If last year’s Halloween was a sea of Stranger Things, this year we’re in for a lot of clowning around. And while it’s fun to resist the tide, when Melanie Adam, owner of costume haven Snog the Frog, suggests we both dress up as IT’s murderous clown Pennywise, we end up taking far more photos than necessary.
Hidden on Surry Hills’s Holt Street – behind Porteno – you either know Snog the Frog is there, or you miss out. Since it opened in 2008, Borat, The Joker and Edward Cullen costumes may have come and gone, but Adams has stayed. After working there just shy of a decade, she jumped at the chance to buy the store last year with her partner, Tamas Jones.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is amazing,” says Adam. “This is so great.”
Their first call was to renovate and declutter the space. Bursting with colour, glitter and – come Halloween – gore, Snog the Frog can be a little overwhelming at first sight. Freeing up storage options helps, though it’s really Adam and her crew who cut through the noise with helpful suggestions and ideas.
While I’m there, customers enter eager to beat the Halloween rush. Some, like regular Travis, know exactly what they want, and Adam gets to work sourcing each precise detail from head to toe. Others aren’t so certain, so she rapid-fires ideas, determined to find the perfect outfit.
There’s a lot to pick from. There are facemasks overlooking the store from the high shelves, for starters. For the politically minded, Trump’s an obvious pick, though if that’s too on-the-nose you could go as every No voter’s worst nightmare: a rainbow-painted unicorn.
Bloody prosthetics and standard Halloween attire are on display too, but the treasures are the thousands of unique pieces, either sourced or created by Snog’s team of designers.
“We have customers that come in and get costumes custom-made,” says Adam. “They’re super serious.” One recent design by their “lycra guy” is Michelangelo’s Statue of David in body suit form, complete with chiseled abs and faux marble curly hair on top – and lower down.
Other favourites? A headpiece of Kudos (or is it Kang?), the tentacled alien from The Simpsons; a leotard and fruity headpiece that’d make Tina Sparkles of Strictly Ballroom blush; and the rack of leopard-print clothing that begs for the finest group costume, a gaggle of Kath Day-Knights.
Personally, though, as soon as I enter my eye is drawn straight to a jumper of 3D triangles poking out from a sea of blue. Perhaps it’s Sonic the Hedgehog, post-accident?
“Oh, that’s the Opera House,” says Adam.
I try it on, because why not? Then Adams wears it, and I dress up as a shark and swim underneath the sea. There’s too many costumes in the store, and not enough time: I make a mental note to throw more themed parties.
Of course, you could do what you always do at Halloween and frantically scroll through costume idea listicles at the last moment. But to do so is to miss out on the ridiculousness of dressing up, laughing at yourself, and trying on something awful before finding that killer look.
“I mean, we do have an online store,” says Adam. “But for me it’s more about coming in and having fun.”
Snog the Frog
10 Hart Street, Surry Hills
Custom-order costumes are available, as are on-site make-up artists for Halloween.