Halloween

elton-johnI was in my early 20’s.  I had been invited to Dean Martin’s daughter’s Halloween party.  Yes, at her father’s house.  A big ass Beverly Hills home.  I planned to be Elton John.  The girls — Gina and Donna — who had invited me to the party were very close with Shaun Cassidy, and I was told Shaun owned Ziggy Stardust-style silver lame’ rock & roll boots.  I didn’t know him or what size shoe he wore, but I boldly called and asked to borrow them: “Hi, I’m Fredde Duke, you don’t know me but….”

I picked up the rock & roll boots at his mother’s house on North Oakhurst.  Found it on my Map to the Stars’ Homes.  Kidding.  I enlisted the wardrobe department where my dad had a studio deal to write “Elton John” in a sequined signature on the back of my satin, emerald-green man’s coat.  A friend worked for Bernie Taupin and Elton at Rocket Records, and he gave me a stack of unsigned Elton John headshots.  At the toy store on Beverly Drive, I bought a child’s baby grand piano.  By now I’m realizing it would have been a lot easier to go as Pat Boone.  Then I scored a man’s wig in Hollywood, but cut it at the crown to make me look like I was balding.  The piece de resistance was the blacked out Elton gap tooth.  Voila, I was suddenly a gay rock star!!!

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spooky-apples.jpgFull confession: When I was about 4 or 5 years old I was so utterly terrified of Halloween that I once ran from the dinner table to the bedroom where I locked myself inside it for 20 minutes while Trick or Treaters came to the front door of the house. I’m not sure why I did that exactly as I wasn’t normally a timid or shy child; I think my dramatic exit had more to do with the fact that I enjoyed that sense of fright, darkness and mystery that rolls around every October. I like to be scared when I know nothing bad will actually happen.

This explains my interest in fright nights, scary movies, haunted houses, macabre scenarios, you name it. I think there’s a part of all of us that likes that thrill…why else would we visit haunted houses, watch slasher films, and listen to Paris Hilton songs and videos?

Not that I’ve done the latter. Even that’s too scary for me.

When I mentioned to Adam that I wanted to do my first Halloween blog post about a cocktail I tried he quickly informed me that it would neither be a) exciting b) deep enough or c) have enough pizazz. “What’s so exciting about a cocktail, all by itself?”  he asked. I could see his point as there are tons of others who focus on spirits and do a much better job. Besides, this drink wasn’t anything exciting or thrilling but perfect for the grown-ups at any Halloween party. “Give me a few minutes and I’ll help you out” said Adam.

Wow. Was my drink really that lackluster that it needed help? Apparently so.

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tompkinshalloween.jpgThere’s nothing like Halloween in New York City. New York is home to some of the most artistic and creative people on the planet, most of whom will jump at any opportunity to put on a show. Consider the city’s eight hundred thousand drag queens, who, just to take a trip out to the deli, will put on seven-inch platforms, a sequined butterfly shawl and a two-foot wig. In the weeks before Halloween, the whole city began to fill with a fizzy, randy excitement. Shop windows were crammed with bondage gear, feather boas, broquaded undies and outrageous wigs, and the window boxes of the West Village overflowed with chrysanthemums and pumpkins and squash—all in their final bursts of color before the decay of the winter set in. And all those flamboyant colors; all those sequins, feathers and rubber masks started to bring out everyone’s inner drag queen. And it was no different for the dog people. There are more that thirty dog runs in the city, and therefore more than thirty annual doggie costume parades.

At that point in time (1998) we had just started taking Wallace to the Tompkins Square Park dog run. Each run in the city has its own flavor and “First Run” as it was called (because it was the first in NYC) was known for 1) the youth of its doggie parents (most were East Village kids in their twenties); 2) the number of pit-bull mixes (most of the young doggie parents adopted pits from the ASCPA in the East 90’s, or found them on the streets); 3) the number of dog-brawls that occurred daily (it was a transient neighborhood, with a lot of new dogs); and 4) The legendary First Run Annual Halloween Costume Contest, which drew the likes of Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.

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trickortreat.jpgWhen I think of Halloween, I think hot dogs.  People tend to find this association odd, some are even angered by it, but to me it feels perfectly natural.  When I was younger, my mother used to grill hot dogs in our driveway for the trick or treaters and dole out beer in red plastic cups to the adults, providing a bit of a respite for parents whose kids were running around the neighborhood injected with copious amounts of sugar. 

I was never much of a walker and I never got off on travelling in packs (why I live in New York I don't know), but even more importantly, I loved and still adore a good hot dog.  Essentially, this ritual made my Halloween quite perfect.

The ritual ended, sadly, when I moved to New York to go to college.  There are very few driveways in Manhattan, and there is a bar or a Gray's Papaya on every street corner, so if people need a beer or a frank, they are basically set year round.  Nobody shared my passion for hot dogs at Halloween, unless they were terribly after drunk taking too many orange jello shots at some themed downtown party, in which case that little beef wonder became something of a valuable commodity, a bonafide savior in fact.

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Image"With Halloween creeping around the corner, Belvedere Vodka offers exciting cocktails that are sure to thrill.  Created by Belvedere’s Head of Spirit Creation and Mixology, Claire Smith, the innovative combinations will have your guests dying for more!"

Bloody Mary Martini

50ml/ 2oz Belvedere Citrus (or IX)
6 cherry tomatoes
10ml/ ¼ oz simple syrup
15ml/ ½ oz lemon juice
4 dashes Tabasco

Muddle tomatoes with simple syrup. Add rest of ingredients and shake with cubed ice. Fine strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a small piece of basil.

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