Sunday, October 24, 2004

Grown-ups grab Halloween


They've been unmasked as the holiday's most zealous tricksters

By Lauren Bishop
Enquirer staff writer

[photo]
Robert and Julie Ashe vamp it up at their Delhi Township home.

[photo]
Jason Eng and Brett Koch's wedding Saturday will be a Halloween costume party, too.
Enquirer/BRANDI STAFFORD

QUICK COSTUMING
Scared you won't be able to come up with a good costume? The Halloween Handbook: Dress-up for Grown-ups (Workman Publishing; $12.95) by Bridie Clark and Ashley Dodd, is packed with 447 quick and easy costume ideas for adults (plus a few for kids and pets). Here are a few:

Play with your words. Try being a chest of drawers - just pin a few pairs of boxers or panties to your chest. If you're a know-it-all, glue or tape some Smarties candies to your pants and let everyone know you're Mr. or Miss Smarty-Pants.

Encourage crowd participation. Want to make some friends fast? Cut a square out of a cardboard box, pull it over your head and go as a kissing booth. Or use packing tape to attach small bags of salty and sweet treats to yourself and invite people to partake of the snack bar.

Go as a group. Pull on pajamas and slippers, plaster visible skin with red dots, tote tissues and sneeze - you are an epidemic. Or, grab some friends and your favorite band T-shirts, pile on the glittery makeup and go out as a gaggle of groupies.

ADULT EVENTS
• Kid-free Halloween Freak Show, 7 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and 8-11 p.m. Saturday, through Nov. 20; . Shadowbox Cabaret, Newport on the Levee, Newport. Halloween-themed production includes sketch comedy, theater and rock music. Admission: $20-$25, $10 students. (859) 957-7625 or www.shadowboxcabaret.com.
• Benefit concert featuring the Shirts, the Newbees and 500 Miles to Memphis, 9:30 p.m. Friday, Stanley's Pub, 323 Stanley Ave., Columbia Tusculum. Prizes awarded to best Halloween costumes. Admission: $4. All proceeds benefit Community Cats. (513) 871-6249.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show with live cast, 10 p.m. and midnight Saturday, Esquire Theatre, 320 Ludlow Ave., Clifton. Admission: $8. (513) 281-2803 or www.esquiretheatre.com.
• Hustler Halloween, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, Club Clau, 221 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine. Admission: $10-$20. (513) 352-0352 or www.clubclau.com.
• Final Friday Gallery Walk, 6-10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29, Main Street from Central Parkway to Liberty Street and side streets between Walnut and Sycamore streets, Over-the-Rhine. Costumes encouraged. Admission: Free. (513) 260-8434.
• Supra Horrorrmama, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, Club Clau 221 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine. Admission: $10. (513) 352-0352 or www.clubclau.com.
• Halloween party, 9 p.m. Saturday, Rookwood Pottery Bistro, 1077 Celestial St., Mount Adams. Best costume award, live broadcast from WVMX-FM (94.1), prizes. Admission: $15. (513) 721-5456.
• Halloween Masquerade Ball, 9 p.m. Saturday, Mount Adams Pavilion, 949 Pavilion St.Cash prizes for best costumes. Hip-hop and house beat music. Ages 21 and up. Admission: $5. (513) 744-9200.
• Halloween party with Fat Chance, 10 p.m. Saturday, Mansion Hill Tavern, 502 Washington Ave., Newport. Admission: $3. (859) 581-0100.
• Candlelight Singles Mask Halloween Party, 7:30-11 p.m. Saturday, Embers Restaurant, 8170 Montgomery Road, Madeira. Ages 23-65. Masks required. Admission: $45 plus food. Register at www.candlelightsingles.com or (800) 431-2411.
• Rock, Blues, Booze and BBQ, 8 p.m. next Sunday, Madison Theater, 730 Madison Ave., Covington. Regional and national bands. Costumes optional. Ages 18 and up with I.D. Admission: Free with donation of perishable food item for FreeStore/FoodBank. (859) 655-4807 or madisontheateronline.com.
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In the front yard of Robert and Julie Ashe's Delhi Township home, skull-shaped lights peer from among lavender mums lining the front walk. Standing guard at the right of the front porch is a large spider, fashioned out of a trash can painted black and black tubing. To the left, it looks like a flying witch had an unfortunate encounter with the front of the house.

Inside, the number of decorations - wooden witches and ghosts on shelves, foam bats on the walls, a lighted Halloween village - rival that of Christmas, says 40-year-old Robert.

Most every year, the couple plans their Halloween costumes weeks in advance for the two or three parties they typically attend, some with their three children, some without. It's all part of what makes Halloween Robert's favorite holiday.

"You can be whoever you want," says Robert, who sells advertising for a living. "You can break the rules that you live by throughout your life, and you can be something different. You can be Indiana Jones for the night."

With all of Indiana Jones' appetite for adventure, adults have hijacked Halloween from their children - and they've spent frighteningly large amounts of money doing it.

The National Retail Federation reports adults will spend an estimated $3.12 billionon Halloween this year, up from $2.96 billion last year. Halloween has become the third-largest excuse for Americans to party, just behind New Year's Eve and Super Bowl Sunday.

Baby boomers, in particular, want to individualize themselves for holidays, says James Lowry, a retail marketing analyst at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. They have more discretionary income than their parents did, and they want to decorate their homes to the hilt for Halloween, as well as Christmas.

Oct. 31 "is turning into a national Mardi Gras, from maybe just a trick-or-treating Halloween night," Lowry says.

You only have to look around the Ashes' neighborhood to see that. Pumpkins, inflatable witches and orange lights started to appear weeks ago.

Owners of costume shops, including Caren Young of the Cincinnati Costume Co. in University Heights, see the holiday's popularity increasing among adults. Young's store hasn't carried children's costumes since the late '80s, finding it too hard to compete with the national chains.

But they do a booming business with adults, as does the Costume Gallery in Newport. Shop owner Joy Galbraith says everyone - not just young adults or the affluent - is dressing up these days.

"It's a time when we can be somebody else, when we can live out that fantasy, we can have fun," she says.

Galbraith's store is outfitting and making up two couples who are planning weddings around Halloween. One couple, Brett Koch and Jason Eng of Blue Ash, will have a traditional ceremony at the chapel in Spring Grove Cemetery, but a decidedly non-traditional reception.

After the ceremony, the Costume Gallery's makeup artists will transform the groom into Frankenstein, complete with bolts on the neck. She'll be the Bride of Frankenstein and will roll him into the wedding reception on a gurney.

"We just wanted to do something that was different, but was fun," says Koch, 21. "We went to a wedding a month ago and it was just boring."

Their guests will be in on the fun, too. Everyone is expected to be in costume, including the bride's parents a sultan and a "sultress," and the groom's parents (a 1920s gangster and a flapper). Guests will trick-or-treat at the different tables, each featuring a different kind of candy.

"Most adults I know, they don't get the opportunity to dress up and have fun like that any more," says Eng, 24. "That's more or less what I wanted to provide for my guests and myself."

Many adults go out of their way to celebrate Halloween in a big way every year. In past years, Mark Adams of Northside, visual director for Saks Fifth Avenue , has spent months designing and creating his costumes. Last year, he was airbrushed green for an Incredible Hulk costume. Another year, he was Merlin the Magician and carried a scepter that actually shot fire.

"The one thing that I find about Halloween," said Adams, "is that people tend to live out their deepest fantasies," he says. "It really is a little keyhole into their dark side."

E-mail lbishop@enquirer.com




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