Long before cosplay and pop up costume sto
res radically upped the ante, long before the 501 and Her Universe, long before “nerd” was a creed, and Hawlloween became the second biggest adult holiday of the year, there were Ben Cooper costumes. Known as a “mask and a smock” these ubiquitous mostly licensed costumes consisted of a garish plastic mask held on with an plastic band, and a cheap plastic printed smock or jumpsuit representing anything from Superman to Dorothy. I once wore my PLanet of the Apes mask so much that it began to smell, very very bad. I’m sure I’m not the only kid who did that.
Anyway, there are many tributes to Ben Cooper online, but here’s a catalog from 1980 in all its ill-fitting glory. As weird as it was, at least there were no Sexy Construction Workers.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.