Hocus Pocus costumer Ali Taylor hooked on Halloween since childhood
When Ali Taylor was growing up in York County, her mother always left work early on Halloween. When Judy Jones arrived home, a half a dozen kids filled with anticipation were waiting her kitchen.
Legends, myths and facts in this box were found on websites including halloween-website.com, thechives.com and random history.com.
Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween.
Jack o’ lanterns originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits and ghosts.
Irish legend says jack o’ lanterns are named for a stingy man named Jack. Barred from both heaven and hell, he wanders the Earth, waving his lantern to lead people away from their paths.
Ancient Celts believed spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human. They set out treats to pacify the evil spirits.
Scottish girls believed they would see images of their future husband if they hung wet sheets in front of a fire on Halloween.
It’s rare for a full moon to occur on Halloween. One was present in 1925, 1944, 1955 and 1974. Expect the next one in 2020.
They weren’t there for tricks or treats, but for Jones’ help to become someone, or something, else just for that night.
One child at a time, Jones deftly applied grease makeup she purchased at Morris Costumes in Charlotte to their young faces.
Taylor and her friends might become clowns, princesses or witches. Ones wanting to be cool might even become a member of the rock group KISS.
Taylor, whose husband Giles owns Hokus Pokus Costumes and Entertainment in West Ashley, learned the fundamentals of makeup and costuming in her mother’s kitchen.
Other tools in her skill set include facial structure and highlighting, which she studied in cosmetology school; prosthetics application, learned from her husband; and knowledge of the costuming industry learned in sessions at the Halloween & Party Expo and National Haunters Convention.
Leah Ellis, her friend, says she is extremely creative, has a great imagination and loves to entertain.
“Two years ago, I attended her son’s birthday. He wanted a pirate theme and she created a whole pirate world.
“She and her husband dressed up as pirates and brought pirates in to speak to the children.
“If someone has an idea but is not quite sure how to carry it out, she helps to add flair,” Ellis says.
“She lets you keep your ideas; she just takes it to a whole other level. She helped me with my son’s birthday party, which also was a pirate theme, but it was completely different. It was totally mine.”
Ellis says Taylor is not only passionate about what she does, she has what it takes to be successful.
“She is a woman in a majority male world, costuming. But she makes it work. She’s a strong, organized woman.”
Taylor has given up transforming herself into a vampire, one of her favorites, for the season. Wearing a costume is something better saved for industry events.
In October, the number of employees working with her swells from two to 20. One will be posted at the door, one in the dressing room, one on the wig counter and one will do makeup.
Still, there is plenty for her to do. The increased business ensures that.
“I’m the buyer, accounts payable, accounts receivable and merchandising,” she says. “I’m customer service. I do the laundry (for rentals), clean the bathroom, whatever it takes.”
Halloween is when Taylor, who joined the 34-year-old business 14 years ago, and her husband work 15-hour days and sleep five hours a night.
“It feels like you are up 24 hours a day. We’re even eating on the run,” she says.
“Everything gets postponed until November. My son has been asking for meatloaf and homemade macaroni for weeks. We’ve been counting down the days until I can make it.”
Her son also is focused on Halloween, but in his own way. Taylor becomes very animated when talking about how creative he is.
For Giles V, who is 7, getting the right Halloween look is a more involved process than it was for his mother.
When she was a girl, her clown costumes were made from borrowed clothes and shoes several sizes too large topped off by a green pom pom for hair and, of course, grease makeup.
“This year, he’s going as a sea creature based on the ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon,’” she says. “He designed his own costume. He watches ‘Face Off’ and he’s very creative.”
Makeup artists on “Face Off,” a Syfy channel show, are given three days to create the kinds of prosthetic looks that might be seen in science fiction or horror films.
Her son spent a lot of time working on his design, which includes webbed hands, a green suit and the netting he chose for seaweed, she says.
Thanks to the influence of movies such as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, pirates are big, she says. In addition, Starz will launch a new series, “Black Sails,” in January. And then there are the pirate festivals like those in Charleston and on Tybee Island.
But despite the movie “Oz the Great and Powerful,” not very many people want to be witches. Women just are not interested in the ugly green makeup anymore. They want to be cute and sexy even as more than 25 percent of female costumes are longer than in recent years.
Uncle Si from “Duck Dynasty,” Miley Cyrus and Dr. Who also are hot right now.
While you can still buy packaged costumes, the trend is to buy items that can be used to make more than one kind of costume, Taylor says.
Hocus Pocus is seeing fewer sales of children’s costumes, she says, partly because people are afraid to let their children go trick or treating. But for college students and younger adults, Halloween has become a reason to party, pub crawl or take part in a zombie run.
Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.