My girlfriend Gem and I are avid Halloween costumers, and always have some big elaborate costumes we scramble to do at the last minute (inevitably calling out of work a day or two after getting a late start). For years, we’ve talked about doing Muppet versions of ourselves that we could wear and be ridiculous in, heckling people Statler and Waldorf style. It always seemed like too much of an undertaking, but we finally pulled it off!
The costume was part of an initiative to make smaller, more manageable costumes, as we’ve previously done a lot of large masks and things that were difficult to see out of or maneuver in. While the costume was very elaborate, it was light and had a working jaw that you can eat/drink with, which is always useful for various holiday parties and dinners. Between the ears, mouth, and mesh eyes, it also breathed surprisingly well (the felt gloves less so). We love costumes and especially ambitious costumes, but my favorite thing is just to blend in with them and create a kind of surreal, ridiculous environment, rather than create a spectacle that people are specifically staring at.
It was a lot of fun to wear and our accompanying friends were all smiles, interacting with our Muppet counterparts throughout the night. We turned a lot of heads casually dining at an upscale restaurant one night (it was specifically a costume night, but not many people got the memo), and met a lot of Muppet fans, but otherwise NYC is pretty blase about costumes. You see their faces light up when you’re just sitting amongst them on the subway though.
My favorite story from this year’s Halloween is actually based on our costume contest attempts.
We went do a half dozen or so parties and things over the extended Halloween week. As usual, we hit the costume contest circuit, and… as usual, we came up empty handed. Alas, everytime we attend an event with a contest, either 1. not enough people participate, so they don’t have the contest, 2. the owner of the establishment wins, or most bothersome 3. we lose out to a person in a store bought penis costume (this is about 20% of the time). THIS YEAR THOUGH! We specifically cut out of town (Brooklyn) at the last minute, the day after Halloween, to go to my favorite bar/music venue/bowling alley—Asbury Lanes, in Asbury Park, NJ—who had posted that they were having a costume/dance party the day before. We got there a couple hours after it was supposed to have started and it was totally dead, with just a few un-costumed people sitting around listening to metal (it’s a very eclectic crowd, which is part of what I love about it). We and our two costumed friends that had made the trip with us went in, resigned to another night that wasn’t what we’d hoped. We got some food, drinks, and did some bowling. The bowling shoes made amazing Muppet accessories. Within 30 minutes, the place was full of costumed party-goers, and the tone completely shifted. We partied and danced for the rest of the night (there are no better dance shoes than bowling shoes, by the way). As always, there wasn’t actually a contest at any point, but we’d had such a wonderful time that we weren’t sweating it at all. Having closed out the bar, we were taking some photobooth pictures (attached) on our way out and the manager came over and gave us what was clearly a desperate attempt to have some kind of prize. It was an XXL white t-shirt with *BEST* and a smiley face crudely drawn on in Sharpee. And we loved it. They’d thrown such a good party and draw such a wonderful crowd, that you couldn’t be anything but happy. We stayed in a hotel for the night, and on the way home the next day, my girlfriend Gem suggested we make something of the un-wearably large t-shirt, and mount it in a large frame, like a championship jersey. We immediately went to work carrying out this plan. “Jersey” puns, and “I drove to NJ for a costume contest and all I got…” aside, it perfectly captured our various attempts at contests over the years. Whenever people first come to our apartment, they see the remnants of various costumes displayed or shelved throughout the apartment, and inevitably ask us about costume contests, which we give the same sad “no, we never actually win” story to. But now, we can just point to the shirt and nod confidently.
It turned out very artfully, and filled a long empty space above the couch. (picture attached)
In addition to our new wall art, we have our Muppet heads! As much as we wanted a Muppet costume, we also wanted Muppet-self heads, just to have! They look great on the shelf and are a fun addition to the apartment.
There were gloves and accessories for these, but the main thing was the head.
—There’s a wire frame at the center of both of them that attaches to a (cushioned) wire headband. There’s the head shape, and a hinged jaw. Similar to past costumes, we used a green “DAND-O-LINE” anchor wire from the hardware store. It’s malleable, but thick enough to hold it’s shape, and a rubber coating keeps it from scratching too much.
—An elastic band attaches the main head to the jaw. It pulls the jaw shut when your chin isn’t pushing it open.
—A layer of mattress/cushion foam was used for the “skin”. Attached with sewing and zip ties (quicker, but less nice looking. For concealed areas.) The eyes, ears, and lips were similarly molded out of the foam and attached. After which, the whole thing is spray painted to give it a smooth, even coat. Once painted, the foam has a texture that looks like felt.
—The mouths are lined with felt for detail.
—The hair and eyebrows are faux fur for one (managed to find a fur that looks EXACTLY like my hair), and yarn and pipe-cleaners on the other.
—The eyes are molded out of a white mesh. Gem’s has some foam eyelids built into the structure to give it a different shape (she’s more mellow than I am). The black pupil drawn on to each one with a marker is surprisingly the easiest area to see out of.
Thanks, and happy to have found this site!