By Amy Phillips Penn

Why do people like to scare the Victoria not-so-secret lingerie off of each other? Sex is so much more fun. Or is it?

From “boo,” to “bwahah,” front seat views of The Exorcist practically puking up green stuff on your lap, nightmares, and tales of the beyond to vampires, witches, and ghosts…Halloween welcomes them all.

Truth or fiction? Even the most sophisticated New Yorkers shiver sometimes.

We had a game with our neighbors in East Hampton, where we would scare each other, and laugh later: Unknown footsteps in the nights, borrowed cars with borrowed headlights blaring coupled with strange, strangling noises.

We loved it, after all it was just the neighbors.

Then… one night, something sounded different: real and not so neighborly.

We called our neighbors.

“Was that you?” we asked.

“You mean it wasn’t you?”

They weren’t kidding.

Game over.

Safety in terror is one thing.

When in the city, we would “trick or treat” without ever leaving our building. Tiny Dancers, busy, buzzy, boinging bumble bees, and superheroes would knock on welcoming doors (a list was courteously provided by the building) and were met with a bevy of synonyms for “cute.”

Our UNICEF cans runnethed over.

Kid stuff.

New York knocks itself out for Halloween, for ghouls of all ages.

The Village parade was a Disney-esque mural, a walking museum of creative costumes from political parodies to the howling and the surreal. Store bought costumes need not march.

Kevin Sessums, the former editor of Interview and current editor of 429 Magazine has seen it all…almost.

Working at the Warhol Factory was a fantasy unto itself. You’d think Kevin would be into Halloween in no small way. Not so.

“I locked the door on Halloween usually. It’s a night for those who don’t use their imagination every other day of the year mostly. But one of my fondest memories back in the late 1980s maybe when it was still a rather innocent festive Greenwich Village celebration without the huge parade, etc. I was wandering the streets and a tall graceful beautiful female impersonator said hello to me and I had no idea who she was even though she had said my name and said it with a Mississippi accent. ‘You have no idea who I am, do you?’ the voice asked. ‘No,’ I demurred. ‘It’s Johnny. Johnny Epperson,’ the voice said. It was the night that Lypsinka was being born.”

Then there was Studio 54, an ongoing costume itself.

Halloween became a scary challenge. Topping your own genius always is.

Image courtesy of Bobby Miller from " Fabulous! A Photographic diary of Studio 54" available here:

Image courtesy of Bobby Miller from “Fabulous! A Photographic diary of Studio 54″ available here

“I remember when Stevie turned the entrance in to a haunted house with live white mice under some flooring. As you walked down the hall towards the coat check, you turned left near the pay phones that hung on the wall, turned into a spooky castle leading out into the outdoor area. With live zombies and people jumping out to scare the shit outta you,” shivers Sal de Falco, a former Studio 54 bartender.

For the dog lovers, there’s a dog parade, while voodoo-doers wrap themselves in anonymity to cast their bloody, don’t f*ck with me spells.

In New York, anything goes.

Then there’s Southampton.

Artist Dora Frost reminisces: “The Beaux Arts Ball at The Parrish Museum in Southampton was the most phenomenal of any costume ball. It preceded Halloween by a week, and we prepared for it for months. Local artist including Larry Rivers attended.

Someone came dressed as a Georgia O’Keeffe skull painting.

We were ‘Christo Islands’ and dressed in pink, our bodies popping up out of a plastic pool cover. Jarvis Wilcox and Molly Ferrer were part of the island. We won!”

Then, there is psychological terror.

“You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you,” says Eric Hoffer.

Sprinkle your magic wisely and add a dollop of the devilish.

Happy Halloween!


Featured image courtesy of Deviant Art

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