Hey Mom! Hey Dad! We've found the perfect Halloween costumes for the kids.
Forget dressing them like Shrek and Fiona. That's so last year.
What Josh and Caitlin need are the rags that are selling briskly in California and New York: Child pimp suits and "ho" dresses. At $40 to $50, they begin at size 4, tailored in the '70s style of blaxploitation movies like "Superfly."
Can't you just see your little boy in a pink velvet suit and matching wide-brimmed hat with faux-zebra trim? Or Caitlin in black feathers and stockings as she sets off to trick or treat for UNICEF? (The outfit actually looks like a 1920s flapper dress, but don't tell her that. It would spoil her pose. And right now, it's sold out because of "overwhelming demand," says one Web site.)
You think we're kidding. We're not.
Brandsonsale.com, an online marketing company that sells everything from poker chips to bandannas, is offering one ho and four pimp costumes for children this year just in time for Halloween, along with its usual Spider-Man, Oatmeal Bear, witches, devils and vampires.
Next year, the company plans pimp attire for infants. The demand, says company spokesman Johnathon Weeks Jr., grows each year.
"We started with the pimp suit two years ago," Weeks said Wednesday from his Cerritos, Calif., office. "It's one of our biggest sellers.
"We also sell pimp and ho outfits to whole families: Mom, Dad, kids and the dog."
His customers span the racial and ethnic rainbow, he says. Most live in California, New York and Florida: "You know, where the real pimps hang out."
If Weeks sounds a bit brash, you should know he's only 21. His father, John, a salesman to independent toy stores, started Brandsonsale three years ago after the bottom fell out of the small toy-store business. Johnathon buys and designs merchandise for the company, which now employs 35 people. "We sell unique stuff that pushes the envelope," he says.
Of course, this particular envelope has been nudged already.
Teenagers, out of earshot of adults, call each other "pimp" and "ho" the way past generations used "dude" and "girlfriend."
Rapper Nelly sings "Pimp Juice" and pushes an energy drink by the same name. MTV carries a car-refurbishment series called "Pimp My Ride." Actors Bernie Mac and William Shatner have made an animated comedy about a 9-year-old player, still unreleased, called "Lil' Pimp." Last Halloween, Abigail Potter's sons, Justin and Aaron, spotted a school friend wearing a pimp costume. This year, the boys, 10 and 11, talked Potter into ordering two -- one pink, one purple -- from Brandsonsale. They plan on duding up for a neighborhood Halloween party.
"I know some people will make a big deal about it," says Potter, who lives in Greer, S.C. "But come on, it's Halloween. Let's not take things too seriously.
"One son makes straight A's, the other A's and B's. They're good children who wanna get a laugh."
Brandsonsale is not the only place to buy child-size outfits of the night. Spencer Gifts in Wheaton carries matching adult and child pimp outfits in blue velvet with faux-leopard trim.
"Last year, we sold lots of those," an employee said.
Economy Party Supplies, a major costume retailer in Falls Church, carries Pimp Daddy outfits for teenagers. How about grade-school kids?
"Let me think," saleswoman Diane Carter said. "And what size would that be?" She was serious, saying later that in her line of business, no question surprises her anymore.
Bloggers have been more nonplused. Recently, Internet debaters have been going at each other about this latest piece of pop culture.
"Finally, I now have a reason to want kids," sneers someone called Jer on Lunabean.com.
"Is this even legal?" Wmdragon asks on Uplink.Space.com. "What is Halloween coming to?"
A visitor called Leovinus has no problem with it. "I much prefer [this] to the costume featuring the butcher-knife-in-the-head look," he writes.
Two lines later, a smart aleck named igorsboss chimes in, "Damn this economic downturn."
Jcdenton suggests, "This means little considering how easy it is for kids nowadays to become desensitized to the vice of society after watching late-night TV."
To which Wmdragon comes back, "That would be Britney Spears' fault!"
"There are some among us who will do anything for money," writes Vladward8. "Now I'll stick my neck out and bet the costumes were not designed by black people."
He's right. Not only that, the Brandsonsale models are not black, either. They're white. Black models would have drawn too much fire, Weeks said.
"Not that we shy away from controversy," he added.
is marketing for children.Black feathers, stockings and a very short dress make up the "ho" outfit.