Wednesday, October 14, 2009

'Halloween-Around-A-Headband' (no. 2): Vintage Medium


In this, the second installment in our unanticipated series on easy DIY Halloween costumes built around 'statement' headbands, I show you how to transform yourself into a vintage medium in the throws of ectoplasmic transmission.

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Pictured Above: Ectoplasmic extrusions from a variety of orifices c. 1920s

As you may already know, Gentle Reader, Patricia Arquette was not the first 'medium' to capture the cultural imaginary, and the writers of Ghostbusters did not invent ectoplasm. In fact, both of these ideas date back to the late 19th century, or what most recognize as the apex of the American Spiritualist Movement.

In this curious Victorian era phenomenon that would marry magic, religion and technology, members of the spirit world began to make themselves known to their living counterparts by way of various earthly mediums. In many instances, this medium was a camera (whose extra-sensitive 'eye' could purportedly register ghostly apparitions in ways that the human eye could not). But once word got around that such spirits were likely the result of post-productive tampering by corrupt photographers and not actual supernatural activity, the Spiritualist Movement found itself reverting back to the practice of using human mediums.

Curiously, these mediums were not simply overtaken by a spirit and made to ventriloquize his words. Rather, they actually materialized from one the medium's many orifices (e.g., mouth, ear, eye, vagina) in the form of what became known as 'ectoplasm' (but what looked more like common household staples like gauze and string). These highly orchestrated seances were populated with other believers (or, 'hucksters') and captured on film in order to 'prove' the existence of both ghosts and their communicating vessels. (And, as you might imagine, these vessels were almost always women, who were/are imagined as passive receptors fashioned exclusively for bringing life into the world. This is perhaps why we today think of women as better 'communicators' than men!)

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Pictured Above: Two examples of turn-of-the-century 'spirit photography' that would soon be outmoded by photographs depicting supernatural activity during seances

To become a vintage medium, you really just need a life-giving female body, this fantastic headband and a simple old-timey black frock that won't distract from the spirit seeping out of your ear. EASY, and guaranteed to make others squeamish (if only from their embarrassment at having absolutely no knowledge of this great moment in American cultural history).

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The Look (Top L - R):

Vintage Black Leather Ankle Boots via elmstreetvintage
Vintage 14K Gold Habille Shell Cameo via Thingsremembered
Vintage 1950s Forever Full Wool Party Dress via mimisgamine
Vintage 1950s Glossy Noir Purse with Ornate Gold Detailing via Huzzah!
Handmade Tulle Headband via richladyoriginals

(accessorize with some modest stockings and a lot of fraudulent acting)

4 comments:

Nicomi "Nix" Turner said...

YES! This post is awesome!

Hey, it is funny we're neighbors!

yoli said...

interesting! thank you for your comment!

sarah louise walker said...

Your inspiration posts like this are so interesting and you pick such neat things to write about in general. I love your blog!

redhedgingerbread said...

...what an amazing post!! I love, love it and the info and your pics. Thank you :-)