Earlier this month, Spirit Halloween announced that it was beginning a search for who could become their "Chief Spirit Officer," serving as an ambassador for the spooky season all year long. In hopes of finding a candidate who truly honored everything the holiday represented, they enlisted "King of Halloween" Lance Bass, known for going to great lengths to channel his inner ghoul to deliver lavish Halloween celebrations. Whether he's adorning his house with impressive decorations or sporting impressive attire, Bass knows exactly what it takes for someone to show how much they love Halloween, with Bass himself recently detailing the personal importance of the holiday.
Spirit announced the endeavor by detailing, "Spirit Halloween is seeking the ultimate Halloween superfan with a devilish desire to step out of the shadows and into the bright orange light of the world's largest specialty Halloween retailer and take on the thrilling opportunity to be our first-ever Chief Spirit Officer. The CSO will embody Spirit Halloween's unrivaled passion, excitement, and energy for the best season of the year. It's not about experience, it's about feeling it in your bones. The Chief Spirit Officer might count down the days until October 31st, but they embrace the spirit of the season 365 days a year."
To apply, candidates merely have to showcase their love of Halloween on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or Facebook and use the hashtag #SpiritHalloweenCSOContest while also tagging @SpiritHalloween.
ComicBook.com caught up with Bass to talk his love of Halloween, his time-honored traditions, and what he'll be looking for as a Chief Spirit Officer judge.
ComicBook.com: Just to begin, and this might be controversial, but when are you allowed to start decorating for Halloween?
Lance Bass: That is a good question because this is what I fight with my husband about a lot. I like going a little earlier than normal, but usually, it's October 1st. I always just take the whole month of October, because I noticed that if I started decorating too early, then it loses its magic after a while. So I find October 1st through the 31st is the perfect amount of time to really enjoy your decorations.
That's a bold statement. I'm glad that you're coming out here and stating declaratively that you have these rules, because I struggle with the same thing. I want to start September 1st, but then it's September 21st and I'm sick of going to Michael's and JOANN Fabrics and Spirit Halloween to find new decorations.
Well, this year we'll definitely start earlier since we have babies coming. So we plan to have this whole place decorated for Halloween by at least September 20th. That is my goal.
You can make exceptions, no two years are alike, so I wish you the best of luck in getting everything prepped and good to go. Do you remember a time growing up when you realized, "Oh, I am way more into this holiday than my friends and my family are. This is something special for me that not everybody shares,"?
It started really early for me and I get it from my dad, who's a Halloween freak. Cutesy Halloween is great, but my dad was all about the gory, real dark Halloween. And I love that because I love horror movies and, I remember, Freddy Krueger is one of the first horror movies I ever saw in the '80s. I just was addicted to being scared. I liked scary Halloween and my whole family's like that. So my dad just really went over the top every year with decorations. And then that led into me taking the reins and I think it was probably fifth or sixth grade is when I started having an annual Halloween party for all my friends every single year. And, every year, it had to get bigger and better.
As you mentioned, some people are into the more cutesy Halloween thing, the more family-friendly Halloween, and there's also the darker, more creepy elements of it. For you, what is it about, whether it be October 31st or just the entire lead-in to that holiday, what does it represent to you? What makes that time so special?
It's just fun and you get to suspend your imagination of what reality really is. It's fun to dress up as other people and do gory things because, obviously, you're not a serial killer in real life, but every month of October, you can pretend you are and get away with it because it's funny or cute. I feel like people can be other things than who they really are. And Halloween, especially once I started with NSYNC, Halloween became even more special because it was the only time of year that I could be someone other than Lance Bass, and it was amazing. So I could go out and I could hide my face and really enjoy being just a normal person on Halloween.
I'm glad that, for you, being a "normal person" means, "Oh yeah, a normal person dressing up like Freddy Krueger or a zombie or whatever. I can finally be a normal person."
When it comes to Halloween, I always have specific Halloweens in years past where I think, "Oh, that one was just the best and it's never going to be as good as that one." Are you the type of person that, when that time of year rolls around, do you think, "Who cares about the past. It's all about what I do this year," or do you still have one specific Halloween or a few specific memories that you're constantly chasing to recreate?
I'm always chasing something to be better than last year. I think the older I got, I started losing a lot of the magic of the holidays and especially Halloween. I think that's mainly because I didn't have kids yet. I think this year is going to be so different with kids, because seeing Halloween through the magic of a kid's eyes is just so great and that's just going to bring back that magic to me. But there are some Halloweens that I don't know if I'll ever be able to outdo. Just a few years ago, it was a certain circumstance, but we were renting a house in Toluca Lake. I was living in New York, but we basically -- I had to be out by November 1st because we were moving to New York, so I had an empty house that happened to be right in the middle of the most visited trick-or-treating spot in California, and so I'm like, "Well, since it's an empty house, let's create a haunted house."
I got my friends together and we built this haunted house in a day. And it was so good, a little too good, because the kids were peeing and pooping their pants. Like I said, I like scary Halloween, and we kept warning all the parents, "Look, this is scary. This isn't for kids." And they're like, "Oh, whatever," and they'd go in and they'd have to run out. But it was just such a fun time to get my friends together and build this together and everyone was performing in it. Then, inside this neighborhood, which was thousands and thousands of kids. There was this line around the block just to try to get into this place.
Since we're talking about Spirit Halloween and Spirit doesn't just have decorations, it feels like every single year they're adding more and more costumes and outfits and more niche and weird characters that you wouldn't even necessarily expect but now you can just buy a costume off the shelf. When you think of your favorite costume that you've ever gotten to wear, what's your favorite and what is the costume that you look back and you think, "Oh, my God, what was I thinking? Why did I wear that?" Or "Why did my parents, why did my family dress me up in that?"
Well, the '80s were not very pretty for Halloween. The plastic outfits that you just sweat so much in, those horrible masks that were not comfortable at all, they were as cheap as you could get. But that's what my parents put me in as a kid all the time. It's basically like wearing grocery bags, plastic grocery bags and I'm glad that we've gone away from that. And, thanks to Spirit, we have some really great, accessible great costumes to choose from. I've had so many good costumes throughout the years. it's hard to ... It's like my babies, I can't choose which one's my favorite. But once I got married, it really was more fun to go as a couple with things. So doing Wayne's World, Wayne and Garth, is just always a hit. And it's the easiest thing to do last-minute because you have a good five, six costumes in a season, different parties, but that one's always my go-to if I don't have anything left. "Okay, we're just going to be Wayne and Garth." And it's always the biggest hit.
Speaking of duo costumes, you have twins on the way in just a few weeks. Do you already know what they're going to be dressed as for Halloween? Or are you going to let them decide, even though they're babies?
Well, they're little infants, they're not going to be able to decide. Of course, as soon as we found out that we were pregnant, Spirit Halloween sent us three years' worth of twin costumes. So we have a lot to choose from for the next three years. The infant ones they sent, though, were bats and pumpkins and really cute things, nothing too gory when they're only a month old. But by the time they turn one, they will be in scarier stuff.
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You're helping Spirit select the Chief Spirit Officer, and when you're looking at all the entries and all the people submitting their efforts to prove that they should be the Chief Spirit Officer, what are you specifically looking for? Do you have any tips that you could potentially give to fans out there to reevaluate what their approach might be to becoming the Spirit Officer?
Well, to me, it's all about creativity, number one, but also the commitment to whatever you've thought of. I don't want to see people just throwing things together and being like, "Oh, that's cute." No, I want real thought put into their costumes and the way that they love to do Halloween. But you can tell people's commitment through photos and videos going over the top. I mean, the special effects, make-up, putting in the different contacts, the ones that just go overboard like that. And it takes a little while to achieve, but they deserve a better chance at being our Chief Spirit Officer.
And it should be clarified that if you have a platinum card or whatever, and you're just walking into a Spirit and buying one of everything off the shelf and leaving the tags on and putting it in the background and taking a picture so people know, "Oh, I bought all this stuff at Spirit," that it's definitely going to be more about the creativity than just, "Hey, a Spirit is open nearby."
Exactly. It's how you use Spirit in your creativity that is so key and that's how you can become very unique.
Given your history as a musician, I couldn't help but wonder, since I put so many hours and days of effort into crafting a Halloween-themed playlist that's six hours long, do you also put in as much effort for a Halloween playlist? Do you have strict criteria for Halloween songs or are you more about the costumes and the outfits and the decorations and whatever comes on a Halloween playlist is fine?
No, I'm all about a soundtrack. It just depends on what the event is. If I'm just having a Halloween party, then it'll be fun, "Monster Mash" type fun, Halloween stuff, "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)." Anything that's just fun. But when it comes to visiting our house on Halloween or going through my haunted house, I'm very particular about the songs that I'll add to that playlist. And that's the Halloween theme song and every great motion-picture soundtrack for horror films will be on that. It's just creepy. You add some smoke and you're good to go.
That is interesting to hear. I mean, I'm not surprised that you have the more accessible, the trendier party songs. I'm sure there's "Thriller" and whatever on the one playlist, but then you have the more creepy, atmospheric playlist that you built.
Yeah, I want you to be very scared walking up to my house. That is my goal. That's what my dad always taught me. My dad's the type that sits there in a scarecrow outfit, sitting on a rocking chair, waiting for kids to come up so he can scare the crap out of them, so I want you to feel eerie walking up to the house and almost scared even come up to the door. I think it's on YouTube, but if you look up "Lance Bass haunted house," you'll see how we put that together and then you'll hear the soundtrack to that and it's incredible.
I'm curious, but I think I know where this would fall in between the playlists, every year I feel like I get into an argument with friends who want to put on spooky music. And they're like, "Oh, you've got to put on 'Werewolves of London'." And I always say, "That's not a Halloween song. I'm not going to put that on my Halloween playlist." But it sounds like since you do have your party mix that "Werewolves of London" might be on the more accessible playlist and then not on the creepy end?
Yeah, that would work for a party like that. It's not like playing the [Halloween theme]. Pump it up so loud that it's just so creepy. When you ... If you put that to a level 10, it hits you. It hits you hard.
Speaking to just getting into the Halloween vibe, it sounds like John Carpenter's Halloween is going to be on this list, but are there other staples in your household of movies you have to watch to get ready for Halloween?
Oh, gosh, yeah. John Carpenter, for sure. Like I said, the scarier, the better. I'm loving the Insidious movies. I think they're just top-notch, and horror films can be hit or miss, big time, but they really hit it out of the park with that series. And then, always, what ushers it in is It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, that always just captures the mood of getting ready for Halloween, especially when you're decorating the house. I love putting that one on. And it's short, 30 minutes. So it's not a big commitment.
I actually, embarrassingly, always end up getting so emotional at the end of Charlie Brown. Because Linus is all about, "No, it's the spirit of Halloween and it's not the trendy, frivolous celebration. That's not the spirit." And that's how I feel. I don't want to just do a drunken bar crawl in whatever outfit and say that's a Halloween celebration. It's about so much more than that.
It is. It really is. And it just, it makes you feel alive, especially as a kid. Halloween is just so magical that it just makes you feel so alive.
Applications to become the Chief Spirit Officer will close on August 29th at 11:59 p.m. ET. You can apply on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok by using the hashtag #SpiritHalloweenCSOContest while also tagging @SpiritHalloween.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. You can contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter.