How to Trick Your Treat on Halloween
or, If I Didn't Think It'd Put an Eye Out, I'd Kiss You, My Dear...
by Colin Lingle
What is it about Halloween? It just brings out the best... and the beast...
in all of us. Many people claim it as their favorite holiday, and why not? Instead
of the crass commercialism shoveled at us come Christmastime, we get to dress
up as brain-eating ghouls and sexy pixies. Who wouldn't love that?
This year, the BTD -- ever vigilant, ever in your service -- traveled to the
fairy godmother of all monster mashes, Halloween in San Francisco's Castro district.
What follows is not only a dead-man-on-the-scene report, but also a primer on
how to catch yourself some arm candy next year.
I Left My Heart in San Francisco... and a Leg, and My Brain
San Francisco -- known as "Frisky" to certain residents
-- is, for a wide variety of reasons, a big ol' party town. Maybe it's all the
sunshine. Maybe they just like to dress up there. But All Hallow's Eve is something
special, even for the City by the Bay. Even New York City,
which can be a year-round horrorshow of it's own, can't beat it.
Halloween Hint #1: It's Halloween All Day Long
One great way to meet people on the big day is to truly commit to the effort.
It's All Hallow's Eve all day long, so put that costume on before you leave
the house. You'll get fewer strange looks than usual and you'll give everyone
an instant conversation starter. "Nice horns," they might say. In this case,
that's a good thing.
The tradition, of course, goes way back. SF has always been a little wilder
than your average mission town. And in a city rife with artists, musicians,
and drag queens, you're bound to find a whole host of events and activities
to suit every sensibility, living or undead.
of all, forget those wimpy haunted houses. This year you might have gone to
the Mad Scientists' Halloween, where earplugs and disposable clothing come in
handy during the chainsaw pumpkin carving. Or, you might have checked out the
Haunted Barn (open from "Sunset til Death"), a particularly gruesome haunted
house built -- so the legend goes -- from the blood-drenched timbers of the
Drake, a pirate ship whose crew was massacred by insane criminals from the prison
frigate they were boarding. Not for the faint of stomach. You can even check
out Halloween on Alcatraz Island, if you don't mind crossing dark, cold, shark-infested
waters to party.
Halloween Hint #2: Avoid the Boxy Costume
Did your mom and dad ever send you out in a cardboard box spray-painted silver
and call you a robot? Remember how difficult it was to navigate the hallway
to the bathroom? Now imagine that you and your box are much bigger... but
the hallway is still small. You don't want to spend the night in a large cardboard
frame, even if it's an excruciatingly clever representation of whatever it
is. There are cool costumes, and then there are cool
costumes. There will always be somebody to come in the big 3-D affairs.
Let them. You just cozy up to that sailor in your cat suit and watch.
True, you might have done HellBall 5 or hopped on the Jose Cuervo Freakboat
2000. But you would probably have ended up at a cross-cultural shindig like
Mexiween (chamber music in the Presidio) and the Necrotic Erotic Ball (featuring
zombie pinups competing in the "Miss Undead 2000 Bloody Pageant"). At the Embarcadero
Center's Halloween Blood Drive, costumed donors were competing for prizes. Now
that's a party you wouldn't want to get out of hand.
added benefit to being here at this time of year is the Mexican Dia de los Muertos
(Day of the Dead) celebrations. Galleries, clubs, and museums across the city
offer all kinds of activities around this comic and macabre festival, from parades
to altars to dance parties. The ever-present folk-art skulls set the tone for
the entire city, and, since Dia de los Muertos is actually on November 2nd,
the party atmosphere fills the whole week.
But make no mistake, the real unholy free-for-all is on Halloween. And if you're
in San Francisco next October 31st, what you really need to do is get your costumed
behind down to the Castro.
Party Til Your Head Drops Off
While many locals declare themselves over it, the Castro celebration remains
the jewel in the bloody crown of San Francisco's fright night scene. Although
it is not officially sanctioned by the city, all the people dressed in police
uniforms seem to know better than to try and stop the sea of masked, made-up,
and maniacal creatures that floods the neighborhood.
At its peak, the party starts at the intersection of Castro and Market, and
takes up seven or eight city blocks at least. The closer you get to the center,
the more the press of humanity -- and inhumanity -- over takes you. Everywhere,
people are circulating, showing off their wounds, comparing pitchforks, jumping
on giant artichokes they may or may not know.
More: Best Costumes, Ghoulish Groups,