When I went to Kent State, (Yes, believe it or not, I am a college graduate. ) I worked at a costume shop called HALLOWEEN U.S.A., and since I couldn’t work a cash register back then (and still can’t.) I only had one job there, which was to pace menacingly back and forth, in front of the store, wearing various costumes, playing characters, like Jason from Friday the 13th, (More specifically, Jason X) a chicken, and a gorilla.
Laurence Olivier would have been proud of my performances.
My favorite was the gorilla because, one of the best movies of all time is, inarguably, the original King Kong, and I also love the cult classic, super shitty B movies, featuring stunt actors in gorilla suits. These movies had gorillas who looked significantly less awesome than King Kong and they were shown a lot on horror hosts TV shows like Elvira (Happy 40th anniversary!) and the Cleveland area late night TV horror movie shows, like Ghoulardi, Big Chuck and Little John, and my personal favorite, The Ghoul.
Sadly, The Ghoul, Ron Sweed, moved on to horror host heaven in 2019. He and I will always be kindred spirits though , because we both got paid money, early in our show business careers, for wearing really cheesy-looking gorilla costumes!
You see, back in the 60’s, the legendary Ernie Anderson, who played Ghoulardi, would do live performances, and Ron Sweed, a fan, dressed up in a gorilla suit, would show up to meet his hero. Then, Ernie would invite him up on stage, and they would put on an impromptu gorilla taming act, which led to Ron becoming Ghoulardi’s intern, and eventually, his successor.
When we closed down the costume shop in Kent, I was allowed to keep the chicken and gorilla costumes, and I was overjoyed, because I knew the Dairy Queen I worked at when I was home from school, liked to do wacky promotional stunts. So, I would wear the costumes for events, and walk around in the outfits for car shows and, of course, Halloween.
When I was in the gorilla costume, I was super method. I never spoke. I just jumped around, playing the part of an ape. And let me tell you, there are a lot of ways you can wield a banana, normally reserved for making banana splits, as a great gorilla prop. Everyone thought this was hysterical! (Or maybe they just liked it because it gave them a break from me constantly talking. I’ll never know.)
I showed up to the DQ, one Halloween, in the chicken costume, and that did not go over as well. Which is funny, because, normally, when you walk into a room, while wearing a ridiculous looking chicken costume, people tend to laugh. But, at this point, I could not escape the stigma of being typecast as the gorilla.
Sadly, both my gorilla and chicken costumes have long since decomposed. I wish I still had them, but, like The Ghoul, they are no longer with us.
I still have two bottles of vintage 1997 “Turn Blue Ghoul Brew,” which was the official beverage of The Ghoul. These are non-alcoholic beverages but they don’t age like fine wine. If you drank one now, you would actually turn blue, so, I don’t recommend doing that. But it is Halloween, have a good time and GO APE!
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