It’s not my fault I’m nuts.
In all the infinite possible ways for the gene pool to manifest itself, I got an extra dose of whacky. I can’t help it!
I didn’t ask to be born this way…or did I?
The Early Years
Halloween was always my favorite holiday. Yeah, sure – you got stuff from Santa at Christmas, but somehow I never got what I really wanted.
But, on Halloween, I could dress up however I wanted! One year I was a slug. I kid you not. Another year I was an AstroCat – a concept I got from a sticker on one of my papers from Mrs. Whoever in the Whatever Grade.
I pushed on, trying to keep up Halloween into high school, where I saved my allowance money one year to rent an Eight Ball costume. After so many “Aren’t you too old for Trick Or Treating?” that year, I fell dormant.
It was a long, dry spell…
For a few years, I was able to “dress up” a little for bit parts in my high school’s musicals or plays. It was never a total conversion, though.
A few of my wilder friends and I discovered the Chicago Rave scene back in the late 80’s, early 90’s. It was the underground’s hottest ticket in town.
Promoters & party-throwers, both local and from other parts of the country looking to expand, outdid themselves with whacky venue after whacky venue. Sometimes there were 5 or 6 “check points” to get the next clue on the party’s location, before you could finally get there.
We concocted all sorts of stories for our parents about sleepovers, etc., to stay out all night. Boy, I’m glad we did…
The amount of crazy costumes & crazier atmosphere blew our minds to shreds. We knew there were bigger & better things “out there” in the world beyond our Midwest prairies, our farmlands, our lakes.
After getting used to the rave mayhem, I really began to get serious about costumes with my college friends. We were all inspired by a threesome called The SwizzleStick Kidz. They had the hottest, brightly colored candy-striped outfits with crazy platform shoes with 1-foot high foam soles, that side of the Mississippi. (I was in Colorado’s front range at the time, Denver/Colorado Springs)
I began to experiement with afros and other wigs, and outlandish makeup. Being someone else for a night was better than any dru…uh, I mean any cocktail that could be mixed, anyway. There’s something surreally real about it.
The Left Coast
After college graduation, my parents were now in Colorado, having relocated there to “semi-retire” from Chicago. There just wasn’t room enough in the state for the three of us. Someone had to go.
Off I went for an internship to Northern California.
One of the first job’s I had was as a “Peachey’s Puff” cigarette girl. Although smoking was banned inside bars & restaurants, people still wanted smokes, gum, and blinky things after they began to get hammered. Peachy’s Puffs were there to seize that moment. Vans would drop us off, and we’d walk from pub to pub selling our wares on a tray strapped around our necks, just like in the old days. It really helped me see lots of the city.
I remember the folks there sending me to the most conservative parts of town, because what I considered a “whacky” dress-up outfit for clubbing was sedate for their standards.
Clearly I had a lot to learn. That learning came a month later when I was commissioned as a Peachy’s Puff for the Folsom Street Fair. Talk about putting the Fear of G-d into this Little Midwestern Girl.
Not only were the costumes beyond anything I’d ever seen, the random acts of sexual activity made Eyes Wide Shut look like a kids movie.
Now I knew what the Peachy’s Puff manager was talking about. Now I knew what I was up against.
The Hipster Years
After farting around San Francisco & Asia for several years trying to sort out how to make a living, I fell into the High Tech post-bust re-birth, and began to enjoy all the entrapments of Middle Class Living like a steady income, healthcare, and the workaholic hours.
The blessing of that disposable income was fun fur and wigs. Slowly, steadily, my costuming prowess increased, and culminated in Burning Man 2010. By then, it was “cool” & “hip” for folks in the 25-35 year range to where silly costumes, often with food, TV, or game themes from childhood. I’ll never forget the Halloween in SF where I saw a group all go as Tetris pieces…
Packing up to leave the Bay Area for filming adventures & beyond, forced me to sell most of my costume kit. It was like killing & dismembering my dearest friends. My only solace was knowing the components went to good homes, homes of hippy dippies, urban hipsters, and just plain whacko-s like me, all around Oakland.
The Bunny Returns
The one costume I kept in its entirety, was the Bunny Bikini. My own home-grown concoction based on an old swimsuit, it is one of my proudest moments with needle & thread.
I can’t tell you the secret joy I have driving around in Geena the Pickup with Priscilla the Pink Kitty on the grill. After 6+ months, people still stare at me & nearly drive off the road when I pass by. Sometimes people smile. Those are the ones who “get it”, who get that Life is too precious to not be silly, not let that inner whacko out, and not just plain have fun.
Living in the Suburbs, I no longer feel that Total Rebellion urge of my teenage youth to make Holly Homemakers and Office Suits feel uncomfortable by being outlandishly weird. Instead, I take a subtle approach, like Priscilla, or my newly decorated bike.
It still makes my innards smile, though, when I ride around downtown Homewood, IL, and people cock their heads in utter bewilderment as I pedal by.
So, the Bunny Bikini rides again. It is absolutely my humble honor to bring this part of the West Coast to our tried & true Midwestern lands. Riding Bunny Style for Bike The Drive 2012 brought so much joy to others, and to myself & my group.
Nowadays, there are far less “scoffers” in Chicago, folks who intentially rain on your parade if you do something out of the box, or non-conformist. Back when I was growing up…well, you youngsters get the idea.
This is a good thing, a very good thing. There can never be enough whacky. There can never be enough smiling. There can never be enough fun fur…
Bring it, Chicago…cuz I sure am!