Introduction: Carole Baskin-Robbins
I typically like to do fun and unique costumes that aren't too difficult to decipher, and I really wanted to capture the essence of this crazy year with something special. A lot of ideas initially flowed around in my head (e.g. presidential election, covid, murder hornets, etc.) but I kept coming back to Tiger King since it was one of the most popular shows of 2020 and Carole Baskin had just revived its legacy on DWTS. I did a few Google searches and noticed that a lot of people were dressing up as Carole and Joe Exotic (sometimes cross-dressed), so I really had to get creative to figure out how to take this over the top and differentiate it from the rest of the pack. Finally it hit me that she shares a name with the Baskin-Robbins ice cream brand that we all know and love and it sorta clicked to put her inside a tub of ice cream and have her walk around in it. The rest is history!
Below is a deeper look into how my wife and I put it all together.
For this project you'll need:
Ice Cream Tub:
- 44-Gallon Plastic Garbage Can (actual one here)
- 12" Hacksaw (actual one here)
- Two 36" Rubber S-hook straps (actual ones here)
- 3 Tubes of 250mL Acrylic Paint (specifically magenta, white and red)
- A Paintbrush
- A Mixing Tray to create pink paint from white and red
- Some Photoshopping skills
- Scotch Tape
- A Pair of Scissors
- Soft shoulder pads
- Leopard Print Tee
- Long Blonde Wig (actual one here)
- Flower Crown (actual one here)
- Leopard Crocs (or similar-patterned shoes)
- Flowery Necklace
- Women's Makeup
- Foundation, Eye Shadow, Eye Liner, Mascara, Eyebrow Pencil, Lip Liner, Lip Gloss, Beige Face Paint, Hold Spray
- A razor if you need to shave any facial hair!
Step 1: Hacking the Garbage Can
The major aesthetic difference between a pint of ice cream and a garbage can (beyond their size of course) is that pints never have any handles at their side. If you can find a 44-gallon garbage can that does not have handles then you'll save a bit of work here, but the one that we bought did unfortunately and that meant that it was time to hack those bad boys off! It was the first time that I had ever used a hacksaw and the fine folks at Home Depot thankfully pointed me to a 12" high-tension Stanley one that was more than capable of getting the job done.
To slice the handles off I held the hacksaw firmly and made up-and-down vertical motions as the saw gradually cut through the plastic, as seen in the first picture above. It's very important here to saw in a straight line horizontally so that you get a clean cut on the surface, because if you don't then your can could potentially have a few uneven bumps. If you have to go slowly to do this then that's totally fine. Patience is a virtue and that is never truer than when designing Cosplay.
Once I sliced the handles off I then needed to cut a hole in the bottom of the can so that I could stand in this and wear it as a prop. To get a really clean and accurate cut I sawed along the edges like a can opener would, going clockwise around the circumference of the bottom a few inches at a time. The end result is in the second picture above.
Again - with the bottom of the can - slow and steady wins the race! The last thing that you want is for the bottom edge of the can to have uneven heights since the tub is a really important (and visible) part of the costume.
Step 2: Painting the Garbage Can
Once we had the garbage can in the shape of an ice cream pint, we then needed to coat it with the two shades of pink that adorn the classic Baskin-Robbins ones. B&R uses a Magenta hue for the darker shade and more of a classic pink for the second one, so we opted to buy Magenta acrylic paint and also tubes of White and Red so that we could mix the latter two into the shade of pink that we wanted. Alternatively you can buy pink paint directly from a store if they sell it.
We first applied a coat of magenta around the top of the garbage can in the same wavy pattern that the B&R tub has (see reference picture above). The pattern slopes up and down around the tub and we tried to capture as much of it as we could, but this detail won't make or break the costume too much if it's not perfect, so no need to worry if it isn't. We also painted the rim of the can Magenta and also about a foot of the inside from the top down so that people would see that color instead of dark gray. You won't need to paint the whole inside since people won't see 90% of it, so save yourself some time there.
Once the first coat of Magenta was on, we mixed our Red and White paint to get our desired Pink and then coated that on the remainder of the outside of the can, making sure not to leave any gray spots showing. For both this coat and the Magenta one we had to apply generous amounts since we were painting over a dark gray hue, so make sure that you apply enough to cover it. When the Pink coat dried we then applied a second coat for both shades and made sure to correct any mistakes or blotches from the first go-around. It took around an hour for the coats to dry and you'll want to wait for this so that the second coats are as effective as possible. You can use those to make any necessary corrections as needed.
Step 3: Photoshopping the Labels
Disclaimer: This part does require some Photoshop knowledge, but you can alternatively paint/draw this on as well if desired.
With the garbage can now looking like an ice cream pint, I really wanted to set the costume apart by designing some really funny custom labels that people could read and enjoy.
For the front, I did some searches on Google and quickly found some pictures of a B&R Cookies 'N Cream pint and used that as my template. I kept the same ice cream cone and logo from it and reproduced the same fonts for the most part, and also the wording on the bottom right. I then added Don Lewis to the classic pink spoon, a tiger leaping towards him, and changed the text at the bottom to read "Vanilla Flavored Ice Cream With Little Pieces of Doubt", to allude to Carole's alleged actions. For the flavor, I went back and forth 100 times before finally settling on "Cookies 'N Crime", which seemed to fit well with the theme.
It was easy to find the nutritional facts and ingredients for B&R's Cookies 'N Cream pint online as well, and I redrew the former in Photoshop to match the actual numbers right down to the calorie count. I needed to redraw all of this from scratch since this had to be printed later in large-scale, and the images from Google were relatively small. For the right side of this label I used a lot of creative liberty and changed % Daily Value to % Carol Value and edited the description of it. I then added in a bunch of Tiger King-themed items into the ingredient list and bolded them so that they stood out amongst many of the actual ingredients from B&R's Cookies 'N Cream. Finally, I added Deception, Greed and Salacious Mystery as the final ingredients and added Carole's Big Cat Rescue address to the distribution label before calling it a day.
Step 4: Printing the Labels and Taping Them to the Can
With the hardest part of designing the labels finished, printing them was a breeze! The front label measured around 22" x 21" so we printed it out on 24" x 36" paper at Staples and simply cut all of the margin away with scissors. The back label measured 24" x 18" exactly (done by design) so we printed it out on paper with the same measurements. We used semi-gloss matte style paper for each since we didn't want them to be too shiny.
After these were printed and cut all we needed to do was double-side some pieces of scotch tape, apply them to the back of the labels and then stick them onto the garbage can where we wanted them to be. The tape held nicely onto the coats of paint that we had applied and we never even needed to re-apply any throughout the entire experience, so that was nice. It's important to have the labels parallel with the lid and bottom of the garbage can so make sure to tape them on carefully and slowly. You don't want to do all of this design work and then have it looking clunky for no reason!
Step 5: Transforming Into Carole Baskin
With the ice cream tub all set, the last major part of this costume was to transform into Carole herself, and I have my wife to thank for this because she applied all of my makeup for it!
Before applying any makeup I shaved off my scraggly beard hair and chest hair since both would be exposed in the costume, and Carole clearly has neither. The entire makeup process then took around 30-45 minutes as my wife carefully applied some foundation, eye shadow to match Carole's, some eye liner, mascara, lip liner and also some pink lip gloss to my face. She then used an eyebrow pencil to add in some gray lines to make me appear older, which was a nice touch since Carole is 24 years older than I am. Finally, she spritzed some setting spray onto me so that the makeup would hold into place for as long as possible.
Once all the layers and spray were on, we used some beige face paint to cover my dark brown eyebrows and sideburns so that they appeared more faded.
The more that you can look like Carole for this, the better! To finish the look I added:
- A blonde wig (as seen above)
- A leopard print top
- A flowery necklace
- Carole's signature flower crown
- Some leopard print Crocs
Other optional items include blue contact lenses, some prosthetic facial pieces to appear really older, and anything else that adds some Carole flair.
Step 6: Wearing the Tub
Once you look like Carole and have the ice cream tub all set, the last thing that you need to do is wear the tub! We explored a few different possibilities for this but settled on using two rubber S-Hook straps that could be hooked under the rims of both sides of the tub and looped above my shoulders (almost like suspenders, which you can see above). This required stepping into the tub first, picking it up a bit, and having my wife latch the hooks on for me so that they could be positioned properly. You can possibly do this by yourself but it's much easier with someone helping you.
To avoid having the rubber dig into my skin, I also wore some thin shoulder pads to absorb some of their impact. This really helped quite a bit so I would recommend them if you're ever wearing a lot of weight like this.
And that's it! You are now none other than Carole Baskin-Robbins herself.
Enjoy all you cool cats and kittens!
Participated in the