Halloween is great, except for when it sucks. I mean, honestly, who over 25 likes to go out on amateur night (or, in this case, weekend)? I gave it a shot on Oct. 29 at The Growlers Six festival at Berth 46/Outer Harbor in San Pedro—and I’m actually thrilled I did.
A girl dressed as sexy Pippi Longstocking with reddish-brown braids protruding from above her ears stood by a car in the parking lot. “Kevin! Did you remember to bring the joints?” she asked as her group of friends walked toward the entrance.
“Of course we remembered!” a guy (presumably Kevin) dressed as Frankenstein replied. “I have it taped to the side of my upper inner thigh.”
“Grooossss,” Pippi Longstocking yelled across the parking lot. “I usually smoke my weed without ball sweat.”
Going to a festival on Halloween weekend in San Pedro was like strolling around San Francisco on a mellow Tuesday afternoon in March. The sky was layered with thick, gray clouds, and the temperature hung around 65 degrees. Attendees were dressed in costumes and frolicking around like drunken pixies.
Near another car, a gang of Oompa Loompas finished their Anchor Steam brews. I watched them like a biologist observing wild animals on the savanna. They blasted “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus, the godfathers of Goth rock. With their orange faces, green hair and white overalls, it was exceptionally odd to see them flap their arms like bats.
One of them whipped out a Batman cape from the trunk of the car and put it on. I wonder if Peter Murphy would be proud or ashamed? Considering the Goth diva was arrested several years back by the Glendale Police Department for possession of meth, he might be all right with this new Oompa Bauhaus following.
Once I finally peeled myself away from the Goth Oompas, I made it 50 feet before I saw a couple who deserved to win any Halloween-costume contest. Dressed as Jack and Meg White from the White Stripes, they wore one of the most creative costumes I’ve ever seen—maybe also the creepiest considering the lines are blurred in terms of whether the band mates were married or brother and sister.
I arrived inside the festival just in time for The B-52s. A lady named Barbara from Orange was dressed as the band’s red-haired singer Kate Pierson. She had it going on and knew every word to every song. “The B-52s are one of my all-time favorites,” she said while grooving and sipping on her Pacifico. “Every time I see them, I feel like I’m 22 again.” Her young son looked over at us and rolled his eyes.
I recommend seeing the B-52s if you’re into weird music about lobsters and shacks, but how is it that at their show on Halloween, NO ONE dressed up as a rock lobster? What the fuck, people?
I was disappointed about the lobster situation, so I decided to buy a beer, which was (oddly) a terrible idea. In what twisted universe is it appropriate to charge $13 for a Pacifico? Apparently one in which Donald Trump is president and Nazis are trending. It should be illegal—just like Nazis and our president.
But I bought the beer anyway, then wandered into a tent called Death of a Clown. It changed my life! As I walked in, people were walking out and shaking their heads. Others ran in with enthusiasm. The contrast of reactions captured my curiosity: Was someone actually killing a clown? Is it a magic show? Are people naked? Am I drunk?
None of the above. I walked into a drag show with face-painted performers thrusting themselves on spectators and dancing on white coffins that shot out fog. There was a couple—not in costume or a part of the show—making out as if they were angsty hormonal high schoolers, but they looked more as if they were 30 years old. There were men clapping and cheering for the performers, while others sat with blank expressions on their faces.
“Please welcome my psychotic fucking clown sister,” said Lady Forbidden, the hostess with the “most ass,” as she referred to herself.
She then introduced “Krustyna fucking Clown,” a (wo)man wearing a combination of torn stockings, black over-the-knee boots, a short skirt, and a black-and-white-striped shirt. His teeth were blacked-out, and his lips were painted like the joker, with white face paint and black makeup caked around his eyes, accented by sparkly purple shadow, which matched his metallic violet vest. (S)He wore alien-eye contacts and had bright-green hair extensions hoisted into a ponytail atop his head. To say (s)he looked like a psychotic killer clown is an understatement.
Krustyna Clown performed with the power of Lady Gaga. Between throwing her-/himself on the ground—asphalt, mind you—and going back and forth between aggressive cat and cow yoga poses, as well as swinging her/his head so her/his hair resembled a propeller—I don’t know if any other performer worked harder in those five minutes.
My taking photos in the front row prompted Krustyna Clown to glide over to me and rub her/his chest in my face. (S)he swung his hair around and catapulted himself onto her/his knees. (S)he flipped me off with a smile and danced over to the attendees next me. As (s)he performed “I Fink U Freeky” by Die Antwoord, I couldn’t help but think Krustyna Clown was made to perform to that song. Or maybe Die Antwoord was made to create songs for badass killer-clown drag queens. Either feels possible.
The drag-queen crew perform once a month at Club Scum at Chico, a Latinx LGBTQ bar in Montebello that has seen huge success within the community.
That was my first drag show, and I loved it. I left the clown tent to see Julian Casablancas and regretted it. I realized the queens worked a hell of a lot harder than The Strokes front man (and seemed SUBSTANTIALLY less douche-y than him, too). The queens worked hard to evoke emotions from their audience—even if some were offended. If performers can make you feel something, they’ve done their job well.
The Growlers Six was funky and weird and fun in ways other festivals aren’t. It makes me wish everyone dressed up Halloween-style for such events, as people had their best freak foot forward.