Of the myriad things that threaten to ruin Halloween—eating too much candy, drinking too much booze, peeing yourself with fright—the two undebatable worsts both center on choice of costume. Picking one can be its own struggle. Much worse is—after much consideration, brainstorming, planning—finally settling on something and 1) seeing someone has dressed up as the same exact thing at the party or 2) arriving to a party to find you're the only person who made the effort.
Both can be avoided if, like Brooklyn-based comedian/photographer/videographer Mike Breen, you have a plan. And that plan is to make everyone attending your party dress as Darth Maul, the over-the-top capital-E evil Sith Lord from Star Wars: Episode 1—The Phantom Menace. For guests who can't or won't, the host provides red and black face paint, a black trash bag to wear, and at least 15 first-come-first-serve double-sided lightsabers. That way, there are no excuses. Everyone at the party is, to varying degrees, Darth Maul. Everyone.
It's a Halloween party theme that simultaneously eliminates and embraces the possibilities of the ruinous scenarios above, allowing attendees to forego embarrassment while walking, shoulders back, confidently into it. Breen held a Mauls of America party—as he captioned it on Instagram—this past weekend. We talked to him about how he stumbled onto this brilliant and subtle idea, and if it was as good in practice as it is in theory. Here's what he had to say before backflipping out the door in full Maul makeup.
Tell me about the genesis of this idea. How did you come up with it and why? What was the night like?
I wanted to throw a Halloween party that removed all the worst things I didn't like—the stress of finding a costume, getting walked through the peripheral character of a show I've never watched ("I'm Greeble from Mangled Banner!"), and of course the lack of Darth Mauls.
I told my friend Matt about the idea, and his lukewarm response was the motivation I needed. We painted each other's faces with brushes used for blush, a tip given to me by this woman at my local art store who gives bad advice. We both painted something that wasn't necessarily, but could only be, Darth Maul. As people trickled in, we asked them to paint each other's faces. Eventually we had 20 people all in Darth Maul face paint. We watched lightsaber battles on a TV, listened to John Williams trap mixes, and tried to come up with the best Star Wars yo mama joke. "Yo mama so fat the Jedi gave her a heavysaber" was the winner.
The idea of a bunch of Darth Mauls together is funny, but I don't know why exactly. Why exactly?
Right? Yeah, he just felt like the right character at the time I sent the text to my friend. But I'd love to use the power of hindsight to figure out why!
I think Darth Maul is revered in the Star Wars community, but he's also very one dimensional. And, no, I didn't read the Darth Maul comic books, or watch the Darth Maul cartoons, and haven't seen the YouTube video that makes a strong case that Darth Maul is actually Debra from Everybody Loves Raymond. Anyway there's something really disarming about 20 Darth Mauls hanging out. Even seeing Darth Maul do something as simple as eating or laughing is very entertaining. He's supposed to be training all day! Not vaping at a subway stop! It feels taboo. Wait, taboo rhymes with Naboo! Somebody upload this sentence to YouTube!
Did you go out on the town together? If so, what kind of reaction did you notice from passersby?
Oh, we went out! The reactions ranged from "They're all Darth Maul" to "I think they're all Darth Maul." But out we went, onto the subway, where the fluorescent lighting wasn't kind to our poorly painted faces. I know pride and shame are nearly opposite feelings, but I think we all felt both. Here we were, adults celebrating Halloween, all dressed as Darth Maul on our way to our second party of the night. See, that sentence can go either way.
When we arrived at the second party, we were shocked to discover it was not a Halloween party, but a normal party. The kind where people just stand in a kitchen and discuss the latest episode of Mangled Banner on TBS. But we weren't as shocked as the people attending the standard house party who were greeted by 20 Darth Mauls barging through the door. It felt like a middle school dance. All the girls pressed against one wall and all the Darth Mauls on the other. It's the only party I've ever been to that died due to confusion.
Any ideas for things you might do like this for future Halloweens?
Last year, a group of friends and I had a Thanksgiving dinner where we served meatballs instead of turkey. There were performances by a magician, a folk singer, and a rapper. It lacked the focus of "a bunch of Darth Mauls" but was very fun. We called it "Fiendsgiving."
Maybe something with birthdays? Now that I'm 62 years old I've caught myself exaggerating my age to avoid giving people the real answer. I've been thinking about throwing a birthday party where nobody younger than me is invited. That would fix things.