Halloween is right around the corner and if you’re still looking for a costume, something totally over the top, then you’ve come to the right place. After all, Halloween and rock n’ roll go together like zombies and fresh brains. From punk and glam to heavy metal and rockabilly, rockers of every stripe and era have long displayed a love for elaborate costumery, face-painted role-playing and gender-bending dress up. After meticulously scouring the annals of the music’s twisted history, we’ve compiled a list of potential costumes guaranteed to make you the No. 1 hit on this year’s party circuit. They cover all the bases: creepy to campy, modern to old school. Some demand considerable time and craft, while others can be created with nothing more than a quick trip to your local vintage clothing shop.
Considering 2015 is the 40th anniversary of KISS’ landmark Alive! album, this would be the perfect Halloween for dressing up like The Starchild, The Demon, The Spaceman or The Catman. It’s definitely a fun idea for a bunch of pals. Mind you, it’s also labor intensive. The makeup is thick and intricate. In the mid ’80s, I once went trick or treating as The Catman (Peter Criss); my mom spent two hours applying my makeup. (She never did get the whiskers quite right.) If you dig KISS but are tired of the main characters, pick one of the lesser knowns, like Vinnie Vincent’s Ankh Warrior (what?) or the late Eric Carr’s Fox. Please note: if you opt for The Starchild, the chances are good you’ll need track down a chest merkin. A dense forest grows upon Paul’s pecs!
Sure, Gaga is more pop than rock, but her starring role on this season’s American Horror Story: Hotel is so awesomely gruesome that the sex-starved, demonic Countess has to be included. Don’t get me wrong: In This Moment’s Maria Brink still is the reigning queen of shock rock, but Gaga definitely is making a play for the throne. What’s cool about choosing the Countess is the character’s versatility. You could dress up as glamorous Gaga (vintage ballroom sheik), or freakish Gaga (blood-splattered neck and black sequined gloves), or insanely freakish Gaga (neo-Suspiria nightmare). The possibilities are endless, really.
Elvis’ gaudily speckled jumpsuit is the Tricky Dick mask of rock ’n’ roll costumes: an old reliable that never fails. I personally prefer the gold lamé tuxedo on the cover of his 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong album – such a weird mix of science fiction and country & western. But I’m in the minority. For sociocultural reasons, the world seems obsessed with Vegas-era Elvis. If this is the route you choose, please refrain from stuffing a pillow in the belly. As this electrifying concert footage from 1970 can attest, during his early years in Sin City (1970 to ’72), the King actually was as svelte and sexy as ever.
When the Crüe bum-rushed Hollywood’s seedy Sunset Strip scene, they drew more than a few comparisons to KISS. But Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee and Mick Mars were genuine, and preferred punk studs and S&M leather to spandex and platform boots. As for their makeup, it also was striking. Smeared on haphazardly (too wasted to care?), it gave the band a ghoulish appearance, especially Mick, who looked like a hair metal Linda Blair. The only drawback to dressing up like Mötley Crüe is cost. Authentic S&M gear is not cheap – we’re talking big bucks for the kink.
Nothing screams Halloween hip quite like dressing up as a bisexual, alien rocker from Mars. What a badass move that would be. The chameleon-like [David Bowie[(art.2643) has created numerous personae and looks through the decades (the Berlin years also would make for a neat costume), but the most beloved is Ziggy Stardust. To say Bowie was ahead of his time is an understatement. Our society – still mired in reactionary notions of sexuality and gender – has yet to catch up with Ziggy’s defiantly subversive nature. Possibly the only thing about Ziggy that hasn’t aged well is his hairstyle. The shocking red is totally awesome, but the shape of the cut creeps awfully close to mullet – you know, business up front, party in the back?
New York Dolls
If you’re costume budget is tight this year, then the Dolls’ classic glam rock look makes for a great option. Since the band aimed to impersonate New York street trash, they went for cheap everything: cheap lipstick, cheap platform shoes, cheap glitter. Granted, some of the stuff they rocked (like Arthur “Killer” Kane’s itty bitty, sequined onesie) are now considered vintage and can fetch handsome prices. But you should still be able to pull off the look without breaking the bank. One other thing: If you’re Halloween includes a lot of late night parties and blurry eyed debauchery, do drink responsibly. Platforms and booze do not mix – this I know.
But really, your options are limitless: Lil’ Kim, Miley Cyrus (dressing as Lil’ Kim), Bjork, Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj, Cee Lo, Rick Ross, Katy Perry, Marilyn Manson, and Taylor Momsen have all donned some pretty spectacular costumes over the years.