There are some words that should never be combined with “sexy.” “Clownfish,” for example. Yet the “Sexy Clownfish” costume is a hit at the Halloween superstore in my neighborhood. I’d like to meet the creative team that came up with that brilliant idea. Did they just pull words out of a hat and attach them to “sex?” A sexy clown would be terrifying and a sexy fish is… just gross, yet “Sexy Clownfish” gets the green light for production. Some stores market the sexualized fish as a grown-up “Nemo,” but in the end it’s just slutty get-ups modeled after a character popular with children. Just like provocative Cookie Monsters and sultry Sponge Bobs. But if you are dying to put a mini-skirt on a childhood icon this Halloween, why don’t you try going as one of my favorite idols? Like those four independent women you know so well. They were aspirational, successful women—as well as sexy, spooky and magical.
Oh yes. The four “It Girls” of primetime television in the 1960s were campy, delightfully dark women, and I adored each of them. Samantha Stevens, Morticia Adams, Lily Munster and Jeannie…did Jeannie have a last name? Jeannie, the Genie? Yeah, I dunno.
I remember watching these old shows in my grandmother’s apartment, reveling in these beautiful, supernatural women while I ate macaroni and cheese off of a TV tray. I desperately tried to twitch my nose like Samantha. I dressed up as Morticia Addams three times for Halloween during my childhood. At age seven, I went to a party filled with girls dressed like Disney princesses and kitty cats and there I was, in a skin tight gown made out of some cheap plastic, pretending to speak French in a husky voice. I developed elaborate fantasies involving me as Jeannie getting ready for my long-time-coming wedding to Major Nelson. And Lily, wasn’t she just lovely? I was upset, however, to discover, while watching the feature film Munster, Go Home!, that her skin was actually green and not the translucent skin of black and white television.
Morticia was my absolute favorite. I knew her best from Addams Family Values, a movie that I rented from Blockbuster about forty times. Angelica Huston was so dark and divine. My mother told me that as a child, she had thought Carolyn Jones, the 60’s Morticia, was the most beautiful woman in the whole world. Whatever her incarnation, Morticia was wild and exotic. She may have been a little kooky, but she had a millionaire who adored her, appropriately psychotic children and the financial freedom to pursue all of her passions.
Lily Munster was similar to Morticia, macabre and spooky. She was a little more down to earth and a little plainer than her rival from NBC. She fiercely loved her monster family. Comprised of an idiot Frankenstein, a senile vampire, a wolf-boy and a blonde bobby-soxer, the Munsters were way wackier than the Addams Family. These supernatural comedies both focused on love and acceptance. So what if they lived in haunted mansions? Morticia and Lily were strong matriarchs who defended their families’ right to be weird.
Where Lily and Morticia and all of their peculiarities were adored by their husbands, Sam and Jeannie were outsiders, forced by their men to hide what made them so wonderful. Both shows featured mischievous alter egos for the girls. Each actress donned a brunette wig and became sensual, out-of-control trouble makers. If single Jeannie was supposed to represent the idea of “Free Love,” then her alter ego sister represented the sexual revolution. Brunette Jeannie didn’t wait for Major Nelson to notice or appreciate her, she demanded his attention. Even though the blonde versions weren’t the best role models, they were fun. They acted out what most 60s housewives wished they could have; a little romance, a little adventure, a spell to make the dishes wash themselves.
Reality TV was in its infancy in the 60s, but if it had really been in swing, how wonderful would it be if there were a “Retro Real Housewives”? Samantha could twitch her nose and Lily’s weave would fall out. Morticia would go on a drinking binge after Gomez started lusting after Jeannie. Jeannie would be transformed. Forget Major Nelson, Jeannie would sleep around and her magic would be something truly handy, like a mind-controlled contraceptive. Some episodes would feature the divine Endora, Sam’s witchy mother, for some family drama. Would Morticia and Lily dare risk sun exposure just to brunch at the trendy outdoor café in Sam’s neighborhood? What would the blondies think about that bakery on Mockingbird Lane? Would they be disgusted or would they embrace their dark side and join the goth girls in a toast, drinking the blood of the men who tried to love them?
This Halloween, instead of seeing a bar full of vampires, Lady Gagas, Slutty Paralegals and Whorey Tubes of Chapstick, I’d like to see a few more of my girls out there. Smart, spooky and sassy, these icons of the 1960s are sure to turn a few heads. And if you’re planning to go as Lily Munster, I’d do it this year… before the bound-to-be-awful NBC reboot pilot gets picked up.
Kate Mickere is an actress, writer and sketch comedian living in NYC.