Last year, you were a rather amazing Rubik's Cube [see Fred's Flickr set]. How long did it take you to conceive, design, build and actually put on?
I actually had the idea a year before, and decided to do it again for 2005. I had always loved the Rubik's cube design and had just gotten good at solving it, so I decided a costume would be a good tribute. Anyway, after completing the first version in 2004 I was walking through Thompkins square park with some friends and got pelted with some eggs from some teenagers. Realizing they were on the verge of wrecking my costume, but forgetting I had no arms, I approached them, and it just didn't turn out so well -- my costume ended up totally destroyed and one of my friends ended up with a broken nose before the night had even begun.
So for 2005, I broke my "never do the same costume again" rule and did the Rubik's cube costume again, having had a year to think through it and brood. While conceptualizing the costume the first time was quite difficult, as I had to abandon my hopes to do a fully functioning Rubik's cube, actually building it the second time took about 10 hours, and it was never that difficult to put on or take off.
What are some of your favorite Halloween costumes that you've worn? And what are some costumes you've seen on other people and thought, "Wow"?
When I was younger my grandmother, who was a professional seamstress but then worked as a clothes pattern-maker and designer., used to make custom costumes (I had animal costumes when I was a toddler, then moved on to court jesters) for me to wear and that was always really exciting as I was sure no one else would show up at school wearing the same thing.
A couple of years ago I was a piece of Ikura sushi (salmon roe), but I got the feeling only a few people actually understood what I was going for. I even went into a sushi restaurant wearing it, and I'm not sure even they really understood what was going on. It was pretty crowded and I couldn't physically sit down, so I had to leave quickly.
I'm always a fan of people going really out of their way to make original costumes. Scary is cool, but the stranger and funnier ones are always my favorite. My roommate was an 'evil' phrenology head one year in college and I thought that was pretty brilliant. One of my other friends was Zombie Jean-Benet Ramsey which was alternatively scary and terrible as she ended up looking a lot like her.
What is your costume this year? How long did it take you to make?
I'm currently working on a large scale and hopefully functioning replica of a particular vintage cellphone. When its done, it'll have taken me about 10 hours to build, but I've spent the last couple of weeks organizing my thoughts and modeling it on my computer (I do graphic design in my spare time).
Why do you like Halloween so much? Was Halloween a big event for you as a child?
I think Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. My birthday is the day before so that is definitely has something to do with it. Another reason is that I always liked being different as a kid, and Halloween was just another way for me to show that. I also grew up with a 18th century barn in my backyard and would occasionally host some authentic haunted-house-cum-birthday-parties there.
What are your favorite Halloween tricks and treats?
If you're asking what my favorite treat is? I'd say Nerds -- no competition. In terms of tricks... I guess I just like spooking people by quickly donning a mask I leave laying around. Sometimes I'll try to plug something in and feign death by electrocution. That one's pretty easy, though my friends are no longer as gullible.
Do you carve pumpkins, go to haunted houses and keep peeled grapes in the fridge - you know, to really get into the spirit? Are your friends and family as into the holiday as you?
I absolutely carve pumpkins. In fact I carved one last night. In terms of going to haunted houses, I haven't been to one for a really long time (I did a lot of hay rides style ones when I was growing up) but haven't made it to any of the ones in New York. Some of my friends humor me about the whole costume thing, and some others go all out and we go to the parade together. In terms of my family, I can't think of anyone who bothers anymore, but they always want to know what I'm doing every year.
Last year I got my girlfriend to wear a costume (she was Uhura from Star Trek) after she had told me that she never celebrated Halloween, so the spirit must be rubbing off.
What do you do?
Right now I'm a student at NYU working on my masters at Tisch's Interactive Telecommunications Program. In my spare time I'm a copyright activist and photographer.
And what do you wear on non-Halloween days?
I like John Varvatos and American Apparel, but I'm a big fan of home made t-shirts. I have a raccoon hat that I like to wear a lot too.
All photographs by Fred Benenson (licensed by Creative Commons)