Halloween has always been a kind of gay Christmas — the one holiday where even straight men like to dress as women, straight women like to dress as guys and gay people dress as cartoon characters, tuna fish sandwiches and whatever else. Dallas has always done Halloween right with a street parade down Cedar Springs Road (this year on Oct. 25, beginning around 9:30 p.m.) and even costume contests on All Hallow’s Eve (next Friday). And no local knows more about doing it up right than Richard Curtin: general manager of Station 4, show director of the Rose Room… and to many, the alter ego of Edna Jean Robinson.
1 When did you create Edna Jean Robinson?
In 1992. The Turtle Creek Chorale was doing a concert with the theme "At the Hop," and we were broken down into sections or groups: The Jocks, the Motorcycle Thugs and the Nerds. I was a nerd, and for our retreat party, we were encouraged to come as our character for the concert. So I went to the Salvation Army and costumed the nerd, Edna Jean Robinson. She was a big hit. I stayed in character all night and had a blast.
2 How long have you been hosting the costume parade?
For about eight years now, and look forward to it every year. I host from the second level of JR.’s patio on the corner of Throckmorton and Cedar Springs. I love introducing them, guessing their costumes and of course, commenting on their choices.
3 Do you have a favorite costume from the past few years?
The Statue of Liberty has been a favorite for a couple of years. I remember the entire cast of "The Wizard of Oz" really being a great group costume. Several years ago, a young man body-painted himself as a lizard, and an 8-ft. tall devil was really spectacular.
4 What kind of costume gets noticed most?
Good costumes with good ideas that have been implemented well. Every year, the most common choices seem to be "pimp and ‘ho," and the current events of the day are exploited. I am sure we will see many Sarah Palins and Barack Obamas this year, or someone that has died recently back from the dead.
5 How would a newcomer make his or her mark?
My best advice is to do your homework. Check out the pictures of the character you want to be. Absolutely accessorize! A Jackie O costume is not good enough without a pillbox hat, and it is Halloween, so splatter it with blood. Be someone or something that you want to be. Sometimes all you need is an attitude. Stay in character and sell it — that is what makes a costume work the best.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 24, 2008.