Horror stories about apples with razor blades and anthrax-laced candy terrified trick-or-treaters in the 1980s and '90s. But this year, one Beverly Hills mom is purposely resurrecting the fear and paranoia surrounding trick-or-treating, with a modern spin.
Rainbeau Mars (and yes, that's her real name, according to her publicist, who says she was born in a teepee under a double rainbow) will be dishing out something really scary to trick-or-treaters in her gated community — live worms.
Mars has commissioned a gardening company to deliver to her home 300 plants in recycled clay pots, a bucket of soil and a giant bin of live worms, priced at $40 a pound — because sometimes it takes a lot of green to execute a green gimmick. Each kid will be offered a plant, with a worm or two as a garnish.
She'd originally planned to serve the worms in Chinese take-out boxes (pictured above). But she thought better of it after her mother, the herbalist and raw food chef Brigitte Mars, urged her to re-think the packaging: "You can't just give them worms, it's a little scary."
The slimy scare tactic aims to educate kids about composting, which Mars believes is the key to combatting drought and global warming.
"This whole last month has been an awakening to how bad the situation is in L.A., and hearing that we only have 18 months of water left," says Mars, citing information she learned in a composting class with the environmental nonprofit TreePeople. "The one hope that we have is that if 11 percent of the population did regenerative agriculture, we could sequester enough carbon to change the carbon that's in the air to change global warming."
But even Mars' young daughter is skeptical of the worms, insisting that she wanted Snickers bars instead. "Her other friend was like, 'This is not the time to educate on Halloween,'" Mars recalls.
So what makes Mars think she'll be able to convert trick-or-treaters into composting fanatics?
"Even if we can't get to the adults," she says, "every kid is very much into the environment still." Whether or not every kid is very much into having worms poured into their trick-or-treat bags remains to be seen on Halloween night.
A self-described health guru and fitness expert, Mars has a history of using radical tactics in order to "guide individuals on a journey to a greener, healthier lifestyle," as her Facebook page claims. Last year Mars made headlines when she demanded that her wedding guests endure a 21-day vegan cleanse leading up to the ceremony. Prior to that, she marketed an instructional fitness video called "Yoga for Beauty."
And last Halloween, Mars scared trick-or-treaters by championing an entirely different cause. She gave out candy in coffin-shaped boxes, as if to suggest that's where trick-or-treaters would end up if they continued to eat sugar.
The 38-year-old environmentalist, whose media company slogan is "lights, camera... activism" acknowledges that her latest stunt might be her strangest yet. "It sounds wild, even coming from me," she says. But "we all really need to compost."
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To illustrate the urgency of global warming, Mars uses this financial metaphor:
"We all inherited a trillion dollar trust fund with all these resources from the earth, and we took and took and took and we never just gave back and said, 'Here earth, here's a million back. Here's a billion back.'" So in conclusion, "Putting the worms back into the earth is like putting money back into the bank."
Happy Halloween, from Beverly Hills.