Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. When I was a kid it was all about the candy, the trick or treating, the school parties and hardly about the costume. When I got older and became more of a class clown I found Halloween as a fun way to get laughs at school by wearing ridiculous costumes. Wether it was as 6’2” 12 year old French Maid, The Village People, or our balding dean of discipline, school was the best place to show off the crazy costumes and it always led to a great time.
As I got older that love of Halloween and costumes turned to costume party’s and bar contests. When I was 18 I met my wife at a friend’s Halloween party while dressed as Mr. T. ,who by now was 6’7”. Each year my friends and I would compete with each other for funniest costume. I put in more effort than most of them and after a few years of not only having the best costume out of the collaboration of class clowns I call my friends, but also consistently winning first place with some pretty decent prizes at the bars.
In 2010 I decided that since I live in a suburb about 30 minutes outside of Manhattan that I would go down to the filming of The Today Show to get on TV not knowing if they even had a contest. They pulled me from the crowd, took my information, and told me I’d be in the contest. Will Ferrell and Tina Fay were there promoting a movie and during the commercial break Will Ferrell started a conversation with me about how much he loved my costume. Tina Fey Picked my Brother Mike out of the crowd and said she loved his costume and that he should also be in the contest. Mike was wearing my costume from the previous year, Jambi from Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Will, Tina and The Today show cast talked to my brother and I on national TV and I knew right there I was hooked. Even though I got 3rd place in the contest (they gave it to a kid) I knew this was a great new way to enjoy the costumes that I put so much effort into. I went back the following year and again got 3rd (The prize this year was Justin Bieber tickets so I don’t blame them for giving it to a kid). Last year I entered a national Halloween contest The Today Show did online and was selected to be flown in (they sent a limo since I live close) to compete against two other people they also brought in. Martha Stewart was the judge and gave it to a Lion King Giraffe over my Football Coach with Gatorade being dumped on him. Well since this contest was a week before Halloween I decided to bring the Coach to Kelly & Michael for their Halloween show. Other contestants informed the producers who select the finalist that they had seen me on The Today Show the week before and I wasn’t selected. I may not have gotten into the contest but I had fun, got some airtime in the crowd and I discovered that the Kelly & Michael Show gives away a prize worth $10,000.
I decided that since my wife and I were expecting our first child November 15th I would go all out this year and really swing for the fences trying to win the $10,000 and whatever other contests I could. I usually start my costumes in the beginning of October but this year I started August 1st since I knew the closer it got to her due date the less time I would have to spend constructing it. I looked over the list I keep of costume ideas but decided to expand on my Jambi costume from years earlier. I still had the head in good condition because I proudly display it in my garage/man cave. Most of the time I disassemble them to reuse the pieces in other costumes or because they are to large to store. My goal was to cram as many characters from Pee Wee’s Playhouse into a costume as possible but still be able to move around. I drew it up and realized that if I had 3 separate pieces on wheels then I could stand behind it in my Jambi costume and push. As I mentioned above I am 6’7” tall, so I was able to make the characters life size and still have room to stand behind it with Terry the pterodactyl on my chest. My long arms allowed me to reach out and grab handles I installed on the side sections so I could steer them. Since Chairy is just a chair I made it out of a rolling desk chair with a hard back rest that I could attached to my waist to steer hands free. I also had run into problems in the past with transporting some of my larger costumes so when I designed this one I accounted for it being able to come apart quickly in some parts so I could fit it into the back of an SUV.
My first time taking it out was to the Nyack parade just an hour after my first time testing it out on the street. I figures If I could move around on carpeting a paved street would be even better. I should have tested it earlier but since this was a week before Halloween and a only a $200 grand prize I knew even if it didn’t work out I’d have time to fix it before the show and the bar contest on Halloween. It worked out great and although pushing it the distance I did was more strenuous than I anticipated I won first place and it was very well received. Even the people who didn’t get the reference liked it. I heard one lady describe me as a living room set to her child. I won first place and collected my two hundred dollars.
Next up was Live with Kelly and Michael. I got there around 6 to get into line for the show which airs at 9. I got some funny looks walking from the parking garage to the studio but most New Yorkers were hardly phased. The other costumes were great because when the prize is that big I’m not the only one who is going to put in the extra effort to go after it. Some of the costumes that I thought would be my biggest competition didn’t even get selected. Luckily I was selected. Even though my face was green this time one of the producers said she recognized me and asked if I was there last year. We waited backstage while they took all of our information and at 8:30 the director of the show Gelman came backstage to judge us. At 9:40 they said our names and costume names, we walked out on stage and lined up. They talked with each of us briefly about why and how we made the costume then went to commercial. When they came back they announced the winner Gelman had selected and unfortunately I didn’t win. I still had a great time, got on TV for doing something silly that I love to do. I went home, watched myself, and got ready for the Bar contest that night. I may not have achieved my main goal but the $2000 I won at the Bar will really help me, my wife and my son (who came 6 weeks early because he couldn’t wait to celebrate his first Halloween].
I have set my sights on next year so anyone who is reading this tune in to Kelly and Michael next year and see if I pull it off. Just look for the really tall guy in the ridiculous costume.
Since you said the more the merrier, here is how I made it:
Window Flowers: I took the end of a cardboard box and cut it to shape. I screwed it into a dolly that I had modified to make shorter in depth so that I wouldn’t trip on it as I walked. I used a hot glue gun to attach red foam sheets to the box. I stuffed the inside of the box with an old christmas wreath and stuffed it into the base of the box to look like grass. I bought fake sun flowers with a metal wire stem and bent it to shape to stick straight up. I secured the wire stem to the box with a metal wire. I then used a hot glue gun to secure the google eyes I purchased and the mouths I cut out.
Globey: I placed a cardboard box onto the back of the dolly behind the window flowers to prop it up to the correct height. I covered the box with a black cloth so it could not be seen. I took my christmas tree stand, attached it to the box and ran a 1/2” metal EMT pipe through a hole I drilled in the bottom of the stand and attached it to the dolly. I then slightly deflated an exercise ball and wrapped the back of it tight around the pipe. While holding the ball tightly around the pipe I used duct tape to hold the two together. I wrapped the exercise ball with a blue rain poncho that I had. I bunched up the excess material from the poncho in front and on top. The top i was able to cover with Antarctica and the front I folded and glued to take the shape of his nose. I cut and glued black fabric for latitude and longitude lines. I then cut out the shapes of the continents from green fabric which I stuffed with batting to make it bulge out from the blue globe. Glued the eyes, eyebrows, mouth and continents in place. For the arms I twisted metal wire to make it sturdier then wrapped it in something I bought in a crafts store that looks like a giant black pipe cleaner. I stuffed white gloves and attached them to the ends of his arms. I attached the arms to the base by wrapping the metal wire around the screws that would be used to hold the tree inside the Christmas tree stand. Once I knew the height of Globey and how that related to where my hand would be I bent the metal EMT pipe for a handle. I made the handle detachable with a screwdriver that I carried in my pocket so I could fit it in the car. The set screw connector that holds Mr. Kite in place is concealed by green felt.
Mr. Kite: I wrapped the metal pipe with metal foil tape so it was shiny and didn’t look like a pipe. I then twisted silver balls on a string (Christmas Decoration) around the pole for the kite string. Took a racket ball racket and put nuts and bolts through the handle to secure it to the pipe. Used metal wire run through the spokes of the racket to build out the shape of the kite. Used a pinkish laundry bag and placed it on top of the racket. Glued white and black felt to a pair of sun glasses with the lenses removed and secured it through the spokes of the racket. Added a mouth with teeth with felt.
Chairy: Took an office chair with wheels and removed all the foam and anything I didn’t need that added extra weight. Attached pool noodles to wire and screwed it into the seat to create the shape of Chairy’s lower half. I took 1/2” EMT pipe and bent it to create the shape of Chairy’s top which I used nuts and bolts to attach to the armrests. I used an old flat screen TV mount up the back rest to strengthen and support the chair & to give me something to attach the weight belt I’d be wearing as well as clipping Conkie to stay close by. An old sheet that was already ripped and I was going to use as a drop cloth matched the color and ended up being the perfect size. I made, eyes, a mouth, teeth, eyebrows and eyelashes. For the arms I used the same black tubing I used for Conkie’s arms. I cut a small hole in the top of the tubes I used for arms to allow Pee Wee’s hands to be easily attached and detached by threading into the hole and clipped inside the hollow arm. The clips were accessible by removing the end caps that I stuffed into the end of Chairy’s arms
Pee Wee: Bought a mask online, took foam balls that I painted pupils onto and glued them in place. The body was a muscle suit I had from another costumed dressed in a grey suit. The body was strengthened by twisted metal wire so it could retain some positions as well as hold the plastic prop hands and feet that I also had from a previous costume. Purchased the Iconic suit in a thrift store and the red bow-tie online. I glued Pee Wee’s head to a ski mask i stuffed so the flat mask would be three dimensional even though it was not on a person’s head.
Terry: I took green fabric I had from a previous costume and stuffed and sued wings. His head is made out of inserts that came with my hiking boots. His eyes are ping pong balls with black felt pupils and black felt inside his mouth. His body is a fake plastic bowling pin. I attached Terry to a black cape that I was able to slide over my neck and hold in place with the help of a belt that goes across my chest.
Jambi: As I mentioned I recycled this from a previous year. I simply dressed in all black and painted my face.
Magic Screen: I planned to use something different for the legs but when i noticed an end table I had would be perfect my wife let me sacrifice it to the Halloween gods. I screwed it to the dolly if front of Conkie. Toaster oven dials, gift bag wrapping, and letters were glued to a white poster board that I bolted to the end table.
Conkie: I stacked 3 Cardboard boxes and secured them to the dolly. I ran an EMT pipe through the boxes and attached it to an electrical junction box in Conkie’s Back that i could grab to steer but also to allow me to attach Clockey and the extra handle. I wrapped the boxes with metallic duct tape. I built a turntable using a spray painted plastic spool, cardboard, dials and felt. I found a dog toy for the tape deck section of the boom box and coffee lids for the speakers. Took 4” black plastic irrigation pipe and stuffed a 4” white flexible dryer vent inside. I bent a pipe and stuck it inside the arms so they would remain pointing forward and down. For his head i spray painted two DirrecTV remotes and attached the ends of flashlights to them to look like old style cameras. I took a different style silver construction board and outlined it with black electrical tape for his eyes. I then put a label maker, covered everything but the buttons in silver and mounted it to his face. The label maker worked and printed out the secret word of the day which worked out great in the bar.
Clocky: I took foam and cut it to the shape. It’s not quite the USA but that is how it was shaped on the show. I used felt to create the eyes and mouth, and the hands from a clock to be the… hands of the clock. I then took red pipe cleaners for the Latitude and Longitude lines.