It truly was no contest – the four Penguins players dressed as KISS won best costume at the team’s annual Halloween party on Oct. 19.
“I think the best one I saw was definitely Pauly Martin, Robert Bortuzzo, Beau Bennett and Nick Spaling dressed up as KISS,” Brandon Sutter said. “They had the boots and the makeup and everything. It was unbelievable. That’s definitely the best I’ve ever seen, so that was above and beyond.”
Winning the competition was definitely the goal, said Martin.
“Beau and ‘Borts’ won the year before,” he said. “So they let me and Spaling be on their team (this year). So it was nice of them to do that.”
Martin’s favorite part of dressing up wasn’t rocking and rolling all night – it was actually the ride to the party.
“The best part was we had to drive to the spot, so we were all in a car blasting KISS music with the windows down and we got a couple weird looks,” Martin said. “So that was a lot of fun.”
Each player adopted a different band member’s onstage persona. Bennett was KISS frontman Gene Simmons (The Demon), Spaling was Catman, Bortuzzo was Starchild and Martin was Spaceman.
“I think we just each grabbed a costume,” Martin said when asked how they decided who was whom. “I’m not really sure exactly how it went down, but I think we made Beau be Gene (laughs). I don’t think that was his choice. But it worked out.”
The four of them were walking around a costume shop looking for ideas when they saw the getups and Martin urged them into going with it.
“He’s a big music guy and were kind of just walking around and saw it,” Bortuzzo said. “We figured if we were going to do it, we’d do it right. It was fun.”
Doing it right meant wearing full stage makeup, which Bortuzzo said took about 25 minutes each.
“It was my first time wearing makeup, hopefully it’s the last as well,” he joked.
The makeup, however, was nowhere near as bad as the sky-high platform boots they wore – at least in the beginning of the night.
“It wasn’t fun,” the 6-foot-4 Bortuzzo admitted. “I found a new respect for women in high heels and whatnot. I think I was around 7 feet tall when I had them on.”
Their teammates certainly enjoyed watching them try to walk around.
“It took them about 20 minutes to get up the steps,” Sutter laughed.
Evgeni Malkin, who dressed as the vampire Dracula, posted a photo of him with the KISS guys on his personal Instagram account.
“I just have fun. I go to the store and buy a simple one, nothing crazy,” Malkin said of his costume. “I don’t want crazy like Beau Bennett and Bortuzzo. They do one-hour makeup; it’s too long for me. I buy a simple one and we have fun.”
Malkin posted another photo with him and captain Sidney Crosby, who went as beloved Philadelphia cultural icon Rocky Balboa, a fictional boxing character played by Sylvester Stallone in the film franchise.
Crosby said he tends to draw inspiration from his favorite movies when thinking of ideas for costumes.
“I was Maverick last year from Top Gun. I like the movie (Rocky) too,” Crosby said. “Maybe (Philadelphia fans) will soften up on me because I picked that. It was all in good fun. I like the Rocky movies. There was nothing else behind it.”
Also in that picture was Kris Letang, who dressed as the Mad Hatter from Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland.
“I just love that movie,” Letang said. “Johnny Depp is one of my favorite actors, so I kind of tried to pull that off. It didn’t take much time (to get into costume). The makeup was the biggest. First we didn’t find an orange wig, so we had to take a yellow one and paint it orange. Then they added orange eyebrows and all that stuff.”
Other honorable mentions for best costume included Rob Scuderi, who went as one of the Ghostbusters, Chris Kunitz, who dressed as Ron Burgundy while his wife went as Veronica Corningstone, and Christian Ehrhoff, who went as a disco singer.
“A lot of the guys are pretty creative,” Crosby smiled. “It’s fun to do.”
From left to right: Nick Spaling, Beau Bennett, Robert Bortuzzo, Paul Martin
From left to right: Malkin's friend Max Ivanov, Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin