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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Scandals, political gaffes and rivalries are inspiring Halloween costumes this year, from elaborate store-bought designs to do-it-yourself disguises that need little more than a stapler and a wicked sense of humor.
At New York Costumes, a President Barack Obama mask is slightly outselling a mask of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said store manager Tony Bianchi.
Big Bird is sold out, flying off the shelves Romney vowed to defund public broadcasting in a presidential debate earlier this month, said Bianchi and also Ereka Dunn, spokeswoman for Ricky's, another New York costume store.
"Everything is television-driven or scandal-driven," Bianchi said. Costumes go for as much as $250, he said.
Sales of the Joker, the Batman movie villain, dropped below the newer villain Bane this season, likely a result of being outdated than blowback from the deadly Colorado theater shooting by a gunman dressed as the Joker, salespeople said.
Ripped-from-the-headlines costumes are popular among do-it-yourselfers who lack cash but have a wealth of ingenuity.
One costume creator featured online made a mask to look like "The Beast Jesus," the famously botched fresco retouching done by an aging parishioner at a Spanish church. A photograph of the costume posted this month reportedly got 750,000 hits in two days.
Erica Domesek, founder of the website P.S. - I Made This, suggested simple, inexpensive ways to create topical costumes worthy of a Halloween treat. Among them are:
* Binders Full of Women - The awkward expression Romney used to describe receiving the resumes of women candidates for Cabinet positions when he was governor of Massachusetts. "Repurpose an old binder," Domesek suggested. "Punch two holes through the top or use binder clips to secure a rope for around your neck. Take your old magazines, clip out pictures of women, glue them coming out of the binder every which way."
* Lance Armstrong - Cyclist stripped of his seven Tour de France wins and other honors in a doping scandal. "Bike shorts, tight yellow T-shirt with a Livestrong logo drawn on in fabric pen. Yellow rubber bracelet, riding gloves. I would make some medals and keep saying, 'Not giving them back!' or 'They're mine!"
* Tan Mom - New Jersey mother excessively devoted to tanning beds. "Get a bronzer that is so not your color, the darker and orangier the better. Spiky blonde wig. That hair was amazing, I don't want to say ratty but...," she said.
* Fifty Shades of Grey - The erotic novel that has topped bestseller lists around the world. "Go to a fabric store or a paint store and get 50 different swatches. Staple them to a T-shirt."
* Honey Boo Boo - Child beauty pageant entrant and chubby star of down-home reality television show. "Go for the pageant look. Use a 'BeDazzler,' which is like a staple gun for fake gems, encrust your clothing with sparkles. Curl your hair, use lots of hair spray, wear a tiara. Blue and pink eye shadow," she said. "You could add some extra stuffing under the costume, perhaps a pillow. We are poking fun."
Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Mohammad Zargham