Shops of Horror
Where to find unique costumes for Halloween.
Backstage Florists & Gifts has a fascinating selection of costumes for rent (cost: $25 to $150). “We’ve got pretty much anything you want to be,” says Hank Ponder, the engaging owner of the 23-year-old shop. The store’s impressive selection includes Renaissance costumes represented by European royalty and Shakespeare-era garments; Old South apparel including Confederate uniforms and Southern belle hoop skirts; and various cartoon mascots who, for copyright reasons, must be referred to as Cat with the Hat, the “Purple Dinosaur,” etc.
Ponder explains that the costumes can’t be taken to a dry cleaner. “The sequins come back missing and the velvet can be eaten away by the chemicals they use. We have a woman who specializes in cleaning them.” Interestingly, Ponder says that after the September 11 attacks, a letter was sent from the federal authorities stating that civil service and other similar costumes could no longer be rented out. “That includes police, firemen, stewardesses and pilots,” says Ponder, adding, “We can’t even rent astronaut costumes!”
Backstage Florist and Gifts offers garb from the 1920s to the 1970s. The 1980s are represented only by mullet wigs. Ponder says that pirate and Batman costumes are currently the most popular. The Batman outfit is an impressive latex uniform that includes a cape with a ten-foot span and a retractable frame. “The flapper outfits, that’s a popular one. Women love the flapper. She’s a staple in the industry,” he says. “We also have Tippi Hedren in The Birds,” grins Ponder as he pulls from the rack a floral-print dress with several stuffed blackbirds attached to it.
Paper Works Outlet offers witches’ brooms ($2.95), human skull candles on sticks, plastic barbed wire garlands ($4.95), and a set of large paper replicas of two famous paintings with a sinister touch: “Mona Lisa” appears as a vampire with fangs and blood drooling from her mystical smile; “American Gothic” features a farmer as a rotting cadaver missing an eyeball and his wife a vampire with a bloody lip and fangs. A dozen squishy fake eyeballs are available for $1.99.
Hoover’s Party City has the creepiest and naughtiest collection of costumes and props. For 99 cents each, the store offers wall-clinging objects: Sticky Body Part 1 (a gelatinous-looking red glob); Sticky Body Part 2 (a six-fingered hand); Sticky Body Part 3 (it appears to be a splattered eyeball). Perhaps most disturbing are the authentic-looking rubber body parts on bloody paper towels in Styrofoam containers, wrapped in cellophane. They are sold for $9.95 as Cannibal Meat Market products. Body parts include a bloody severed hand and a bloody heart. Each is stamped “USDA Prime” and contains nutritional information. Cinema Secrets sells an adhesive rubber strip that looks just like a slit throat for $9.99. Its packaging touts “used by professionals.”
If you want your five-year-old to look like a pimp this Halloween, pick up the “Mac Daddy” costume ($29.95). The outfit includes a black coat with mock leopard-skin lapels and a huge, gold dollar sign medallion worn around the neck. There’s also a “rapsta” outfit, consisting of the requisite baggy pants, ridiculous hat, and the aforementioned gold dollar sign pendant.
Sexuality remains a popular Halloween theme. There’s the Big Daddy “self-adhesive hairy chest” ($6.95), which can be used interchangeably with the 1970s Disco Stud, Macho Man, and Caveman costumes. And, of course, the Hospital Honey nurse accessories that include fishnet stockings, garters (“with realistic-looking hypodermic” attached), and a plastic nurse’s bag that can carry all kinds of interesting things. &
Backstage Florist & Gifts
2233 6th Avenue South
Paper Works Outlet
3700 1st Avenue North
1615 Montgomery Highway