halloween costume for a mere $90 a pop.
Rodents aren’t the only things being made into sexy Halloween costumes these days. Costume companies are adding miniskirts, bustiers, booty shorts and exposed midriffs to costumes resembling Donald Trump, Minions, Cecil the Lion, sock monkeys, Ronald McDonald, the Cat in the Hat, corn cobs, lobsters and goldfish.
In the 1970s, we didn’t have sexy costumes. In fact, most store-bought costumes came in cheap boxed sets, consisting of a 100% polyester sheath that tied in the back like a hospital gown that was supposed to resemble cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny, Sleeping Beauty or Fred Flintstone.
Made of eggshell-thin plastic, the masks had two round holes to see through and a tiny slit at the mouth. Presumably meant for breathing, the slit wasn’t big enough to allow breath to escape, making Halloween a steamy, uncomfortable affair. The masks would crack with the slightest pressure, and the thin elastic band that went around the head had a working life of about an hour.
As cheap as they were, I always wanted a store-bought costume, but my first-grade-teacher-mother refused to buy them because they required “no creativity.” Instead, we were set adrift with nothing but our resourcefulness and what we could find around the house.
Just like the kids in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, a nice white sheet with two holes cut in it could do the trick. Many of the neighborhood kids dressed up as sheet ghosts for Halloween, but seeing as all our bed sheets had daisies or model Ts printed on them, my brother and I had to get a little more creative.
For a couple of years, I used a grey wig my grandmother had discarded, along with a crocheted shawl and some glasses made out of pipe cleaners, to disguise myself as “an old lady.” Other years I was a hobo, an Indian squaw, or a clown, all made from things lying around the house.
One year, my brother used income from his paper route and a mail order add in the back of his Mad Magazine to score a green rubber “Creature from the Black Lagoon” mask. Even though he wore it with jeans and a sweatshirt, it terrified me because I had recently seen the movie.
My parents had decided that I was old enough to stay up after the Carol Burnett Show on Saturday nights to watch “Chiller Theater,” a weekly double feature of old horror movies. With my brother propped on the couch, and me in a sleeping bag on the floor in front of our console TV, we gazed bug-eyed at classics such as “King Kong vs. Godzilla”, “The Man Who Reclaimed His Head”, “The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism”, and “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”.
It’s too bad that nowadays, kids gaze bug-eyed at the sexy costumes that now permeate the Internet, costume shops and department stores. Instead of Frankenstein and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, they see Sexy Pizza Rat and Sexy Big Bird.
In the pre-Internet days, it didn’t matter whether the costumes were of the store bought or homemade variety, Halloween was less about the costumes and more about being scary, or if you were like me, being scared. And like the Clark Bars, Chiclets and popcorn balls on Halloween night, there were plenty of each to go around.