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Coastal Commuter

Halloween S.F. vs. L.A.

Uh-oh. It’s that special time of year again, when things go bump in the night — and I don’t mean drunken one-night stands (although there will be quite a few of them before Nov. 1 rolls around). The days grow shorter, and a chill creeps into the air. Soon it will be Halloween!

Now everyone knows that Halloweentown isn’t just a fanciful, fictional setting in Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s a real place, albeit one that mystically materializes every October in a geographical space bordered by the Pacific Ocean, the San Francisco Bay and Daly City. If there’s any doubt about the town in question, let me remind you that the team colors of the San Francisco Giants are orange and black.

As I write this, I’m in Los Angeles, but you can bet that I’ll be back home in San Francisco by mid-October — and the big reason is just how Halloweenie things get in our big little city: scary, seductive, and splendid. My L.A. friends are lobbying for me to stay in the Southland with promises of tickets to the Playboy Mansion Halloween party, and an insistence that the West Hollywood Halloween parade on Santa Monica Boulevard — a fabulous de facto gay pride event — is more than a match for the annual Castro Street festivities. Truth be told, I don’t bother with the Castro on Halloween since the occasional spurts of violence began a few years ago, and the SFPD was compelled to clamp down on the revelry. And it’s true that there are more silicon-infused pinups in L.A. than S.F., and that L.A.’s mega-glamorous drag queens have the advantage of Hollywood make-up and special effects artists.

But nay I say! I don’t have hard statistics on this, but I would bet that San Francisco has, per capita, more Halloween parties for fun-loving grown-ups than any other city in North America. (New Orleans and New York City might come close.) And the holiday-themed events in the Bay Area are beyond compare, from the arty, sexy elegance of the Masquerotica Ball (Saturday, Oct. 19 at the Sound Factory, First and Harrison,) to the most creative and hilarious drag show/costume party in the known universe, Trannyshack Halloween (Friday, Oct. 25 at the DNA, 11th and Harrison), to the blithe/spectacular mash-up madness of Bootie S.F. Halloween Booootie! (Saturday, Oct. 26 at the DNA, aka the Bootie Mothership — although Bootie L.A. is doing its own Holly-ween thing that same night at the Echoplex).

And you can be sure that there are oh-so-many more soirees in the offing. Some friends of mine and I even did a little costumes-mandatory party at the Chinatown dive-bar Li-Po every Halloween for a couple of years. Which does bring up an issue. If you’re gonna go whole-hog and really do Halloween in San Francisco, there’s the hassle of coming up with multiple costumes. It’s not just Oct. 31, people. Going by the schedule of events, it’s also the two weekends before Oct. 31. Plus, there’s the almost-shamanistic transformation of becoming someone or something else through disguise. It’s a major part of Halloween magic.

Regarding the costume conundrum, real San Franciscans know that you can’t just put on a Lone Ranger mask and leave it at that. Sure, I’ve donned a fedora with a press card in the hatband and passed myself off as Clark Kent. Then, there was the year I painted my fingernails black and went as Marilyn Manson’s hands. But I apologize for my laziness.

So what to do? There’s that old Charlie Brown standby, a sheet with holes for the eyes, although you never know when a ghost might be mistaken for a member of the KKK. You can make a costume or buy one. You can be a furry or a superhero or a president or a monster. As for the plethora of sexy maids, sexy cops, sexy nurses, and sexy witches, I’m all for it — whether they’re gals or guys.

In any event, break out the candy for the kids, and get ready for more fun than humans should be allowed to have. It’s Halloween in San Francisco!

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