Sex and candy

Whats scarier? Zombies or 10-year-old hos?

Published October 31, 2005 10:29PM (EST)

The princess may still be the most popular Halloween costume for American girls, but these days the look is more "Sin-derella" than "Snow-white." New Jersey's Bergen County Record reported yesterday that earlier this October, -- a site that connects customers to over 80 online merchants -- experienced a 180 percent spike in the number of people making queries about "sexy Halloween costumes."

Indeed, Internet costume shops are awash with risqué reinterpretations of old-fashioned classics: the "sexy" fairy, the "sexy" kitty, the "sexy" witch, the "sexy" spider. Think you can't tart up a firefighter? Think again. At $39.95, the "Super Fire Fox" kit is a real bargain, complete with a "Leather-like" fitted fireman's jacket, bra top, butt-cheek-baring boy shorts and platform boot covers! Even Alice in Wonderland has been revamped -- with a short gingham skirt, white lace corset top, and thigh-high stockings held up by a blue-bowed garter belt. (Now that's a sight Lewis Carroll would have really appreciated!)

It's all just more evidence of that modern-day Halloween truism, which was succinctly summed up by Lindsay Lohan in the teen comedy "Mean Girls:" "In the regular world, Halloween is when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when [you] can dress like a total slut."

A quick survey of the Broadsheet broads reveals that Halloween and ho's have long gone hand in hand. Way back in the early '80s we were dressing up as tennis players (love those little white skirts!), Lycra-clad and lip-glossed Robert Palmer dancers, and fishnet-wearing and spit-curled Betty Boops. This week's People magazine even sports a vintage photo of slut-in-training Tori Spelling, decked out in chandelier earrings, a short flapper dress and stilettos ... when she was 9!

But how did Halloween go from being about ghosts and goblins to pimps and ho's? Blame the grown-ups! A study by the National Retail Federation on Halloween spending, reported last week by the Austin American-Statesman, shows that "47 percent of people ages 45 to 54" plan to celebrate Halloween this year, while 25 percent plan to dress up, spending upward of $30 each on their costumes. So while Halloween was once a time for kids to indulge all their mischievous childish impulses -- traveling in gangs, eating buckets full of candy before bedtime, and egging the houses of neighborhood crones who handed out popcorn instead of peanut-butter cups -- these days it's parents who have co-opted the fun.

Now it's a night when conservative professionals shed their suits and squirm into sexy police outfits -- complete with fully functional handcuffs. "Costume companies across the country report that their adult lines have overtaken or are about to overtake their children's lines," the American-Statesman reports. "It appears that Halloween has grown up."

By Sarah Karnasiewicz

Sarah Karnasiewicz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Brooklyn, N.Y. Until recently, she was senior editor at Saveur magazine; prior to that she was deputy Life editor at Salon. She has contributed to the New York Times, the New York Observer and Rolling Stone, among other publications. For more of her work, visit and Signs and Wonders.

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