All-Hallows Moonlighting

Halloween is the ultimate payday for professional busker Jalles Franca

Think that dime-store Little Bo Peep costume-in-a-bag is gonna win you a contest this Halloween? Unless you’re prepared to make out with other contestants wearing the same outfit, think again. When costume perfectionists such as Jalles Franca enter the nightclub, you won’t even stand a chance.

The 29-year-old has been competing in contests since the days of Club Rio (what is now Crown Nightclub, for you newbies). You may have also spotted the chiseled Brazilian native working as a percussionist and dancer at Studio 54 and Tabu, or on the Men of X stage.

When he first took the costume competition world by storm in the early 2000s, it was more than just an outfit, but an entire performance that made judges and crowds take notice. He worked the nightclub contest circuit dressed as Michael Jackson and began cleaning up. “I was carrying a baby,” Franca says, “and my friends dressed up like my security and held an umbrella over me.”

He won $5,000 at Club Rio, another $5,000 at Tao, plus $2,500 three times at Drai’s. He won so much that he’s been banned from entering at some venues. Not a bad haul for the kid who grew up so poor in Brazil that he played with bottle caps as toys.

Franca has since catapulted his MJ foray into a full-time career, performing as The Gloved One at various events throughout town, most recently at Nikki Beach for Eva Longoria and George Lopez. But Jackson is not the only character in Franca’s repertoire. From a dead zombie enshrouded in a clear body bag to an all-male Spice Girls group, the collection of custom-made getups is ever-evolving.

But it’s this year’s Predator costume that will likely have clubbers—and especially competitors—shaking in their shoes.

The getup, in which he’s wandered the Strip but never competed on Halloween, took him 10 months to make. “It weighs 69 pounds, so I can only wear it for a few hours,” Franca says. Walking in Predator’s shoes, he towers over the crowd at 7 feet, 3 inches tall. He’s even included lights, speakers, and a soundboard with buttons in the gloves that make Predator laugh, growl and simulate the sound of cannons. “It’s not something you see every day of that quality,” he says.

The hulking costume spends most of the year on a mannequin in his home, but to get it in shape for Halloween, Franca has given it a minor overhaul. And that instantly makes him the odds-on favorite at any club contest he walks into. Provided the Transformers takeover doesn’t continue.