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What scares you the most? Vampires? Zombies? Hurricanes? Horror may have a face — a hockey mask, a visor made of human skin, or the horrible burn scars produced by the fires of Hell — or it may be a place, like the Overlook Hotel or the Bermuda Triangle. UglyRhino’s production of “Gowanus ‘73” gives you an interactive tour of the terrifying underworld around the Brooklyn Lyceum thirty years ago: party girls and gangsters, prostitutes and pimps, and the ghosts of human flotsam and jetsam that beat softly against the wooden pilings of the canal’s embankment.

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A tap dancing mermaid at the Clinton Hill Carnival of Carnage

Happy Halloween! Tonight the good people at 313 Clinton Avenue put on their yearly Halloween show, and it may have been their best ever! The theme this year was “Carnival of Carnage.” As always the production value was top notch. The folks working on the show include some past and present theater folk from the Great White Way who know their way around sound and light equipment. They also know how to edit your favorite Disney songs to give them Brooklyn specific lyrics over the familiar music. Most of the ghouls and monsters in this year’s show crawled out of the ooze of the Gowanus canal, including the mermaid in the picture above, tapping her way into the hearts of the many children in the audience who were enchanted by the spectacle. (It seemed like half the audience was under three years old.)

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Sandy and Chris at PPS

Happy Halloween! This is Sandy and Chris, employees of Project for Public Spaces whose offices are in Manhattan.

With the economy making us all feel like it’s Halloween 24/7 out there, let’s look a little closer at NYC’s 365 Halloween and costume headquarters, Halloween Adventure, located at 104 4th Ave near Union Square. This store has managed to stick around for 16 years, growing and expanding to serve the needs of freaks, geeks, Goths, nerds, fetishists, exhibitionists and party-goers all year round. I’d like to say I just went to the store and observed the employees and customers, studiously taking notes and watching them from afar like some urban Serengeti journalist, but alas, that would be a lie. For you see, I am a casualty of these scary economic times, and as a means of self-preservation I took a job there so that I could have a reason to get up and out of the apartment in the morning, instead of obsessing over my non-existent career and meeting with yet another headhunter who is unable to get me a job earning a living wage. So I thought, “Why not see if I can find a seasonal job selling costumes for Halloween? They MUST be hiring.” And that’s exactly what I did. I put on my gothiest outfit and did my gothiest make-up and went down and got myself a job. So here are some of my findings thus far:

1) The economy is bad, but people’s escapist tendencies are in full swing. Even though the store says it’s figures are down from last year, the place does HUGE business. I happen to think that this is going to be the last BIG Halloween for a while, for 2 reasons:

A) Halloween is on a Friday this year. Parties all weekend! More parties = more costumes.

B) This is the last year regular, non-trust-fund, non-Wall Street people are going to be able to cling to the illusion that they have enough disposable income to blow hundreds of dollars on a costume and a night out for a pagan holiday (with economic depressions come piousness. Why is that??? Rhetorical: I’m familiar with the concept that God favors the good with prosperity.) Most costumes start off at around $50 and go up from there. A decent one is gonna run you closer to $100. And rentals are about $200. Even with my employee discount my costume came to $65. And that’s not counting the special modifications and additions I need to make to it or all the drinks that will be consumed.

2) No matter what the weather is like, girls wanna dress like hoochies on Halloween. It is the one day in our culture when women are expected and encouraged to wear as little as possible (We all know the “slutty” thing. You’re not just a nurse, you’re a slutty nurse. You’re not just Marie Antionette, you’re slutty Marie Antionette). This is NYC, folks, not Miami. And this year is shaping up to be a cooooolllllldddd Halloween! I’m working down in the “Adult” costumes and lemme tell ya, these girls can’t find outfits SHORT enough. Except if they’re hispanic and come in with their b/fs. Those guys practically want their g/fs in gorilla costumes. I thought these guys would love to have their girls show off their goodies! With all the white couples the guys wanted their g/fs to dare to bare as much as legally possible; with the hispanic guys, not so much. These guys don’t want their g/fs to look like hos, and they tell them so. Some more forcefully than others.

3) We don’t get a lot of requests for political or current events costumes down in the “Adult” costumes. Maybe it’s just that the political masks are readily found upstairs, or maybe people just aren’t doing the McCain/Obama/Palin thing this year. I’ve heard they’re selling fairly well, I just haven’t seen it. People tend to stick to the archetypes: Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Pirate, Queen, King, etc. My fave this year is Beer Garden Wench. V cute, and you get to try to get your b/f to do a couples costume, and for him that means lederhosen. Priceless.

4) And lastly, the biggest hooligans like the sexy cop uniforms. Go figure.

So enjoy this last big Halloween. Party likes it’s 1999. Because this may be the last good time we collectively have for a while. I’m even predicting a quiet New Year’s Eve this year. It’s scary out there!