Mark Goding lives for the night of the dead. He spends long hours at his work bench, joining thread, old clothes and recycled electronics into some of the most elaborate costumes seen in Taipei on Halloween.
“I don't know anyone who's into Halloween as much as I am,” said Goding, who will be dressed as Japanese video game character Astro Man tomorrow night. He admits the leotard is “a little tight around the crotch, but if it gets too bad I'll just shove a couple of glasses of ice down there.”
The 38-year-old Australian teacher does it for the competition, not the money. But there's plenty of NT dollars to be won tomorrow night, with several nightspots giving away cash and other prizes for categories like “most creative” or “sexiest” costume.
Masked revelers can get started at Citizen Cain (02-2708-4557), which is inviting them to “come for dinner, stay for the fun” at its Costume Party.
The Cain opens at 6pm. Drink specials include NT$100 San Miguel beers, NT$100 Spooky Shooters and NT$599 for 1.5-liter Halloween Punch, which manager Sunny Chang said will be red and “very strong, like Long Island Ice Tea.”
Starting around 9pm and continuing on the hour, NT$20,000 in prizes will be given away for “best,” “scariest” and “sexiest” costumes, and there will be a gift certificate raffle for everyone in costume.
“We are more like an early party place. They should dress up and come for dinner,” Chang said.
Astro Man will make an appearance at Brass Monkey's Halloween Party, where those competing for the NT$5,000 “best” and NT$5,000 “sexiest” costume prizes will be rated by the volume of the crowd's cheers. This year's judging starts between 10:30pm and 11pm.
Co-owner Max Murphy said Halloween is one of Brass Monkey's (02-2547-5050) biggest nights of the year. “It will be totally full. We emphasize that everyone has a great time.”
Last year Death beat out Hello Kitty for best costume, while Sexy Little Devil won in her category. There were also two Mr. T's, but they didn't win anything.
“They were pitying each other,” Goding recalled. He was wearing a Sand Man suit that looked like as if it was lifted from the set of the first Star Wars movie.
Having spent 12 hours making the outfit, Goding was confident he would win. So confident that he got greedy and ditched the Monkey for Carnegies, which was offering more prize money. Though the Anhe Road pub is offering free entry tomorrow night for those in costume and NT$10,000 for best costume, Goding won't be going, for strategic reasons.
Last Halloween Carnegies (02-2325-4433) was packed when he showed up. Being covered in brown bandages, he had to step outside several times to cool off. When he returned a man who had been dancing on the bar all night in a trash can beat him for the prize.
It was a fair decision, Goding conceded. “In order to win you're expected to be there all night. You can't leave or you'll lose. You have to be around for at least three hours, be seen by everyone and you can't be running outside all the time to get ventilated.”
He doesn't feel the same, however, about the contest he lost at Room 18 two Halloweens ago. That was where Goding, who was dressed as a Star Trek Borg, complete with flashing eye-piece and rotating mechanical claw, met his match, a 2m-tall Ring Wraith with claws and a cowl that stuck out so far you couldn't see his face.