If Bernie Madoff shows up at your Halloween party this weekend, take a closer look before reporting a fugitive on the lam. The convicted Ponzi scammer, who's spending the rest of his life behind bars in North Carolina, is the latest Halloween costume on the shelves, offering adult trick-or-treaters a "Whack the Ponzi Schemer" get-up for $49.99.
The costume comes complete with a Madoff look-alike mask, orange jumpsuit, handcuffs and a blow-up super striker hammer so revelers can "get your revenge."
Ricky's NYC, which is selling its original design in New York-area stores and online, says it's one of the top five selling costumes of the seasons, a sign the man who orchestrated one of the largest frauds in history is officially imprinted in pop culture.
"Bernie Madoff has become a punch line," said Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture and founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University.
"If you really want to measure how much you've penetrated the celebrity universe, during November through September it's whether you've made it into People or US Magazine," said Thompson. "In October, it's whether you have a Halloween costume made of you."
While children tend to base their dress up on dreams, aspirations and fantasy, Thompson said that as adults have reclaimed the holiday over the last 20 years – it's now the second highest grossing retail holiday of the year after Christmas – their costumes have become much more tongue-in-cheek.
It's a trend the Ricky's Halloween department has welcomed, priding itself on offering Halloween enthusiasts a "look back at wacky, tacky, cracky 2009." This year's original designs, which also include a spoof on Michael Phelps' marijuana use with "Weedies: The Costume of Champions" – complete with a fake bong, swimming cap, goggle, and eight gold medals - and the "Womb Radar Baby Sash" – complete with "8 babies, a killer attitude, a humanitarian streak, and a few nannies."