Paul E. Anna: High Points
October 29, 2009
Got your costume?
Saturday night is Halloween and here in Aspen there is a long-standing tradition of folks getting into a different frame of mind and a strange set of clothes to help celebrate the holiday.
Halloween may be the most democratic of all the holidays. While it has its roots in religion (Pope Gregory and All Saints Day and all that) Halloween has evolved into a night to have some fun and become somebody whom you’re not the other 364 days of the year. No politics. No obligations. No opinions necessary. Just put on a pair of bunny ears, a white sheet with eye holes or whatever else strikes your fancy, and head out into the night for a good time.
As Santa Claus is the iconic character of Christmas tradition, Elvira Mistress of the Dark has, in recent years, become the iconic symbol of Halloween. The trashy yet humorous 1980’s television host grew to epitomize the comic aspect of our modern Halloween celebrations better than anyone else.
Over the last twenty or so years Halloween has become one of our most celebrated and commercial holidays with annual sales of costumes, candy and the like topping $6 billion.
Before Elvira, costumes were largely for kids. There was Casper the Ghost and Snoopy and Charlie Brown, one of the neighborhood kids might get into a Zorro or Superman suit for the night of trick or treating.
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For the most part the night belonged to children.
But something changed once Elvira began to host late night horror films on a Los Angeles television station in 1981. Dressed in a low cut black gown and lounging casually on a red chaise, Elvira introduced bad B films with a valley girl’s bravado. With her talent amply on display and her jokes on the wrong side of double entendre, Elvira began to develop a cult following. That first Halloween she became an LA hit, hosting the Haunted House at Knotts Berry Farm in her dumb-blonde-dressed-as-a-witchy-brunette persona.
Soon she was a nationally known personality with movies, records, commercials, video games and pinball machines all based on the character she created. Elvira came to represent Halloween.
The kids who grew up watching her began to think of Halloween as a grown up holiday and a spicy one at that. She changed how we look at the final night of October. Now Halloween is not just for kids. It is a night when adults get to put on a risque costume and channel their inner child.
So this Saturday when you slip on that Dirk Diggler get up, or put on your bitch/witch black dress remember to give a tip of the hat to Elvira Mistress of the Dark.
She’s the Santa Claus of Halloween.
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