Over the years, what's been your most popular costume?
Wow. I'd have to say Spider-Man and Elvis. For sale, it's Spider-Man, and for rentals, it's Elvis. Somebody came in and bought a $350 Elvis outfit yesterday. The guy is a professional Elvis impersonator, and he enjoys doing that.
Why do you think Spider-Man and Elvis have been so popular?
Spider-Man, because he's a real big hit with kids. Any kid with a birthday wants to have a Spider-Man outfit, or they'll dress up Uncle Charlie as Spider-Man and have him come to the party. And Elvis--he's a mainstay, a popular icon. People are not making fun of him; they're impersonating him. There are a lot of Elvis impersonators in Tucson, and they make their livings going to parties, singing and acting like Elvis.
Have you ever had a Spider-Man Elvis?
(Laughs.) I've never heard of such a thing. That's a stupid question. All the little kids would say, "What's that? That's politically incorrect. Spider-Man doesn't have sideburns, Daddy."
You run clown schools. Give me one good, brief clowning tip.
You need to have a bubbly personality. If you're a cold fish or not wanting to be out in public, you're not going to want to be a clown. It's all about fun and good times and having a ball. If you're a stick in the mud: "Daddy, why's that clown being mean?" That would be why some people have a fear of clowns.
What are the advantages to renting a costume versus buying?
A lot of people like to rent, because they're not looking to expand their wardrobes. ... People like to pick something off of the rack and try it on or use it. We have die-hard people--the Renaissance fair people or the people at Halloween who go as the same thing every year--who will like something they rent and will ask, "Can I buy this one?" Or a Santa outfit--"I've rented it for a couple of years now, and I've decided to invest in a Santa Claus outfit instead of renting every year."
After big holidays, when you rent out 200 Easter Bunny outfits or 250 Santa outfits, what is your cleaning bill like?
It's not all that bad, because we do most of the cleaning in house, except for the dry cleaning. We're a member of the National Costumers Association, and that holds us to a higher standard. ... When anything's brought back, it's washed, or dry cleaned or laundered. You might ask why a Marilyn Monroe wig costs $26 to rent. To get it in shape, it has to be washed and styled. That literally can take hours.
It's time for a makeup tip. Let's say I am in a community theater play. What's the one piece of advice you'd give me?
Powder your makeup.
When using that cream-based makeup, once you have it on your face, if you don't powder it, and if you go to touch it, it will come off on your finger. This means if your clothes rub up against it, or you're locked in a passionate kiss with your fellow actor, it's going to come off.
What's the weirdest or funniest thing that's happened at the shop over the years?
What I get amused by are the things people want to do for their costumes. One person wanted to know how to make a cut or sliced neck. After I showed him ... he said he was going as Roy. ... He meant Roy as in Siegfried and Roy. He was going to sew a white tiger to his arm. But I don't know if that's funny. Here's another story: One day, my wife, my mother-in-law and I were standing at the rental counter when a couple of girls came in to try on some belly-dancing outfits. Little did we know they were topless dancers. My mother-in-law handed the costume to a girl, and she stood right there and took her top off right in front of us. I'd say that's a pretty funny story.