Halloween on a budget: Luchadora

I started the Halloween on a budget series in 2007 as a way to showcase original, sometimes culturally relevant, inexpensive and homemade costumes. Judging by the amount of hits my blog gets around this time of year, I’d say I’ve met my objective for Lotería Chicana even if I don’t follow my own advice.

My luchadora name: La Chicana de Oro

When I decided I wanted to be a luchadora (female Lucha Libre wrestler) for Halloween ’09, I didn’t expect it’d be so pricey or time consuming to put together the costume. I had my mom do some sewing, but also visited 5 stores to get the items I needed.

Here’s what it cost me to become la Chicana de Oro1:

1. Tank leotard – $21 (+ $10 shipping) via Amazon

2. Cape – $10 at Wal-Mart. I know, I know… but it was the only place still open when I needed the cape shortly before the first of a few costume parties. I know capes aren’t really a luchadora thing, but I wanted something that wouldn’t make me feel so naked.

3. Mask – $4, costume shop in Westwood. Luchadores are known for wearing the full mask over the face. Luchadoras’ masks cover their faces (sometimes leaving the jaw uncovered) and snap behind the head leaving their hair showing. I didn’t want to go for either look because covering my face makes me very uncomfortable. Some luchadoras’ masks only cover half their faces, so I figured my eye mask was okay if totally inauthentic.

Belt before I took a Sharpie to it Post Sharpie fill-in

4. Wrestling champion belt – $5 on sale from a costume shop in Whittier. It was red/blue on gold, but I filled it in with black Sharpie.

5. Boots – borrowed from my sister

6. Wrist cuffs – borrowed from my sister’s Batgirl costume

7. Knee pads: made by my mom, fabric and elastic purchased at Jo-Ann crafts (about $10)

8. Leggings – I’ve had these in my closet for a while. The luchadoras I’ve seen wear nude pantyhose or elaborately decorated pants, but I didn’t have time for that and liked the black and gold look.

9. Gold/black sequined butterfly face mask (pinned to the back of the cape): $5 at Shelly’s Dance shop in Westwood

Total: about $65.

It was definitely not a low budget costume, but worth it. I loved my costume and have thought about re-working it in the future as some type of superhero costume. I loved that my costume was original. I didn’t see a single other luchadora both times I wore it. Also, it made me feel sexy without having to worry about showing too much at the slightest gust of wind.

After losing 50+ pounds, I wanted to show off the results of 9 months of running and eating healthier. I felt more confident in my body but not so much that I was willing to take off the cape. Still, I wasn’t hiding behind a coat, glasses and a big hat like with the Carmen Sandiego costume in ’08.

[1] I chose the name la Chicana de Oro because I couldn’t think of anything more original. This was before I read about the luchadoras in Love & Rockets.

Halloween on a budget: Superman the illegal alien

ComicCon08 026

A couple years ago Target caught a lot of flack for selling an illegal alien costume. I was one of those people quick to criticize the corporation and point out the inherent hypocrisy of simultaneously sponsoring Hispanic Heritage Month events and selling such a costume.

I still think it was stupid of them to sell that costume (and other “Mexican costumes”). However, you can flip the unsavory term on it’s head as Jay Smooth did with his commentary on Rick Perry and Superman.

Can you see where I’m going here? Yup, this costume will be more Ill Doctrine than Fox News.

If you’re not afraid to mix a little politics with your Halloween fun and games, you can even raise some awareness about the movement to drop the I-word and refrain from calling undocumented immigrants “illegals.”

Superman the “Illegal Alien” costume

1. Buy/borrow a Superman t-shirt or costume. Wear it. If you go in the t-shirt, dress up in a suit like Clark Kent. Don’t forget the glasses.

2. Carry some papers/signs that have things like an individual tax ID number, DREAM Act petition, info to call Governor Jerry Brown about signing SB 131 (financial aid for AB 540 kids), passport from Krypton, visa (make sure it says Kal-el), etc. Get creative. You can also blatantly wear a tag saying “Illegal Alien.” If you’re squeamish about using the word, go with undocumented immigrant.

3. Channel the amazing superhero qualities of the immigrants who do the work no one else wants to do. If you need some inspiration, check out Dulce Pinzón’s Project Superhero about Mexican immigrants in New York.

For women, you can go as Supergirl. Same things apply. If you’d like to dress up as a less popular superhero from outer space, may I suggest Martian Manhunter?

If you live in Arizona or Alabama, don’t bother with this costume. That should go without saying.

Photo by Sean


Halloween on a budget: Tapatío bottle

Tapatío Costume

I didn’t grow up eating spicy foods. Sure, there were spicy foods — whole jalapeños in vinegar, homemade salsa, and roasting chiles smoking out the house — at home, but I didn’t eat them. Those were for my parents and grandparents. Mom would often make two batches of the same food, one for the kids and one for the adults. The only time I tasted jalapeño or other chile was when it accidentally got mixed in to our foods. I didn’t like it. In fact, jalapeños were our punishment for cursing.

Then I grew up. I spent more time in Mexico. I started cooking my own food and realizing I liked the addition of a little chile.

I’m not about to swallow whole habañeros, but I won’t ignore the escabeche (tiny bowl of carrots, onions pickled in jalapeño vinegar) on my table at Mexican restaurants. And of course, like every other Chicana, I’ll add Tapatío to my tacos and burritos.

Tapatío bottle costume
In the past, I’ve met people who loooove Tapatío and add it to everything. If you’re one of those people, why not show your love for Halloween?

Of course, if you’re a bigger fan of another table hot sauce like Cholula or Sriracha, it would be pretty easy to switch out the logos. You could also make this a couples or group costume. It’d be much spicier (sorry) than those ketchup and mustard or salt and pepper costumes.

How to do it:
1. Get a large piece of cardboard or some other sturdy poster board and roll up in a large cylinder. Make sure you can fit in this cylinder. Either paint the cardboard red or cover your bottle with red butcher paper.

2. Attach a smaller cylinder up top with tape, staple gun or whatever else you have lying around in your crafts drawer.

3. Hand draw (or blow up a copy) of the Tapatío label so that it’s large enough to cover most of the bottle.

4. With an X-Acto knife, cut out a circle for your face. You could also cut out a larger hole and wear a large sombrero through the whole. Get creative!

5. Get some green contacts. You need to have the ojos Tapatíos, right?

6. If you show up at King Taco at midnight on Halloween weekend, be ready to pose for photos.

Thanks to Alan for taking this photo and letting me use it.


Halloween on a budget: Border crossers highway sign

Border Crossing costume

Since stores have been selling Halloween candy, decorations and costumes for a few weeks now, I figured it was time to bring back the Halloween on a budget series. I usually start this in October, but more time to get things together and make your costume can’t hurt, right?

First up: highway border crossers sign.

If you’ve driven on any of the freeways north of the California/Mexico border, you’ve noticed the sign. I was a kid when I first saw it on a trip to Tijuana to visit the grandparents. Not long after I saw the sign, I saw a small group of immigrants running across the freeway. Later, I remember my aunt talking about an accident. In suggesting this as a costume, I don’t mean to make light of the struggle of those who cross the border on foot or those who have lost their lives in the process.

For this costume, you can go with the original sign, a silhouette of a man, woman and little girl rushing across the freeway or make a sociopolitical statement about manifest destiny with the image re-imagined by a Chicano artist of a pilgrim family running across the freeway.

How to do it:

  1. Buy bright yellow poster board and black butcher paper or poster board
  2. Buy letter stickers or make your own spelling CAUTION
  3. If needed, cut poster board in rectangular shape
  4. Draw your silhouette on the black paper or poster board and cut out with an x-acto knife or scissors. Glue/tape with your choice of adhesive.
  5. Make a border for the sign with leftover black paper or black tape.
  6. Cut out holes over the faces of the father, mother and child
  7. Wear all-black and go trick-or-treating and be ready to defend yourself if someone starts talking smack about immigrants

If you have a group of three people, you can do this with just a yellow poster board with CAUTION and a black border around the sign. Your group, dressed all in black, can pose in front of it and make it somewhat of a performance art piece/costume.