As I stripe my old black suit to create what is sure to be the second most predictable Halloween costume based on pop culture this year, my mind drifts across all my years of dressing up to reflect my musical nature. From the pitiful Morrissey costume in 1992 ( 4 out of 5 St. Louisans thought I was Kramer from Seinfeld ) to going as Paul Stanley from KISS in the '70s with my cousin, my life has been littered with missed rock references. This year's Robin Thicke should be pretty on-the-nose, but maybe too much, which leads me to ponder other iconic rock stars who live their whole lives in a constant state of Halloween
Of course, we can't avoid the "Furry, Gold Howard the Duck Face" in the room, Lady Gaga. We could go on for days on how "unoriginal" we think Ms. Germanotta may or may not be, but we can't deny she brings it on a costume level. Ever since her Bad Romance video, she's made it a point to drop the cliché glamour for shock and schlock. It may not be always original, but from her man drag to her latex to her meat dress, the girl could fill a Party Outlet with her looks.
Gaga for sure took many queues from Grace Jones. A former model, the songstress has always proved her knowledge of couture and shock goes hand in hand to get your attention. Starting out as simply a crew-cut, dark-skinned island girl, she shifted into a post-disco art effect with a flat fade and men's suits then later in the '80s went full installation with her two story Keith Haring dress lovingly copied this Summer by Berlin in the Pride Parade.
One of Grace's contemporaries, the beloved John Waters' muse, Divine ( as well as her contemporaries Jayne County and Sylvester ) took costuming to a higher level with full drag while rocking it out. Divine wowed in an original look of non-glamour shock-drag to which half of RuPaul's drag winners owe a debt.
The shock-and-awe tactic from Divine, though, owes the most to her more butch counterparts, Alice Cooper, New York Dolls and David Bowie, who were gender f***ing before we knew what that was. You cannot make it through one biography of any artist in the past 40 years who doesn't cite at least one of them ( Morrissey, Boy George, Motley Crue ) for changing their minds not only on how to swagger as a man but how to feel like a lady. They also schooled many on what it means to be a mangay or straightand how to make the world a little more tolerant through the magic of costume.
Happy Halloween, my little monsters.
DJ Moose celebrates the new Lady Gaga CD with a full night of her, Nov. 15 at Mary's Attic