When it comes to portraying Pumpkin King Jack Skellington, the protagonist in Tim Burton’s stop-motion animation classic Nightmare Before Christmas, official correspondence from Disney would be the ultimate measure of success. The way I see it, correspondence could mean one of two things—a cease and desist, or a job offer. I’ve received neither to date, but, considering how impressed San Diego club goers were with my debut performance for Charmed Life Entertainment December 16, either could easily be in the proverbial cards.
Hoop Charmer, Jenny Quest to her besties, is San Diego’s most well-known hoop dancer—hands down. On the global stage, her most popular YouTube clip “Hilltop Hoop Dance” is approaching 50,000 views. She and I have been crossing paths for several years now at various events. In June, we realized we had more than a little in common over dinner in Sin City. Consequently, I was quick to reply when she put up a Facebook post searching for insured performers. And when she inquired if I had any ideas for a Nightmare-themed event, the gears started turning.
Knowing intuitively that I could trust Quest, I booked a flight on faith and began consulting Denver costumer/fabricator/performer Nate The Average. Stop-motion star Skellington was the goal and I knew Nate could help me pull it off. Airbrushing my entire head was an option from the beginning, but achieving more spherical volume via mask was ideal. Part of me was nervous about losing my personality inside a disguise, yet I was determined to impress Quest at any cost. First, Nate sculpted Skellington’s rotund dome onto a human head mold with wet clay. Making a reverse mold of the clay was the second step. Nate wanted to make the actual mask out of a material newly available in Denver called Soma Foama. Unfortunately, we didn’t have near enough of it to completely fill the mold, so we ended up going with a lesser quality foam. The paint was still drying on the face mere hours before I departed for the airport.
Although Nate contributed two of the most essential costume pieces (the head and the bat bow tie), he wasn’t the only person who worked on the project. Kelsie, my favorite Denver airbrush artist, painted skeleton hands onto a pair of black gloves. And my mom, who I affectionately refer to as Nancy Pants, made new stilt pants—once I’d picked out and procured the proper cloth from Denver Fabrics. Oh yes, and I personally spent hours upon hours upon hours hand sewing white cording up and down a black tailcoat I scored at Boss Vintage. The History Channel’s Ancient Aliens kept me thoroughly enthralled as I stitched. I was sewing on the plane, in the car and even in Ivy Nightclub’s green room prior to applying makeup and strapping on Poweriser jumping stilts.
George Peele enjoys strapping on height enhancers and aurally ambushing strangers. He is Music Features Editor for 303’s print edition. Follow him on Twitter: @Orangepeelmoses. Avatar image courtesy Jonathan Shoup.